• University of Southampton

Jane Austen: Myth, Reality and Global Celebrity

Discover the fascinating story of author Jane Austen, from her own life in Hampshire to what she means to a global audience today.

42,080 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Discover the life and impact of Jane Austen

Jane Austen went from being a moderately successful anonymous novelist in her own time to a global celebrity in ours. On this course you will explore how that happened, exploring Austen’s own literary influences, and her reputation over time.

You will learn about her origins in Hampshire, uncovering her formative years, and the society she lived in, asking how Austen’s location, background and reading influenced her novels. You will also consider the ways her own contemporaries read and responded to her, and her place in the modern canon of world literature today, 200 years after she died.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds Jane Austen born in 1775 died in 1817 aged 41. In life she had modest success as a novelist from this village, Chawton, in Hampshire.

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 seconds Now she’s a global literary celebrity her novels have been adapted for stage and for screen and have provided inspiration for sequels, prequels, mashups, blogs and video games.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds There are countless biographies and a seemingly endless appetite for collections of essays, articles and book-length studies of the six novels that are now known, by title at least, across the world. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion whose plots are familiar and whose characters seem like friends.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds But how did one Hampshire born clergyman’s daughter travel from near obscurity to become a novelist who leads an international fanbase. A fan base who, inspired by her novels learn country dancing, eat the cuisine of the day and wear Regency period fashions. How did someone who celebrated writing herself in to 250 pounds become a marketing tool for everything from literary tours to toothpaste, action figures to gin. Just after Jane Austen has appeared on the Bank of England ten pound note join us for a fresh look at her novels her life and her legacy

What topics will you cover?

  • The Austen myth: who is she and what does she mean to people around the world?
  • An 18th-century education: Jane and women’s education and reading
  • Austen’s literary and family influences
  • Austen and nature: gardens and landscapes in Austen’s writing
  • The marketing of Jane Austen at home and abroad – how her legacy has endured and built her celebrity
  • Austen’s afterlives: adapting Jane Austen for the modern age in film, TV
  • Austen as a commodity: portraits, hair and merchandising

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of the historical and literary contexts in which Jane Austen was writing
  • Investigate virtually the important locations associated with Jane Austen and their impact on her writing
  • Assess and discuss the impact of Austen’s society on the depiction of arts and reading in her novels
  • Explore some of the myths surrounding women writers of the long eighteenth century
  • Identify the challenges of adapting, translating and interpreting Jane Austen’s works and how this affects global understanding of her work
  • Evaluate the marketing of Jane Austen in her own time and now

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in Jane Austen, who is looking to deepen their knowledge of the author, her influences and her celebrity. This includes the members of Jane Austen Societies in North America, Japan, Brazil and many European countries but also those who simply love her writing or with to know more.

Who will you learn with?

Associate Professor in English at University of Southampton. I research & teach Jane Austen & her contemporaries in Britain & France. @gdow12

Chawton House Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-present). I also lecture in eighteenth-century literature at the University of Southampton. @AmatoryAnon

Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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