According to Churchyard's AUSTEN-L Mailing List page, the list is for those who "want to exchange views with others on any aspect of the work and time of Jane Austen and contemporary women writers such as Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Mary Wollstonecraft. In spite of this suggested list of topics, Burney is rarely discussed on the list, and Edgeworth and Wollstonecraft are never mentioned at all.
The most entertaining and informative feature of the list is its chapter-by-chapter discussions of Austen's novels. In May of 1996, the list finished a extended dialogue centered on Pride and Prejudice. Currently the list is wrapping up a discussion on Sense and Sensibility; another discussion, this one on Emma, is scheduled to begin soon. This online book group is a hobby for most, a way to spend time discussing the works of their favorite author in an understanding and encouraging environment. Although discussion never delves into critical interpretations of the texts, it does seem to offer some insight into the novels for most of the list members.
Recently, probably a result from the recent number of films released adapted from Austen's works, members have made many posts relating to the individual movies. These posts range from comments made on the way the screenplay was adapted from the original novel's text or the authenticity of the movie's set and wardrobe to posts offering a recommendation of the film or effusive worship of a actor playing a male lead character role. For the most part, the posts related to the films are helpful and members' recommendations and comments are to be highly considered.
Rarely do the posts take an overly scholarly tone, although often members will cite sources and give quotations when supporting their assertions. Members will rarely ask for information on research sources or critical literary interpretation, instead members will post their opinions about a passage or a character and will welcome others to give their own opinions in return.
All the messages posted on AUSTEN-L from 1994 to the present are archived and searchable on Churchyard's AUSTEN-L Mailing List page.
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