“I would have every young [person] of your condition in life acquainted with the manners and amusements of London.”
Austen knew all about the importance of sociability and understood well the allure of London: all her most dashing and irresponsible characters are drawn to the metropolis, which becomes a by-word for modernity and excess. London remains a city of an extraordinary magnetism – it gets under your skin with a mixture of delight and trial. It is the very place to learn about the world of the eighteenth century and Regency in which Jane Austen grew up and about which she wrote, not least because traces of that era can still be identified in the modern city and can be recaptured by the Austen enthusiast.
We will immerse ourselves in the culture of the late eighteenth century as we meet the great figures of politics, literature, society, theatre and science, and build an in-depth picture of the world that informed Austen’s writing. By visiting Chawton and Bath, we also re-trace the other major locations that defined Austen’s life and work, a situation that is unique to studying Austen in England.
In addition to building a deep contextual knowledge of Austen’s world, we will also explore some theoretical and critical approaches to Austen in order to help develop a rich critique of her work, particularly in relation to her contemporaries.
This course is all about enjoying the richness of Austen’s world and discovering her England – and, at the same time, sharing the sensations of awe and wonder with her own characters in the experiences of visiting Bath and London for the first time.