1. See, for example, Christopher Rojeck, Presumed Intimacy: Parasocial Interaction in Media, Society and Celebrity Culture (Hoboken: Wiley, 2015), 1-22. Rojek calls parasocial interactions “relationships of presumed intimacy between media figures and network spectators” (13). In light of the massive expansion of communication technology in the 2000s, Rojeck expands the idea beyond its original purview, where “ordinary people” merely identified with “the lives of the famous and the glamorous” (16). See also Elizabeth M. Perse and Rebecca B. Rubin, “Attribution in Social and Parasocial Relationships,” Communication Research 16.1 (February 1989): 59-77; David Giles, “Parasocial Interaction: A Review of the Literature and a Model for Future Research,” Media Psychology 4.3 (August 2002): 279-305.

Mass media parasociality is more often affiliated with television, its regular, serialized medium providing viewers better opportunity to build relationships with representations. See, for example, Rubin, A. M., Perse, E. M., & Powell, R. A.. “Loneliness, Para-Social interaction, and Local Television News Viewing,” Human Communication Research 12.2 (…1985): 155–180; Edward Schiappa, Mike Allen, and Peter Gregg, “Parasocial Relationships and Television: A Meta-Analysis of the Effects,” In Mass Media Effects Research: Advances Through Meta-Analysis, Raymond W. Preiss, Barbara Mae Gayle, Nancy Burrell, Mike Allen, and Jennings Bryant (eds) (London: Routledge, 2007): 301–314. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. [return to page 1]

2. All citations of Austen’s novels derive from Jane Austen, Emma (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2000); Pride and Prejudice (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2001).

3. See John L. Sullivan, Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions, and Power (Newbury Park: Sage Publications), 231-2.

4. Taylor-Joy is quoted in Vincent Dowd, "Why Austen's Emma would be 'queen of social media,'" BBC News (February 14, 2020), https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-51458345.

5. Ibid.

6. Clueless, directed by Amy Heckerling (1995; Los Angeles, CA: Paramount Pictures).

7. Northanger Abbey, directed by Jon Jones (2007; London, UK: ITV Studios).

8. There is an ongoing debate as to whether true parasocial exchanges can include instances with a likelihood of reciprocation (in which case, some researchers say, the interaction is not really parasocial, merely “distanced”). However, with the current dominance of social media—and the way it can license regular communications between celebrities and their fans through comments and recorded messages—the lines here are blurry. Rojeck notes that this uncertainty about the protocol for reciprocal exchanges is a paradigmatic condition of late liberal society:

“Consecutive to the autonomy to act however I please, so long as it does not damage the interests and wellbeing of others, is now a freedom to record the intention of others to communicate with me without my taking any action whatsoever to reciprocate” (8).

9. For the distinct sociality of fan culture, see Andy Ruddock, Understanding Audiences: Theory and Method (Newbury Park: Sage Publications), 155-6.For the “presumed intimacy” of people towards “empty apparitions,” see Rojeck 1-3.

10. Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975).

11. Beyond Habermas’s classic definition, for consideration of the “enlightened” public sphere as a circulating media environment, see Clifford Siskin and William Warner (eds.), This is Enlightenment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), esp. 1-36. On the social and political differentiation between the audience as “crowd” or the audience as “people,” see Sullivan 14.

12. See Janice A. Radway, Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991). In her study of the reading audiences of romance novels, Radway claims that readers of Austen participated in a similar act of solitary consumption to the novelist’s characters—because the novels were difficult, contemporary women readers “could read her only…if they were alone” (197).

13. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. J.H. Bernard (Mineola: Dover Publications Inc., 2012), 46-54.

14. Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright (2005; Paris: StudioCanal).
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15. Pride and Prejudice, directed by Simon Langton (1995; London, UK: BBC1). Caption citation from Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, "‘Slipping into the Ha-Ha’": Bawdy Humor and Body Politics in Jane Austen's Novels,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 55.3 (December 2000): 309-39. 

16. Riverdale, created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (2017-; Los Angeles, CA: Warner Bros. Television); American Vandal, created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda (2017-8; Los Gatos, CA: Netflix); On My Block, created by Lauren Lungerich, Eddie Gonzalez, and Jeremy Haft (2018-; Los Gatos, CA: Netflix).

17. See Stephanie Russo, “Austen Approved: Pemberley Digital and the Transmedia Commodification of Jane Austen,” Women’s Writing 25.4 (August 2018): 512-24; Misty Krueger, “Handles, Hashtags, and Austen Social Media,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 61.4 (Winter 2019), 378-96; Alexandra Samuel, “Is Jane Austen the Antidote to Social Media Overload?” JSTOR Daily (January 21, 2020), https://daily.jstor.org/is-jane-austen-the-antidote-to-social-media-overload/. For a discussion of “The Republic of Pemberly,” one of the original Austen community websites, see Judy Simons, “Jane Austen and Popular Culture,” A Companion to Jane Austen, eds. Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 471-2.

18. Ruddock 8.

19. On the relationship between Austen and Regency-era visual culture, see Jeffrey Nigro, “Visualizing Jane Austen and Jane Austen Visualizing,” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal Online 29.1 (Winter 2008), http://jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol29no1/nigro.html?; “Reading Portraits at Pemberley,” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal Online 34.1 (Winter 2013), http://jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol34no1/nigro.html?. For the subsequent depictions of Austen and her novels, see Devoney Looser’s initial section “Jane Austen, Illustrated” in her The Making of Jane Austen (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2017), 13-74.

20. Caption citation from Claudia L. Johnson, “Emma: ‘Woman, Lovely Woman, Reigns Alone,” in Emma, ed. Stephen M. Parrish (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2000): 400-13.

21. For the relationship between Austen and linguistic philosophy (especially pragmatics and “felicitous” communication), see Stanley Cavell, Philosophy the Day After Tomorrow (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2005), 111-91; Candace Nolan-Grant, “Jane Austen's Speech Acts and Language-Based Societies,” S.E.L. 49.4 (Autumn 2009): 863-78; Eric Lindstrom, “Austen and Austin,” European Romantic Review 22.4 (July 2011): 501-20.

22. Deidre Shauna Lynch, Loving Literature: A Cultural History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 6-7.

23. Rojeck 2.