This free online course from Hillsdale College dives deep into Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which she wrote when she was 28 years old, but which was only published after her death.
The novel, which on the surface seems to mimic the popular romantic fiction of the day, actually reveals the deeper, timeless truths about human nature. Rather, Lorraine Murphy, associate professor of English at Hillsdale College, says in the first lecture, Austen criticizes the cheap sentimentality of that genre and sets out to examine the following questions in her book:
- How does the reading of novels color our expectations of life?
- How does the careful or careless use of language shape our experience of the world in which we live?
- How might we best learn to read and speak and write in ways that illuminate the truth rather than obscure it?
The course sets about answering these same questions, and in so doing revealing what Austen found to be the “essential truths about human nature” and the importance of “virtues such as courage, prudence, generosity, and justice.” Reading a Jane Austen novel is, accordingly, “an education in good character formation.”
To watch this free, 5-lecture series visit this link to Hillsdale College’s online lectures.