Jane Austen lived and wrote at a certain moment in time, in a particular culture. This course will consider her works in that context. We will begin by the semester by looking briefly at writings by some of Austen’s predecessors, authors like Samuel Richardson and Frances Burney, whose works shaped her own writings. We will then turn to Austen’s novels, our main focus. Alongside each novel, we will read short related texts published at the same time – selections from Gothic novels with Northanger Abbey, instructions for household management with Emma, abolitionist poems with Mansfield Park, and wartime newspaper reports with Persuasion, for example. After thinking about Austen’s relationship to popular culture of her own time, we will conclude the semester by considering how Austen’s novels have been interpreted in contemporary adaptations such as Clueless, Bride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Students will also engage with various critical perspectives via brief presentations on trends in Austen criticism.
Fulfills Sector III: Arts and Letters requirement.