Jane Austen’s Early Novels

Jane Austen has long been one of the most popular English novelists, admired by a wide audience of readers and scholars. All six of her completed novels have been continuously in print since 1833 and each is now widely available in multiple editions. In recent years, the appetite for Jane Austen has become positively insatiable! Feature-length movies have been made of all of Austen’s novels; two film dramatizations of Austen’s life have appeared: Miss Austen Regrets on PBS and Becoming Jane; and numerous contemporary authors have tried to ride the Austen coattails with an astounding array of novels such as The Jane Austen Book Club, Jane Austen in Scarsdale, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Death Comes to Pemberley. The Jane Austen brand is now being used to market spin-off products ranging from note cards to mugs to action figures. In this seminar we will read and discuss Jane Austen’s first two novels, both of which are short: Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility. I will provide background about Austen’s life, historical and cultural contexts, and the development of the novel as a literary form. In Northanger Abbey Austen parodies the Gothic novels that had become popular at the end of the 18th century, defends the novel as a genre, and provides her own literary realism as an alternative. Sense and Sensibility is a darker and more complex novel that deepens Austen’s views of marriage and the family as central social and economic institutions.

Venue: Chilton Club
Meets on: Tuesdays 1 to 3 PM
Starting: 4/2/2024
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 20
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 3 hours
Group Leader Biography:

In a long career as a Professor at Simmons University, Pamela Bromberg has taught courses on 18th and 19th century British literature, as well as seminars on Jane Austen, Critical Theory, the Development of the English Novel, and Postcolonial Literature. She has contributed articles on Austen’s and Fielding’s novels to the MLA Approaches to Teaching series.