Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Film Showing! Emma! Next Monday!

Knightley: "It was badly done indeed!" 
We'll be screening the entire 1996 BBC adaptation of Emma (with Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, Olivia Williams, etc..) on Monday, November 5th at 5:30 in the Tiger Cinema.  Where is the Tiger Cinema?  It's on the top floor of the University Center near the Wellness center.  Just come to the top floor and I'll be waiting around to direct people to the right place. 

Remember, you don't have to come to the screening, but we will spend all of Tuesday's class discussing the adaptation and the choices they made.  Also, an essay in our book discusses this very adaptation of Emma, so you should read it before hand to aid in our analysis: David Monaghan, "Emma and the Art of Adaptation" (pp.449-456).  You're welcome to watch this version yourself OR watch another version, but again, I do want to discuss this version at length on Tuesday.  Plus, it will be fun to watch the film together and make comments in the manner of Mystery Science Theater (if this reference means anything to you).  Hope you can make it!

Weekly Response: Finish Emma & "The Reception of Jane Austen"

“The Reception of Jane Austen: 1815-1950” (363-382)

Read through these excerpts from Austen’s friends, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and others, and respond in detail to ONE of the readings of Austen/Emma.  Why do you agree or disagree with this reading?  Where in Emma do you see the writer (of the article’s) ideas—or where in the book can you refute them? 

Be sure to focus on a specific article and use a specific passage or two from Emma to connect to this.  This will help you write Paper #3 and, quite possibly, your large paper for the class, since these are some of the most foundational readings of Austen that have continued to shape critical perceptions (and neglect)! 

Short Paper #3 Assignment

Short Paper #3: Emma and the “Voyage of Discovery”

In his essay, “Regulated Hatred: An Aspect of the Work of Jane Austen,” D.W. Harding writes that “The impression of Jane Austen which has filtered through to the reading public, down from the first-hand critics, through histories of literature, university courses, literary journalism and polite allusion, deters many who might be her best readers from bother with her at all” (Norton, 378).  Yet Harding argues that the popular conception of Austen (as a calm symbol of a bygone age) belies the true power of her art, which he sees most completely in a novel like Emma, where Austen “offers her readers every excuse for regarding as rather exaggerated figures of fun people who she herself detests and fears” (Norton, 380). 

Monday, October 22, 2012

For This Week: Emma, Chs. 5- 7 (Vol. III)

Romola Garai as Emma (2009) 


T 23   Emma, Chs. 5-13 (pp.129-185)
R 25   Emma, Chs.14-(Vol.III) Ch.7 (pp.185-253)

Answer ONE of the following…

1. Analyze the character of Mrs. Elton: how is she, in many ways, a foil for Emma and even perhaps her mirror image (in the sense of a mirror that distorts, rather than truly reflects)?  Why does Emma take such an immediate dislike to her, particularly in Chapter XIV, where she is pronounced an “Insufferable woman!” 

2. Why does Emma gradually fall in love (however loosely we might use that term) with Frank Churchill?  Remember that she initially claimed that marriage was not for her, since she could never find a man who could treat her as well as her father (nor a house where she could have more freedom than at home).  What qualities or marks of character does she perceive in him?  Does Austen mean for us to “see” the same Frank Churchill?  On a related note, why does Knightley despise him and suspect his morals?  Is it just jealousy? 

3. Jane Fairfax is a peripheral character in these chapters, seen only in glimpses; yet Austen is careful to lay great weight on these moments.  What are we made to see in her brief interactions with Frank, Emma, and Miss Bates?  What kind of character is she?  Do we agree with Emma’s comment, “this amiable, upright, perfect Jane Fairfax was apparently cherishing very reprehensible feelings”? (168). 

4. When Emma learns of how Frank rescued Harriet from the gypsies, she muses, “a fine young man and a lovely young woman thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and steadiest brain” (230).  Why would a woman so conscious of class relationships (remember, she scorns Elton’s proposal) even consider this match?  Frank is light years above Harriet, and is seen throughout more as Emma’s equal.  Why is the ‘blind’ in this matter, and what might it say about her view of the world in general—or her character/role in the novel?  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Critical Paper Assignment: Read Carefully!

Anne Hathaway: Our 21st Century Austen? 

 Critical Paper: (Re)Reading Jane Austen: A View from the 21st Century

As we read (and re-read) Jane Austen’s novels, we are doing something quite revolutionary.  Reading is interpreting, and as 21st century readers we are reading Austen’s text in a ‘future’ that she could have never envisioned.  In essence, we are doing the work that Austen scholars and filmmakers do on a much larger (and expensive) level!  For each new version of a Jane Austen novel introduces, comments, and contextualizes Austen’s words, making us see and appreciate them according to new ideas, trends and aesthetics (feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, etc.).  Likewise, each new Austen film tailors her work to a contemporary audience, snipping out bits that would seem too dated and stressing the ‘universal’ and the ‘modern.’  For some, she is all lightness and perfection, while in others, she is tormented, hemmed in, and bitter about her heroines’ fates.  For this paper, I want you to perform your own ‘rewriting’ of Austen, considering a specific aspect, theory, or conversation to help us re-evaluate Austen’s legacy and unshakable (?) place in the literary canon...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Film Review: 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice by Janne Klassen

 Pride and Prejudice 


BBC. Directed by Cyril Coke

Adapted by Fay Weldon. Lizzy played by Elizabeth Garvie and Darcy played by David Rintoul.
3 out of 4 stars.

What happens to a piece of art when it ages to the point it is unable to engage the audience. Can we call it ingenious if the newest generation finds it uninteresting and almost unbearable to watch? Yes, yes we can. This particular version of Pride and Prejudice captured Austen’s words and brought them to life as best they could at the time. The miniseries did an excellent good job of casting the characters over all and there were not many extreme diversions from the text. 

Film Review: Bridget Jones's Diary by Cara Gaddy and Jaime Worden

Bridget Jones’s Diary. Dir. Sharon Mcguire. Perf. Renee Zellweger, High Grant, Collin Firth  Miramax, 2001. DVD. (Personal Star Rating 3 out 4).
Overall, Bridget Jones’s Diary was a hilarious take on Pride and Prejudice. The film focuses around Bridget, a thirty-something woman who is fed up with being a single, over thirty spinster who drinks and smokes too much. The story follows her through her journey of self-discovery where she meets some interesting bumps in the road. While often wondering throughout the movie how relevant it was to Pride and Prejudice, the similarities are there, just perhaps spiced up a bit and made for more of an adult audience.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For Friday: Questions for Emma, Chs.1-12

"Elizabeth Farren," Sir Thomas Lawrence (1790s)
 READING:    R 11     Emma, Chs. 1-12 (pp. 5-77)

Answer ONE of the following by Friday…

1.         Even more than Pride and Prejudice, Emma is a novel of class distinctions, as demonstrated explicitly in Chapter 3, when the narrator remarks, “Harriet Smith was the natural daughter of somebody.  Somebody had placed her, several years back, at Mrs. Goddard’s school, and somebody had lately raised her from the condition of scholar to that of parlour border” (Norton, 18).  How does class/status seem to affect the relationships between the characters in the novel, as well as shape the very society they live in? 

2.         Compare Emma Woodhouse to Elizabeth Bennet: where do we see similarities in their sensibility, opinions, prejudices, etc.?  Or, perhaps, where are the greatest differences in these very qualities? 

3.         Emma also explicitly, even in the opening chapters, concerns itself with the education of women.  How does Emma mean to ‘educate’ Harriet Smith, and what do we know about her own education?  Would Wollstonecraft approve?  Would Austen?  How satirical is Austen’s approach to education here—and how much is meant to be exemplary? 

4.         In Chapter 10, Emma Woodhouse famously remarks, “I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry.  Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a very different thing! but I have never been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall” (Norton, 62).  Does Emma represent a new, liberated heroine for Austen (and indeed, 19th century literature)?  Is she truly a woman who has escaped from the marriage market by virtue of her education and class?  Or is this another satirical barb of Austen’s? 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review of the MGM 1940 Pride and Prejudice by Robert Darling

Pride and Prejudice, 1940, a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard. Staring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Rating: three out of four stars.

Though this adaptation of the novel may infuriate some of the more dedicated Austen fans it is nonetheless a brilliant adaptation. The film starts in the busy Meryton, in a cloth shop, with Jane and Elizabeth shopping for material with their beloved mother. It is here that they get their first glimpse of their rich new addition to their neighborhood, Bingley and Darcy. Like is wont to happen in such situations everyone is put into frenzy and off they dash to home--including a brilliant carriage race between Mrs. Bennet and Lady Lucas. Small things like this throughout make the movie what it is. Not to mention the memorable lines like Mr. Bennet’s, “Yes, what is to become of the wretched creatures? Perhaps we should have drowned some of them at birth.” And Lady Catherine’s, “Well, she may have refused to refuse to marry you!”

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice by Casey Fowler

Review of Pride and Prejudice (1995 BBC Miniseries)
Pride and Prejudice. Dir. Simon Langton. Perf. Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth. BBC One, 1995. Miniseries. (3.5 of 4 stars)

As fun as it is to read a novel and be absorbed into its world, entranced by its characters, and gripped by its plot, watching an adaptation of a book is an entirely different beast. Because until the characters in a book are enlivened and represented by real actors, all they are are words on a page and thoughts in your head. The Pride and Prejudice BBC miniseries is without a doubt a sincere adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Every major plot point from the book is hit on, the characters are true to their book counterparts, and while the miniseries adds new scenes and dialogue, it never feels forced or out of place. Everything seems pretty much perfect. When I was watching the series I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I quickly realized that even though it wasn't something I'd normally watch, it was still wholly satisfying and worth every minute of my time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

For Tuesday: More P & P On Film!

Remember, Paper #2 (see post below--2 posts down) is due on Tuesday by 5pm.  You don't have to bring it to class this time since we decided not to discuss it in class.  Instead, we're going to watch a few more scenes from the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.  We may also compare this to a scene or two from the 2005 version which came at the tail end of the 'Austen boom.' 

Please let me know if you have any questions about the paper.  See you next week!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Katha Pollitt's "Re-Reading Jane Austen" (a poem)

 Here's a very interesting link from the Guardian (a very literary British newspaper) from about a month ago relating to Jane Austen.  It's a poem by Katha Pollitt, a very well-known American poet, who published a poem entitled "Re-Reading Jane Austen."  Even though the poem is specifically discussing Emma (our next book!), you might still get a kick out of it.  We'll resurrect it when we start reading Emma to discuss what she's driving at in the poem.