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Cohen, Paula Marantz 1953-

Cohen, Paula Marantz 1953-

PERSONAL:

Born 1953; married; children: one son, one daughter. Education: Yale University, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A. and Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of English and Philosophy, Drexel University, MacAlister Hall, Room 5046, 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Agent—Neeti Maden, Sterling Lord Literistic, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012. E-mail—paula. [email protected]

CAREER:

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, Distinguished Professor of English. Host of cable television talk show Drexel InterView.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Choice Outstanding Book award, 2003, for Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth; Jane Austen in Boca was a Literary Guild/Book of the Month Club selection; Lindback Teaching Award.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Jane Austen in Boca, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Much Ado about Jessie Kaplan, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.

NONFICTION

A Public Relations Primer: Thinking and Writing in Context, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1987.

The Daughter's Dilemma: Family Process and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1991.

Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 1995.

The Daughter As Reader: Encounters between Literature and Life, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1996.

Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor of articles to magazines, including Vanity Fair, People, and Hadassah, and of essays and reviews to Yale Review, Times Literary Supplement, and the American Scholar. Coeditor of the Journal of Modern Literature.

SIDELIGHTS:

Paula Marantz Cohen has spent most of her career as an English professor and has published several notable works of criticism. Beginning in 2002, however, she switched gears and began publishing novels. Her first, Jane Austen in Boca, is a comic, updated retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, starring Jewish widows instead of English maidens. The idea for the book came from observing the tightly knit community where her in-laws lived, noting the similarities between the social issues that captivated Austen over two hundred years ago and those that still keep Florida retirees intrigued. May, Flo, and Lila are widows living in the pleasant community of Boca Festa, when Carol Newman, "a contemporary suburban yenta cum Emma," according to a writer in Kirkus Reviews, sets up her mother-in-law with a wealthy widower. The other women soon find their own beaus, whether they want to or not, in a story the Kirkus Reviews writer called "a silly trifle but clever and fun."

Cohen adapted William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing for her novel Much Ado about Jessie Kaplan. Jessie is a recent widow living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the matriarch of a tumultuous family. She is overseeing her granddaughter's bat mitzvah, dealing with a wayward grandson, and stressing over her son-in- law's anemic medical practice. When Jessie suddenly announces that she was a friend of Shakespeare's in a former life and that she inspired him to write the "Dark Lady" sonnets, her daughters start to think she has lost her marbles. They hatch a plan to put the family back on the straight and narrow, which, in the tradition of Shakespeare, goes comically awry. "Cohen has a knack for making modern life reflect literature in the most engaging manner," wrote Andrea Kempf in a review of the novel for Library Journal. According to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, Cohen "is developing a sparkling reputation for bringing the classics into contemporary fiction."

Cohen's third novel, Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs, transplants characters and situations from Austen's Persuasion to suburban New York. Cohen's heroine, Anne Ehrlich, in contrast to the nearly destitute spinster Anne Elliot of Austen's tale, is a guidance counselor at an upscale high school who deals regularly with pushy parents who insist that she pull strings to get their child into a prestigious college. At the same time, Anne's father has squandered the family fortune and she is forced to sell her grandmother's house. As Anne deals with a neverending parade of "helicopter" parents, educational consultants, and college recruiters, she comes face to face with Ben, the man she rejected thirteen years earlier because he did not have enough money. He has just enrolled his nephew into her high school, has become a successful writer, is engaged to someone else, and still has not forgiven Anne for leaving him. Writing in Booklist, Kristine Huntley called Jane Austen in Scarsdale a "witty satire" and a "charming modernization" of a beloved tale.

Cohen's nonfiction books have also met with critical praise. In Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism, she examines how Hitchcock's popular (and modern) films are actually rooted in Victorian ideals of femininity and patriarchy. Analyzing such films as Psycho, Spellbound, and Vertigo, among others, she theorizes that for Hitchcock, the father-daughter relationship became the romantic ideal. In Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth, she discusses the early years of filmmaking and how they helped to transform American culture through the influence of their stars and the deep psychological connection viewers felt with movies. Movies came about at a time in the young country's history that made them ripe for ingraining in its citizens a mythology of who we are and where we come from. As film critic Stanley Kauffmann wrote in a review of the book for the New Republic, Cohen demonstrates how "all art that affects us becomes personal to us, but films often seem more private possessions than other arts, more secret, more at our disposition and disposal."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs, p. 18.

Education Next, summer, 2006, Diane Ravitch, review of Jane Austen in Scarsdale, p. 82.

JASNA News, spring, 2006, Nora Foster Stovel, review of Jane Austen in Boca, p. 19.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of Jane Austen in Boca, p. 1158; February 15, 2006, review of Jane Austen in Scarsdale, p. 145.

Library Journal, March 15, 2001, Jayne Plymale, review of Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth, p. 84; September 1, 2002, Andrea Kempf, review of Jane Austen in Boca, p. 210; June 1, 2004, Andrea Kempf, review of Much Ado about Jessie Kaplan, p. 118; March 15, 2006, Karen Core, review of Jane Austen in Scarsdale, p. 64.

New Republic, April 1, 2002, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth, p. 26.

People, December 2, 2002, Bella Stander, review of Jane Austen in Boca, p. 51.

Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2002, review of Jane Austen in Boca, p. 39; March 29, 2004, review of Much Ado about Jessie Kaplan, p. 37.

Victorian Studies, winter, 1995, Robin Sheets, review of The Daughter's Dilemma: Family Process and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel, p. 299.

Women's Review of Books, July, 1996, Molly Hite, review of The Daughter As Reader: Encounters between Literature and Life, p. 36.

ONLINE

Paula Marantz Cohen Home Page, http://www.paulamarantzcohen.com (September 13, 2006).

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