ENG323H1F - L0101

Austen and Her Contemporaries


Tuesday 10 am - 12 pm

Thursday 10 am - 11 am


Dr. M. Johnstone

E-mail: m.johnstone@utoronto.ca

Office location

JHB 803

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, cultural, and political 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 (1806) to consider the gender(ed) aesthetics and politics of sentimentality; 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 Emma (1815) alongside Hannah More’s Coelebs in Search of a Wife (1808) to consider the class 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(s)

Austen, Emma (Broadview, 2004); Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 2nd ed. (Broadview, 2020); Austen, Sense and Sensibility (Broadview, 2001); Godwin, Fleetwood (Broadview, 2000); More, Caelebs in Search of a Wife (Broadview, 2007); Smith, The Old Manor House (Broadview, 2002).

First Three Authors/Texts

Godwin, Fleetwood; Austen, Sense and Sensibility; Smith, The Old Manor House.

Method of Evaluation

  • Essay #1 (15%)
  • Essay #2 (35%)
  • Quiz (10%)
  • Participation (15%)
  • Test (25%)