Reading Jane Austen

New to PKP 2018!

Dr Emma Salgård Cunha

Focussing on the relationship between Austen and her readers, this course uses a series of close readings from her novels to reveal her subtle, subversive approach to situational comedy and human absurdity. We pay special attention to Austen’s narrative style, which challenges her reader to decipher fact from fiction, opinion from objectivity. The course invites us to read again, defamiliarizing favourite texts and characters, moving from page to screen and back again, and uncovering the wit, dissension and comedic energy of Austen’s novels at the level of the individual word and sentence.

Intended Audience 

This course is perfect both for those familiar with and first-time readers of Jane Austen. All that is required is your own passion for reading. The close reading approach mirrors the influential ‘practical criticism’ which is at the heart of the literary criticism taught at Cambridge’s Faculty of English. The skill of close reading is essential not only to students of literature, but any text-focussed discipline – religion, language, history, law, classics, philosophy – all of whom are welcome to join us for a dismantling and subverting of these classic English novels.

Previous Knowledge 

No previous knowledge of Austen is required to sign up for the course. Familiarising yourself with the plot and characters of Pride and Prejudice would be excellent preparation for our first meeting.

Transferable Knowledge and Skills

The course offers an insight into a politically and socially significant period in the history of England and the British Empire as well as the rise of the novel and the turn to Romanticism. It would serve as an excellent introduction to modern English literature and cultural history. The skill of careful close reading is portable across all arts and humanities subjects.