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; and, 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. We will examine the ways in which genre for Austen and her contemporary novelists served as an important means by which to reinforce or challenge sociocultural norms.
Required Reading: Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. June Sturrock (Broadview, 2001); Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, 2nd ed., ed. Claire Grogan (Broadview, 2002); Matthew Gregory Lewis, The Monk, ed. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf (Broadview, 2004); John Thelwall, The Daughter of Adoption, ed. Michael Scrivener et al. (Broadview, 2013); 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: Lewis, The Monk; Austen, Northanger Abbey; Thelwall, The Daughter of Adoption.
Method of Evaluation: Essay #1 (15%); essay #2 (35%); participation (10%); final exam (40%).