Tag Archives: JASNA AGM

5 Reasons To Attend The 2018 JASNA AGM

Every year, for one weekend, Janeites across the country gather together at the JASNA AGM to celebrate all things Austen. This year, the AGM will be held in Kansas City at the end of September.  The subject is Persuasion and with a little luck, Amanda Root, who played Anne Elliot in the 1995 Persuasion will be in attendance.

Below, are the five reasons to attend the 2018 JASNA AGM:

  1. The chance to travel to cities that you otherwise might not have visited. Last year’s AGM was held in Huntington Beach, California. I can say now that I’ve been to California, which I couldn’t say before last fall.
  2. You get to meet Janeites from across the country and across the world.
  3. The speakers are amazing. The variety of subjects that relate to Jane Austen and novels are nothing short of dizzying.
  4. The Emporium is heaven. T-shirts, books, tea, etc. Every year, I have to remind myself that there is only so much room in my suitcase.
  5. Last, but not certainly least is the ball. Not everyone dresses up or dances, but it is certainty the highlight of every AGM, for me at least.

 

This is one trip I am looking forward to. Perhaps I will see one of you there.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Persuasion

JASNA AGM 2016-Emma: No One But Herself

My regular readers might have noticed that I was unusually silent this past weekend.

This was because I attended the JASNA AGM, held in Washington DC this year.

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The AGM is a Janeite’s wet dream. Surrounded by fellow Janeites from around North America and around the world, the weekend is a break from reality and a complete immersion in everything that is Jane Austen. It’s my kind of heaven.

I encourage my fellow Janeites who have not attended an AGM or to join JASNA to consider one or both. Next year is in California. We will remember and mourn the 200th anniversary of the too soon passing of our beloved Jane and in two years, the Kansas City region is hosting. The topic is Persuasion. Crossing fingers, I will be at both AGM’s.

The AGM lies somewhere in between comic-con and an academic conference. My experience has taught me that the mark of a good AGM is one with excellent breakout sessions (with plenty to choose from), engaging plenary speakers and an opportunity to meet fellow Janeites with whom I would never meet outside of my local JASNA region.

My favorite breakout session related to the fact that Emma is a black comedy. Unlike other women in her world and her era, Emma Woodhouse is not only unafraid to speak to her mind, but she speaks of topics that make some people (especially men) uncomfortable. There is an indirect line from Emma Woodhouse to women who today dominate comedy and are not afraid to speak to their mind.

While the highlight of the AGM is the banquet and ball (yes I did dress up and dance. English country dancing is quite the workout), my absolute favorite parts of the AGM was visiting the DAR Museum and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The DAR Museum (Daughters Of The American Revolution Museum) is located minutes from the White House. The present exhibit, An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After The Revolution, told the story of how America built her economy during her early years by encouraging citizens to buy American made goods. The clothes are authentic and lovely. The exhibit will be at the museum until April 29,2017.
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I am going to save the best for last. The Will and Jane exhibit. And The SHIRT. This shirt is reason I went to DC this weekend.

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The Will and Jane exhibit will be at the Folger Shakespeare Library until November 6th, 2016. This exhibit is a must see for any Janeite.

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. I look forward to seeing my Janeites, both new and old in California next year.

Have a good rest of the week.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Among The Janeites Book Review

Among the many different fanbases that exist, the Janeites (or the uninitiated, those who love the books of Jane Austen) are a unique group. Part academic, part pop culture, this subculture adores this 18th century English author who has only six completed novels to her name, but has become an integral part of our world.

Deborah Yaffe’s 2013 book, Among The Janeites: A Journey Through Jane Austen Fandom, profiles the lives and obsessions of several different Janeites living in the United States and Canada. The interviewees include a woman who dresses entirely in Regency clothes from the time she leaves for the annual JASNA AGM to the time she gets home, a man who has views on the novels that could be construed as crazy by some and a therapist who suspects that one or more of the Austen characters maybe on the Autism spectrum.

As a Janeite, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While the in jokes of being a Janeite are obvious, the stories of the author and her subjects could be used for any fanbase.

I recommend this book.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen

In Defense Of Fanny Price and Edward Ferrars

It is a truth universally acknowledged certain characters with the universe that is the fiction of Jane Austen are more popular than others. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy will always be the alpha female and alpha male of the Jane Austen Universe. That means with every world that contains the alpha male and alpha female, there inevitably be those characters who are least liked and always a subject for vigorous debate.

Two of these characters are Fanny Price, of Mansfield Park and Edward Ferrars, Of Sense And Sensibility.  Both, I believe are under appreciated. If I may, I would like to explain why each of these characters deserve more respect than they get.

Fanny Price

The first paragraph of Mansfield Park introduces the reader to the Miss Wards. The eldest, Miss Maria Ward, married Sir Thomas Betram and upon marriage, became a baronet’s wife. The second Miss Ward, married Rev. Mr. Morris, a friend of her brother-in-law. The youngest Miss Ward, Miss Frances broke from her family and married a Lieutenant from the Marines.  This man was everything her brother in law was not; he was without education, wealth or connections. From this union, our heroine, Fanny Price is born. At the age of ten, she is taken from her family to Mansfield Park, where her wealthy Aunt and Uncle live.

Fanny grows up with her Bertram cousins. She is not a servant, but she is also not a daughter of the house.  The treatment she receives, especially from her Aunt Norris is more akin to an unpaid servant than a member of the family. The novels begins to take off when Mr. Norris dies and the living associated with the parish within the park goes to Dr. Grant, until Edmund came come of age and take orders.  Arriving with Dr. Grant is his wife and her younger siblings, Henry and Mary Crawford.

The complaints about Fanny are that she is weak, physically and emotionally, in addition to always being right.  Some might say she is priggish.

But I argue that despite these drawbacks, she has qualities that I believe are overlooked: a backbone and a sense of self that guides her even when she is told that she is wrong.

“You are mistaken, Sir,”—cried Fanny, forced by the anxiety of the moment even to tell her uncle that he was wrong—”You are quite mistaken. How could Mr. Crawford say such a thing? I gave him no encouragement yesterday—On the contrary, I told him—I cannot recollect my exact words—but I am sure I told him that I would not listen to him, that it was very unpleasant to me in every respect, and that I begged him never to talk to me in that manner again.—I am sure I said as much as that and more; and I should have said still more,—if I had been quite certain of his meaning any thing seriously, but I did not like to be—I could not bear to be—imputing more than might be intended. I thought it might all pass for nothing with him.”

She could say no more; her breath was almost gone.

“Am I to understand,” said Sir Thomas, after a few moments silence, “that you mean to refuse Mr. Crawford?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Refuse him?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Refuse Mr. Crawford! Upon what plea? For what reason?”

“I—I cannot like him, Sir, well enough to marry him.”

“This is very strange!” said Sir Thomas, in a voice of calm displeasure. “There is something in this which my comprehension does not reach. Here is a young man wishing to pay his addresses to you, with every thing to recommend him; not merely situation in life, fortune, and character, but with more than common agreeableness, with address and conversation pleasing to every body. And he is not an acquaintance of to-day, you have now known him some time. His sister, moreover, is your intimate friend, and he has been doing that for your brother, which I should suppose would have been almost sufficient recommendation to you, had there been no other. It is very uncertain when my interest might have got William on. He has done it already.”

“Yes,” said Fanny, in a faint voice, and looking down with fresh shame; and she did feel almost ashamed of herself, after such a picture as her uncle had drawn, for not liking Mr. Crawford.

“You must have been aware,” continued Sir Thomas, presently, “you must have been some time aware of a particularity in Mr. Crawford’s manners to you. This cannot have taken you by surprise. You must have observed his attentions; and though you always received them very properly, (I have no accusation to make on that head,) I never perceived them to be unpleasant to you. I am half inclined to think, Fanny, that you do not quite know your own feelings.”

“Oh! yes, Sir, indeed I do. His attentions were always—what I did not like.”

Fanny is aware that Henry Crawford flirted with Mariah and Julia, knowing full that Mariah is engaged. She is also aware that becoming Mrs. Crawford would elevate herself and her family out of poverty.

The intuition is finally respected when Mariah, now married, runs off with Mr. Crawford, threatening to ruin the entire family.

Fanny is not perfect, but she respects and follows her own intuition.

I’m going to end my argument with the following:

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we attend to it, than any other person can be“.

On a similar note, Mansfield Park is the subject of this year’s JASNA AGM in Montreal, Canada. I suspect there will be many heated discussions that weekend.

Edward Ferrars

Sense and Sensibility begins with the death of Henry Dashwood. The law of the land was primogeniture, meaning the eldest son inherited everything, except for what was specifically left for the younger children. Henry Dashwood married twice, producing four children. His son and heir, John was born to his late first wife and his daughter’s, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret were born to his second wife. John and his wife take over Norland Park and force his step mother and step sisters to vacate their home.

But not before the younger Mrs. Dashwood invites her brother, Edward Ferrars to visit. Edward and Elinor have an immediate connection, but it is broken when Elinor, with her mother and sisters leave Norland Park for their new home in Barton Park.  Edward wears a ring with lock of hair, which he says belongs to his sister. A third of a way into to the novel, we are introduced to the Steele sisters. Miss Lucy Steele, tells Elinor in confidence that she knows of her in laws because she has been secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars, her uncle’s former student for several years. At the end of novel (spoiler alert for those who have not read it), Edward losses his fortune to his brother when his mother finds out about the secret engagement. Lucy does become Mrs. Ferrars, but she becomes Mrs. Robert Ferrars.

Edward Ferrars is not Fitzwilliam Darcy, Captain Wentworth or even his future brother in law, Colonel Brandon.  But he is loyal. He is loyal to Lucy Steele, who is basically a gold digger.  Unlike some of the other Austen leading men, he doesn’t need much a live on. His professional goal is to join the clergy. He doesn’t need a large estate or a house in town. He want’s a parish to run and a home. My favorite thing about Edward is that even though he is engaged to Lucy through most of the story, he is faithful to Elinor.

In short, Edward and Fanny may not be perfect, but they deserve our respect.

*Italics notes original text

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Filed under Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility