Syllabus: Jane Austen, the Novel, and the Culture of the Book
Topics in Romantic Literature
Jane Austen, the Novel, and the Culture of the Book
Simon Fraser University
In this course, we will read Jane Austen’s six novels, as well as her juvenilia and other unpublished fiction, selected letters, and early family memoirs, to examine her role in the history of the novel and in the book culture of the period. Specific topics will include: Austen’s participation in domestic, manuscript culture; her role as a reader and critical commentator on literary trends, including the novel of sensibility and the gothic; her position as a female author, including her efforts to promote (and distinguish herself from) the fiction of other women; her status as1 a professional author, including her relationships with publishers and patrons; her novels and their dissemination in circulating libraries and book societies; her reception in the early nineteenth century, in periodical reviews and by major writers of the period (including Byron, Scott, Wordsworth, and Coleridge); and her canonization during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries asthemajor female author of the period. In addition to immersing ourselves in the world of Austen’s fiction, students will engage with a selection of theoretical readings that address her participation in the material culture of her day.
- Austen, Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon(Oxford)
- ---, Sense and Sensibility(Broadview)
- ---, Pride and Prejudice(Longman)
- ---, Mansfield Park(Broadview)
- ---, Emma(Longman)
- ---, Persuasion(Longman)
- Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen(Oxford)
All secondary reading will be available on webct.sfu.ca.
- Diane Hacker, A Canadian Writer’s Reference (3rd)
- M.H. Abrams, Glossary of Literary Terms
- 15% Participation
- 15% Student Presentations (10% for first presentation, done in pairs; 5% for final presentation)
- 10% First Essay (5-7 pages) (Due in class January 28)
- 15% Revision of First Essay (Due in class February 18)
- 20% Final Essay (10-12 pages) (Due in class March 10)
- 25% Revised Final Essay (April 7)
In this course, we are seeking a thorough knowledge of the Romantic literary culture through an in-depth analysis of one of the period’s most famous authors, the novelist Jane Austen. You will be responsible—through your readings, presentations, participation and essays for seriously engaging with the literature and culture of this period.
Active and engaged class participation is necessary to make this course a success. You must do all of the required reading. As we will be doing the novels over two or three classes, it is highly desirable that you be finished reading the novel by the beginning of the first class we are to consider it. This is a course with a lot of reading—so consider yourself warned!
You will make two presentations for the course. The first one, to be conducted in pairs, will count for 10% of your final grade (maximum 15 minutes). This presentation will require considerable outside research, and will be focused on a topic, related to that day’s secondary reading, to be determined in consultation with me. You will be asked to sign up for a presentation on the first day of class.
For your second presentation, to be given on the last day of class, you will provide a brief (5 minute) statement that outlines the major questions and implications of your final paper.
Additional guidelines for your presentations will be provided in class.
You will write two essays in this course. Detailed guidelines for these papers will be given to you. As this course is writing intensive, you will write two versions of each paper, receiving feedback on both. The second, revised version of each essay must be responsive to the criticism and suggestions received on the first version. It is your responsibility to ensure that you understand the suggestions and recommendations I will provide for you.
All papers are due on the dates listed in the class schedule. Late papers will lose one plus or minus grade for every day that they remain outstanding.There are no exceptions.
All papers must be presented in the proper format: they must be typed, double spaced, one inch margins, 12 point font size, with page numbers, and an interesting title. Your name, date and class information must appear clearly on the first page of your paper. Please DO NOT use a separate title page; double-sided papers are strongly encouraged.
The MLA Style Manual defines plagiarism as “the use of another person’s ideas or expressions in your own writing without acknowledging the source.” Plagiarism is a serious academic offence that will be reported to the Dean of Students, and can result in expulsion. If you plagiarize, you will be given a zero on that paper and may also fail the course. Please ask me if you have any questions about how to document your sources.
**all secondary readings are available on webct.sfu.ca, unless otherwise noted.
January 7: Introduction
- Kathryn Sutherland, “Chronology of composition and publication.” Todd, Janet, Ed. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen: Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP; 2005, 12-22.
January 14: Manuscript Culture and the Juvenilia
- “Love and Freindship”; “The Beautifull Cassandra”; “A History of England”
- Margaret Ann Doody, “The Short Fiction.” Eds. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 12-31.
- Debra Kaplan, “Circles of support.” Jane Austen Among Women. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1992.
January 21: Northanger Abbey and the Rise of the Novel (Part I)
- Northanger Abbey
- Franco Moretti, “The novel, the nation-state,” Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900 London: Verso, 1998. 13-40.
- Claudia Johnson, “‘Let Me Make the Novels of a Country’: Barbauld’s The British Novelists (1810/1820).” Novel: A Forum on Fiction, 2001 Spring; 34 (2): 163-79.
January 28: Northanger Abbey/Sense and Sensibility and the Rise of the Novel (Part II)
- Northanger Abbey
- Nancy Armstrong, “The Rise of female authority in the novel.” Desire and Domestic Fiction: a political history of the novel. New York: Oxford UP, 28-58.
- Mary Poovey, “Ideological contradictions and the consolations of form: the case of Jane Austen.” The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984.
- Paper #1 Due in Class
February 4: Sense and Sensibility and the Book Trade
- James Raven, “Book Production.” Todd, Janet, Ed. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen: Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 2005, 194-203.
- Peter Garside, “The English Novel in the Romantic Era: Consolidation and Dispersal.” Peter Garside, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerling, Eds. The English Novel 1770-1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles. Vol. II, 1800-1829.
February 11: Pride and Prejudice and Authorship
- Pride and Prejudice
- Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?”
- Jan Fergus, “The professional woman writer.” Eds. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 12-31.
February 18: No Class
- Revised Paper #1 Due in English Department Office by 4 pm
February 25: Mansfield Park and Reading (Marathon class: this will be a long class to make up for the missed class the week before; we will discuss times in early February)
- Mansfield Park
Please ready any 3 of the following:
- Ian Watt, “The reading public and the rise of the novel.” The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding. Berkeley: U of California P, 1957. 35-59.
- Alan Richardson, “Reading Practices,” in Todd, Janet, Ed. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen: Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP; 2005. 397-405.
- Patricia Howells Michaelson, “Women in the Reading Circle.” Eighteenth-Century Life, 13, 1989: 59-69.
- Barbara Benedict, “Chapter 5: Jane Austen and the Culture of Circulating Libraries: The Construction of Female Literacy.” Backscheider, Paula, Ed. Revising Women: Eighteenth-Century ‘Women's Fiction’ and Social Engagement. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000. 147-99. (available online at SFU library)
- Lee Erickson, “The Economy of Novel Reading: Jane Austen and the Circulating Library.” SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900,30 (4), Autumn 1990: 573-90.
March 3: Emma and Reception
- Barbara Benedict, “Readers, Writers, Reviewers, and the Professionalization of Literature.” Keymer, Thomas and Mee, Jon, Eds. The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1740-1830. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP; 2004. 3-23.
- William St. Clair, “Reading, reception, and dissemination.” The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 394-412.
March 10: Emma and Reception
- Early reviews of Emma (in the Longman edition)
- Mary Waldron, “Critical Responses, early,” Todd, Janet, Ed. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen: Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP; 2005, 83-91
- Paper #2 Due in class
March 17: No Class
March 24: Easter/No Class
March 31: Persuasion, Canonization
- Ian Watt, “Realism and the later tradition: a note.” The Rise of the Novel. 290-302.
- Clifford Siskin, “What We Remember: The Case of Austen.” The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1998. 193-210
April 7: Memorialization
- Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen
- Revised Paper #2 due in class
(Tentative Make-up Class)
April 14: Legacy/Popularity
- Claudia Johnson, “Austen’s Cults and Cultures. ”Eds. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 211-226.
- Deidre Shauna Lynch, “Cult of Jane Austen.” Todd, Janet, Ed. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen: Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP; 2005, 111-120.
- Final presentations