Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG323H1S  L0101  T3-5, R3
Austen and Her Contemporaries 
Dr. Michael Johnstone

Brief Description of Course: This course will explore the fiction of Jane Austen in relation to its literary and sociopolitical context, particularly in view of the aesthetic and cultural issues prevalent at the time of the French Revolution and Regency in England (1789–1820). Austen’s novels reflect, confront, and challenge these issues (i.e., social and economic class, war, gender roles, rights, imperialism/colonialism, slavery, the status of the novel, genre, reading and readerships, and more), particularly as they affected women. We will read Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) alongside Charlotte Smith’s The Old Manor House (1794) to consider the representation –– and critique –– of women’s socioeconomic status, especially as related to property, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) alongside John Thelwall’s The Daughter of Adoption to consider the representation(s) of and discourse about slavery — of various forms — in the early 19th century; and, Austen’s Emma (1816) alongside Hannah More’s Coelebs in Search of a Wife (1808) to consider the gender(ed) politics of courtship and marriage in the early 19th century. Throughout, we will consider how genre functions to reinforce as well as subvert sociocultural norms.

Required Reading: Jane Austen, Emma, edited by Kristin Flieger Samuelian, Broadview Press, 2004; Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, edited by June Sturrock, Broadview Press, 2001; Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, edited by Robert P. Irvine, Broadview Press, 2002; Hannah More, Coelebs in Search of a Wife, edited by Patricia Demers, Broadview, 2007; Charlotte Smith, The Old Manor House, edited by Jacqueline M. Labbe, Broadview Press, 2002; John Thelwall, The Daughter of Adoption, edited by Michael Scrivener et al., Broadview Press, 2013; Janet Todd, editor, Jane Austen in Context, Cambridge UP, 2005.

NOTE: All texts will be available at the UofT Book Store (Koffler Centre, at St. George and College Streets). You are strongly encouraged to purchase/use the assigned Broadview editions of the novels, as we will be using their contextual/background sources extensively in lectures and for Essay #2.

First Three Authors/Texts: Smith, The Old Manor House; Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Thelwall, The Daughter of Adoption.

Method of Instruction: Lecture, discussion, group work.

Method of Evaluation:: Essay #1 (15%), essay #2 (35%), quiz (10%), participation (15%), In-Class test (25%).

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