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LIT 52 — Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Oct 31
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 28
Unit: 1
Tuition: $405
Instructor(s): Rebecca Richardson
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 26—Oct 31
6 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 28
1 Unit
Rebecca Richardson
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Since their publication in 1847, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have attracted fascination and repugnance, praise and censure. Despite being told at the time that "literature cannot be the business of a woman's life," the Brontë sisters persisted and created two of the most influential English-language novels ever written.

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre follows the story of an orphaned governess. The book drew controversy for its sensitive depiction of a woman in rebellion against her lower-class status, as when Jane asks, “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?” One reviewer decried Jane as “the personification of an unregenerate and undisciplined spirit.” Today, she is regarded as a feminist heroine.

Similarly, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights both scandalized and inspired Victorian readers with its plot about violence and a love that transcends death, yet it is now revered for its sheer emotional force and daring experiments in narrative form. As Virginia Woolf wrote, Emily Brontë is “the rarest of all powers…by speaking of the moor [she could] make the wind blow and the thunder roar.”

Through close readings and discussions, we will explore what made these novels so polarizing and so powerful in their own era and beyond. We will pay particular attention to their historical context in an age of political upheaval and violence, an expanding empire, and shifting gender roles to better understand these writers’ enduring impact on modern literature.

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) Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre: A Norton Critical Edition (ISBN 978-0393264876)
(Required) Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: A Norton Critical Edition (ISBN 978-0393284997)