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 Northanger Abbey (1818) alongside Matthew Lewis’s The Monk (1796) to consider the gender(ed) aesthetics and politics of the Gothic; 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 Mansfield Park (1814) alongside alongside Hannah More’s Coelebs in Search of a Wife (1808) 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, Emma, edited by Kristin Flieger Samuelian, Broadview Press, 2004; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, 2nd ed., edited by Claire Grogan, Broadview Press, 2002; Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, edited by Robert P. Irvine, Broadview Press, 2002; Matthew Gregory Lewis, The Monk, edited by D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf, Broadview Press, 2004; 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; 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: Lewis, The Monk; Austen, Northanger Abbey; Smith, The Old Manor House.
Method of Instruction: Lecture, discussion, group work.
Method of Evaluation: First essay (15%); second essay (35%); quiz (10%); participation (10%); exam (30%).