Professor Paula Marantz Cohen and her honors class, Celebrating “Pride and Prejudice,” celebrated the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s classic tale of English gentry in the Sky View room on the sixth floor of MacAlister Hall June 5. The event, titled “‘Pride and Prejudice’: Not Just a Love Story,” featured alternating film clips and scenes acted out by the students and was followed by a discussion on the book’s relevance to modern times. Guests were served home-baked foods like lemon cakes and scones that one would have found in Austen’s world.
The event itself was an analysis of “Pride and Prejudice” as well as movie adaptations and literary spinoffs. This was a way to discuss modern romantic expectations and marriage ideas. The scenes that the students performed were chosen in regard to the focus on the culture of letter writing and its prominence in the novel. The actors’ costumes were all purchased by the students at local thrift shops.
Cohen is an expert in British literature and has authored several adaptations of Austen’s work, including “Jane Austen in Boca: A Novel” and “Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SAT’s.”
“It is the 200th anniversary of publication of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ so the idea was to have a course celebrating ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that’s the title with an event. … I thought it would be great to have a course on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with a close reading of the novel, reading of literary criticism associated with the novel past and present, reading of adaptations, and then the putting on of a special event,” Cohen said.
“The reason the event is called ‘Pride and Prejudice: Not Just a Love Story’ is because we want to express the importance of the novel and how it has managed to stay relevant and a favorite of people for decades,” Jordan Jobs, a sophomore information systems major, said.
“This whole course focused solely on one book, so I think that was kind of different than a lot of courses. I think if they continue doing classes like this with one author, one book, I think it would be really interesting because you can delve a lot deeper into the actual substance of the novels,” Sara McQuade, a freshman business administration major and one of the actors, said.
“The class decided on a theme together, and then we split up the jobs between groups,” Jobs said. “We have a group of students who created the script and [were] acting; another group created and edited movie clips; another group [facilitated the] discussion; and the final group, logistics, has dealt with marketing, food and budget for the event. Since it is an honors course, we all have different majors and we were able to utilize our skills and come together and make this event great.”
“At first I thought it would be something very small, but the students wanted to do something bigger, and I have actors in the class, and I have people interested in the video aspect, and people wanted to bake. People did a lot of things,” Cohen said
Cohen will be teaching more courses on British literature, including one on the work of Charles Dickens this coming fall, which will include a trip to London.