Featured course: ‘Jane Austen: Then and Now’

Jane Austen collection

2017 marks the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s death, and people around the world are celebrating the beloved author’s life and legacy. In the spirit of commemoration is the fall course at Princeton, “Jane Austen: Then and Now.”

Co-taught by Claudia Johnson, the Murray Professor of English Literature, and Hope Rogers, a graduate student in the Department of English, the course encourages students to consider Austen not only as a classic, canonical inventor of the modern novel, but also as an author who is — in more ways than one — their contemporary.

“Jane Austen: Then and Now” pairs Austen’s six novels: “Emma,” “Mansfield Park,” “Northanger Abbey,” “Persuasion,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Sense and Sensibility,” with modern texts like movies, vlogs and TV shows, to illustrate the symbiotic — and sometimes problematic — relationship of the “then” and the “now.”

The course illustrates that while Austen is perpetually current in her treatment of themes such as love, violence, sisterhood, and sex and gender, contemporary texts also speak back to her, spurring us to think about these age-old issues in new ways.

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