Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG323H1F L0101

ENG323H1F L0101 TR 10-1
Austen and Her Contemporaries 
M. Johnstone
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Jackman Humanities Building, Room TBA

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; and, Austen’s Persuasion (1818) 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. 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 various sociocultural norms.

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, More, Coelebs in Search of a Wife.

Method of Instruction: Lecture, discussion, group work.

Method of Evaluation: Essay #1 (15%), Essay #2 (35%), Participation (10%), Final Exam (40%).

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