This interdisciplinary course will focus on five novels by Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. Each novel will provide a starting point from which we will explore the representation of broad themes of historical and literary significance relating to late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Britain. We will examine the ways in which knowledge of the period in which Austen wrote enriches our understanding of her fiction and how the novels in turn participate in certain crucial debates and developments of the period. Topics to be covered will include the representation within the novels of the following: the Navy, marriage and adultery, fashion and consumption, slavery and empire, the landed estate, Bath, the concept of 'improvement', the female reading public and its institutions, leisure, the Gothic, ideas of the family and domesticity, music, the theatre, female friendship, philanthropy and science. We will also examine the significance of the Austen 'craze' with reference to film and television versions of the novels as well as Austen's presence on the internet.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Apply understanding of the historical contexts of Jane Austen’s fiction to specific novels by Austen (as well as film texts).
- Identify key elements that are distinctive of Austen’s narrative style and artistic achievement.
- Reflect, discuss and write analytically about what Austen’s fiction tells us about the society of her time.
- Develop their own critical analysis thinking about the relationship between the historical Austen and the complex cultural phenomenon that is Austen at the beginning of the 21st century.
Indicative AssessmentOne 2,000 word essay (40%) [LO 1, 2, 3, 4]
One 2,500 word essay (50%) [LO 1, 2, 3, 4]
Tutorial participation (10%) [LO 1, 2, 3, 4]
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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials.
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsJane Austen, Sense and Sensibility,
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice,
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park,
Jane Austen, Emma,
Jane Austen, Persuasion.
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