Skip to content

UT Humanities Center Distinguished Lecture Series - Rachel Cohen

Reading Through Trouble: A changing experience of Jane Austen and her work

For the writer Rachel Cohen, the years of 2012 to 2019 were difficult years – both in the world and for her personally. During that time, one of her most central reading relationships was with Jane Austen. Cohen wrote a book of personal literary criticism, Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels, which was published in 2020 in a world transforming again, through the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Austen herself lived in a time of transformation – a period when women writers struggled anew to find their voices as well as a period of industrialization, the Napoleonic Wars, and the trade in enslaved persons that Austen and her abolitionist brothers opposed. In her talk, Professor Cohen considers the possibilities and challenges of personal literary criticism, what it means to someone to re-read literature at different life moments, and the relevance of Austen 200 years after her time.

Photo of Rachel Cohen © Vidura Jang Bahadur, 2019

Rachel Cohen is a writer and professor of practice in the arts in the English department at The University of Chicago. She is the author of Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels (FSG, July 2020), Bernard Berenson: A Life in the Picture Trade, and A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of Writers and Artists, winner of the PEN/Jerard Fund Award. Her essays on artists and writers – their friendships, fallings out, and the work they make – have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, Art in America, Apollo Magazine, McSweeney’s, and Best American Essays. Cohen is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Dial-In Information

The event is open to the public, but registration is required. Once registered, you will receive a link to join the webinar. 

Monday, October 19, 2020 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Social Sciences


Current Students, Faculty & Staff, Alumni, General Public


Humanities Center


Contact Name

Joan Murray

Contact Email

Contact Phone


Google Calendar iCal Outlook

Recent Activity

Jones-Zach, Karen

Jones-Zach, Karen left a positive review 10/18/2020

It was very interesting and enjoyable. The insights were amazing and while I have read a couple Jane Austen novels, this lecture has inspired me to read more and look deeper into the meaning of her works and how it relates and inspires my own experiences.

You're not going yet!

This event requires registration.