Jane Austen famously wrote that “Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on.” Her novels explore microcosms of society in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England, with attention to themes of love, marriage, money, and politics. Beginning with her iconic novel, Pride and Prejudice, this course will trace the development of Austen’s literary career, from her early experiments with genre and mode in Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, to the novels written during her mature period, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. We will study the six novels in relation to the literary, historical, and biographical contexts that shaped Austen’s life and professional career, with attention to what makes her major themes, her unique plotting, and her characteristic narrative style so enduring.

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