Jane Austen and Co. : The Country House Novel
From Jane Austen to Downton Abbey, the English country house has never lost its charm; it is not merely a setting for many classic English novels, but condenses the history of England over the past two centuries. Perhaps no other object in English literature reveals a broader range of issues: class system, inheritance, genealogy, sexuality, imperialism, and urbanization. In this course, we will study two of Jane Austen’s most beloved novels, Emma and Mansfield Park. Then we will explore Austen’s legacy through Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady to E. M. Forster’s Howards End and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. All of these novels have been lavishly adapted for the screen. We will conclude with the TV series Downton Abbey in order to examine our own culture’s continuous fascination with the English country house. Course requirements include a close reading paper (4-5 pages), and a longer paper (10-12 pages) that either compares one of the novels and its film adaptation or engages with critical texts.