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EN3A4 Austen in Theory



This module pairs slow and sustained readings of Austen’s primary novels with extended readings in the culture of what we call “theory,” both eighteenth century and contemporary (post-1995). Beginning with Marilyn Butler’s Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (1975), we will situate Austen’s novels securely within intellectual history. A particular focus will be how novels can be sources of freestanding ideas; and then, in turn, how freestanding ideas can give structure to plots and characters within the novel itself.

More information: full-year module, 30 CATS. Evaluation 50/50: choice of two papers (3,500 words) or one paper (3,500 words) and one exam. Seminars meet once a week for 90 minutes, and there will be four lectures over the course of the year, weeks TBD, addressing major course themes.

Outline Syllabus (subject to change)

Dear students: I'm starting to populate the module page with links to the readings. I would recommend buying your own copies of the Hume and Smith--these are dense books, which you will need to read slowly and carefully.

Term One: Austen in Theory, 1790-1810
Week, Primary Text (Secondary Reading)

1: Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

2: Sense and Sensibility (David Hume, "On the Origin of Ideas" (from the Enquiry))

3: Sense and Sensibility (Hume, "On the Standard of Taste")

4: Sense and Sensibility (Adam Smith)

5: Pride and Prejudice (Smith)

7: Pride and Prejudice (Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, first half)

8: Pride and Prejudice (Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, second half)

9: Mansfield Park (Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1-74)

10: Mansfield Park (Burke, Reflections, 75-105, 204-end)

Term Two: Austen in Theory, 1995-Present
1: Mansfield Park (Postcolonialism: Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak)

2: Emma (Structuralism and high deconstruction: Ferdinand de Saussure and Jaques Derrida)

3: Emma (Michael Foucault)

4: Emma (Poststructuralism feminism: Irigaray and Cixous)

5: Persuasion (Cultural Marxism: Raymond Williams and Fredric Jameson)

7: Persuasion (Slavoj Zizek)

8: Persuasion (ANT: Bruno Latour)

9: Lady Susan (Performative feminism: Judith Butler)

10: Lady Susan, course wrap-up