Spotlight On: Jane Austen

The Pembroke-Kings programme offers a variety of courses that seek to offer its students a new perspective on topics that they may have studied before. The Jane Austen course delivered by Dr Mary Newbould is no exception to that.

Dr Newbould, who has been teaching on the Pembroke-Kings Programme for three years and running the Jane Austen course for two, is determined to focus her analysis of the famous texts to the cultural and historical context of the words. This is an unusual approach for many of the students who are used to examining the words before them and discussing the narrative and character developments. Whereas in comparison, a close, contextual reading can be more nuanced and also reflect a depth to a text that may not be obvious at first glance.

This hidden depth is why Dr Newbould chose Austen as the subject of her course. A writer who “often gets read so superficially” because the historical value of her writing is overlooked in favour of heritage.

It is Dr Newbould’s hope that by the end of the course, her students will return to their home universities to preach the gospel of considering context in their studies of literature. You cannot fully appreciate the letter that Mr Darcy writes to Elizabeth without understanding the significance of letter writing at that time after all.



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