Portrait of Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen, 1873, colorized engraving
Why do so many readers throughout the world still clamor for the books of Jane Austen, one of the most instantly recognizable names in all of literature? How did she help reinvent the novel with her powerfully original writing and unique artistic vision? And why is the life of Jane Austen herself the subject of ongoing fascination—and Hollywood movies? Joseph Luzzi, a professor of comparative literature at Bard College, explores the remarkable career and astonishing life of a woman who overcame countless obstacles to become one of the most revered authors in the literary tradition.
Luzzi delves into beloved novels Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion in this in-depth exploration of Jane Austen’s enchanting fictional universe.
10–11 a.m. Jane Austen: Life and Work of an Unlikely Legend
An introduction to the main issues and concerns in Jane Austen’s life and a “literary map” for understanding the central elements of her fiction.
11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Sense and Sensibility
A deep reading of Austen’s remarkable novel Sense and Sensibility, with special attention to how its two main characters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, represent respectively the “sense” and “sensibility” of the title and relate to 19th-century notions of female identity.
12:15–12:45 p.m. Break
12:45–1:45 p.m. Pride and Prejudice
A focused exploration of Austen’s best-known work, Pride and Prejudice, especially its representation of the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, considered in the light of such key issues as marriageability, family life, and the construction of gender in Austen’s England and beyond.
2–3 p.m. Persuasion and Concluding Thoughts
A discussion of Persuasion and concluding insights on Jane Austen’s legacy and why so many throughout the world today are spellbound by her fiction.