Jane Austen: Her Books and Her World

This is a 10-week seminar, starting September 28th, 2017. No class October 19th or Thanksgiving.

Moderator:                Sherry Wilson
Co-moderator:         Laura Price
Day and Time:         Thursday 10:00AM-Noon
Format:                      Seminar
Location:                   Smith College Lilly Hall Room 308
(parking permit required; provided to participants by moderator)

We will study three novels of Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Persuasion, and also Jane Austen’s world: the social and physical environment in which they are set.

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. Exhibits and festivals will be held across Britain to celebrate her works. She is one of the best loved authors of English literature. Though she lived in tumultuous times of war and social upheaval, she depicted the everyday lives of rural middle-class women who navigated socially imposed constraints that are strange to us today. Why does her work appeal to us so much?

We will spend three weeks on each novel. The first hour of each seminar session will consist of a discussion of the novel; the second is reserved for reports and discussion on some aspect of Austen’s society and how her characters adjust to its social norms. Topics for the second hour could include such topics as the clergy, the British Navy, inheritance and entail laws, the English landscape movement, social status and conformity to social norms, courtship and marriage, country entertainments, the city of Bath.

Role of participants:
Read the three Jane Austen works and participate in discussion. Reading will be 100-150 pages each week.

Either lead a discussion on a section of one of the books or prepare a presentation and discussion on a topic about the times of Jane Austen. There will be a list of suggested topics; alternative topics must be approved by the moderators.

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Persuasion (any edition). The moderators have resources and suggestions for sources for reports on the world of Jane Austen. Two good resources are the website of the Jane Austen Society of North America and the biography of Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin.

About the Moderator:
Sherry Wilson is a life-long admirer of Jane Austen who re-reads Pride and Prejudice yearly. She is a retired news reporter and garden columnist. This is her first time moderating. Laura Price is a retired pediatrician who also loves and re-reads Jane Austen. She is an experienced moderator.

Maximum number of participants: 19

Emeritus/a accepted: yes, up to 2