All 3 entries tagged Mansfield Park

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October 12, 2012

Week 3 Questions

Stoneleigh Abbey

Stoneleigh Abbey- inspiration for some of the Sotherton Court scenes in Mansfield Park

For the seminar on Mansfield Park, please prepare these questions:

The house: What does Mansfield Park stand for - ideals, values, traditions? What (and how) does the novel endorse and/or critique about the house? How do different characters relate to the houses/spaces they inhabit, and what does this tell us?

The head of the house: what is the relationship between the house and its head? How does the head of the house function, and what are we to make of the failures of Heads? How is masculinity portrayed more widely in the novel?

The House and Empire: Edward Said suggests that "having read Mansfield Park as part of the structure of an expanding imperialist venture, one cannot simply restore it to the canon of ‘great literary masterpieces’ – to which it most certainly belongs – and leave it at that. Rather, I think, the novel steadily, if unobtrusively, opens up a broad expanse of domestic imperialist culture without which Britain’s subsequent acquisition of territory would not have been possible.” (Culture and Imperialism, p. 114). How do you read the relationship between England/Mansfield Park and Antigua, and what problems does the novel raise with regards to Imperialism?

October 11, 2012

Jane Austen and the brain

Writing about web page

Jane Austen has been in the news this week with the announcement of research suggesting that critical reading is good exercise for your brain. The research study used a passage from Mansfield Park to look at the cognitive effects of different forms of reading, but the results of the research have much wider applicability to literary studies in suggesting that critical literary reading "provides a truly valuable exercise of people's brains".

October 01, 2012


A series on "Servants: The true story of life below stairs" began last week on BBC2, and it provides some useful context for the themes of the first unit of the module on The House and its Head.

In the first episode, Dr Pamela Cox explored the life of servants in the country houses of the 19th century, looking at how the idea of service changed in the early part of the century in response to new ideas about the country estate. The programme also picked up on the increase of servants in middle-class homes throughout the century, drawing on issues around the rising middle classes that we discussed in the week 1 seminar. I found the programme informative and enjoyable to watch, and it will give you a good sense of life in the typical Victorian house, as well as contextualise some of the class issues in the master/servant relationship that we'll address next week with Castle Rackrent.

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