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Chapter 7 - Persuasion, Conviction, and Care Jane Austen’s Keeping

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 November 2022

Eric Reid Lindstrom
Affiliation:
University of Vermont
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Summary

Chapter 7, “Persuasion, Conviction, and Care: Jane Austen’s Keeping,” develops Cavell’s striking interest in Michel Foucault’s final works on “care of the self.” Cavell, in his autobiography Little Did I Know, marks his engagement with Foucault’s concept of parrhesia, or truth-telling, as it developed from a seminar Cavell co-taught at The University of Chicago. As a fictional investigation of the conviction-persuasion distinction, Persuasion suggests rethinking the idea of being convinced through a practice of reason-giving whose grounds are to provide advance rationale for their validity of support. Rather, in Foucauldian practice Cavell finds “a place and an instrument of confrontation.” Anne Elliot, the protagonist of Persuasion, undertakes a turn from the obedient subject of persuasion to a linguistic and social agent of conviction. I conclude the book’s reading of Cavell’s Austen under the aegis of “vulnerable conformity” by underlining a shift in the meaning of conformity as such, drawing from George Saintsbury’s 1894 essay on Austen’s “keeping” as an alternative to heroic investment.

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Jane Austen and Other Minds
Ordinary Language Philosophy in Literary Fiction
, pp. 200 - 231
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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