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Catacombs and Courtship: Life Imitates the Gothic in Northanger Abbey

By Weston Kulvete

From the Faculty Nominator:

I've always thought that the experience of reading really good literary criticism has a lot in common with the experience of reading really good literature.  In each case, the author draws you in right from the beginning.  Maybe the title piques your curiosity; maybe it's the first line or something in the first paragraph.  Before long, anyway, you settle happily into the familiar feeling of being off on a journey, ready for discovery.  No sooner have you begun to think about an objection than your author anticipates your reaction and addresses it.  Each new stage of the piece, including its ending, strikes you as being, paradoxically, both surprising and just right. Things come together in a way you couldn't have predicted yet that nevertheless makes perfect sense.  When you finish, you want to begin again in order to appreciate the piece even more; you also want to recommend it to everyone you know. 

That's how I feel about Weston Kulvete's "Catacombs and Courtship," as well as about Northanger Abbey, the Jane Austen novel that Weston writes about.  Both the essay and the novel start off strong with memorable titles and great introductions.  (For those of you unacquainted with Austen's novel, it begins, "No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.")  Both feature distinctive authorial voices full of humor, which is notoriously tricky to manage in academic writing.  Both leave you full of admiration for the authors' inventiveness, as well as the care they took on every level.

Weston wrote his essay for ENG 200: Close Reading, Analytical Writing, a course that-unusually for English literature classes-stresses the value of students' learning from each other's critical writing.  Thanks to Verge, you too now have that opportunity. 
 

Read: Catacombs and Courtship: Life Imitates the Gothic in Northanger Abbey

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