Author Biography

Leah Benedict is an Assistant Professor of English at Kennesaw State University. She teaches British literature, science studies, and the interdisciplinary courses in the Medical Humanities. Her current research project examines how sexual failure was being constructed and understood in scientific and popular literary works of the eighteenth century, and how depictions of impotence tested new concepts of anatomy and physiological readability.


Despite decades of feminist scholarship, Lydia Bennet has consistently been taken at Jane Austen’s word: she is viewed as capricious, difficult, and silly, and in most cases found to be deserving of her fate. But with the adaptation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lydia became the character most likely to inspire a heightened emotional bond with viewers. Because of the show’s format, Lydia’s voice and experiences became more central, and were conveyed with greater sympathy than prior adaptations. Against all anticipation, many viewers immediately identified not with Lizzie, but with Lydia. My paper explores the cultural contexts surrounding the web adaptation and examines the heated discourses on Lydia’s character circulating in fan blogs, YouTube comments, and discussion boards (preserved in their original form), and ultimately considers how this change in feeling might cast new reflections upon the original Lydia of Pride and Prejudice.


Austen Studies, Youth Culture, Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries