Friday, November 11, 2016

JASNA Goes to Washington D.C.

The White House, Washington D. C. Two blocks from the JASNA AGM hotel
“Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief” 
Emma chapter  8.

In Emma, Jane Austen set out to create a character that, she claimed, only she would like. In the lead quote Mr. Knightley is explaining to Emma the damage she may to do Harriet Smith by trying to elevate her above her status. Emma doesn’t get it. Mr. Knightley is speaking of Harriet, but it may not be entirely clear whose vanity is at issue here.

Of course, the Harriet story is only one of many arcs that sweep through Emma, which is Jane Austen’s second longest novel. This year JASNA members gathered in Washington D.C. to give Emma a thorough study. The JASNA Central and Western NY region will spend its November meeting reviewing all that occurred at this meeting. Here are some highlights.

Our region was well represented. Alice Villaseñor participated in a panel discussion on the International Visitor's Program. I've got to come up with a project for that program. Marie Sprayberry gave a talk on the Prince Regent. After hearing the talk it was very clear why Jane Austen had a low opinion of Prinny. Lisa Brown put on a workshop about turbans and bandeaus. The results were elegantly demonstrated later at the Regency Ball. Finally, Celia Easton gave a paper entitled "“The Encouragement I Received”: Emma and the Language of Sexual Assault", as much a topic now as then.

There were three plenary sessions. Perhaps the most interesting was “The 1816 Philadelphia Emma: A Forgotten Edition and Its Readers” given by Juliette Wells. This was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be published in America and there are only six surviving copies. The speaker gave an in depth look at the publication of this edition and the reaction of some of the readers as recorded in original annotations.

Breakout speakers tackled some of the toughest questions about Emma in papers such as “Solving the Puzzle of Jane Fairfax: Jane Austen and the Anti-Heroine” by Gillian Webster and ““Liking” Emma Woodhouse” by Elaine Bander. Is there any way to “like” Emma Woodhouse?

Of course, there was a banquet and a Regency Ball where we danced Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot as done in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Some of the most elegantly dressed people attended.

A fine group of members form JASNA CWNY prepare for the banquet and ball.
So please join us for our November meeting to find about more about Emma. Here are the details:

Event:   JASNA CWNY November Meeting “Review of the JASNA 2016 AGM”
Where: Barnes and Noble Community Room, Pittsford, NY
When:   November 19, 2016, 1 pm

Also happening in Washington at the same time was the Will and Jane exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and many JASNA members had an opportunity to view the exhibit.  Many Jane Austen-related articles were on display. Here are a few.

The Shirt. Worn by Colin Firth when wet. Fortunately it was dry at the exhibit.
Bonnet worn by Susannah Harker as Jane Bennet. Never worn wet.
Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra.
Begins "My Dear Cassandra", for the rest see Deirdre Le Faye's book p.268.
Northanger Abbey and Persuasion First Edition in original boards
The outside is a bit tattered but the inside will last forever.
A lock of Jane Austen's hair.

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