Description Few novelists—indeed, few artists, past or present—speak more directly to our overriding personal concern: desiring, pursuing, and achieving happiness—or failing to. While her novels are best known for their exploration of love, courtship, marriage, and domestic life, Austen is a lighthearted yet profound analyst of the intersections of gender, class, desire, and ambition. We will read all six of Austen's major novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. We will also consider contemporary adaptations of her work for film and television and the emergence of what has been called a “Janeite fan culture” surrounding her legacy.
Policies Attendance & Class Participation: A seminar is a space in which we develop knowledge collaboratively. That means that you must attend class ready to listen, think, read, write, and speak thoughtfully. To do all of that, you must complete the reading and writing assignments on time, and you must complete them with your mind awake. A seminar is also a place in which we engage in the practice of writing. At every meeting, we will do things in class designed to move your thinking and writing along.
It is courteous to let me know if you must miss class, and why. Starting with your third absence from class, you will lose one step per absence from your final grade. If you miss a total of more than 7 classes (~25% of the total) you will find it difficult to pass the course. If there are extenuating circumstances, please have your advisor contact me as soon as possible. Conferences: You should plan to meet with me at least twice during the semester to discuss a draft of one of your writing assignments—a response paper, midterm essay, or the final. I do not hold regular open office hours, but I am happy to talk about your ideas and your work at any time. Email is always the best way to reach me, although it may be 24 hours before I am able to respond.
Writing: All writing assignments are to be turned in on the due date, in class. Writing assignments must be printed and properly formatted in MLA style—double spaced, 1” margins, 12 pt. font, including a separate Works Cited page. I do not accept written assignments by email. If you are unable to complete an assignment on time and require an extension, please let me know as far in advance as possible. Extensions will be granted only under exceptional circumstances. Otherwise, the grade for any assignment turned in late will be lowered by one step (B+ to B, etc.) per day.
Presentations: Each student will be required to give a 10-minute presentation in class introducing the reading for the week and a topic for class discussion. A sign-up schedule will be distributed during our first meeting.
Reading: This course is reading intensive. You can expect reading assignments to average 100 to 150 pages per week.
Final Paper/Project: The final for this course may take the form of the an essay or a creative project with my approval. A creative project might be a film or video, a staged performance, or a substantial oral presentation, and it may be collaborative. If you choose this option you will be required to produce a script, report, or written reflection on your work of equivalent length to the final essay (6-8 pp.).
Academic Integrity: This university is “a community of scholars who value free and open inquiry” (CAS Academic Integrity). In this class, we work with ideas and language. It is deeply important to keep track of which of those you have developed (in dialogue with classmates, sources, professors, friends, and so on) and which of those have come to you from others (classmates, sources, professors, friends, the internet, and so on). To put it succinctly—and to, once again, quote the CAS statement on Academic Integrity: “Academic honesty means that the work you submit—in whatever form—is original.”
This means that you may not submit work written (even in part) by someone else as though it was written by you, and it also means that you may not submit work written for this course in another course.
Support: The Writing Center provides additional support for student writers. Writing Center consultants are NYU faculty. They can provide an outside perspective on a draft, be a sounding board as you develop ideas, or help you better understand where you want to take an essay. I strongly encourage you to make use of the Writing Center at least once during the semester.
Grading Short response papers 20%
Midterm essay 25%
Final paper or project 35%
Schedule Please note that this schedule is preliminary and subject to change. Check your email and NYU Classes for updates. Week 1: January 25
An introduction to Jane Austen’s world
Screening: Excerpt of Pride and Prejudice, perf. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (BBC, 2005)
Week 2: February 1
Pride and Prejudice, part 1. (read approximately first ~100 pp.)
Screening: Excerpt of Pride and Prejudice (BBC, 2005)
Week 3: February 8
Pride and Prejudice, part 2.
Screening: Excerpt of Pride and Prejudice, perf. Keira Knightley (Focus, 2005)
Response Paper #1, 2-3 pp.
Week 4: February 15 – Presidents’ Day: No Class Week 5: February 22
Sense and Sensibility, vols. 1 & 2
Screening: Excerpt of Sense and Sensibility, perf. Emma Thompson, dir. Ang Lee (1996)
Week 6: March 1
Sense and Sensibility, vol. 3
Response Paper #2, 2-3 pp.
Week 7: March 8
Mansfield Park, vol. 1
Discussion of Midterm essay topics
March 14 – Spring Break Week 8: March 21
Mansfield Park, vols. 2 & 3
Screening: Excerpt of Jane Eyre, perf. Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender (2011)
Week 9: March 28
Northanger Abbey, vol. 1
Midterm Essay due, 5-6 pp.
Week 10: April 4
Northanger Abbey, vol. 2
Screening: Excerpt of Northanger Abbey (2007)
Week 11: April 11
Emma, vol. 1
Screening: Excerpt of Emma, perf. Gwyneth Paltrow (1996)
Week 12: April 18
Emma, vols. 2 & 3
Screening: Excerpt of Clueless, perf. Alicia Silverstone (1993)
Week 13: April 25
Persuasion, vol. 1
Discussion of Final papers/projects
Week 14: May 2
Persuasion, vol. 2
Screening: Excerpt of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, perf. Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons (1981)