Final Self-Assessment Essay Guidelines, DUE 5/13/22

Please read over your blog responses, annotated bibs and reflections, and any in-class writing you’ve done on Teams or elsewhere. Please also review your reading journal from beginning to end, to see which texts or discussions attracted your interest or inspired further thought.

Take a few moments to reflect on what you’ve done and what you’ve learned in this class.

Select a few passages from the semester’s work listed above to focus upon your greatest insights, or most challenging problems, or most frequently recurring themes this term. (in the case of reading journal passages, you may quote or attach the relevant passages as you wish) Why do you think these were important? Alternatively, you may pose and answer your own questions about the course readings or your learning this term.

About 1-2 pp., emailed to me by the evening of the 13th.

Thanks for a great term, and good luck,


Persuasion, 1818

Because everyone is pushing to get their reading done and assignments underway, we’ll have a very simple prompt for class discussion tomorrow.

Choose a passage from Persuasion that lets you talk about Austen’s development as a novelist, or about the novel’s development since Haywood.

Because I know everyone is pushing hard to finish the reading and move their essays along, I’m making this weekend’s reading question very simple.

Use a passage of Persuasion to talk about Austen’s final development as a novelist.  Does your passage reveal an extension or elaboration of previous novelistic style or concerns, or does it show some sort of departure or opening towards the future?

You can answer here or bring these to class. We’ll use these to frame discussion on Monday. We’ll also continue to brainstorm and workshop the final assignments.

Good luck, DM

Final Assignment Guidelines, Due Thursday, May 12th

You’ll have two options for the final research project.

  1. A research paper involving at least one writer and work on our syllabus to be compared or contrasted with a second writer not on the syllabus, but which shares a common context with the first primary source. 12-15 pp., not counting sources, which should number around 6-8. Contemporary adaptations, sources, and contexts from other media are fine, but should incorporate current scholarship on those works and some attention to the major discussions of adaptation theory.
  2. An annotated bibliography on a specific topic generated from class readings and discussions, along with a reflective essay that synthesizes or organizes your results (e.g., chronologically, thematically, theoretically)  to highlight the insights your process helped produce (as in the Troost/Greenfield essay for Austen scholarship we read together last class). Think of this as the “literature review” for your particular topic, where you are outlining the definitive scholarship, key arguments, and discussion for your particular topic from some foundational book or article to the present. The topic and its specific focus should be articulated clearly, the results relevant and coherent, and the annotations about a paragraph long apiece. That should give you about 10-15 items (not counting your primary sources) and about 5 pp. for the reflective essay. 
  3. Email these to me sometime Thursday. The portfolio (format TBA) will be due the following day.

Let me know if any of this is unclear. I’ll be out of town looking in on my dad after the 5th, but will be answering emails the whole time.



Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Final Projects

We’re going to read NA and MP and continue our discussions of the final project.

As you read NA or MP, think about Austen’s relation to the sentimental or didactic models of reading represented by Richardson or Burney. If there’s a “reformation” or “correction” of the heroine/coquet, how does it happen? What role does literary reading play in this process? What (or who) are the obstacles to the heroine’s pursuit of self-knowledge and agency?

As you read MP, think about the differences in the depictions of the West Indies and the slave trade between the Woman of Colour (1808) and MP. What representational choices did Austen make that Anon. did differently? What implications would you draw from those choices?

We’ll also discuss the differences between this heroine and her story and the earlier fiction. Whatever other issues you find of interest please bring to class for us to discuss.

As for the final project, I’d like you each to put into the comments some kind of status report about the emerging topic. It could take a number of different forms:

  • a formal proposal, including authors and works, topic, and a few potential scholarly secondary sources;
  • a free-write about your topic, with the literary works you’re using and any potential scholarly sources;
  • a passage from one or more of your sources that you feel could be researched and elaborated into a more extended essay.

Please post those by classtime on Monday.

See you soon,


Greenfield and Troost, New Directions in Jane Austen Studies

This new Literature Compass essay has just appeared as part of their very useful series, and seems appropriate for a number of you as you think about the course readings and potential research projects. Taylin, for example, could consider the role of material culture as she thinks about the importance of dress, Serena could be thinking about the latest scholarship about masculinity, and adaptation has become an important component for a number of you in your thinking about our readings this term. Take a look, and let everyone know what you found useful.

Here is the abstract:

This essay identifies emerging trends in Jane Austen scholarship published between 2010 and 2020, with a focus on monographs and edited collections. In recent work examining Austen through contemporary theoretical and critical lenses, the following new topics have been central: material culture, animal studies, masculinity, place, and celebrity. The last of these includes Austen’s use of Regency celebrities in her novels and her connections with other women writers. Studies of the parallels between her and Shakespeare’s rises to fame have also surged. Connected to the interest in celebrity is the explosion of fan-culture studies: Austen is now a multimedia superstar with wide appeal. This expansion of audience has meant a shift in the style of much scholarly writing on Austen as books try to cater to both academic and non-academic markets.

Sayre N. Greenfield and Linda V. Troost, “New Directions in Jane Austen Studies,” Literature Compass n/a, no. n/a (n.d.): e12658,

Good luck,


Jane Austen, Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey

First, my apologies. I thought I’d already posted this. We’ll discuss the Juvenilia and other writings together, along with a few key pages of Northanger Abbey. We’ll read whatever we need to discuss on the spot, since I messed up the reading assignment.

Plan of a Novel:

(Q: 5 mins): Satire and Criticism? Use a passage from this “plan” to discuss JA not just as a novelist, or a parodist, but a critic of the 18th century novel and its conventions.

Parody=criticism of novel and conventions?  Interpretive exaggeration?  Capture of essential features of satiric object?

  1. Keywords: Vanity, wit, pride, duty, passion, duty, propriety, artless, genius, ?
  2. genre and sub-genre: Amatory fiction; sentimental fiction; satiric fiction; gothic fiction; radical fiction, ?
  3. Major themes:
  • Prescribed gender roles for both men and women, in courtship, marriage, and family-relations?
  • The relation between marriage, family, and property?
  • Religion and morality from the perspective of the (male or female) individual, or from that of the family and/or social order?
  • Theatricality, deception, disguise, or masquerade as a metaphor for social interactions and society at large?
  • Gendered sensibility and its accommodation within a (violent or antagonistic) social order?
  • Gendered taste and its accommodation within an (antagonistic) social order?

4. Some Early Parallels from Austen’s Juvenilia:

“Henry and Eliza”

“Frederic and Elfrida”

“The Beautifull Cassandra” and “A Letter from a Young Lady”

“Letter 5th of Love and Freindship”

“Jack and Alice”

5. Northanger Abbey:

  • A. Free indirect Discourse: J Thorpe’s rudeness to sisters & C’s anger;
  • B. Books and Taste: ch. 6, reactions of Miss Andrews, Isabella, and J Thorpe to Udolpho; criticizing Udolpho but being a gothic novel too; 
  • C: Learning: Thorpe and balls; C’s realization of I’s cruelty and blaming of Tilney; boy craziness of I; J Thorpe’s echoing of Gen. Tilney; Henry scolds C for suspecting Gen.; Danielle, good nature or cowardice?

135-8: misunderstanding of riots in London:

From art to ruin to politics to silence:

“Something very shocking to come out in London”

“You speak with astonishing composure”

“The ladies stared” 

“The riot is only in your brain’ 

“A mob of three thousand men”

Real vs imagined monsters?

Feminine fears? Gender roles?


Q: Go to last 100 pp or so (chs. XX-XXXII) and identify a moment where Catherine, Henry, Eleanor, Gen. Tilney, Isabella or John Thorpe learn or provide a piece of information that advances the plot, clears up a mystery, or teaches Catherine something.

Annotated Bib #2: Foundational Texts & Topics of Criticism for 18th century Women Novelists through Austen; UPDATED 1 foundational text + 3 annotated entries

Purpose: When choosing a particular topic to research, the problem that we all run into is “what am I interested in, and why?” What are the aspects of this course, text or field, or the questions they raise, that make it intriguing to you? What are the experiences, knowledge, or aspirations that make it more likely for you to follow through? What’s at stake in your desire to learn more?

In my experience, scholars who have reflected upon and developed answers to these kinds of questions are more likely to follow through, learn from the inevitable obstacles, and feel the satisfaction of completing the project and sharing its results.

Assignment: Develop a topic of interest for this annotated bibliography from the earlier portion of our course readings, and try to make it at least potentially relevant to the final project, which will entail reaching out to a text beyond our syllabus.

One further demand: your choice of topic should include consideration of a foundational critical/theoretical/historical text that has inspired critical debate or discussion for an extended period of time. Thus, your critical selections and annotations should be oriented not just towards the topic, but also how this foundational text has helped establish the terms of future discussion and elaboration.

To find examples of arguments and contexts that have influenced criticism of late 18th century British women’s fiction through Austen, you have to read in media res, and hunt through their arguments and their footnotes: contexts could include e.g., feminist social history, history of reading, history of the book , feminist literary criticism, feminist critical theory, adaptation theory.

So by April 11th: 3 annotated secondary sources (either articles, books or book chapters) oriented towards your topic, and ideally focused through the foundational text and the debates it has inspired.

UPDATE: after reading Serena’s excellent post, I realized that I’d made the assignment ambiguous, by asking for three entries, but I always intended the bib to include one foundational text annotated + three annotated entries, for a total of four. Let me know if this is still ambiguous.

We will discuss these at classtime on the 11th.

Thanks, and good luck!


Anonymous, The Woman of Colour: A Tale (1808)

I’m teaching this in my undergrad class this week, too, so I’m just providing my lecture notes here in case they might help people’s reading or research. We’ll use the questions here for weekend blogging or discussion. Good luck!

[page nos. refer to Lyndon Dominique Broadview edition]



1760: Tacky’s Rebellion, 1st major island-wide slave rebellion in Jamaica

1772: Lord Mansfield’s decision in Somersett Case renders slavery unenforceable in England or Wales

1791: Haitian Revolution

1795: 2nd Maroon War, Jamaica

1806: Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill Debates (cf. Dominique, Intro, 20-1)

1806: Andrew Wright inheritance case, possible model for WoC (cf. Dominique, Intro 33; App. G, 262)

1808: The Woman of Colour published

Publication: Published anonymously in 1808. Reviews in Lyndon, App. F, 257). The Chronology along with Lyndon’s Intro shows how much awareness British readers might have had for the situation of a biracial Jamaican heiress, which was not an uncommon situation in late 18c/early 19c Britain. When creole and biracial colonial elites from the sugar colonies traveled to Britain, they raised questions about who could be considered British and what constituted properly British behavior, as Jeremiah Grant also showed.

Discussion: Lyndon’s Intro comprehensively surveys the black heroines of 17-18c British literature, beginning with Behn’s Imoinda (whose fertility drives the plot towards tragedy), Southerne’s theatrical adaptation of Imoinda that turns her into a white, Desdemona-like heroine (synthesizing Oroonoko w/Shakespeare’s Othello), and ending with the question of where black female heroines were represented in British literature. Clearly this novel is one of the first pre-20c fictions that centers on a black woman character as a heroine rather than incidental or minor character.

The rest of the Intro explores the significance of the title and her description as a “woman of colour,” in other words as a biracial woman born of a white father and enslaved black mother. Her name, “Olivia,” echoes her “olive” skin and she is contrasted throughout with the appearance and speech of her enslaved maid, Dido. The Intro also discusses the novelistic genres that the Woman of Colour draws upon:

  • the sentimental novel (often epistolary, meaning told in letters, and derived from Richardson and Burney), which describes a young woman’s sometimes difficult entry into polite society, courtship, and ultimately marriage; Burney also used the will as plot device in Evelina and Cecilia;
  • the radical novel (from Wollstonecraft and Hays) that extends the sentimental novel’s exploration of the most unjust and exploitive aspects of marriage and family and their foundation in unthinking prejudice; and
  • the Caribbean novel, which in some sense is centered on the colonial experience of the West Indian who ultimately returns to the West Indies rather than staying in the England metropolis of London.

Characters in Packet the First:

Olivia, biracial heroine with a complicated fortune

Dido, her enslaved maid

Mrs Honeywood, a benevolent companion on the voyage

Honeywood, her son

Augustus Merton, the cousin she is betrothed to via her father’s will

Mrs Merton, a parvenu and city-heiress, rich, vulgar, and hostile to Olivia

Mr Merton, a benevolent and wealthy merchant, her uncle

Q1: Looking at the title page, why is this fiction described as “a Tale”? What features of this book suggest a “tale” rather than a “novel,” or even as a “history” or “adventures” or “life” of its heroine?

Packet the First (53-94) [packet=packet ship, carrying letters; or packet of letters]

As she sails to England, Olivia Fairfield writes to her friend Mrs Milbanke about her traveling companion Mrs Honeywood, her son Honeywood, and her enslaved maid, Dido. She explains the relationship between her now deceased plantation-owning father, Fairfield, and her enslaved mother, Marcia, and the strange will he left that stipulates she either marry his nephew Augustus Merton and convey her 60,000 L fortune to him, or forfeit the fortune and be supported by his brother Mr George Merton. After a voyage, conversation with the Honeywoods, and a storm, they all land in Bristol, where she meets the Mertons. Olivia is insulted by Mrs Merton with a dinner of rice that associates her with the enslaved, and Olivia politely rebuffs her (75); their child George mistakes her skin color for dirt (78) and Olivia again refuses to take the bait or lose her temper with him (78-81). A humiliating English ball (84-88). She finally confronts Augustus but receives no real commitment from him either to marry or reject.

Q2: How and where does Olivia demonstrate her qualities as a heroine, either on the ship with Dido and the Honeywoods, in her embarrassing encounters with the Mertons and others, or in her interactions with Augustus? What kinds of expectations do others have of her?

Packet the Second and Third (94-127)


Mr George Merton

Mrs George Merton

Sir Marmaduke Ingot

Lady Ingot

Miss Danby

Mr Waller, the tutor

Frederic Ingot, a posh useless man-child

Mr Bellfield, a despised older relative of Ingots

Mr Lumley, the neighborhood pastor

Caroline Lumley, his daughter

A doomed marriage ceremony in Clifton, and Olivia meets her repulsive in-laws the George Mertons in London. We learn in her letter her jealousy and hatred of Olivia (101). We learn of Augustus’s lack of passion for Olivia but his fear of putting her in his brother’s and sister in law’s power (104). In wild romantic Devonshire, she meets the “nabobs” (rich, vulgar colonial adventurers returned from India) the Ingots who live in a “pagoda” and interfering in local politics. Mrs Honeywood dies, and Olivia attends a nabob dinner party filled with horrible people, including Miss Danby, who flirts and drops hints about Angelina Forrester, who was once involved with Augustus (113-15). She also meets Mr Waller the tutor to the useless Mr Frederic Ingot, and the elderly despised relative of the Ingots Mr Bellfield (116-20), and later Mr Lumley, the worthy, hardworking pastor of the neighborhood and his shy innocent daughter Caroline (121-2). Mrs Merton promises (or threatens) to visit.

Q3: How do Olivia’s manners and morality contrast with those of the merchant family the Mertons, their young friends, or the rich nabob family the Ingots? What do the manners of the elite or fashionable young people suggest about the social consequences of imperial wealth and trade for the people in England or the colonies?

Q4: Looking at the title page, why is this fiction described as “a Tale”? What features of this book suggest a “tale” rather than a “novel,” or even as a “history” or “adventures” or “life” of its heroine?

UPDATE: Here’s Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) definition of “Tale”:

Screenshot_2020-04-17 A dictionary of the English language in which the words are deduced from their originals, explained i[...]

Q5: How and where does Olivia demonstrate her qualities as a heroine, either on the ship with Dido and the Honeywoods, in her embarrassing encounters with the Mertons and others, or in her interactions with Augustus? What kinds of expectations do others have of her?

Q6: How do Olivia’s manners and morality contrast with those of the merchant family the Mertons, their young friends, or the rich nabob family the Ingots? What do the manners of the elite or fashionable young people suggest about the social consequences of imperial wealth and trade for the people in England or the colonies?


Melissa M. Adams-Campbell, New World Courtships: Transatlantic Alternatives to Companionate Marriage (Hanover, NH, UNITED STATES: Dartmouth College Press, 2015),

Brigitte Fielder, “The Woman of Colour and Black Atlantic Movement”Brigitte Fielder, “The Woman of Colour and Black Atlantic Movement,” Women’s Narratives of the Early Americas and the Formation of Empire, May 23, 2016, 171–85,

Mary Wollstonecraft, The Wrongs of Woman

We’ll just be talking about MW and the Wrongs of Woman today, and how Wollstonecraft’s fiction might affect this semester’s understanding of a number of topics we’ve been tracing.

Here are the main topics of conversation I’ll be bringing forward.

  • Marriage, courtship: what makes a good potential marriage partner, or marriage? how should a woman choose a partner?
  • Literature: how does fiction (e.g., the reading of fiction, the psychological involvement of women reading fiction, etc. etc.) affect women’s understanding of their circumstances? how does romance figure into her depiction of literary representation and reading?
  • Sensibility: how does sensibility’s lively awareness of others reinforce the most fundamental moral and social values? how does it relate to class? Can people of different classes feel for one another? how is it gendered?
  • Prejudice, injustice: what is standing in the way of fellow-feeling?
  • Form: How and where does the form of the Wrongs reinforce the values and arguments she advances here and elsewhere? What aspects of the previous novels can be found in some modified or reworked form? What aspects are entirely hers?

Those are mine. What are yours?

Biographies: ODNB (Wollstonecraft); Wikipedia


Chronology (Yadav); MW Chronology

1759: MW born; OE baptized in London, later becomes Methodist

1760: Geo III acc.

1788: MW pub. Mary, A Fiction

1789: French Revolution; OE pub. Interesting Narrative

1790: MW pub Vindication of Rights of Man, countering Burke’s Reflexions on the Revolution in France

1791: MW pub. Vindication of Rights of Women

1796: MW begins affair w/William Godwin, marries; starts Maria, or the Wrongs of Women

1797: MW pregnant, dies in childbirth

1798: MW’s biography posthumously published by Godwin, inadvertently wrecks her reputation


Mary Wollstonecraft represented a key turning point in British literary history, when many of the most conventional assumptions about a hierarchical society, social order, and the ordering of the sexes could be publicly questioned under the political and social pressures of the European Enlightenment and an expanding commercial society and global empire. Many of the most lasting institutions of European society were seen to rest upon nothing more than “prejudice” or “opinion.” The flimsiness of institutions like the Church, Courts, Nobility, or Kings, was revealed by the French Revolution (1789) and the so-called English “Jacobins” (named for the French revolutionaries) threatened these “prejudices” through their activism and pamphleteering throughout the 1790s and early 19th century. Edmund Burke’s Reflexions on the Revolution in France, one of the first “anti-jacobin,” conservative, and counter-revolutionary texts in English was hoped to prevent a similar revolution in England or Ireland. It was as a respondent to Burke that Wollstonecraft really made herself known as a radical writer, and the Vindications of the Rights of Women extended her fame, or notoriety as a female philosopher.

Literature, when it seemed the exclusive possession of leisured elites or at least the most literate professions (clergy, lawyers, doctors) has often justified subordination in various crude or refined ways.  As literacy and education became more widespread, however, more and more people of middling or humble origins were able to find education and access to print. This is why examples like Wollstonecraft are so important, but because she used her origins as an argument against a culture that would prefer her silence.

Some Critical Starting Points:

Claudia L. Johnson, Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s–Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen (University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Cora Kaplan, “Mary Wollstonecraft’s Reception and Legacies,” in The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft, ed. Claudia L. Johnson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 246–70,