JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Study of the Works of a Single Modern Writer: Jane Austen"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: Shannon Russell
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 11:30 AM 12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

This course focuses on the work of one writer from the nineteenth century to the present. This course may be taken more than once for credit when different writers are studied. This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing.

JANE AUSTEN:  In Her World and Ours

Students will read all of Austen's major novels and selections from the Juvenilia and letters, and will be expected to critique film adaptions of these books, as well.  Students will be exposed to a variety of critical approaches to Austen's work and will engage with these in class and in their research papers.  Students will also have the opportunity to work with a Digital Humanities tool, Voyant, to explore and analyse Austen's linguistic universe.


The course aims to have students understand both Austen’s debt to previous writers and her own significant contributions to the genre of the novel. By the end of the course, students should be able to appreciate the cultural and literary contexts from which these novels emerge and should have developed critical capacities to understand why they speak so enduringly to us today.  Students should also become aware of the act of reading and the process of translation of Austen's work from the page to film in their critique of a number of adaptations of these novels.

HONORS OPTION:  Students have the option to take this course for Honors credit, providing they meet the required GPA.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Mansfield ParkJane AustenBroadview139781-55111-098-1  
Pride and PrejudiceJane AustenBroadview1-5511-028-8  
Northanger AbbeyJane AustenBroadview13.978-1-55111-479-8  
PersuasionJane AustenBroadview13.978-1-55111-131-5  
EmmaJane AustenBroadview1-5511-321-X  
Sense and SensibilityJane AustenBroadview9781551111254/155111125X Please order all books for this course from the Almost Corner Bookshop.

3 Essays (1,500 words each)Essays must be typed and conform to MLA style guidelines. At least one of these essays will involve the use of the Digital Humanities text mining tool, Voyant.60% (20% for each essay)
Group Seminar Presentation involving a film critique of an adaptation of one of the novels.A rubric for this assignment will be provided on the Moodle. 10%
Participation  10%
Final Exam 20%
Honors Component Assignment for those who are registered as Honors students onlyHonors students will do an extra project or assignment, to be devised together with the professor by week 3 of the course.Pass/Fail

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory. Students who miss three classes will have their overall final grade reduced. For example, a final grade of B will be reduced to a B-.

Exam absences:  You cannot make up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until December 9, 2016. 
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Please see the Moodle for a more detailed syllabus including readings, discussion points, assignments, and supplementary material 

NOTE:  There is NO mid-term exam in this course. 

HONORS STUDENTS: Those who take this course for Honors will have an extra assignment, to be devised and agreed between student and professor by the third week of class.


Tues. Jan. 19

Introduction to course and its requirements: Who was Jane Austen and who is she now?

Thurs. Jan. 21

Read Lady Susan and selections from the Juvenilia on the website, particularly those writings Austen compiled in Volumes 1, 2 and 3: 



Tues. Jan. 26

Playing with the gothic novel and the novel of sensibility

Read:  Chapters 1-10 of Northanger Abbey    

Appendix C:  Examples of Jane Austen's reading
Appendix D: Catherine Morland's reading 

Thurs. Jan. 28

Read: Northanger Abbey Chapters 11-20


Tues. Feb. 2 

Read:  Northanger Abbey Chapter 21-end

Thurs. Feb. 4

Training in Voyant tools

Read:  Volume I of Sense and Sensibility

WEEK 4  

Tues. Feb. 9

Read:  Volume II of Sense and Sensibility

Thurs. Feb. 11

Read:  Volume III of Sense and Sensibility

View film version of Sense and Sensibility

WEEK 5      

Tues. Feb. 16  First Essay Due today

Seminar Group 1:  Critique of film version of Sense and Sensibility 

Thurs. Feb. 18 

Read:  Volume I of Pride and Prejudice

Appendix B:  From the Conduct Books
Appendix C:  Burke on the French Revolution
Appendix D:  Discussion of Women’s Role after the French Revolution

  (Voyant refresher workshop)


Tues. Feb. 23

Read:  Volume II Pride and Prejudice

Thurs. Feb. 25

Read:  Volume II-III of Pride and Prejudice 


Tues. March 2

Read:  Volume III of Pride and Prejudice

View film version of Pride and Prejudice  

Thurs. March 4

Seminar Group 2: Critique of film version of the novel.  



Tues. March 16

 Read: Volume 1 of Mansfield Park

Appendix A: The Theatricals at Mansfield Park
Appendix B: Religion 

Thurs. March 18

Read: Volume 2 of Mansfield Park

Appendix C: Ideals of Femininity

Appendix F: A Woman’s Education
Appendix D: “The Improvement of the Estate”

WEEK 10  

Tues. March 23 Second Essay Due Today

Read:  Volume 3 Mansfield Park

Appendix E: The West Indian Connection

Thurs. March 25

 Read:  Volume 3 Mansfield Park

Appendix E: The West Indian Connection

View film version of Mansfield Park 


Tues. March 30

Seminar 3:  Critique of film version of Mansfield Park 

Thurs. April 1

 Read:  Volume I of Emma 

Appendix A:  The Composition and Reception of the Novel
Appendix B:  Social Class and Landed Society
Appendix C:  The Landless:  Gypsies and Bastards

WEEK 12  

Tues. April 6

Read: Volume II of Emma

Thurs. April 8  

Read: Volume II-III of Emma

WEEK 13 

Tues. April 13 

 Read: Volume III Emma

Thurs. April 15.   Third essay due today

View films Emma and Clueless

Seminar Group 4:   Critique of film versions of the novel.   


Tues. April 20

Read:   Volume I  Persuasion

Appendix G  From Thomson’s The Seasons
Appendix H  From Walter Scott’s Marmion
Appendix I  From Byron’s “The Gaiour”

Thurs. April 22

Read Volume 2 of Persuasion

 WEEK 15

Tues. April 27


Thurs. April 29  

Persuasion and Summing up
View film version of Persuasion 

Final Exams May 3-7