One of the courses I had the extreme privilege to be a part of while studying abroad was Jane Austen in Bath. The course title is rather self-explanatory; in addition to reading some of Austen’s prominent novels and examining them through a literary lens, we looked at the historical context of those novels with a particular focus on their ties to Bath. Before taking this course, I had very little experience with Austen’s literature, or the many modern adaptations of her work. . . and what little I had seen or read was not very much to my liking. In complete honesty, I signed up for this course primarily to fulfill graduation requirements back at UMW. After studying her novels and their context, however, Austen quickly became one of my favorite authors. My studies in Bath allowed me to see further into the layers of meaning and rich commentary each of her works held, and getting to see the real settings of her books gave me a new sense of appreciation for them. Peruse this page to see some of the work I completed while moving through these studies; there were some frustrating late nights and early mornings behind these papers, but it was a wonderful and transformative experience for me nonetheless!
At the end of our first unit on Northanger Abbey, we completed an assignment on close reading literature. For this, our professor selected one short passage from the novel, and had us write an argumentative paper based solely on our own close readings of that passage. Challenging but fun, this let us really start diving into Austen’s writing! Literary Sleight of Hand
As our final assignment for this course, we were given a long list of rather open-ended prompts to inspire an individual research paper. For my paper, I decided to look into Austen’s presentation of virtue in her novels, with an extra focus on gender roles and marriage. Through this assignment, I came to the conclusion that Austen used her heroines to subvert social expectations and importance of these traits by writing distinctly unvirtuous heroines who succeed over their more virtuous counterparts. Performativity and Prejudice