fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Summer Quarter

Summer Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Jun 26
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

LIT 69 — Jane Austen at Her Height: Emma, Persuasion, and Sanditon

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 10—Aug 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 12
Unit: 1
Tuition: $385
Instructor(s): Rebecca Richardson
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jul 10—Aug 14
6 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 12
1 Unit
Rebecca Richardson
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
In her later novels, Jane Austen seemed to reach new heights. Pride and Prejudice (1813) had been a success, but Austen found something wanting in her art, complaining that it was “rather too light & bright & sparkling; it wants shade.” With Emma (1815), Austen struck this balance between light and shade, comedy and moral seriousness. In fact, when readers and scholars have been pressed to choose just one Austen novel to demonstrate her art and contribution to literary history, they have tended to choose Emma—for its innovations in style and form and for its complex and memorable characters. With her last completed novel, Persuasion (published posthumously in 1817 but dated 1818), Austen seemed to follow this trajectory a step further, producing a novel that takes up the theme of belatedness and second chances. Readers and critics have long wondered what Austen would have done next if she had lived longer—the fragment of a novel, known as Sanditon, that Austen left incomplete when her health failed blends a new vitality and an extra bite of satire.

In this course, we will consider these two novels and the fragment of a third with attention to Austen’s “mature” style. Austen delighted in holding a microscope up to English country life, comparing her writing to painting with a fine brush on a “little bit (two inches wide) of ivory.” But as much as her novels seem to concentrate closely on just “three or four families in a country village,” they also encapsulate and gesture to a much wider empire and world—while responding to and innovating on the literary tradition in English. While reading these novels, we will strive to balance holding up our own microscopes to how they “work” as literary objects while also understanding them in their larger literary and cultural context.

Advanced Lecturer, Program in Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford

Rebecca Richardson received a PhD in Victorian literature from Stanford. She has published articles on a range of 19th-century authors—from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens—and her most recent work is a book titled Material Ambitions: Self-Help and Victorian Literature.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Jane Austen, Emma, Norton Critical Edition, Fourth edition (ISBN 978-0393927641)
(Required) Jane Auten, Persuasion, Norton Critical Edition, Second Edition (ISBN 978-0393911534)
(Recommended) Jane Austen, Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon, Penguin edition (ISBN 978-0140431025 )