Novels of Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion
Time: 10:00 - 12:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now started
What is the course about?
This online Literature course explores three novels by Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. We will develop an appreciation of Austen’s narrative style and social critique through close analysis of her language, informing our reading by engaging with the literary, historical and critical contexts of these novels.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
We start with Northanger Abbey, Austen’s first novel, originally drafted c.1798/9, and published posthumously in 1817. We will consider how this work responds to the Sentimental and Gothic novel genres, comically exploring the status of fiction itself: the dangers (and pleasures) of reading, and the relationship between fiction and reality. We will also consider the extent to which Austen may offer a wider social critique through her burlesque of the Gothic.
We then move on to Pride and Prejudice (1813). We will consider the relationship between money and marriage, and think about the significance of the houses in the novel: what does it mean to be ‘mistress of Pemberley’? We will also explore the ‘mythology of Jane Austen’: is it true, as Fran Lebowitz argues, that Austen’s popularity is due to the “enormous extent to which she’s misunderstood”, or are there other ways of thinking about the ‘afterlives’ of Jane Austen in popular culture?
We end with Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion, written towards the end of her life, and published posthumously in 1818. We consider how this novel represents social mobility and the shifting relationship between landed wealth and the navy. Persuasion explores more complex relationships between income and romance, and arguably offers a more radical vision. Virginia Woolf wrote, “There is a new element in Persuasion… the observation is more of feelings than is usual”, and we explore the ways in which the heroine Anne Elliot’s consciousness is placed at the heart of the novel.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Have an increased understanding and appreciation of Jane Austen’s narrative style and techniques.
• Have an increased understanding and appreciation of the literary, historical and critical contexts of these novels, and how they may illuminate our understanding of them.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is open to all; you do not need to have prior knowledge to participate.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will be taught online through close reading of textual extracts, visual slides, and class discussion.
Please read Northanger Abbey before the first class. Thereafter, it is strongly recommended that you read each text before the relevant class for maximum enjoyment. A handout of key extracts will be provided online shortly before the course starts.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need to have (or buy) your own copies of Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. You can use any edition (as a handout of key extracts for discussion will be provided for easy reference in class); the Oxford World Classics editions are recommended.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other literature courses on our website at www.citylit.ac.uk/history, culture and writing/literature/fiction.
Sophie has taught Literature, Performing Arts and Interdisclinary Arts and Humanities for over twenty years, working for the Open University, Leeds University, and a range of Adult Learning Institutions before joining City Lit. Previously she freelanced as a theatre and opera director in community theatre and at English National Opera. She has an MA in Nineteeth Century English and American Literature, and a PhD in Early Modern Life Writing. She brings both experience and enthusiasm to her work with adult audiences.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.