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Global Jane Austen: Fiction & Fantasy

This course focuses on the fiction of Jane Austen, who wrote her letters and novels in the English countryside at the turn of the nineteenth century, quietly amusing her relatives with her wit.This author, who never traveled outside England and had the opportunity for little formal schooling, has nonetheless wielded enormous literary and cultural influence across the globe. Austen societies can be found on six continents, and her novels have been the inspiration for Brazilian telenovelas, as well as films set in contemporary India and the 1990s California teenager scene.In addition, novelists in many languages have attempted to imitate aspects of her writing or have transposed aspects of her plots or themes to entirely different settings.We can see echoes of Austen in novels from Victorian and modernist England, mid nineteenth-century Russia, provincial nineteenth-century France, and war-torn mid-twentieth-century Japan. We also see her in short stories from WWI, telenovelas in Brazil, Mormon popular literature and film, and adaptations set in Pakistan and India, to name a few. What is the secret of her global appeal?

In this class we will read most of Austen’s major novels and several international adaptations—both films and novels. Discussions will involve close study of the use of irony and narrative techniques and attempt how one can (or cannot) translate her techniques across culture and medium. We will also pay close attention to the philosophical, ethical, thematic, and cultural content of her novels and the difficulties of transposition across medium or across culture. Students will have the opportunity to enter a national essay contest or young film makers competition, to attempt to publish original research on Jane Austen, and the option of writing an original adaptation.This year, we will take advantage of some of the opportunities offered by the online medium to interview artists, authors and scholars from around the world.We will focus this semester on Spanish-language adaptations, India, Pakistan, China, and Japan.


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