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 Sense and Sensibility (1811) alongside William Godwin’s Fleetwood (1805) to consider the (gendered) discourse of feeling and sentiment in the period; 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; and, Austen’s Persuasion (1818) alongside Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray (1805) to consider the gender politics of courtship and marriage in the early 19th century. Finally, we will examine how Austen’s popularity today encourages us to question why she remains a significant literary and cultural figure.
Required Reading: Jane Austen, Persuasion, ed. Linda Bree (Broadview, 1998); Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ed. Robert P. Irvine (Broadview, 2002); Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, ed. Kathleen James-Cavan (Broadview, 2001); William Godwin, Fleetwood, ed. Gary Handwerk and A.A. Markley (Broadview, 2001); Amelia Opie, Adeline Mowbray, ed. Anne McWhir (Broadview, 2010); Charlotte Smith, The Old Manor House, ed. Jacqueline M. Labbe (Broadview, 2002); Janet Todd, 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: Godwin, Fleetwood; Austen, Sense and Sensibility; Smith, The Old Manor House.
Method of Evaluation: First essay (15%); second essay (30%); quiz (10%); participation (15%); final exam (30%).
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