English 8500 meets on Wednesdays from 10:20 until 1:30 in Park Hall 61.
My office hours are on Tuesdays and Thursdays (2:00-3:00), and by appointment in Park 253.
In this seminar we’ll consider Austen’s work and legacy in the context of historical research into Black Briton and contemporary critical race theory, and time allowing, extending that discussion to include representations of gender and class, thereby reflecting contemporary considerations of intersectionality. In many ways the history of Austen criticism is the history of literary criticism in microcosm, and we’ll be considering this legacy throughout the semester. In the 1990s Edward Said and other postcolonial critics taught us how to see race in texts that seemingly were spaces of whiteness, but what about now? This semester we will explore the way in which contemporary critical race theory in academic publications and activism in the political sphere leads us to read Austen differently in 2021 then critics did in the ‘50s, when Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel appeared, or the ‘90s when Said’s Culture and Imperialism was published.
We’ll also be reading eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts that situate Austen within an atypical history of the British novel, we’ll be reading Zofloya rather than Mysteries of Udolpho and The Wanderer rather than Evelina. In addition to contextualizing the Austen canon and its relevant literary theory, we’ll be exploring contemporary contributions to the “canon” that appear in popular culture. Film, fan fiction, genre fiction, and literary fiction all have contributed to new ways of conceiving and critiquing “Austen” by foregrounding issues of race, as well as gender and class.