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Author Biography

Amanda-Rae Prescott is a Black and multiracial freelance journalist from New York City. She has a Masters in Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism. Her specialty is covering UK television, period dramas, and advocating for more representation for historically marginalized people on screen and in fandom.

Abstract

Sanditon fans have used social media more than many other past Jane Austen adaptations to discuss the series and to share news developments about the series. This was partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing in-person marketing and fandom gatherings, but also due to some traditional Austen discussion platforms ignoring or banning pro-Sanditon discussions. White women from the UK and Europe dominated these online communities and set the tone for discussions of the plot as well as news about the series. BIPOC fans repeatedly clashed with white fans because the promises of an “inclusive” community were frequently dashed as soon as they disagreed with the predominant views of white fans.

ITV’s decision to reverse the cancelation of the series did not diminish these clashes, in fact, they have continued to increase. The second season is expected to premiere in 2022 in a different media climate than the first season. Not only has the long delay in production for the second season resulted in recasting several roles, but Bridgerton has also far eclipsed Sanditon in international popularity. Bridgerton has not only embraced contrasting and even anti-Austen aesthetics, but has also cast Black lead actors in their first season and South Asian lead actors in the upcoming Season 2. In light of these developments, BIPOC fans have pushed for Sanditon to expand Crystal Clarke’s role as Georgiana and diversify the cast and crew. The white fans who are interested in maintaining Sanditon as the anti-Bridgerton are pushing back in more subtle but still racist ways.

Jane Austen scholars, academics, and professionals are facing a four-fold danger: the undermining of existing DEIA efforts within traditional Austen spaces by white fans with no interest in doing this work; the risk of alienating the next generation of Austen professionals by ignoring social media as a platform for Austen and Austen-adjacent discussions; the exclusion of BIPOC Austen fans from online and traditional spaces; and the inability to influence or participate in discussions of pop culture adaptations of Austen works.

Keywords

sanditon, jane austen, pineapplegate, bridgerton, fandom racism

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