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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Jane Austen's Fiction
Austen’s carefully crafted novels were unlike any previous fiction, offering an intensely realized instance of literary originality. Austen wrote her major work in less than ten years, before her untimely death in 1817. These novels -- including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Persuasion -- have had a profound, even defining impact on the development of the novel as an artform. Our two goals will be simple: to closely read each novel (looking at the major interpretative and aesthetic questions that it generates) and to track the dialogue that takes place across her novels when they are read together. At the same time, reading these works by Austen is a way of entering into the discipline and possibilities of literary criticism. We’ll look at how critics and scholars have engaged her work, and at how her novels have been “read” – or reinterpreted – in twentieth and twenty-first century culture (including film adaptations). What would it mean to bring the same ambition, intelligence and inventiveness to our reading of Austen that she brought to the writing?