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Conferences Archive (1991-1992)

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for School Teachers

Jane Austen: Self and Society

June 29-July 31, 1992

Directed by Gene W. Ruoff, Department of English, and Director, Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this seminar will explore three novels of Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1913) and Emma (1815), using the first as a focus-text to crystallize aesthetic and social issues in Austen’s fiction. We will explore such topics as language, characterization, narrative method, and the thematization of personal and social ethics, with an eye toward assessing the magnitude of Austen’s contribution to the development of the novel in English. Special attention will be paid to Austen’s parodic use of narrative form, the problems she faced in representing women’s experience fictionally, and the relationship of her fiction to contemporaneous social and political controversy.