• Thinking with Austen: Literature, Philosophy, and Anne Elliot's Inner World

    Magdalena Ostas (see profile)
    TC Philosophy and Literature
    Literature--Philosophy, Austen, Jane, 1775-1817, Fiction, Ethics, Literature--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Literature and philosophy, Jane Austen, Theory of the novel, Pedagogy of literature
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    This essay discusses pedagogical approaches to teaching Austen’s Persuasion as a novel situated at the intersection of literature and philosophy. It focuses on how Persuasion takes up, talks back to, and helps illuminate classic philosophical questions about personhood, sociality, ethics, consciousness, and the space of inner life. It discusses classroom strategies, assignments, and exercises that connect Austen’s ideas about “knowledge” or “subjectivity” to more than fictions: What kinds of rhetorical and stylistic decisions does Austen make? How can we connect those decisions with her sense of what is important, knowable, and significant in the world? No character in Austen’s novels is as silently intelligent and quietly reflective as Anne Elliot, and the emphasis in my approach pivots on the class’s patiently staying with her character. I show how students come to see that staging Anne’s slow emergence out of the quiet discontent of her own inner world is Persuasion’s central concern. As Anne comes to find forms of expression (linguistic, social, emotional, bodily) that capture the impulses of her rich inner life, she also takes on the dimensions of a heroine. Our classroom inquiry centers on what Austen wants to suggest about personhood, subjectivity, acknowledgment, and love through this unveiling of a character.
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    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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