Spring 2023 Undergraduate English Courses

358:435 Seminar: Jane Austen and Her World

 01  MW5   CAC  05418  FESTA   MU-112

Jane Austen and Her World                                     

Why are there so many soldiers stationed in the seemingly sleepy provincial towns where the novels of Jane Austen are so often set?  Jane Austen may conjure up images of a circumscribed world of country towns, flowing dresses and decorous manners, but she lived at a moment of immense historical turmoil, marked by famine, political repression, civil tumult at home, and slavery, revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars abroad.  This course will explore the novels of Jane Austen and modern cinematic and literary adaptions of her works with specific attention to the historical and cultural contexts out of which her writings emerged.  We will consider her novels in relation to a wide range of texts, from the scurrilous satiric prints of the period to newspaper reports on the Revolutions in France and Haiti, from picturesque images of a tranquil British countryside by Gainsborough to the devastation of war depicted by Goya. Together we will paint a picture of the world Jane Austen inhabited and of the relationships her novels establish to the greater world beyond her immediate grasp. What is at stake in the decision to represent— or to block out— historical events happening elsewhere in the world?