Monday, October 16, 2017

Jane Austen in Paradise

Jane Austen over the entrance to the conference center
Event:  JASNA CWNY October Meeting
Topic:   A Review of the 2017 AGM
When:  Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 1 pm
Where: Pittsford Barnes and Noble.
NOTE:  We will be upstairs in the front of the building, not in our usual spot in the Community Room.

The theme of this year’s AGM was “Jane Austen in Paradise”. For four days that’s exactly what we experienced. You could not miss that Jane Austen was the theme after seeing Jane Austen’s silhouette projected above the entrance to the conference center. That we were in paradise was also obvious.

Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa, Huntington Beach CA
The conference offered exciting plenary talks, including one by Richard Knight, the great, great, great grandson of Jane’s brother Edward Austen Knight (the wealthy one). In addition, we heard many interesting talks in the breakout sessions, including two by members of our CWNY region. It was a full weekend of Jane Austen, beach, pool, and sun.

Please join us for this month’s JASNA CWNY region meeting to hear all about the conference.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

An AGM Preview

Charles Fox, leader of the Whig Party
By Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) -, Public Domain,
“In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet's visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his library. He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining, from an upper window, that he wore a blue coat and rode a black horse.” Pride and Prejudice chapter 3

Event:      JASNA CWNY September Meeting
When:     September 16, 2017 at 1 pm
Where:    Pittsford Barnes and Noble, Community Room 

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley is first seen by the Bennett sisters wearing a “blue coat and riding a black horse." In Jane Austen’s time, members of the Whig party often wore blue coats to demonstrate their political allegiance. Was Mr. Bingley a Whig? Was Jane Austen a Whig, a Tory, or perhaps totally apolitical?

Of course, we will probably never know for sure, although the question has been endlessly debated. What we do know for sure is that politics happened during Jane Austen’s lifetime. England was at war, and control of the government was bitterly contested by the Whigs and Tories.

At our next meeting we will learn more about the political climate in which Jane Austen lived and wrote. Alice Villaseñor will give us a preview of the talk she will be presenting at the upcoming Annual General Meeting entitled “Evidence from the Archives: Relating Jane Austen’s Novels to Austen Family Politics." In her talk Alice will explore the 1806 and 1807 Hampshire elections and the connections between these elections and Jane Austen’s novels “by studying news items from the Hampshire Chronicle alongside images of political artifacts from the Hampshire archives.” (AGM abstract)

We know Jane Austen took an active interest in politics. In a letter to Cassandra in April 1811 she wrote:

“I congratulate Edward on the Weald of Kent Canal-Bill being put off till another session, as I have just had the pleasure of reading.-There is always something to be hoped from delay.-

“Between Session and Session”
“The first Prepossession”
“May rouse up the Nation”
“And the villainous Bill”
May be forced to lie Still”
Against Wicked Men’s will.””

So politics and poetry can mix, at least when Jane Austen is writing.

This promises to be a fascinating look at one aspect of what was going on in Jane Austen’s life by someone who has studied the details. “Dr. Alice Villaseñor, a specialist in Jane Austen’s reception history, is Assistant Professor of English at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York.  A life member of JASNA, she has been a JASNA International Visitor and a board member of JASNA and JASNA-SW.  She has spoken at several AGMs and Regional Meetings.” (AGM bio). Except that she is now an Associate Professor. Congratulations are in order.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Netherfield Ball: An Assembly for Novice Dancers

The Netherfield Ball from the BBC 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice
“The two young ladies were summoned from the shrubbery where this conversation passed, by the arrival of some of the very persons of whom they had been speaking; Mr. Bingley and his sisters came to give their personal invitation for the long expected ball at Netherfield, which was fixed for the following Tuesday.” Pride and Prejudice chapter 17

The Jane Austen Society of North America Central and Western NY region and the Country Dancers of Rochester wish to extend a personal invitation to our own Netherfield Ball. The date has been fixed for Saturday, August 26 at 2 pm. Here are the details:

Event:             The Netherfield Ball, An Assembly for Novice Dancers
When:             Saturday August 26, 2017 2-6 pm
Where:            First Baptist Church 175 Allens Creek Road, Rochester NY 14618
Admission:    $10
Attire:             Comfortable and a little dressy
                           Regency attire admired but not required
Refreshments: Experienced dancers are asked to bring a sweet treat to share

This is our premiere event for new dancers. We especially invite anyone who would like to learn to dance in the style of Jane Austen’s characters.

As we all know, the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice is a central moment in the story. Elizabeth, having “dressed with more than usual care,” is disappointed to find Mr. Wickham absent. There should be no disappointments at our Netherfield Ball. You do not need to bring a partner. We change partners after every dance, and there will be plenty of experienced dancers in attendance to help new dancers through the steps.

Elizabeth is then forced to endure two dances with Mr. Collins, “awkward and solemn, apologising instead of attending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it”. New dancers need not fear any Mr. Collins moments. The Netherfield Ball will begin with an introductory tutorial to English Country Dance. Our callers will clearly instruct all dancers in everything they need to know to successfully navigate the dances. After a brief break the ball proper will begin. The dances will be easy and our callers will guide dancers through each of the dances.

Finally, Elizabeth has a chance to dance with Mr. Darcy, although somewhat against her will. At least he is a good dance partner. As Sir William Lucas testifies, "I have been most highly gratified indeed, my dear Sir. Such very superior dancing is not often seen." There will be plenty of experienced dancers attending the ball. While Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth dance while verbally sparring with each other, the experienced dancers at our Netherfield Ball will happily assist new dancers through the dance figures as the callers articulate them.

Join us at the Netherfield Ball
Dancing was important in the lives of Jane Austen and her characters. Only Persuasion of the six major novels lacks a major dance scene. Jane Austen used music and dance to help draw her characters and move her plots. Learning English Country Dance is a beautiful way to more fully comprehend Jane Austen’s world and the world of her characters. Beside that, it is also fun. The music, movement, and merriment will all combine to create an unforgettable social event.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Nothing but Tea"

John Everett Millais [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
JASNA CWNY to commemorate Jane Austen with High Tea

Event:   High Tea in commemoration of Jane Austen
Where: The Mad Hatter, 176 S. Goodman St. Rochester 14607
When:   Saturday, July 15 at 3:30 pm
Cost:     $30 due by July 7

Please send checks payable to JASNA to:
Marie McEneaney
1058 Harvard St
Rochester, NY 14610

Freshly Bakes Scones
Clotted Cream & Assorted Preserves
Fresh Fruit
Assorted Finger Sandwiches (2 Choices)
Assorted Petite Desserts
Tea or other beverages

The bakery counter at the Mad Hatter - irresistible!

"This very Evening is fixed on as their first ENTREE into Life, as we are to drink tea with Mrs Cope and her Daughter. I am glad that we are to meet no one, for my Girls sake, as it would be awkward for them to enter too wide a Circle on the very first day. But we shall proceed by degrees.--Tomorrow Mr Stanly's family will drink tea with us, and perhaps the Miss Phillips's will meet them… How they will bear so much dissipation I cannot imagine…” Letter the First

"What in the name of Common Sense is to recommend Brinshore?—A most insalubrious Air—Roads proverbially detestable—Water Brackish beyond example, impossible to get a good dish of Tea within three miles of the place…” Sanditon, chapter 1.

There are few things in this world that can be more happily combined than Jane Austen and tea. For this reason, The Jane Austen Society of North America Central and Western New York Region will commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death with High Tea at The Mad Hatter in Rochester, NY.

From her earliest work in the Juvenalia to her draft of Sanditon, Jane Austen used tea to move her plots forward. 

In the first quote above, a young Jane Austen uses tea in a comical description of the coming out process for young ladies. It is almost unbearable to consider the dissipation they will encounter at tea. In the second quote, Mr. Parker uses tea to disparage the competition in the beach resort business. In between those works, Jane Austen produced six of the greatest novels in the English (this is a JASNA blog after all).

Northanger Abbey
So surrounded, so caressed, she was even happy! In the joyfulness of family love everything for a short time was subdued, and the pleasure of seeing her, leaving them at first little leisure for calm curiosity, they were all seated round the tea-table, which Mrs. Morland had hurried for the comfort of the poor traveller, whose pale and jaded looks soon caught her notice, before any inquiry so direct as to demand a positive answer was addressed to her.” Northanger Abbey chapter 29

In the final chapters of Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland has returned home after a quick and less than civil ejection from Northanger Abbey and a potentially dangerous trip by public stage. She is comforted by a warm welcome from her family and, of course, they gather about the tea-table.

Sense and Sensibility
“Brandon came in while the party were at tea, and by his manner of looking round the room for Marianne, Elinor immediately fancied that he neither expected nor wished to see her there, and, in short, that he was already aware of what occasioned her absence. Mrs. Jennings was not struck by the same thought; for soon after his entrance, she walked across the room to the tea-table where Elinor presided, and whispered--"The Colonel looks as grave as ever you see. He knows nothing of it; do tell him, my dear."” Sense and Sensibility, chapter 30.

Elinor and Marianne have just received word that Willoughby is to be married to Miss Grey and her fifty thousand pounds. Marianne is distraught. Colonel Brandon has also heard and has come to see how things stand. Naturally, he and Elinor discuss Marianne’s condition over tea.

Pride and Prejudice
Anxious and uneasy, the period which passed in the drawing-room, before the gentlemen came, was wearisome and dull to a degree that almost made her uncivil. She looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all her chance of pleasure for the evening must depend.
"If he does not come to me, then," said she, "I shall give him up for ever."
The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy that there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit of a chair. And on the gentlemen's approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a whisper,

"The men shan't come and part us, I am determined. We want none of them; do we?"

Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied every one to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly!

"A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex, who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!"” Pride and Prejudice, chapter 54.

Elizabeth has learned of Darcy’s role in rescuing her sister Lydia. Her own feelings toward Darcy have changed dramatically. His feelings toward her are unknown and she desperately wants to learn more.  The two meet in one of the most dramatic tea-enabled scenes, although Elizabeth herself is pouring coffee.

Mansfield Park
“Fanny suspected what was going on. They sat so much longer than usual in the dining-parlour, that she was sure they must be talking of her; and when tea at last brought them away, and she was to be seen by Edmund again, she felt dreadfully guilty. He came to her, sat down by her, took her hand, and pressed it kindly; and at that moment she thought that, but for the occupation and the scene which the tea-things afforded, she must have betrayed her emotion in some unpardonable excess.” Mansfield Park, chapter 34.

Henry Crawford has proposed. Fanny has refused and Mansfield Park is arrayed against her. Can she count on Edward’s support? He has been hearing the history of events in the after-dinner conversation. Only the presence of the tea service can sustain her at the moment he comes to her.

“They sat down to tea--the same party round the same table--how often it had been collected!--and how often had her eyes fallen on the same shrubs in the lawn, and observed the same beautiful effect of the western sun!--But never in such a state of spirits, never in any thing like it; and it was with difficulty that she could summon enough of her usual self to be the attentive lady of the house, or even the attentive daughter.
Poor Mr. Woodhouse little suspected what was plotting against him in the breast of that man whom he was so cordially welcoming…” Emma, chapter 50.

All has been discovered! Emma, once so distraught at the thought of Mr. Knightley’s possible engagement to Harriet, is now blissful in the knowledge of his love for her. So, naturally, they all sit down to tea. There is still Mr. Woodhouse to deal with however.

“The first act was over. Now she hoped for some beneficial change; and, after a period of nothing-saying amongst the party, some of them did decide on going in quest of tea. Anne was one of the few who did not choose to move. She remained in her seat, and so did Lady Russell; but she had the pleasure of getting rid of Mr. Elliot; and she did not mean, whatever she might feel on Lady Russell's account, to shrink from conversation with Captain Wentworth, if he gave her the opportunity. She was persuaded by Lady Russell's countenance that she had seen him.” Persuasion, chapter 20.

There is only one mention of tea in Persuasion, and it is a disinclination for tea that is important. Here, Anne is at the concert where she meets Captain Wentworth and, in speaking to him before the concert, comes to believe he may yet have some feeling for her. She is determined to speak more with him and declines to follow the others in a search for tea. Unfortunately she finds Mr. Elliot.

During her short life, Jane Austen gave us six beautiful novels. It has been two hundred years since Jane Austen’s death on July 18, 1817. Come and celebrate Jane Austen’s life and work at High Tea. Tea, scones, finger sandwiches, and small pastries will be served, and there is a rumor that some minor theatricals may be involved, although nothing as scandalous as Lover’s Vows. Event details are below.

Did we mention the bakery counter at The Mad Hatter?
Event:   High Tea in commemoration of Jane Austen
Where: The Mad Hatter, 176 S. Goodman St. Rochester 14607
When:   Saturday, July 15 at 3:30 pm
Cost:     $30 due by July 7

Please send checks payable to JASNA to:
Marie McEneaney
1058 Harvard St
Rochester, NY 14610

Freshly Bakes Scones
Clotted Cream & Assorted Preserves
Fresh Fruit
Assorted Finger Sandwiches (2 Choices)
Assorted Petite Desserts
Tea or other beverages