|Seminar in Major Authors (ENGL
Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy
JH 311, 5085
Office Hours: MW 2-4 and by appointment
Texts (to be read in this order)
Please purchase these editions:
|Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice.
Ed. James Kingsley. Oxford World's Classics, 1998.
---. Emma. Ed. James Kingsley. Oxford World's Classics, 1998.
---. Persuasion. Ed. John Davie. Oxford World's Classics, 1998.
||Hardy, Thomas. Far from the Madding
Crowd. Ed. Suzanne B. Falck-Yi. Oxford World's Classics,
---. The Return of the Native. Ed. Tony Slade. Penguin Classics, 1999.
---. The Distracted Preacher and Other Tales. Ed. Susan Hill. Penguin Classics, 1979.
We'll be reading three novels by Jane Austen (1775-1817) and two novels and selected short fiction by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). I may also be asking you to attend--at a time and place to be announced--several evening screenings, by the Centenary Film Society, of movies based on their novels. You should be willing and able to do so.
Austen's comic novels come at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Hardy's tragic ones at the end. This is a century witnessing dramatic cultural changes. It begins in the wake of political revolution, the fear of which in England leads to both repression and gradual democratic reform. The century sees also the transition from an economy based on agriculture to one based on commerce and industry. There is an attendant displacement of rural folk to urban centers. Social mobility is another consequence of the declining power of the aristocracy (whose wealth derives from land) and the empowerment of the bourgeoisie. Among intellectuals there is a crisis of religious faith thanks in no small measure to Darwinian theory. The end of the century sees a loss of confidence in progress (the secular religion of the mid-Victorians) and a deepening pessimism about the efficacy of political and social reform. It is against this panorama that Austen, at the beginning of the century, and Hardy at the end explore the romantic relationship of women and men--their relationship one with another, with their society, and with the natural world. This course will acquaint you with these historical matters, which remain relevant even now at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Your study of these novels and "tales" (which will include significant writing of your own) should also make you a more discerning critic able to communicate subtle and complex ideas with clarity and style; it should also excite your creative imagination and make you a more sensitive and empathetic person.
(A parenthetical apology: Hardy's most famous
novel, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, ought to figure in this course
if for no other reason than that it, like the three novels by Austen and
both Far from the Madding Crowd and The Return of the Native,
has a female protagonist who is the object of courtship; but a colleague
taught Tess only this past spring in a course cross-listed in English
and it will appear on the syllabus for my Studies in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Centure
British Literature in spring 2002.)
You will write three 250-500-word informal analytical
discussions of some feature of Pride and Prejudice, Emma,
and Far from the Madding Crowd (30%), an essay of 1000-1250 words
on the three novels by Austen, and a similar one on the two by Hardy (50%).
Tardiness will cost an assignment at least a letter grade. There
will be a comprehensive final exam (20%). Regular attendance
is mandatory. To be present, you must be on time to class; you must
have the assigned text with you; and you must stay awake. Miss
more than nine classes for any reason and you will fail the course.
Summary of Grading
A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79; D=60-60; F=0-59
Assignments by Week (films to be announced)
|August 20-24||Austen, Pride and Prejudice|
|August 27-31||Pride and Prejudice||Wednesday: Discussion 1, topic tba|
Monday, Labor Day Holiday
|September 10-14||Emma||Friday: Discussion 2, topic tba|
Friday, Fall Break
|Wednesday: Essay 1 on Austen, topics tba|
|October 8-12||Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd|
|October 15-19||Far from the Madding Crowd||Wednesday: Discussion 3, topic tba|
|October 22-26||The Return of the Native|
|October 29-November 2||The Return of the Native|
|November 5-9||Friday: Essay 2 on Hardy, topics tba|
|November 12-16||from The Distracted Preacher and Other Tales:
"The Distracted Preacher" (40)
"A Mere Interlude" (99)
"The Withered Arm" (134)
|November 26-30||"The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion"
"Barbara of the House of Grebe" (211)
"On the Western Circuit" (244)
|"The Fiddler of the Reels" (286)
"An Imaginative Woman" (305)
|Friday, 5-8 p.m.: Final Exam|
Two useful Web sites
"The Republic of Pemberley" (Jane Austen): http://www.pemberley.com/index.html
"Welcome to the Thomas Hardy Association": http://www.yale.edu/hardysoc/Welcome/welcomet.htm