Graduate English Speaker Series: Race, Labour, Time, and Gratitude in Austen's 'Emma '

When and Where

Tuesday, October 17, 2023 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Room 616
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, M5R 2M8


Professor Yoon Sun Lee


Please join us in welcoming Professor Yoon Sun Lee, the Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of English at Wellesley College, on October 17th, 2023. Professor Lee's lecture, titled "Race, Labour, Time, and Gratitude in Jane Austen's Emma," will mark the inaugural lecture of our Graduate English Speaker Series.


This project thinks about race in the novels of the Romantic period not through the visual categorization of phenotypical features but through a more complex phenomenology involving perceptions of comfort, pain, and gratitude, as associated with labour. Labour and its counterpart, leisure, constitute a subtext in the articulation of human types in Jane Austen’s Emma. More than an event or activity performed in different ways by various groups, classes, or individuals, labour is also linked critically both to the measurement and experience of time and to acknowledgement and compensation. The particular focus of this talk will be on the structure of the emotion of gratitude, and how it becomes a key factor in a potentially or actually racialized economy.

About Professor Yoon Sun Lee:

Yoon Sun Lee is the Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of English at Wellesley College and the author of Nationalism and Irony: Burke, Scott, Carlyle (Oxford, 2004), Modern Minority: Asian American Literature and Everyday Life (Oxford, 2013), and most recently, The Natural Laws of Plot: How Things Happen in Realist Novels (Penn, 2023). She works in the fields of British Romanticism, the history and theory of the novel, Asian American literature, and narrative theory. Her essays have appeared in PMLA, Representations, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Studies in Romanticism, Keats-Shelley Journal, MLQ, ELH, The Cambridge Companion to Narrative Theory, The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature, and other journals and collections. A special issue of Representations, “Proxy Wars,” that she has co-edited with Kent Puckett, was published in August 2023. She is the incoming president of the International Society for the Study of Narrative, serves on the executive committee of the MLA’s Romanticism Forum and the prize committee for the James Russell Lowell Prize, and is co-convener, with Deidre Lynch, of the Novel Theory Seminar at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. She is beginning a new project on race, typicality, language, and the novel.

Contact Information

Anupam Chaudhri


170 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, M5R 2M8