Thursday, September 17, 2015

Then vs. Now - JASNA CWNY meets in Syracuse

                         Canary Wharf is one of the biggest financial centres in Europe.

Steventon rectory, as depicted in A Memoir of Jane Austen

JASNA Central and Western New York will hold a Michaelmas meeting for Syracuse area members on Saturday, September 26 at 2 pm in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library 310 Tulip St. Liverpool NY,  13088.

In line with the theme of the JASNA AGM in Louisville, which is "Living in Jane Austen's World", this meeting will be about "Living in Jane Austen's World: Pros and Cons". As Marie Sprayberry asks, "What aspects of life in 1815 England would you prefer, and what would you rather stay in 2015 America for?

The meeting will also feature a book swap. If you can, please bring at least one book by/about JA or of possible interest to Janeites, and come prepared to take at least one book.

Let's get the discussion started. What do you like about Jane Austen's England?

Elegant estates?

A panoramic view of Chatsworth House and Park, early 18th century (Pieter Tillemans)

Beautiful balls?

Meryton Assembly Dancers (Lisa Brown)

Or maybe just the bonnets and cravats.

Pierre Seriziat in riding dress, 1795.

Barb's Bonnets on display at Country Dance Rochester's Netherfield Ball (Lisa Brown)

And what might you prefer from 2015?

Running water?

running water
Matthew Bowden


Chemical Formula for Penicillin

Or beautiful balls?

Country Dance Rochester Turning of the Year Ball (Lisa Brown)

So, take your pick and please join us for a lively discussion of Then vs. Now.

Note from Marie: This year, September 26 will be the first day of the Liverpool Library’s “Down Under” book sale, to be held in the Library’s small underground garage. On the one hand, this may provide another incentive for book-loving Janeites to attend our meeting—but on the other hand, do allow some extra time to find on-street parking, since the garage will not be available and since the sale is likely to attract some extra traffic to the library.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Location, Location, Location

The Counties of England 

"And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day's journey.”
Pride and Prejudice ch. 32

From Devonshire east to Kent and from Hampshire north to Derbyshire, Jane Austen knew her way around England. Her novels span most of England. From seacoast and mountain, town to country, Jane Austen’s characters visited a wide variety of locales. 

But, of course, many of the main venues in Jane Austen’s novels are fictional. Part of Jane Austen’s genius was her ability to mix the real and imaginary in a way that makes the fictional locations seem so real. In Persuasion the scene moves from Uppercross (fictional) to Lyme (real) without missing a beat. With barely any description, Meryton and Highbury seem to be places we could visit on a day trip from London.

To make her places real Jane Austen provided all kinds of hints that her readers could use to imagine the settings. This is our own Carolyn Meisel’s topic for her JASNA AGM talk in Louisville this October. Her talk is titled “Locations for Jane’s Stories: Why were they chosen?  What clues did they give to her readers?  What have we missed?” and will be presented in Session B, Friday 3:50 pm.

But if you’re not going to AGM you can still hear Carolyn speak on this subject. JASNA CWNY is pleased to have Carolyn speak at our September meeting. She will preview her talk at AGM and give us insight into hints that distances, real locations ad old country names gave to Jane Austen’s readers. Using these clues Carolyn’s talk will give us a sharpened awareness of location in Jane Austen’s novels.

Join us on September 19th at 1 p.m. in the Barnes and Noble Pittsford store to find out where things really happened in Jane Austen’s novels.

As a bonus you might want to consider purchasing Edith Lank’s book Jane Austen Speaks to Women. There are only 54 copies left and Carolyn will be taking these to KY. So this may be your last chance. Copies are just $5 and will be available at Saturday’s meeting.

See you there.


(By Rob Bendall at

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Write Thing

“…his reading was capital, and her pleasure in good reading extreme.”
Mansfield Park ch. 34

Jane Austen well understood the power of reading aloud. Reading aloud was a favorite activity in her family. This year Medaille College is offering an exciting reading experience with an Austen connection. 

The Write Thing Reading Series begins on Tuesday, September 15 featuring Bella Poynton. Her science fiction play Speed Of Light can be seen in Buffalo at Road Less Traveled Theater from September 11-October 4. Readings from the play will be presented by the author and several actors. 

Jane Austen fans will especially appreciate the next two events in the series. Jack Wang, the co-creator of the Cozy Classics series of children’s board book series, headlines a reading on October 15. The Cozy Classics series includes Pride and Prejudice and Emma in its list of titles. Local JASNA members will remember that Jack spoke to our group about the production of Cozy Classics and won our hearts with the little felt figures. )

Next up is Amanda Jacobs on Thursday November 19. Amanda has always been a local favorite and now she is a national favorite with her work on Pride and Prejudice, A Musical. She has been a JASNA International visiting scholar. Last year she spoke to us about that project which was all about composing music for Jane Austen related prayers. The musical interludes left us wishing for more. )

The reading program continues in the spring semester with the author Ted Pelton on Thursday February 25 and the poet Christopher Deweese on April 7. Finally, the program wraps up on April 28 with an open mic event. So sharpen your pencils and prepare to step up to the mic and read.

The Write Thing Reading Series promises to be a lively and engaging program. It’s free and open to the public. Events are on the 4th floor of the main building at Medaille College. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information and directions see the event website at :

This should definitely take some of the chill off the winter.