E s379M • Jane Austen on Location-- England
Restricted to participants in the Oxford Summer Program
This class reads four novels by Jane Austen in the context of the real-world locations that served as settings for her stories and her life. We will read Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Persuasion (1818), and Northanger Abbey (1818) and visit the country estates and towns featured in these fictions. Like the heroine Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, we will tour rich country estates and extant eighteenth-century gardens, particularly those of Blenheim, Stowe, West Wycomb, Rousham, and Prior Park. In the century prior to the publication of Austen's works, British landscape architecture had changed dramatically-as the manicured French-inspired symmetrical garden, with its clipped hedges, fountains, and mazes, gave way to the sweeping sheep-dotted vistas of Capability Brown. Austen's novels comment on how these aesthetic alterations to the landscape reflect moral, religious, and political changes in British culture. Persuasion prominently features the city of Bath, where Austen and her family lived for many years, and the town of Lyme Regis, where she once holidayed. Our visits to both locales will link place and characterization, just as it famously did for Tennyson on his visit to Lyme in 1867: "Now take me to the Cobb, and show me the steps from which Louisa Musgrove fell." We will also travel through the Hampshire countryside, where Austen lived much of her life, in order to visit the village of Chawton, where her former home is now a museum, and the Winchester Cathedral, where Austen lies buried. We will end the term with Northanger Abbey, a novel that not only provides us with an alternative judgment of the city of Bath but offers a marvelous overview of how Classical sensibilities give way to (and compete with) the Romantic and the Gothic in Austen's time. With many Regency gardens and period architecture still extant in Oxford's own environs, we will spend as much time as possible outdoors-- reconstructing both Austen's real world and her imagined one.
Further Austen-related locales (plus details about some of the ones mentioned above) can be found at http://www.pemberley.com/jasites/jasites.html.
3 research reports of 2 pages each on PERSON, PLACE, and THING (20% each)
2 interpretive essays of 2 pages each (15 % each)
Participation and attendance (10%)
Note: under no circumstances purchase the all-in-one Penguin edition of Austen's novels; it is unwieldy, lacks explanatory notes, and seems virtually unreadable due to small type.
Sense and Sensibility, Ross Ballaster, ed. (Penguin, 2003)
Pride and Prejudice, Vivien Jones, ed. (Penguin, 2003)
Northanger Abbey, Marilyn Butler, ed. (Penguin, 2003)
Persuasion, Linda Bree, ed. (Broadview, 1998) or Gillian Beer, ed. (Penguin, 2003)