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Jane Austen

ENG 421

Jane Austen

Description and Objectives

Course Description and Objectives

Jane Austen is one of the most beloved novelists in English fiction. Her writing has become a little home that a wide range of readers wants to live in, sometimes leading to fights for elbow room. What makes her so appealing and so controversial? As we look around her home, we’ll hear conversations of successes and failures, feel the warmth or blaze of her insights, and see all furnished with her memorable wit.

Topics Covered

  • Jane’s vision of human life
  • Jane’s personal interests
  • The Jane-ite phenomenon: popularity and tensions


Books, Writings, Stage and Film Adaptations

    • Austens’ unfinished and early writings
    • Personal letters to Austen’s relatives
    • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    • Emma, by Jane Austen
    • Pride@Prejudice, by Daniel Elihu Kramer
    • Excerpts from film adaptations of Emma (1996 and Clueless) and Pride and Prejudice (1940, 1996, 2005).

Course Requirements

Course Requirements

  • Attendance is paramount, and active class participation and critical questioning are required. Together these will form a participation grade. Excused absences are, of course, excused.
  • Daily reading and raising his personal writing bar will be most rewarding for each student.


  • Frequent short written analyses of Austen’s writings. Typically these are 1-2 page handwritten essays begun in class and finished at home. Rewrites are permitted for greater quality and depth.
  • Seminar conversations
  • Active representations of moments in Austen’s stories or performance of scenes from a play adaptation.

A Note on Grades

  • I’ve found that for English essays, discussion of letter grades often leads to distraction from and neglect of the actual writing. Consequently I will frame conversations with students in terms of the quality and content of their writing. If he is doing his best work, he will get the best grade he can achieve.
  • At the same time, I understand that grades are a useful assessment of a student’s work for a parent or mentor not directly involved with the assignment itself, and I will discuss letter grades with parents and mentors whenever desired.

Successful Students

Successful Students

  • Successful students will be on time, with books and notes in hand.
  • They will display attentiveness to detail and foster habits of creative initiative and a collaborative spirit.
  • Above all, they will turn in writing assignments early and take advantage of the rewrite option. Good writing is rewriting!

Additional Resources


  • The exam for this class will cover all semester material covered up to the review classes. Review classes will take place in the days leading up to the exam.