EN3PA-Placing Jane Austen

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Pre-requisite English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Paddy Bullard

Email: p.s.bullard@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Jane Austen once compared her art to that of the miniaturist: each of her novels, she wrote, was like a ‘little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour’. But the relatively small scale of her writing in terms of setting – its tendency to domestic portraits and family groupings – belies the expansiveness and mobility of her imagination. Austen had a vivid sense of the wider world in which she lived. Her meticulously realised interiors are set carefully within larger landscapes, and both are full of social, economic and aesthetic meaning. Her characters move between great houses and ordinary cottages, between city and suburb, between old agricultural estates and newly landscaped parklands, between familiar parishes and fashionable tourist destinations. Austen scholars have also explored wider backgrounds to her fiction: the ocean journeys of her naval officer relatives (and their equivalents in her novels); the colonial slave plantations that paid for those stately country homes. This module investigates Austen’s sense of space and place. It examines the movements of her characters through rooms and houses, the patterns of their dances in assembly halls, the paths of their journeys through town and country. It investigates how these movements sometimes represent changes of heart or class, of mind or fortune. It shows how they are always significant for the carefully drawn lines of her narratives.



The aim of this module is to enable students to explore Jane Austen’s works in a variety of genres, including her published novels, and her letters, juvenilia, and unfinished final works. Students will also engage with theories of place, including landscape studies, the geography of everyday life, histories of domesticity, regional studies, environmentalism, ideas of gendered and otherwise socially constructed space, the history of travel and transport, the anthropology of space, and the history of nations and empires. The module aims to encourage students to consider the interpretative potential of these theories for Austen's literary art, at figural, linguistic and/ or narratological levels. For example, what does it mean to know or to lose one's place in an Austen novel? To what extent are her characters confined within prison-houses of language? How does the physical displacement of characters relate to narrative framing?


Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • demonstrate a knowledge of a broad range of Jane Austen's writings, and of contemporary documents relating to her life and writing career.

  • deploy that knowledge critically through the comparative analysis of different Austen texts.

  • show understanding of the theories and histories of spatiality studied on the module.

  • use those theories in literary analysis of the texts studied.

  • conduct independent research into the use of discourses of environment, space and place, at personal, local, regional, national or global levels.

Additional outcomes:

Students on this module will engage in detailed study of four of Jane Austen's six completed novels, Northanger Abbey (1818), Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816), and Persuasion (1818). The four novels will be selected so as to avoid direct overlap with other modules on which Austen's work is studied, eg. EN2RP (The Romantic Period) or EN3ECN (The Eighteenth-Century Novel: Sex and Sensibility). In addition to the four novels, students will study selections from Austen's unfinished fictions (The Watsons (1804) and Sanditon (1817)), from her drafts, letters and juvenilia, and from historical documents such as James Austen-Leigh's Memoir of Jane Austen.

Lectures will introduce histories, theories and interdisciplinary themes of space and place. Selections from historical documents (eg. Gilpin on the picturesque) and from writings by theorists of space and place (eg. Doreen Massey, Gaston Bachelard, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, Yi-Fu Tuan or Tim Ingold) will be made available through Blackboard. Seminars will interrogate these histories and theories with respect to particular texts.

Outline content:

Global context:

The global dimension of Jane Austen's literary imaginations (eg. her oblique treatment of colonial plantation and slave economies, and her discussions of the British navy and its international operations) will be studied by students on this module.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught in a combination of lectures and seminars involving structured group discussion for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are entitled to request a tutorial on their formative assignment. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20
Tutorials 5
Guided independent study: 165
Total hours by term 200
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Portfolio 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will be assessed in the summer term by a one pre-released examination, worth 50% of their final mark for this module. Students will have 168 hours (seven days, including Saturday and Sunday) from the release of the question paper on Blackboard in which to prepare their responses. For the examination, they will be permitted to bring into the examination room a single sheet of A4 paper, on which they may write or type any excerpts they choose from primary or secondary sources. They may refer directly or indirectly to these excerpts in their responses. The quotation sheet should be handed in with their completed scripts at the end of the examination.

Students will be assessed at the end of the autumn term by one coursework assignment, worth 50% of their final mark for this module. The completed essay will be 2500 words long, due on Friday of week 11, autumn term

Formative assessment methods:

The formative assignment, which does not contribute to the overall module mark, will be a short take-home examination. It is designed to give students experience of the take-home examination format by which they will be assessed summatively in the summer term. Students will be asked to write a single essay answer of 1000 words. They will have 48 hours from the release of the examination paper on Blackboard in which to complete their answer, and to upload it to the submission point on Turnitin.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 28 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):




    1. Required text books (primary texts)

      Around £40

    1. Specialist equipment or materials


    1. Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear


    1. Printing and binding


    1. Computers and devices with a particular specification


    1. Travel, accommodation and subsistence


    Last updated: 10 October 2019


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