What does it mean to be a “Janeite”? To collect “Austeniana”? To be part of the “cult” of Jane Austen? This course will offer a thorough consideration of Jane Austen’s novels as well as of “Jane Austen” as a cultural event. We are surrounded by on-screen adaptations of Austen’s novels; books and movies concerned with her life, the lives of her fans, and the off-page lives of her characters; and recent send-up novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If, as Joseph Grigely has suggested, we might link the vibrancy and relevance of an artistic product to its permutations, Jane Austen’s novels-and “Jane Austen”-are alive and well. But why?

We will read Austen’s six major novels: Sense and Sensibility,  Northanger Abbey, Pride and PrejudiceMansfield ParkEmma, and Persuasion. Our reading of the novels will take into account historical and cultural information about eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Great Britain; our closing examination of current popular responses to Austen will allow us to consider differences and similarities in, e.g., twentieth- and twenty-first-century gender roles, empire building, class-based concerns, etiquette, and entertainment. Course assignments include: daily work, a short analytical paper, a final presentation, and a final analytical and research paper.

Readings include:

Sense and Sensibility

Northanger Abbey

Pride and Prejudice

Mansfield Park