Sunday, September 7, 2014

JASNA Syracuse Meetings for This Autumn

Here are JASNA Syracuse’s first two meetings for 2014-15:

On Saturday, September 27, at 2 pm, in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library (310 Tulip St., Liverpool), we’re delighted to have calligrapher Mike Warner of Rochester speaking at our Michaelmas meeting. Mike, who is a former president of the Genesee Valley Calligraphy Guild in Rochester and a student of historical calligraphy styles, will give a presentation about pens, inks, papers, and handwriting in Jane Austen’s era. Mike’s presentation to JASNA Rochester in March was much enjoyed there, and we look forward to welcoming him in Liverpool.

Below, a quill and inkwell of the type JA would have used, displayed on her small writing table in Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire. Photo courtesy of Meg Levin, JASNA-New York Metro's co-Regional Coordinator, who took it during the 2009 JASNA tour of England; these  special tours are one of the many benefits of JASNA membership.  (And in case you're wondering about the red thing at lower left, that's your own Regional Coordinator's rain jacket!)

On Saturday, November 1, at 1 pm, at RiverRead Books (5 Court St., Binghamton), we’ll be discussing Jo Baker’s recent novel Longbourn at our All Hallows meeting. Longbourn is a fascinating retelling of events in Pride and Prejudice from the Bennets’ servants’ point of view. Most of us, in reading P&P, never gave a second thought to the question of who had to wash Elizabeth Bennet’s muddy petticoat--but someone had to! We'll use the novel as a basis for discussing Regency-era servants, their duties, and their pay.

Plans for the Christmas/JA’s birthday meeting are still in the works. We hope to have more details by the time of the Michaelmas meeting.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Congratulations to Our Two-Time JASNA Essay Contest Winner!

JASNA Syracuse is delighted to congratulate Mary E. Pinkes of Fayetteville on becoming a second-time winner in the JASNA Essay Contest! Mary, a graduate of Jamesville-DeWitt High School and now a student at Mount Holyoke College, has won the 2014 first-place award in the college/university division for her essay "The Solution of Silence: The Character of Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park," which can be read here.  Both Mary and her mentor for the essay, Constance Myers-Kelly of JDHS, have again received one-year memberships in JASNA as part of their awards, and both have been invited to this year's JASNA Annual General Meeting in Montreal in October for the award ceremony. In addition, Mary will receive a scholarship check for $1000 and one of JA's novels.

Here, from our 2012 AGM photo essay, is the picture we ran of Mary accepting her first-place college award in Brooklyn for her essay "Abilities, Affections, and the Art of Pleasing: The Ascent of Lucy Steele and Penelope Clay."  We hope to include a better photo of her Montreal acceptance in this autumn's AGM photo essay!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Photos from Jane Austen Day at Rose Hill

We were very lucky indeed in our weather for Jane Austen Day at the Geneva Historical Society's Rose Hill Mansion on Saturday, July 26--and, as the following photos show, all Janeites in attendance had a delightful time! (All photos are by your Regional Coordinator, A. Marie Sprayberry, unless otherwise noted. Remember that you can click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Above, Lt. Eric Borresen of the U.S. 23rd Infantry and his troops discuss War of 1812-era musketry with Meg Levin of Manhattan (in bonnet) and Shanti Shoemaker of Syracuse. Meg is Co-Regional Coordinator for JASNA New York Metro, and it was a special treat to have her here for the day.

Master Gardener John Fouracre, a Geneva Historical Society volunteer, talks about gardening in Jane Austen's time to an attentive audience on the cool and airy Patio behind the mansion. At left, the indefatigable Lisa Brown--JASNA Syracuse and Rochester Co-RC, as well as caller for the Country Dancers of Rochester demonstration team--takes photographs.

The prize-winning entry in the picnic contest was submitted by JASNA Syracuse/JABC Ithaca member Violet Hayes and her husband, Petter Nordal. Looks tempting, doesn't it?

Happy Ithacans celebrate the win: From left, Marlo Del Toro, Violet Hayes, Petter Nordal, and Saba Alemayehu.

 Petter displays the prizes!

Rose Hill Mansion itself, high above the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. The house was constructed in 1839, but the property was settled before 1800.

Period gowns on display in one of the ground-floor rooms.

This tea service served as the "props" for a talk on tea.

The Patio was also the setting for the Country Dancers of Rochester demonstration, enjoyed by the dancers and the spectators alike. In fact, spectators were invited to join the demo team in the last few dances, as they are doing here.

And there was certainly no shortage of handsome officers!

Finally, it was simply a lovely day for relaxing in a lovely place with friends. Here, Saba Alemayehu and Tara Finlay of Ithaca..., a group from Rochester, cheerfully mingling "Upstairs" with "Downstairs"...

...and here, JASNA friends from near and far! In front, Steve and Linda Robinson of Fayetteville; in back, Lisa Brown of Rochester and Syracuse, Shanti Shoemaker of Syracuse, Marie Sprayberry of Syracuse, and Meg Levin of Manhattan. (Thanks to a JASNA Rochester friend, Chris Cassidy of Fairport, for taking this photo.)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

JASNA Syracuse/Rochester Box Hill Picnic: Jane Austen Day in Geneva, Sat., July 26

We now have a plan in place for enjoying a joint Box Hill picnic with JASNA Rochester at the Geneva Historical Society's Jane Austen Day, to be held at the Society's Rose Hill Mansion on Saturday, July 26! Here goes:

First, for the GHS website's description of Jane Austen Day, go to this link.

For directions to Rose Hill, located on NY Route 96A on Seneca Lake south of Geneva, go to this link.

The mansion will be open from 10 am to 4 pm, with a wide variety of activities. Regency dress is encouraged, though certainly not required. And note especially that there will be a Regency picnic contest! See the "Picnic Guidelines" link within the GHS website's description of the day for details. (Below, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the late lamented Official Spokescat of JASNA Syracuse, suggests an appropriate resource to consult.)

But whether your picnic lunch is Regency-correct or not (and certainly it needn't be!), do plan to join your JASNA Syracuse and Rochester colleagues at the picnic tables at 11 am. Since table space will be limited, Lisa Brown, in addition to her duties with the Country Dancers of Rochester demonstration team at 1 pm, has undertaken to reserve space for us all at that time. If you will RSVP Marie by Friday, July 18, at noon, with your intent to attend, she will relay a head count for our group to Lisa. See Marie's contact info at right. (No need to RSVP with regrets.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Austen-Related Events for the Weekend of June 19-22

Two very different but fascinating Austen-related events will be happening in Upstate this coming weekend (June 19-22):

First, the British Women Writers Conference is holding its 22nd Annual Meeting, sponsored by Binghamton University, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Binghamton from June 19 to 21. We were holding off on doing a blog post about this until we learned whether members of the general public, as well as members of the BWWC, would be able to attend portions of the meeting--but our BWWC contact in Binghamton, Kerstin Petersen, has now assured us: "I have now more information about visiting our British Women Writers Conference: The price for a one-day attendance is $25, which includes everything that is listed on that day's program (like refreshments)." More information about the meeting--which will include panels on women writers from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries, panels on topics ranging from fashion to education, and several plenary presentations (including one by Rebecca Mead, author of the recent book My Life in Middlemarch)--can be obtained at the BWWC website or Facebook page.

Second, this year's War of 1812 Bicentennial and Jane Austen Weekend will be taking place at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford (southwest of Rochester) on June 21 and 22. No "Netherfield Ball" there this year, alas--but handsome men in uniform like the two shown above are guaranteed; the Country Dancers of Rochester demonstration team (pictured below at last year's Weekend) will be performing; and much else of interest to Janeites will be happening! Go to the GCVM webpage on the Weekend for more details.

More information about the Jane Austen Day at the Rose Hill Mansion in Geneva on Saturday, July 26, first announced in our June 1 post, will be provided in a future post.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Weekend in Vermont

Your Regional Coordinators spent the weekend of June 7-8 in Burlington, Vermont, as guests of the JASNA Vermont Region. Vermont's RC, Deb Barnum, has already put up a post on the "Jane Austen in Vermont" blog--arguably the best regional blog in JASNA--with a most complimentary description of our June 8 presentations to our sister Region. With Deb's permission, here is a link to that post. We thank her both for the link and for her personal hospitality, and we thank the Green Mountain Janeites in general and Lisa's models in particular for persevering with us, despite the heat Deb describes!

Here are two additional photos of the meeting. In the first, Lisa Brown describes the finer points of the 95th Rifles uniform being bravely modeled by Jim. (Photo by Marie.)

And in the second, Marie Sprayberry discusses her 1817 Princess Charlotte of Wales "in memoriam" cup. Note Marie's strategic position directly in front of a fan! (Photo by Lisa.)

The day before the meeting, we spent a highly enjoyable afternoon with Deb at the Shelburne Museum, south of Burlington. The Shelburne, like Upstate NY's Genesee Country Village and Museum, is a collection of relocated/preserved historic buildings and artifacts. Here are Lisa and Deb in front of the Round Barn. (Photo by Marie.)


The Shelburne's collection of carriages and sleighs is particularly fine. This handsome stagecoach plied the Boston-to-Buffalo route, and thus may have traveled the Cherry Valley Turnpike south of Syracuse (present-day U.S. 20). (Photo by Marie.)

As Deb notes in her post, we all had fun trying out the two-cell village gaol. Here are Marie (obviously having too much fun to be a convincing prisoner) and Deb (doing a better acting job). (Photo by Lisa.)

Here's a collection of hats and hatboxes that would have made the Bennet sisters "quite wild." (Photo by Marie.)

This spinning wheel and other accoutrements for spinning recall a letter of Jane Austen's to Cassandra concerning a proposed gift to Jane from the family's benefactress, Mrs. Knight: "I cannot endure the idea of her giving away her own wheel..." (Photo by Marie.)

A printer--one of the Museum's many helpful and informative volunteers--demonstrates one of the extensive collection of printing presses. (Photo by Lisa.)

Both Marie and Lisa wanted to take the entire country store and its contents home with them! A lovely window full of glass. (Photo by Marie.)

We end with Lisa's photo of a gorgeous sunset over Lake Champlain; the Adirondacks can be glimpsed in the background on the New York side. And, again, many thanks to Deb and to JASNA Vermont!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Box Hill" in Late July, and Other Matters

As noted in an earlier message, your Regional Coordinators were previously in the early stages of planning with the JASNA Rochester “Janeiacs” for a joint July visit to Seneca Falls--but now a marvelous ready-made opportunity for a joint July “Box Hill” outing has presented itself. We propose to attend the Geneva Historical Society’s “Jane Austen Day” on Saturday, July 26, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Rose Hill Mansion on Route 96A just south of Geneva (pictured above). Listen to this:


While Jane Austen was writing Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and other novels in England, Geneva was developing as a village on the New York frontier. By the time of the novelist’s death in 1817, the Rose family had been in the area 15 years and had established their farm. Though Austen never visited Rose Hill, or the United States, we think she would have enjoyed Rose Hill and the view of Seneca Lake.

On Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., step into Jane Austen’s world and experience a little taste of early 19th-century life. Throughout the day, enter the school of soldiers with War of 1812 re-enactors, hear gallery talks about the ritual of tea or the Rose Family, try writing with a quill pen, and sample period foods in the kitchen.  Jane Austen Day will also include special programs.  At 11:30 a.m. Master Gardener John Fouracre will explore gardening in Regency England, and at 1 p.m. the Country Dancers of Rochester will give demonstrations of English Country Dancing. There will be period clothing, needlework, and tea services on display in the mansion. The public is encouraged to enter the period picnic contest (for menu suggestions visit the Rose Hill Facebook page) or to come dressed in Regency fashions.

Jane Austen Day is free for historical society members and $5 for non-members.


Your RCs think this all sounds irresistible, and we hope you’ll agree. Further reminders, directions, suggestions about carpooling to Geneva from Syracuse and other locations, and so forth will be forthcoming closer to the date, but mark your calendars for this jaunt now!

Two other updates/reminders:

  • If you’ve been checking the Montreal AGM webpage on the main JASNA website, you know that there’s been a slight delay in getting the registration process under way--but things are now looking good for a start time about the middle of this week. Keep checking that webpage for updates!
  • And the special JASNA membership offer begins today: If you are not yet a member of JASNA at the North American level (our only requirement for Syracuse Region membership), you’ll be enrolled through September 1, 2015, if you join any time between now and September 1 of this year--and will get an extra copy of JASNA News into the bargain. (Remember, too, that you must be a JASNA member to attend the Montreal AGM.)