Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Persuasions Editor Speaks in Rochester

JASNA Rochester ended its 2010-11 season with a special event: Susan Allen Ford, Professor of English at Delta State University in Mississippi and the editor of Persuasions, gave a talk on Saturday, May 21, at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) House in Rochester.

Susan's topic was "Mr. Collins Interrupted: Reading Fordyce's Sermons with Pride and Prejudice." The reference in the title, of course, is to Mr. Collins's attempt to read Fordyce to the Bennets on his first evening at Longbourn--an attempt that Lydia impolitely, though understandably, interrupts. However, as Susan demonstrated for Northanger Abbey and Volume 1 of The Mirror in her breakout session at the 2010 Portland AGM, the connections between P&P and Fordyce's sermons for young women (he also wrote "addresses" to young men) are more extensive than the overt reference in the novel indicates. Many of these connections, of course, are ironic (the contrast between Fordyce's picture of the ideal family situation and the Bennets' less than ideal family life, for example), but some are not: Fordyce's allusions to the harm a badly brought up daughter could do her family are echoed in the danger to the Bennets' prospects caused by Lydia's elopement with Wickham. Susan's forthcoming book on what the characters in Austen's novels are reading will include material from both the Portland AGM presentation and this one, and we look forward to reading the book when it appears!

A delightful tea in the AAUW House's solarium, and informal conversation all over the house, followed the presentation. In the photo below, Edith Lank--co-founder of JASNA Rochester (which actually predates the national organization), charter member of JASNA, and all-around Eminent Janeite--chats with Susan Allen Ford and John Ford.

Finally, JASNA Syracuse will be ending its season less formally--but no less delightfully, we trust--with a "Box Hill" picnic at the Lorenzo State Historic Site in Cazenovia on Saturday, June 25. Details about the picnic will follow in the next post.

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