This course will examine the works of one of the most adapted and reworked author in the English literary canon: Jane Austen. In this course we will try and account for Austen's enduring popularity and appeal to global audiences. We will start by situating her novels in the context of late 18th and early 19th century Britain, in the wake of the French Revolution and the contested ideas surrounding Enlightenment and Cosmopolitanism. We will read her fiction historically, paying close attention to how Austen responds innovatively to issues surrounding norms underpininning gender and sexuality, social contract theory, and the value of the literary arts. We will then consider how the cultural debates enacted by her fiction continue to resound today by analysing a range of adaptations, from Hollywood to Bollywood. We will pay particular attention to the place she occupies within the British heritage industry and the forms of politicised nostalgia it circulates, and we will also examine contemporary adaptations of her work in the context of conflicts around forms of neocolonialism, heteronormativity, and classism that her novels continue to provoke.
Austen and the development of the domestic novel
Austen and the Western Canon
The politics of Adaptation
This course will introduce students to the field of Austen studies. Students will read carefully a number of texts from Austen’s corpus, and learn to read them in their cultural and historical contexts. We will also look at how Austen continues to make an impact on cultural production today, and we will learn to interpret and critique the terms of her ongoing influence. Students completing this course will develop their own critical readings of Austen’s fiction, and the new meanings generated from them through continued adaptation of her works. Students will practice how to communicate their readings effectively in written and oral formants, and to act as informed and critical readers within a scholarly community.
Students will practice how to communicate their readings effectively in written and oral formants, and act
as informed and critical readers within a scholarly community.
Weekly lectures and tutorials
One short paper (30%)
Group Project/Class Presentation (15%)
Final Paper (40%)
Contribution to Seminar discussions (15%)
Texts to be studied by Austen and her contemporaries might include:
A Woman of Colour (Anonymous, 1808)
Sense and Sensibility (1811)
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Mansfield Park (1814)
Students undertaking this course in 2023: The reading list will be finalised on the first week of semester. If you would like to start purchasing and reading texts over the summer holidays, you can start with Austen’s final, posthumously published novel, Sanditon, from 1817. Any edition is acceptable.