Members of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society on campus, and the WSC Media Club gathered on Oct. 28 to discuss “Love and Friendship,” a 2016 movie based on the Jane Austin novel. “Love and Friendship” features a widow struggling to deal with life in a patriarchal society in the 18th and 19th century.
“It’s a historical drama, which is one of the main ways I think people engage with the past,” Dr. Fox, assistant history professor and faculty advisor for Phi Alpha Theta, said.
The story comes from a Jane Austen novel, but the tone is unlike her other works. It’s an epistolary novel, which is a novel composed of letters. The tone, he says, can come across as cynical at times.
“I enjoyed the movie because while it was set in a historical time, it seemed very modern and the dialogue was sarcastic and entertaining.” Chloe Morrison, a WSC freshman said. Morrison, a first-time attendee to Phi Alpha Theta’s discussion, said she learned about the discussion from her older sister, a member of the group.
The story is interesting from a historical perspective, Fox said, because the characters go against societal standards of the time.
“There’s no Darcy,” he said, “There’s no strong male protagonist.” Fox said the only male character that comes close is a man who is virtuous but easily manipulated.
At times he seems to be strong, but is really only parroting lines from Lady Susan, Fox said.
Phi Alpha Theta hosts a monthly discussion with the WSC Media Club to discuss historical films. “I think it’s a really fruitful collaboration,” Fox said.
The media club meets weekly to discuss films, and they usually focus on the technical and aesthetic aspects. Fox said the history club tries to bring in the context of what happened at the time, including using written source materials that may have been used in crafting the script.
“The discussion was useful because it gave us insight into the historical background of the film, as well as how the film was created.” Morrison said, “One cool thing I learned was that the Jane Austen novel wasn’t published until after her death because it would have been seen as too controversial for the time period she lived in.”
Phi Alpha Theta is planning another movie discussion for November. The movie hasn’t been decided, Fox said, but they are looking into movies to highlight Native American History Month.
These movie discussions help open wider discussions and create new friendships within different groups.