Last updated:
November 18, 2017

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Laura L. Runge
Office: CPR 360D
Phone: 813-974-9496

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    LIT 6236
    Austen Bits to Bytes

    Fall 2017
    Time: Tuesday 3:30-6:15 pm
    CPR 257

  • Assignments
  • Library Guide
  • Course bibliography
  • Course Description

    This course focuses exclusively the on the writings of Jane Austen, recent Austen scholarship, and Austen’s impressive digital presence.

    The course is aimed at introducing students to the six major novels by Austen through close reading and engagement with recent scholarship. Persuasions Online, the journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), annually produces a bibliography of Austen scholarship. The titles going back to 2011 number more than any of us could absorb.
      This course engages three major trends in recent scholarship: narrative form, language and style (including computational analytics); material realities of Jane Austen’s life and context; and Austen’s iconic cultural status and adaptations of her work. This focus highlights the tension between bits of ivory – Austen’s reference to creative materials of her day – and data bytes used to sustain the huge Austen fan base in the 21st century.

    Additionally, students will use digital tools (including word frequency visualizations and text mining) and digital projects in analyzing Austen’s texts and fandom to develop skills and literacy in the digital forum and explore areas for new research.

    This course fulfills an 18th Century distribution and cultural-critical studies requirements and students may produce an MA pre-1900 portfolio paper/project. Students pursuing a DH Certificate can adopt the course assignments to fulfill a certificate requirement.

    Course Objectives

    This course has been designed to meet the following objectives:

    • To know and analyze the six complete novels in Jane Austen corpus;

    • To practice computational analytics and other forms of digital research;

    • To learn how literary criticism works, identifying and annotating thesis, disciplinary context, significance, methodology, argumentation and take away;

    • To use tools such as Voyant,, and the Wikipedia editor

    • To be skilled in analyzing Austen’s works in written and oral venues

    • To know the current trends in Austen criticism

    • To survey a variety and participate in at least one current digital project concerning Austen

    • To learn how to conduct graduate level research using library resources

    Learning Outcomes

    • Students will read Austen’s corpus of complete novels

    • Students will write and publish in Canvas weekly informal posts analyzing novels and criticism

    • Students will conduct computational analytics of the Austen corpus using Voyant, the Hyper Concordance, and What Austen Said

    • Students will lead one discussion and annotation of a current critical article using Hypothesis in Canvas

    • Students will collectively annotate an article each week using Hypothesis in class

    • Students will learn a new web project on Jane Austen each week (10 weeks)

    • Students will contribute to or participate in a digital project of choice (e.g. Wikipedia editing), and present results to class with reflection

    • Students will write (or build) a research project based on current critical trends, archival research, or digital methods in a fifteen page paper or the equivalent digital media.

    Required Texts

      Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion in Norton Critical Editions, bundled for reduced price at the USF Bookstore. (If you have your own editions, that is fine.)

      Byrne, Paula. The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things (Harper Perennial, 2014) ISBN 978-0061999109

      Students should bring laptops to class; we will be doing research on digital sites.

    Recommended Texts

      Copeland, Edward and Juliet McMaster (eds). The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (Cambridge UP, 2010).

      All other critical readings will be available through USF Library or electronic resources.

    Electronic Media

    This class will be interacting with the Canvas website for ENL6236.901, to be located on your MY USF website.

    We will be using discussions, assignments, modules, collaborations and possibly other tools from this site. and I will also post assignments, messages and further information about the class on this site. PLEASE CHECK IT FREQUENTLY.

    My Website: information on class, assignments and links to other important sites on literature, etc.

    We may use other social media in this class, such as Twitter. For posting on this class, please use #gradAusten; I can be found @laura_runge. Annotate the web, with anyone, anywhere. A tool we will be using as a plug-in for Canvas Voyant Tools: Very powerful tool for conducting text analysis and visualizations

    Wikipedia portal: Jane Austen

    A general list of digital sources for 18thC research can be found here.



    Note: All novels are to be read in full by the first day assigned on the syllabus. If you do not finish the novel by that date, I cannot be held responsible for spoilers!

    At your earliest convenience, read Paula Byrne’s biography of Austen and/or another popular biography. We will be discussing Byrne in detail October 24.

    August 22 Class 1 – Introductions

      In-class reading: Kathryn Sutherland, “Cents and Sensibility: Jane Austen’s World of Risk,” Financial Times Books Essay, July 2017. Canvas.
      Review Canvas, Syllabus, Hypothesis
      Introduction: How to do graduate research in 18th Century Studies
      Jane Austen Quiz

    Narrative form, style, and language

    August 29 Class 2

      Critical Reading: Wikipedia, pages
      Digital project – Wikipedia Jane Austen portal, learning to edit Wikipedia

      Sign up for Article Annotation assigment.

    Sept 5 Class 3

      Austen: Northanger Abbey (entire)

    Sep 12 Class 4

    Sep 19 Class 5

      Austen: Sense and Sensibility
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation

    Sep 26 Class 6

      Austen: Pride and Prejudice
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation
      Digital Project: Austen Said

    Oct 3 Class 7

      Austen: Pride and Prejudice
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation

    Material Realities, Contexts

    Oct 10 Class 8

    Oct 17 Class 9

      Austen: Mansfield Park
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation

    Oct 24 Class 10

      Austen: Emma
      Critical Reading:2 student annotations
      Digital Project: What Jane Saw

    Oct 31 Class 11

      Austen: Emma
      Critical Reading: Paula Byrne, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things (read three chapters of your choice)
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation

      Due: Initial plan for final project. Discuss with Instructor.

    Nov 7 Class 12

      Austen: Persuasion
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation
      Digital Project: Jane Austen Games

    Nov 14 Class 13

      Austen: Persuasion
      Critical Reading: Student Annotation

    Cults, culture, adaptations, and digital lives

    Nov 21 – no class READING DAY

    Nov 28 Class 14 – Last class - Adaptations

      Reading: Rudyard Kipling, “The Janeites”
      Claudia Johnson, “Austen Cults and Cultures,” in Copeland and McMaster
      Mirmohamadi, Digital Afterlives (e-book USF Library) introduction and one further chapter

      Digital Projects: Ever Jane (MMORP);
      The Lady’s Choice – visual interactive novel
      Wattpad – browse fan fiction:
      Republic of Pemberley: Bits of Ivory section
      Lizzie Bennet Diaries – Youtube:
      Austen blog – a form of adaptation

      DUE: Presentations on Digital Projects

    ***The Schedule is subject to revision***

    Graded Assignments

    Weekly posts 25%

    Article Annotation and Discussion lead 20%

    Digital Project -- 20%

    Final Project options -- 35%

    This syllabus is subject to change.

    Please review the course policies.

    Description of Graded Assignments

    Weekly Posts:

    Students are responsible for writing a weekly discussion post on our Canvas discussion page. These posts should be built around the discussion notes and questions posted each week (linked to the date of the syllabus). Students should practice the skills of argumentative reasoning, close reading, synthesis of ideas, and inquiry. For example, students should address the argument of a theoretical reading or a significant feature of a novel, include appropriate quotations with analysis, draw comparisons with other sources we have read, and raise questions for further discussion. These are practice pieces, meant to create a discursive community in the course, and to further our discussion of the eighteenth-century novel. You should notice improvement in your ability to write these posts as the semester progresses. You will be graded on effort on an S/U basis. I will address your posts during class discussion (and therefore they cannot be late or made-up if missed). I will contact you only if the posts do not meet minimum requirements. Students are expected to read the posts before class.

    Minimum requirements -- submit a 250-500 word post by Tuesday at midnight the night before class.

    Annotation Project

    Each student will be responsible for annotation a critical article using in Canvas. Students will select an article from the course bibliography. It is important that this be a critical scholarly article from a peer-reviewed journal. If you wish to suggest a different article, you must have approval from the instructor. You will be responsible for getting a pdf of the article at latest the week before your annotation is due so that I can upload to our Canvas site. I will create an assignment for each article. You will annotate the article in, and other students will read the article before class. In class you will lead a discussion of the annotation and the article, posing at least three significant discussion questions. The article should be directly related to the reading of the week.

    Sign up for this assignment will be in the second week of class

    Points to evaluate

  • What is the thesis or main argument?
  • How is it placed in a disciplinary, scholarly discussion?
  • How effective is the introduction? (engages, grounds, provides purpose, argument and significance)
  • Evaluate the purpose for this article (what does it set out to do? What informational needs does it meet? Why is it necessary?)
  • Evaluate the thesis – is it defensible? Clear? Relevant? Original?
  • Evaluate the significance – what is the pay off or take away from this article?
  • Evaluate the methodology – what information does the article use (Primary and secondary)? How does the article use this information (theoretical/disciplinary constructs)? Are the sources accurate, legitimate, most relevant? Are the sources used responsibly, clearly? If not, are the problems stylistic or substantive?
  • Evaluate the argumentation – how does the article prove its claims? Is it persuasive? Is it logical? Is it otherwise sound (ethical, up-to-date, relevant)? Is it complete?
  • Evaluate the conclusion / whole – does the article achieve what it sets out to do? (Do not evaluate whether it does what you WANT it to do, but rather evaluate the soundness based on the terms of its construction). Does it hold interest? Why or why not? What are its significant achievements? Where does it seem weakest?

    Use tags to indicate in your annotation what point you are evaluating. At the end of the semester, we can evaluate the scholarship in different ways through these tags. is a new tool, and we need to ask questions and discuss how to make it effective for us. Please raise concerns and questions, suggestions and ideas. The important thing is 1) for you to get a sense of scholarly articles as "made" objects not only sources of information, and 2) for you to become skilled in using web annotation.


    Before class, students should read the scholarly article and be prepared to discuss. Feel free to annotate with questions or support. In class I will ask the lead annotator to begin our discussion, but I will expect others to open their laptops and contribute to the annotating. The lead should have a few discussion questions to ask, and students will look for support in the annotated article.

    Digital Project

    In class we will be reviewing about ten digital projects on Jane Austen in a WIDE variety. As part of the digital literacy component of the class, and because Austen is immensely popular in the digital realm, you will be required to investigate and contribute to one of these projects. To begin, please review Miriam Posner's video called How Did They Make That, which explains how Digital Humanities projects can be analyzed into three essential parts: Sources, Process, Presentation. For this assignment, you will be required to choose an Austen digital project to analyze or "reverse engineer." Ideally you will participate in some way in the digital project, whether it is a contribution to Wikipedia or playing an Austen video game. You will document and reflect on your learning process and present this to the class on the last day. Your documentation and presentation should reflect your own experimentation with digital media and Jane Austen. Each will be unique. I recommend that you keep a journal of your exploration of digital projects for purposes of record keeping and reflection.

    Update - Minimum expectations:

      Wikipedia – complete the training modules, conduct the assignment steps in your sandbox, and complete a revision to an article related to Jane Austen. For the revision, identify 7-10 small revisions (grammar, wording corrections/citations/adding illustration etc.) and complete them or 1-2 larger revisions (minimum 10K characters added or subtracted each). Present a review/reflection in class (see questions in module for Week 15).

      Other digital projects – identify a digital project that concerns Jane Austen (you may use one from the syllabus) and conduct a reverse engineering project using Miriam Posner’s video How Did they Make That? Analyze the sources used, the processing done to those sources, and the form of presentation. This will involve technical information and research, but much of it will be available on the site to start. To present your findings, create a digital showcase using the platform of your choice, such as Storymaps, Omeka, Prezi, Google Slides, etc. Because very few of completed projects allow for user contributions, please include a plan for how you would use this DH project as a teacher in a classroom setting or to further the public knowledge of Jane Austen.

    Final Project

    Students should meet with me by November 1 to discuss a plan for their final project. The most common way to satisfy this requirement is to write a 15 page (4500 word) research paper that builds upon research from the class; other options include building a research informed website for one of the novels that can be peer-reviewed; writing a new, substantial wikipedia page for Austen, or making a creative adaptation with a pedagogical exercise. Each final project must include a cover letter of no more than 900 words that describes your project, your goals in attempting it; what you learned from completing it, and any future plans you have for it.

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