AC Instructor to offer ‘Novels of Jane Austen’ in Spring 2020 Semester


AC Instructor to Offer Course on Jane Austen

Course Part of ‘Forms of Literature’ English Credit

AC instructor Shelby Armstrong will offer “Novels of Jane Austen” as part of the “Forms of Literature” courses in the Spring 2020 semester. 

By GARY STALLARD

AC News Service

 

A 12-year old girl’s chance encounter with a worn paperback novel at a library book fair created a lifelong love affair with all the author’s works. Years later, the same woman wants to share her passion and knowledge of Jane Austen with her students.

Angelina College will offer for its English 2341 “Forms of Literature” course the novels of Jane Austen, whose works are considered among the canon of world literature while remaining relevant in modern culture. Along with numerous film recreations and variations of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibilities, Emma and others, Austen’s stories and characters have manifested themselves in such modern films as “Clueless” and have spawned international reproductions.

The class will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning in AC’s Spring 2020 semester, which starts on Jan. 13.

AC’s English 2341 “Forms of Literature” course features instructors focusing on specific areas of personal expertise and interest.

“We do a rotating course, where each professor over a year gets to pick a specialty area, and we get to teach a class about it,” Armstrong said. “It’s a fun opportunity for instructors to teach a specialty. It’s a bit narrower in scope, so a lot of times in 2341 you’re kind of getting the true passion from whatever the instructor has chosen to teach. It’s not a survey course.”

Armstrong’s course will focus on at least three Austen novels covering the span of the author’s works: Sense and Sensibilities (one of Austen’s earliest novels), Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.

“We go into all the details of Victorian culture, and while it may not sound like something all that engaging to some, people are always interested in people,” Armstrong said. “That’s the element of history that sometimes gets left out of history courses.

“Ultimately, we get to explore one of the most important authors of the last 200 years. I would argue she has a similar degree of influence to Shakespeare in a modern context in terms of the fact her stories are reused over and over in different settings.”

Armstrong, who earned both her B.A. and M.A. in English from Texas Tech University, has taught English courses at AC for 11 years. As the little girl who fell in love with a used paperback, she hopes to convey her own love of literature to her students. 

“I picked up a worn copy of Pride and Prejudice – which I still have – for something like 16 cents,” Armstrong said. “I still have the book, and it still has the sticker on it. It started a lifelong love affair with Austen’s work that has deepened over time. It started out as just interest in a plot, but over time it’s grown into interest in her overall world view, the socioeconomic issues of the time, and my passion has deepened into appreciation of her masterful artistry. I still say Pride and Prejudice is one of the best plotted stories of all time. It’s a master course in how one plots a story. As I have grown in my understanding of literature, my appreciation for her works have grown.

“Sometimes, what you read when you’re younger loses that charm, but for me, Austen never has.”

Registration for Angelina College’s Spring 2020 semester is taking place now.

 

Gary Stallard’s e-mail address is gstallard@angelina.edu.