Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.
Introduction and historical/literary backgrounds; scandal and amatory fiction. Eliza Haywood as a woman with her own disreputable past, taking advantage of the market for fiction and the public appetite for political and sexual gossip to write over sixty works; her 1719 début, scandalous bestseller, Love in Excess; critical backlash, the enmity of male poets Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift; her supposed mid-century reformation reflecting changing tastes in popular reading.
Novel reading and female education; Charlotte Lennox’s seeming rejection of the romance with The Female Quixote (1752) which satirises romantic fiction and serves as a model for Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Author and educator Maria Edgeworth presents satirical courtship novel Belinda (1801) to the public, declaring that it isn’t a novel at all; Mary Wollstonecraft, conduct manuals; correct and incorrect reading for young women.
Frances Burney, Evelina (1778): scandal to sentiment; the decorous Burney’s anxiety about novel-writing; her surprisingly event-filled life from friendship with members of London’s cultural elite, to life at court with ‘mad’ George III, to marriage at forty to an aristocratic French refugee; discussion of the anonymously published, bestselling epistolary novel Evelina; her influence on Jane Austen as a writer in using the courtship novel genre for social satire.
Field trip to Chawton, Hampshire: home to the Jane Austen House Museum and the early Women’s Writing centre at Chawton House.
Ann Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest (1791); the post-Revolution mania for gothic novels; Radcliffe’s place as critically approved “Great Enchantress”; discussion of the novel and its engagement with Romantic theories of nature and the sublime, terror versus horror, sensibility, and anti-Catholicism; Radcliffe’s influence on Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Victorian Gothic; conclusions about the eighteenth-century professional women writer and beyond.
Destination: The Austen House Museum, & Chawton House; Hampshire
Excursion Rating: Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.