English 177-1 - Fall, 2015

Study of an Individual Author

    Topic: Jane Austen: The Major Novels

Class Information

Instructor: Roy, Parama
CRN: 52427
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 1 Wellman


    Two centuries after her death, Jane Austen may be, as she has long been, the most popular novelist in the English language. In this course we will seek to understand the sources of the popularity Austen enjoys among scholars and lay readers alike. We will study five (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion) of her six major novels, plus Lady Susan, a short unpublished epistolary novel. We will read Austen’s novels in the context of the development of her narrative method, especially the use of free indirect discourse and the reworking of a novelistic tradition that featured large numbers of women writers and readers. We will seek to situate her writing in the context of the principal political and social circumstances of her day as well as the more quotidian ones: the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars; the discourse of women’s rights; the condition of propertyless women, surplus daughters, governesses, illegitimate children, and younger sons; masculine and feminine education, work, and idleness; social mobility, debt, inheritance, and marriage; consumer culture and capitalist ideology; and the slave trade and colonialism. We will read short excerpts from the work of Austen’s early reviewers and her notable contemporaries, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Edmund Burke, and Walter Scott. We will also read critical essays by Claudia Johnson, Joseph Litvak, Mary Poovey, Raymond Williams, Edward Said, and Mary Favret.


    Take-home midterm (two close reading exercises, plus a short essay); 8-9 page paper; final (two short essays); posts to a class forum on SmartSite; and attendance and participation.


    Persuasion, ed. Patricia Meyer Spacks, ditto
    Emma, ed. George Justice, ditto
    Mansfield Park, ed. Claudia L. Johnson, ditto
    PRIDE and PREJUDICE, ed. Donald J. Gray, ditto
    SENSE and SENSIBILITY, ed. Claudia L. Johnson, ditto
    NORTHANGER ABBEY,LADY SUSAN..., ed. Claudia L. Johnson, Jane Austen