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Approaches to Teaching Austen's Emma

Editor(s): Marcia McClintock Folsom

Pages: xliii & 200 pp.
Published: 2004
ISBN: 9780873529136 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873529129 (hardcover)

"Any instructor about to take the plunge and teach this complex novel will find most of what he or she needs for preparation in this strong collection of essays."
Deborah Kaplan, George Mason University

"This volume, by showing different, even conflicting ways of understanding Emma, will push teachers and students of the novel to question their own interpretations in productive ways, heightening their appreciation of Austen’s literary art."

Critics of Austen's Emma have remarked on both its pleasures and its difficulties. Teachers seeking to introduce Austen's intricate, subtly crafted world to new readers often find that students are put off by the novel's seeming lack of action and preoccupation with the details of daily life. This volume in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching series outlines the specific challenges of teaching Emma and shows teachers how to construct lectures, initiate classroom discussions, and devise writing assignments that illuminate for first-time readers the novel's many layers of meaning, its hospitality to different interpretations, and the sheer delights of reading and rereading the book.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Austen's Emma

Preface to the Volume

Introduction: The Challenges of Teaching Emma

Marcia McClintock Folsom



Books of Particular Use to Teachers

The Emma Films

Teaching about Emma's Chronology

One Idea for Initiating Class Discussion: "Opinions of Emma"


Social and Political Contexts

The Everyday of Emma
Julia Prewitt Brown

Jane Austen, Slavery, and British Imperialism
Ruth Perry

The Experience of Class, Emma, and the American College Student
Laura Mooneyham White

Literary Contexts

Emma, the Eighteenth-Century Novel, and the Female Tradition
Lorna J. Clark

The Comedy of Emma
John Wiltshire
Emma and Richardson's Sir Charles Grandison
Celia A. Easton

Exploring Artist and Audience through Austen's "Opinions of Emma"
Annette M. LeClair

Teaching about Class and Gender in Emma

Manners in Emma
Jonathan H. Grossman

Classless, Clueless: Emma On-Screen
Carol M. Dole

"A Very Kind Undertaking": Emma and Eighteenth-Century Feminism
Devoney Looser

The Sexual Politics of Emma
Ruth Perry

Teaching about Language in Emma

Teaching about Free Indirect Discourse
Dorice Williams Elliott

Learning to Listen: Teaching about the Talk of Miss Bates
Pamela S. Bromberg

Language and Gender in Emma
Patricia Howell Michaelson

Teaching Emma's Narratives and the Narrative of Emma
Jo Alyson Parker

Teaching Specific Scenes, Patterns, or Words in Emma

A Likely Story: The Coles' Dinner Party
Joseph Wiesenfarth

"I Wish We Had a Donkey": Small-Group Work and Writing Assignments for Emma
Marcia McClintock Folsom

Health, Comfort, and Creativity: A Reading of Emma
John Wiltshire

Appendix: "Opinions of Emma"

Works Cited


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© 2015 Modern Language Association. Last updated 02/24/2015.