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Jane Austen and Popular Culture

ENGL 255.601

This course will consider Jane Austen on (and in) popular culture: how her appreciation of Regency pop culture influenced her prose and how modern interpretations of “dear Aunt Jane” have made her a multi-platform pop phenomenon. Naturally we will read several of her novels with an eye towards how she negotiates the culture of her time, but we will also look at how Austen’s reputation has changed over the two centuries since her death. Since film versions of Austen’s novels have contributed so significantly to her enduring popularity, we will examine how adaptations both faithful (Ang Lee’s Sense  and Sensibility, the BBC Pride and Prejudice) and unconventional (Clueless, Bridget Jones’s Diary, et al.) have influenced her cultural legacy. We will also explore some of the writers who influenced Austen, including Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Maria Edgeworth, Frances Burney, and Ann Radcliffe, and examine how the “cult of Jane” developed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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