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The University of Southampton

ENGL3041 Jane Austen and the Regency World

Module Overview

The Regency era, from around 1795 to 1820, saw the French Revolution, more than twenty years of global warfare, the expansion of the British empire and rapid industrialisation and social change in Britain itself. It was in this period that the novel became the dominant genre in the literary marketplace, and this module will examine ways in which works of fiction engaged with contemporary transformations with particular emphasis on the most celebrated novelist of the period, Jane Austen. The module will include works by bestselling authors who influenced Austen, notably Frances Burney and Ann Radcliffe, and rivals such as Maria Edgeworth and Walter Scott. We will also consider the topical nature of Regency crazes for the Gothic and the national tale, and the origins of the ‘Condition of England’ novel.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Link historical research and critical interpretation
  • Evaluate a particular work in relation to general theories on literary genre
  • Deliver an oral presentation in a clear and concise manner
  • Incorporate new methods for analysing books and explore the issues raised individually and as part of a group
  • Manage your time effectively to meet deadlines
  • Engage in self-managed research
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Combine an understanding of the historical period with critica interpretation of the novels
  • Reflect on key concepts and recent developments in the history of the novel Evaluate the historical and cultural evidence provided by individual novels through comparison
  • Analyse works of fiction of the period in the context of social and political change
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Key concepts and recent developments in historical and genre criticism
  • Changes in writing, publishing and reading during the Regency era, through the study of some of the best-selling works of the period
  • Literary innovation in relation to political and social contexts


This module offers a survey of the emergence of the novel as the dominant literary genre, in relation to national and global contexts. The focus of study will be the works of Jane Austen, alongside influential precursors such as Frances Burney and Ann Radcliffe, and rivals like Maria Edgeworth and Walter Scott. We will consider changes in publishing and in readership, the development of realism in the novel genre, and the phenomenon of popular subgenres, notably the Gothic and the national tale. There will be discussion of the principles of historical method in literary criticism, and you will be introduced to the use of rare books collections and archival material. From week to week there will be a changing focus on key aspects of the Regency period: political revolution and reaction, empire, global war, and economic and social transformation. There will be visit to the Chawton House Library for the purpose of studying a range of original editions, a unique opportunity made possible by the links between this rare books collection and University of Southampton. The element of advanced research skills in this module makes it an excellent bridge to postgraduate study. It will also be of particular interest to students considering a career in publishing or the media.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Tutor-led seminar discussion • Small group work • Guided visits to a rare books collection Learning activities include • Individual study • Preparing and delivering a presentation • Leading or actively participating in small-group discussions • Archival research This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Wider reading or practice31
Completion of assessment task60
Preparation for scheduled sessions100
Follow-up work15
Total study time298

Resources & Reading list

Resources. Module reading lists will be available on Blackboard, but primary texts are likely to include Jane Austen’s Emma (1816) and Persuasion (1818), and works by authors such as Fanny Burney, Ann Radcliffe, and Maria Edgeworth. Claire Tomalin and Park Honan’s biographies of Austen will give you a feel for the period.

William St Clair (2004). The Reading Nation in The Romantic Period. 

Janet Todd, ed. (2005). Jane Austen in Context. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3750 words) 65%
Essay proposal  (250 words) 5%
Timed Assignment  (2000 words) 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Costs for this module will not exceed £40.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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