It is a truth universally acknowledged that Covid-19 has flipped our world upside down.
Last weekend was supposed to be the 2020 JASNA AGM. Hosted by the Ohio North Coast region, Janeites would have met in Cleveland. But the virus demanded a change of plans.
Instead of being held in person, the AGM was held virtually. 1400 JASNA members attended via their devices. The plus side was the number of participants nearly doubled compared to previous AGMS. The downside was that like everything that had to transfer to the internet, there were glitches.
Overall, I was pleased with the AGM. It had the look and feel of an AGM without being there in person. Hopefully, we will be able reconvene next year in Chicago, even with the restrictions created by Covid-19.
*Warning: this post contains slight spoilers about Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Read at your own risk if you have not read the books or seen any of the adaptations.
For many Janeites, the highlight of their fall the JASNA AGM. It is an opportunity to spend a weekend with hundreds of other Janeites, immerse themselves in everything that pertains to Jane Austen and forget about the rest of the world for three days.
This year’s AGM was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The theme was Persuasion and the title was 200 Years Of Constancy And Hope.
For many Jane Austen fans, reading Persuasion is a bittersweet experience. We love this novel and its main characters, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth. Unlike her previous novels, there is a mature feel to the work, a what if question when it comes to love, mistakes and second chances. Anne is the oldest of the Austen heroines. She is in her late 20’s while the other heroines are either in their late teens or early 20’s. For his part, Frederick Wentworth is unlike any of Austen’s other heroes. He has had to pull himself up by the figurative bootstraps instead of being born into a wealthy family and automatically inheriting a fortune. He also feels, to me, at least more human than let’s say, Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy is almost like a too good to be true Prince in a fairy tale, a rich man who learns to tame his pride to win the affection/heart of the lower born woman that he loves. Frederick Wentworth is also proud, but he learns to understand Anne’s feelings over the course of the novel. He also realizes that their separation was not simply a one sided separation. His anger kept him from returning to Anne and renewing their relationship at an earlier juncture in their lives.
While every AGM has it moments, there are two of them that made this AGM amazing.
In 1995, a big screen version of Persuasion hit theaters. In the film, Amanda Root played Anne and Ciarian Hinds played Captain Wentworth. Attendees this past weekend were blessed to have Miss Root join us for part of the weekend.
She is gracious, warm, down to earth and I think she was a little surprised by the reaction from those in attendance.
There are many who have written about Jane Austen. There are few who can write with warmth, humor and speak to the reader without the academic feel that comes with the subject of Jane Austen. John Mullan is one of those people.
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:
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.
You get to meet Janeites from across the country and across the world.
The speakers are amazing. The variety of subjects that relate to Jane Austen and novels are nothing short of dizzying.
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.
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.
Imagine if you will, an academic conference, but with a twist. Add in a dedicated fandom with lots of goodies to bring home (and a good amount of attendees playing dress up) and you have the 2017 JASNA AGM.
Held in Huntington Beach, California, the title of this year’s conference was Intimations of Immortality. We remembered Jane on the 200th anniversary of her passing as we celebrated her life, her books and her legacy.
The AGM is more than my vacation. This year it was a chance to visit California, spend time with my friends and celebrate anything and everything relating to Jane Austen. It is a chance to thoroughly geek out and know that the people you are with understand why you geek out. It was a chance to dress up, dance and spend three days thoroughly immersed in Jane.
While I enjoyed the AGM (as I do everytime), it was the company (and the heavenly beach in Southern California) that always makes an AGM worth it.
Next year, Janeites (as we are commonly known) will congregate for our next AGM in Kansas City where we will be celebrating Persuasion and hopefully not fangirling over Amanda Root (Anne Elliot in the 1995 Persuasion).
While I do not see Broadway musicals very often (or any show on Broadway at all), I walked away from this meeting genuinely excited to see this production on a Broadway stage.
As with any adaptation, certain changes had to be made. But, based on the presentation by the creative team, I can confidently report that this musical will entertain the audience, regardless of if they have read the original novel. And if the result of seeing the show is to read Sense and Sensibility (in addition to the other novels), and join JASNA, then that is an end result that I happily look forward to.
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