Damianne Scott is known for her Facebook page Black Girl Loves Jane, a blog and Jane Austen fan page. Started a couple years ago, BGLJ has grown a community of fans. Scott is an academic who teaches Austen and has written her first novel, “Persuasions,” to be released later this year.
Last month, Scott joined Jane Austen & Co’s “Race in the Regency” series to discuss whether Queen Charlotte was Britain’s first Black queen, as the recently popular show "Bridgerton" portrayed her. Scott will speak on our panel on Austen’s afterlives in media on June 20.
How did you fall in love with Jane Austen novels?
I fell in love with Austen novels in college. In high school, my teacher Mr. Jackson said that I would not like her because she was too sappy and romantic. In high school, I loved Thomas Hardy. So my freshman year, I had to take a class called “Literature and Moral Imagination.” In that class, we read “Persuasion.” In that same year, Emma Thompson's “Sense and Sensibility” debuted in theaters. And I was hooked.
What’s your favorite Austen novel and why?
My favorite Austen novel is “Persuasion” because I find Sir Walter Elliot extremely funny with his ridiculous snobbery, and I find Anne very relatable as an older woman who sacrifices for her family everything that sums up who she is -- including the great love of her life.
Jane Austen’s novels were written during the Regency era in Britain, a very different time than today. What do you think makes them so popular and relevant in our present world?
Her themes are still occurring and are relevant. There are still young women/men being seduced by deceitful men/women (“Sense and Sensibility”); there are still women/men who are caregivers to elderly parents, and cannot pursue their own lives (“Emma”); there are women and men who still judge people based of false information before they learn the real story (“Pride and Prejudice”). These are universal themes that are beyond time and era. This is what makes Austen alive and present in our world -- even though she has been dead for hundreds of years.
Why did you start the Black Girl Loves Jane Facebook page? What are you hoping to achieve by it?
I started Black Girl Loves Jane (BGLJ) because I wanted to announce to the world that there was a black girl who loved Jane Austen, and wanted to blog about how Austen influenced my life and my thinking, etc. The blogging about life, over time, stopped due to personal obligations, but BGLJ was reinvented as a means of celebrating any diverse audience that wanted to shout out that they loved Austen too, and as a platform to discuss and to make others aware that Austen and other classic literature is not just for non-people of color. I hope to be one of the many representatives of POC that are willing to share their love of Austen, Regency or other classic literature. In addition, I would like to use BGLJ as a vehicle to reach other young people of color and expose them to Austen and other classics. One way I hope to do this is to raise funds and purchase books such as “Pride” to give to young people as a means of introducing them to Austen. And, finally, I would like use BGLJ as place to continue to push for more acceptance of diversity in the Regency world.
How has your experience been hosting discussions, such as your talk in Jane Austen & Co.’s "Race in the Regency" series?
My experience hosting discussions like the “Race in the Regency” series or the discussion on Jane Austen and social media that I did for the Teel House [in January 2021] has been great. Never in a million years did I think I would be meeting and talking to so many people who enjoy and love Austen more than I do. It's fabulous. So much fun!
How has Jane Austen influenced who you are today?
She has opened the door for me to express myself without any inhibitions; I do not hide myself when I discuss or talk about Austen. It is not always understandable to be an African American woman who loves an author, who, on the surface, lives in a world that does not include you. So one has to obtain a little thick skin, has to learn to be a little less sensitive, and has to cultivate a little more patience with those who do not get this love for an author and her characters that are over 200 years old.