Syllabus: Women, Money, and the Novel: Studies in Burney and Austen

Women, Money, and the Novel: Studies in Frances Burney and Jane Austen
Winter Term 2010-11 

Course Description:

This course will study the rise of the woman novelist in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, using Frances Burney and Jane Austen as case studies for an analysis of the relationship between gender, economics, and prose fiction. We will study both the conditions of authorship each of these women negotiated (publishing contracts, patronage, subscription, critical reviews) and the larger cultural context that shaped their narratives. How did conversations about women’s property shape the marriage plot? How did debates about luxury and virtue colour Burney’s and Austen’s representations of women and consumer culture? How do these authors contemplate women’s economic agency, and lack thereof? To what extent do Burney’s and Austen’s novels mystify or critique emergent capitalist ideologies? How do they handle questions of credit and debt, inheritance and primogeniture?

Students will be required to write weekly in-class response papers, present a seminar on a historical subject, and write a final research essay. Students should be aware that the novels we are studying are long (Pride and Prejudice, Emma) and very long (Cecilia and Camilla).

Required Texts:

Frances Burney: Cecilia, Camilla (Oxford)
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Emma (Oxford)

Course Requirements:

Response papers and participation 30%
Seminar 20%
Annotated bibliography 10%
Final essay 40%

Schedule of Classes:

Jan. 6 Introduction
Jan. 13 Cecilia, Vol. 1
Historical Topic:  The Rise of Consumerism
Historical Topic:  Case Study: Entertainment Venues
Jan. 20 Cecilia, Vols. 2-3
Historical Topic: Stocks and Bonds
Historical Topic:  Gambling
Jan. 27 Cecilia, Vols. 4-5
Historical Topic:  Credit and Debt
Historical Topic:  Case Study: Money Lending
Feb. 3 Camilla, Vol. 1
Historical Topic:  The Atlantic Slave Trade
Historical Topic:  Case Study: Sugar
Feb. 10 Camilla, Vols. 2-3
Historical Topic:  Professions
Historical Topic:  Case Study:  Governess
Feb. 17 Camilla, Vols. 4-5
Historical Topic:  Banking and Banknotes
Historical Topic: Case Study: Forgery
Feb. 21-25 Reading Week
March 3 Pride and Prejudice, Vols. 1-2
Historical Topic:  Inheritance Laws
Historical Topic:  Case Study:  Primogeniture
March 10 Pride and Prejudice, Vol. 3
Historical Topic:  The Great Estate
Historical Topic:  Case Study:  Tourism
March 17 Library Class:  Meet in the Electronic Instruction Room in Weldon Library
March 24 Emma, Vol. 1
Annotated bibliographies due
March 31 Emma, Vols. 2-3
April 7 Paper Synopsis Presentations (2 pp. summary of essay’s thesis and goals)
April 12 Final Essays Due by Noon

For more from this author, please see this syllabus and this essay in the “Pedagogy” section.

Alison Conway

Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn is a pseudonym for ABOPublic. This is not the real Aphra Behn—she died in 1688, and the world hasn't been the same since!
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