What is the course about?
Too often seen as mere costume drama, Jane Austen’s innovatory novels stimulate profound insights into our ethical quandaries. We shall explore how Austen achieves this in three major works – Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Mansfield Park.
What will we cover?
We shall discuss extracts from the three novels, with particular emphasis on their dramatisation of the conflict between material, social values and the desire for more truthful life choices. In particular we shall consider the increasingly mature expression of innocence and experience in the three heroines – Catherine Morland, Anne Elliot and Fanny Price – and the significance of Austen’s consistent juxtaposition of cynicism and sincerity.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Demonstrate insight into how Austen creates and presents credible, evolving characters.
Appreciate the ethical significance of Austen’s creativity.
Identify how Austen dramatised and satirised aspects of her own society – and how her work is urgently relevant to our own.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No particular prior knowledge will be assumed, but you will need to feel enthusiastic about the prospect of reading and discussing Austen’s writing. You will interested in listening to – and learning from – the responses of other students to the work discussed.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Teacher explanation; group discussion.
Peter Brennan is a poet, and was for many years Head of English at The Latymer School, Edmonton. He founded Visionary Company courses in 2005, and is Editor-in-Chief of Perdika Press.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No. You will be provided with photocopies of the extracts to be studied. Please bring a pen and paper.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other literature courses under History, Culture and Writing at www.citylit.ac.uk or in the prospectus under Humanities.