Discussion Questions: Reading Jane Austen’s Juvenilia online

"Discussion Questions: Reading Jane Austen’s Juvenilia online"
ENGL 427
Spring 2012

Michelle Levy
Simon Fraser University


Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts

Turning the Pages: High Quality Version of Jane Austen’s History of England

Margaret Ann Doody, “The Short Fiction.” Ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 12-31.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read the introduction to Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts (see link below). What do we learn about the manuscripts and the justifications for the project? What are the different elements of the website, and how might they be used? How might you use the site in research?
  2. Read the Headnote to Volume the Second and the Conservation Report (links below). What interesting details do we learn about the physical manuscripts? How might they contribute to our understanding of (1) the circumstances in which the volumes were compiled; and (2) the fiction contained within the volumes?
  3. Compare the two interfaces used for digital versions of “A History of England” (the British Library’s “Turning the Pages: High Quality Version of Jane Austen’s History of England” and Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts —links below). Which is more user-friendly, and why? Does one provide more insight into the text itself, and if so, why? Be sure to check out the audio function of the BL version, and to compare the zoom function in both.
  4. Examine Austen’s deletion and substitution of “Regency Walking Dress” and “Regency” in “Catherine.” Why does Doody say this substitution has been made (pp. 2-4), and what do the editors Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts say? What do you think? Does this difference matter?
  5. Use the search function in Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts for several key words (perhaps “sensibility”; “heroine”; “print”; “manuscript”) as well as a few of your own choosing. Are the search results helpful? How might you use the search function to begin to make an argument about the meaning of Austen’s manuscripts? What are the limitations of the search function?