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EN3A4 Austen in Theory

Lecture: Thursday 6pm (weeks 4 and 8 of each term)

Seminars: Wednesday 9:30-11am; 11-12:30pm

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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:

Dear students: Please note that you will be responsible for bringing a legible version of these texts to class with you, and on something larger than a cell phone screen. I would also recommend buying your own copies of the Hume and Smith--these are dense books, which you will need to read slowly and carefully.

Mandatory Primary Texts (on order at bookstore):

Austen, Jane. Persuasion (OUP, 2004).

---. Mansfield Park (OUP, 2008)

---. Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon (OUP, 2008)

---. Pride and Prejudice (OUP, 2008)

---. Sense and Sensiblity (OUP, 2008)

Butler, Marilyn. Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (OUP, 1987).

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

1: (Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas; Barbara Johnson, "The Divine Miss A")

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

(A note: this week’s class will need to be rescheduled—the instructor is away at a conference. Rescheduling to take place in class during week one. Students should come to class in week three having read S&S and the Hume “Taste” as scheduled for week three; there will be two classes, one as scheduled and one as rescheduled, during week four.)

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

4: Sense and Sensibility (Adam Smith, from the Moral Sentiments)

5: Pride and Prejudice (Smith, from the Moral Sentiments)

*N.b.: I've decided to do two weeks on the Moral Sentiments, at least in terms of the readings. I'll be summarizing The Wealth of Nations in class.)

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, from Culture and Imperialism, particularly "Jane Austen and Empire"; and Gayatri Spivak, "Four Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism")

2: Emma (Structuralism and high deconstruction: Ferdinand de Saussure, "The Object of Study"; and Jaques Derrida, "Structure, Sign and Play in the Human Sciences")

3: Emma (Cultural Marxism: Raymond Williams, from The Country and the City; and Fredric Jameson)

4: Emma (Arjun Appadurai, "Commodities and the politics of value"; Bill Brown, "The Idea of Things and the Ideas in Them")

5: Persuasion (Performative feminism: Judith Butler, "Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions")

7: Persuasion (Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best, "Surface Reading"; Sharon Marcus, "Introduction," from Between Women)

8: Persuasion (Slavoz Zizek, from The Sublime Object of Ideology)

9: Lady Susan (from D.A. Miller, Jane Austen; or, the Secret of Style)

10: Lady Susan, course wrap-up (Michel Foucault, "What is an author?")

Powerpoints from seminars