Study Guide Home
Emma & Clueless
Pride & Prejudice
Jane Austen Society of
Australia: Study Guide
A short list of further reading
Jane Austen. The newest
biography on the block, and one of the best.
Dr Jon Spence, Hambledon & London, London, 2003.
HSC English Study Guide – Emma & Clueless,
Lindsay Green, 2002
Austen in Hollywood, ed
Linda Troost & Sayre Greenfield, 2nd edition. Lexington: University Press of
Kentucky, 2001. This is one of the pioneering works in this area, now in its second
Two articles from this work are included in this study guide - 'Emma
Clueless' and 'As if!....'
Austen: A Life, Claire Tomalin (winner of the Whitbread prize), Penguin Books,
Tomalin is a great pleasure to read. This work is
clear, interesting and covers a lot of territory.
Collected and Edited by Deirdre LeFaye,
Third Edition. Oxford University
Letters are a superb, near-essential source for all Jane Austen study.
Austen's England, by Maggie Lane, Robert Hale, 1989, reprinted up to
1996. Maggie Lane's works are extremely well researched and informed, as
well as being a pleasure to read.
mETAphor is the
journal of the English Teachers’ Association (NSW).
It contains a variety of articles which explore texts in the context of the HSC
Syllabus. Some examples are:
Parill, S., “Metaphors of Control: Physicality in Emma and Clueless
“Reviving Emma in a Clueless world: The Current Attraction to a
Gibson, J., “Emma and
Clueless and the effects of transformation”
Marking: Stage 6 Advanced (Transformations – Emma and Clueless)
published four times a year, is available from the ETA, PO Box 425, Newtown,
NSW, 2042. The phone number of the Association is (02) 9517 9799.
A short list of
This site carries the texts of all six Austen novels. Most convenient if
you need to quote from the text in your assignments. Don't forget to
acknowledge the source!
An excellent piece on character transformation between Emma and Clueless
Some of the social background.
script There may be some difficulty accessing this page. You may need to
try again later: it has a limit on how much it can be downloaded) http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Hills/5342/Clueless.htm
The present site - www.jasa.net.au - has
links to all the important Jane Austen sites.
The following commentaries by Professor William
A word about libraries
Fortunately for us, an outstanding percentage of the great libraries in the
world are located in English-speaking countries. Many of the world's great
libraries are attached to universities.
It is further fortunate for us that growing numbers of these libraries have
on-line catalogues. If you are lucky, you may be able to get on-line access to
the catalogue of one or more major libraries near you. Maybe your school library
has such access. Ask your school library or resource centre to help you. Your
school resource centre may also have "search" capability that will
help you find further resources on-line or generate lists of books and articles
to look for.
It helps to have a good idea of what you are looking for before you make a
trip to a major library. It can save a lot of time once you get there.
Only a few web addresses are included - but these contain links that will
lead you to all kinds of interesting and useful information.
A few words of caution in web browsing:
- Set time limits. Don't keep wandering around the web if you haven't been
successful. At least take a break and come back to it when you feel fresher.
- Try not to get led astray by the commercial links that twinkle and buzz
all over the screen. It's another matter if you're shopping, but when you
are trying to get work done, they encourage you to waste time and money.
- Take advantage of serendipity. If you have the luck to stumble onto
something interesting by accident, use it!
- Don't forget to make a bookmark for a nifty new site you stumble upon. If
you're like me, you may never find it again otherwise.
When I need basic information about movies, I go first to this website: http://www.imdb.com
If you use the links carefully, they will lead you to lots of reviews of
movies from journalistic sources. Once you have called up the page for a
particular movie, click on "outside reviews" on the left side of the
page. This can sometimes be rather frustrating, but it's worth a try.
Such reviews have to be read carefully for academic purposes. Most
journalistic film reviewers are more interested in movies than they are in the
novels on which the movies are based. That's fair enough, they are paid to
review movies, not to read novels. However, it is sometimes obvious that even
the brightest of these men and women haven't read the novel at all, or haven't
read it for a long time. Nevertheless, if you read carefully, movie reviews can
sometimes contain valuable insights.
One thing the "reviews" link will do is lead you to lots of other
movie related sites.
Here's an Australian site: http://www.urbancinefile.com.au.
A big problem with this site is that requires you to subscribe. Don't spend your
hard-earned money (or your family's) unless that's not a problem. Perhaps your
school library has access to this site, or you could request it.
Here's a UK site with links to movie reviews: http://www.thisislondon.com/.
Sources about film adaptations
This is a small sample of books devoted to discussions of film adaptations of
novels. You may want to spend some time with a library catalogue and see what
others you can find.
- Bluestone, George. Novels into Film. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1957.
This is the pioneering work in English on film adaptation of novels. For
about 20-25 years following its publication, most books, essays or other
discussions of films based on literary sources were strongly influenced by
its point of view. That point of view emphasizes that literature and film
are totally distinct media. The implication in Bluestone is that film is
inherently inferior to literature.
- Boyum, Joy Gould. Double Exposure: Fiction into Film. New York:
Universe Books, 1985.
Theoretically this work takes a middle ground between apologists for the
superiority of literature on the one hand and the superiority of film on the
other. She argues convincingly that it is a pointless argument.
- Giddings, Robert, Keith Selby and Chris Wensley. Screening the Novel:
The Theory and Practice of Literary Dramatization. New York: St.
Martin's Press, 1990.
The introduction summarizes the critical debate about movies and the books
they are based on. Issues are identified and major historical developments
are discussed. They may make it seem like more of a battle than really
exists just to lend weight to their discussion.
- Griffith, James. Adaptations as Imitations: Films from Novels
Newark, DL: University of Delaware Press, 1997.
Griffith's essays on specific films may not be particularly helpful for your
purposes. However, the introduction gives a rather thorough outline of the
history of criticism devoted to film adaptations. Griffith develops his own
theoretical framework based on the Chicago school of literary criticism.
There is an interesting discussion of what it means for a movie to be
"faithful" to the novel.
- Klein, Michael and Gillian Parker, Eds. The English Novel and the
Movies. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981.
In their introductory essay, Klein & Parker argue that the best
adaptations are "true to genre."
- Sinyard, Neil. Filming Literature. New York: St. Martin's Press,
This work has had more influence on me than any other I've encountered on
the topic. Sinyard argues that the best movie adaptations and their creators
have certain affinities with the original sources.
Some sources about Jane Austen
Here are some print resources to get you started on several topics.
Choices and annotations by Professor William Phillips, at
- Poplawski, Paul. A Jane Austen Encyclopedia. Westport, CN:
Greenwood Press, 1998.
The opening sentence of the "Preface" to this book is
illuminating. "This book aims to present the known facts about Jane
Austen's life and works in as uncluttered and straightforward a manner as
possible, without duplicating the structures, approaches, and assessments of
previous books of a similar sort. . .(ix)
The book is laid out in alphabetical entries like any other encyclopedia.
The book is very useful when you need a quick reminder of something in the
chronology of Austen's life, a quick reference to some character (both those
that appear and those mentioned are included as entries), or need a quick
summary of one of Austen's works.
There is an extensive bibliography of essays on the works of Austen
(including some from the 19th century) at the end of the book.
- Tyler, Natalie. The Friendly Jane Austen Book: A Well-Mannered
Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility. New York:
This little book is both amusing and helpful. It is organized into
entertaining tidbits (that may be "titbits" to you guys in
Australia) that help make studying Jane Austen much less daunting.
Biographical and beyond
Choices and annotations by Professor William Phillips, at
There are quite a few biographical works on Jane Austen. Here are two that I
think you should make sure your school library has available. The first one has
the sponsorship of JASA.
- Spence, Jon. Becoming Jane Austen.
The particular appeal of this biography is its focus on the things Jane
Austen actually lived through. Spence probably knows more about the details
of what Jane Austen was doing on any particular day of her short life than
any other living person.
- Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. London: Penguin Books, 1998
(first published, 1997).
Tomalin is a great pleasure to read. This work is clear, interesting and
covers a lot of territory.
- Jane Austen's Letters. Collected and Edited by Deirdre LeFaye,
Third Edition. Oxford University Press, 1995.
It is useful to have a copy of Austen's letters at hand, particularly when
reading "scholarly" works about Austen which often make reference
to the letters. One problem I have with this edition is that the indices are
difficult to use. There are Biographical, Topographical and General indices.
The first two listings are full of information about people and places
mentioned in Austen's letters, which is particularly helpful to those of us
who are neither historians nor well versed in the minute details of English
rural geography. However, neither of these listings is cross referenced to
the General Index. You have to flip back and forth. The General Index is
geared to the Biographical and Topographical entries and is not very helpful
if you are trying to locate topics Austen discussed in her letters.
On the feminist front
Choices and annotations by Professor William Phillips, at
Jane Austen was no radical. Her novels promoted an essentially conservative
ethos. However, on a number of issues, particularly those related to the status
quo for women in society, Austen's work was substantially subversive. Here are a
couple of places to begin investigating 'women's issues' in relation to Austen.
- Johnson, Claudia. Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel.
Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1988.
According to me, Johnson is brilliant. Her work is insightful and
instructive. She introduced me to topics concerning women in Austen that I
would never have thought of on my own. This is not "light
reading", so be prepared to struggle a bit, but the rewards can be
great. If you are interested in Austen studies from a feminist point of
view, read anything you can get your hands on by Johnson.
- Kaplan, Deborah. Jane Austen Among Women. Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins U. Press, 1994 (originally published, 1992).
Kaplan concludes that neither committed feminists nor committed
conservatives can claim the whole of Jane Austen for their camps. Using
available evidence from Austen's life and letters, Kaplan shows how
important the society of other women was to Austen's development as both a
writer and a woman.
- Looser, Devoney. "Feminist Implications of the Silver Screen
Austen," in Jane Austen in Hollywood, 159-176.
You'll find reference to this book elsewhere. I just mention this essay now
to say that if you have an interest in feminist perspective in relation to
transforming Austen, you should probably start here. Looser (pronounced
'low-sir') discusses the feminist issues raised by both Austen's novels and
their film adaptations with intelligence and common sense. You know where
she stands but she doesn't scream at you or try to bowl you over with obtuse
The Oxford English Dictionary, commonly referred to as the OED, is probably
the best source available to research the "history" of English words.
This huge work tries to stay abreast of the meaning of English words and chart
the historical point at which different words and different meanings of the same
words enter the language. It is available at most large libraries, where you may
also find that they have access to the OED on-line. That access costs a great
deal and is unlikely to be used by anyone without institutional support of some
kind. See also the Jane Austen Concordance: http://www.concordance.com/austen.htm
Post -colonial perspectives
An area of study now called "Post-colonial Criticism" has developed
over the last 20 years in English cultural studies. The general point of view is
that the classic products of Western culture must now be viewed from the
perspective of the "colonized" peoples of much of the world rather
than solely from the Euro-centric perspective of the products themselves. For
purposes of discussing Jane Austen, the most directly relevant source is the
section entitled "Jane Austen and Empire" found in the following book.
Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books, 1994
(first pub 1993).
Jane Austen at the movies
The pioneering work in this area is the following book, now in its second
- Troost, Linda and Sayre Greenfield, Eds. Jane Austen in Hollywood,
2nd edition. Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 2001.
All the essays in this collection except perhaps those by Ellington, Diana,
Samuelian, and Kaplan have ideas that might be directly relevant to an
investigation of any of the three films (Clueless,
Park and Metropolitan). That is not to discount these as interesting
essays. They just deal in specific terms with other film adaptations of
Austen works or with different topics.
I would say that getting access to a copy of this volume is almost a must if
you wish to think further about such film adaptations. All the essays here
except the final one by the Editors on the 1999 Rozema film appear in the
1998 first edition. However, there is a much more extensive bibliography in
the second edition as well as the additional essay.
For basic information about movies: http://www.imdb.com
If you use the links carefully, they will lead you to lots of reviews of movies
from journalistic sources. Once you have called up the page for a particular
movie, click on "outside reviews" on the left side of the page. Though
sometimes there is no reference to the novel at all, movie reviews can sometimes
contain valuable insights.
A UK site with links to movie reviews: http://www.thisislondon.com/.
"The Republic of Pemberley" site: www.pemberley.com.
One of the most informative Austen
sites. Near the top of the home
page is a section which has discussions of the novels and film adaptations.
This is a concordance of all six of the major novels by Jane Austen, plus
her early novel Lady Susan and some juvenile writing under the title Freindship.
You can enter particular words and find not only the frequency with which Austen
used them but also their location in the text of the novel. Another feature is
that the concordance will list words in order of frequency of use in either
ascending or descending order.
British site labelled 'Bibliomania' http://www.Bibliomania.com/
offers free study guides to a lot of the most read novels in English. Emma
is on the Jane Austen list, but Mansfield Park is not.
to the Jane Austen collection in the library of Goucher College (Baltimore,
Maryland, USA) might be helpful in generating a bibliography to help you search
in a library closer to home. http://www.goucher.edu/library/jausten/jane.htm
The huge JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) may have material of
interest on their site - www.jasna.org - a
most useful site. Study the links listed down the left side of the
One of these is particularly useful: it gives you access to the society's
online publications which are quite extensive since being launched a few years
ago. If you click on the "Occasional Papers" link, it will lead you
to the table of contents for Occasional Papers No 3,
in which all of the articles are about movies based on Emma. You'll
notice that I wrote one of these articles. OK, OK, so you might have guessed
that I'd sneakily direct you to something that I had written. Seriously, there
is some good stuff in this collection of articles.