"The whole of this unfortunate business...has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE...yet this, however, remember: if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination"
--Cecilia, Frances Burney (1782)
This course will take up one of the 19th century’s most well-known authors: Jane Austen. Rather than leaving her in the past as an object of historical study, we will read her novels on both 19th-century terms and our own, while thinking about why we continue to turn to her novels despite their depictions of elite, white, English, and heterosexual characters and themes. In addition to reading Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice, we will look at contemporary reimaginings of the novels that challenge and update Austen’s stories so that they better reflect our own experiences and concerns.
These adaptations include a horror spoof (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), a Young Adult novel (Pride), a youtube series (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), and sci-fi time travel story (The Jane Austen Project) . We will also turn to films that take up and consider how much we as a culture love to love Austen (and how we might use her 19th-century world to understand our own). While all of these adaptations will elaborate on themes, characters, and plots from the “original” texts, we will pay particular attention to how they challenge genre boundaries, engage the reader, and offer provocative insights and critiques about gender, race, nationalism, literary value, and materiality. At the same time, we will consider how Austen herself adapted, updated, and challenged some of the literary fashions of her time.
This course fills the University of Washington’s “W” Writing Credit. Your writing will include weekly discussion posts, in-class free writes, and two papers.