When they first reached an American readership, Jane Austen’s novels enjoyed mixed reactions among intellectuals. The main charge levelled against Jane Austen’s fiction was that it conflicted with the democratic principles American society was based on. The next century brought about an explosion in the attention paid to Jane Austen, whether via adaptations, spinoffs, biopics, musicals, detective fiction, scholarly texts, societies or even websites. Most of these creative extensions of Jane Austen’s ideas (and her personality) seem to embrace contemporary American values and sensibilities and therefore, logically, make attempts at revising some of the less palatable aspects of the English society of the Regency era. This paper focuses on two prime examples of such a revisionist approach to Jane Austen’s most classconscious novel, Emma, in Douglas McGrath’s eponymous 1996 film adaptation and in Clueless, Amy Heckerling’s 1995 satirical film based on the same novel.
This paper presents the case of Scotland as a traumatized nation haunted by ghosts of the past. Scottish national identity has been profoundly influenced by the country’s loss of sovereignty in the 1707 Act of Union. As a result, the stateless nation deprived of agency built its literature on the foundations of idealized stories of its heroic past. It was not until the 1980s that Scottish literature started to tackle the collective trauma and gave rise to works focusing on the weak and the exploited rather than the brave. Janice Galloway and A. L. Kennedy both epitomize this new vein of literature of trauma and explore the links between national and individual experience and strategies for healing the trauma.