Jane Austen: The Novels, Their Contexts, and Their Adaptations

Module code: EN3158

Module co-ordinator: Dr Julian North

In this module, you will study the six major novels of Jane Austen -- Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion -- in their historical and literary contexts. You will learn how a knowledge of Austen's literary influences, of the society in which she lived, and of the key events of her time changes our perception of the meanings of her fiction. We will look at how recent film and TV adaptations have reshaped Austen for the twenty and twenty-first centuries, and how her novels have been transformed by their translation into different media.

In addition to reading the six novels, you will view the following screen adaptations:

  • Northanger Abbey (dir. Andrew Davies, 2007)
  • Sense and Sensbility (dir. Ang Lee, 1995)
  • Bride and Prejudice (dir. Gurinder Chadha, 2004)
  • Mansfield Park (dir. Patricial Rozema, 1999)
  • Clueless (dir. Amy Heckerling, 1995)
  • Persuasion (BBC2, 1995)

You'll be encouraged to familiarise yourself with as many other adaptations as possible, and with two biopics:

  • Becoming Jane (dir. Julian Jarrold, 2007)
  • Miss Austen Regrets (dir. Jeremy Lovering, 2008)


The course will be taught in weekly two-hour seminars. You'll engage in discussions and have the opportunity to give a brief, unassessed oral presentation. Secondary material on the historical and literary contexts of the novels will be provided; students are expected to read this material in advance and to supplement it with further secondary reading.

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Analyse a novel by Jane Austen in relation to its historical and literary contexts and/or a screen adaptation
  • Construct a clear analytical argument of 5,000 words based on an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding of the primary texts and secondary material


  • One 5,000-word essay referencing at least two Austen novels; students may choose to discuss these novels either in relation to their historical and/or literary contexts or in relation to their contemporary adaptations or both