Marilyn Francus, associate professor of English at West Virginia University, delves into the role of women, their personal spheres, motherhood and their unique perspectives in her new scholarly works and research.

Currently she is working on a follow-up to her recent book, “Monstrous Motherhood: 18th-Century Culture and the Ideology of Domesticity,” published by John Hopkins University Press in December 2012.

“Monstrous Motherhood” compels scholars in 18th-century studies, women’s studies, family history and cultural studies to reevaluate assumptions that have driven much of the discourse in their fields. In the book, Francus reclaims silenced maternal voices and perspectives, exposes the mechanisms of maternal marginalization in 18th-century culture and revises the theories of 18th-century domesticity, which claim that women were only satisfied by selflessly tending to their families at home.

Francus’ next book, tentatively entitled “Birthing the Book,” will examine the effects of motherhood on women writers of the 18th century, including Mary Wollstonecraft, author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” Eliza Haywood, Frances Sheridan and Frances Burney d’Arblay.

“The study involves the conditions of authorship for mothers, issues of literary consumption, and the subjects of their works,” Francus said.

In addition to her books, Francus edits The Burney Journal, a peer-reviewed, international academic journal that features research on the Burney family, especially Frances Burney d’Arblay (1752-1840), her life, her contemporaries, and her times. Frances Burney D’Arblay was a novelist, playwright and diarist, and she is often considered one of the significant influences on Jane Austen (who praises Burney’s novels in her works).

A second research project Francus is at work on involves Jane Austen and popular culture.

“I’m interested in the ways that Austen’s novels circulate in contemporary culture (in fan-fiction, film, action figures, and you tube videos) and what that suggests about contemporary methods of media consumption, canon formation and adaptation,” Francus said.

Francus received her doctorate in 1991 from Columbia. She is the editor of The Burney Journal, and specializes in Restoration and 18th century literature, women’s studies, satire and history of the novel.

For more information, contact Marilyn Francus at 304-293-9716 or



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