While eating my lunch today, I channel-surfed, as is my wont, and stumbled on the splendid 1999 movie version of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park made by the Canadian director Patricia Rozema, with none other than Harold Pinter playing Sir Bertram. Rozema was influenced in her interpretation by Edward Said's fascinating essay on the novel. Some years ago, I gave a talk on the subject at the Washington D.C. branch of the Osher Life Long Institute, by invitation of my sister, who regularly teaches advanced courses in the OLLI program on molecular biology and evolutionary genetics.
In the Spring, I shall once again be teaching at UNC in the Philosophy Department. This time my theme is Ideological Critique, and I plan to do a segment in the course on the Austen novel, the movie, and the Said essay as a case study in ideological critique. I am proud to say that I knew Ed Said during my years at Columbia, though less well than I would have liked.
I shall actually show the movie in class -- the first time in my entire teaching career that I have done such a thing. In my odd way, I think it is cheating to show a movie in class, because it relieves me of the necessity of preparing for that two hours or so. The students will probably be quite pleased, although I am sure they would prefer something a bit trendier.