Friday, December 30, 2011

"Austenworld" News: Year-End Roundup

It's been a busy year in "Austenworld" (the universe of JA-related happenings), and another busy year is coming up! Here's a general roundup of recent news:
  • First, JASNA's annual present to its members for JA's birthday--the new issue of the electronic journal Persuasions On-Line--is available here. It includes all three of the presentations from the panel "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Sense and Sensibility" (see our Oct. 24 post on the Fort Worth AGM), as well as a short piece by Rochester's David Meisel titled "Seeing Stars for Jane's Birthday." Dave was our speaker at JASNA Rochester's birthday lunch on Dec. 3, and his description and photos of three stars whose light began traveling to Earth in JA's birth year are fascinating!
  • Enough other "new publications" have come out in the last few months to keep even Persuasion's Lady Russell happy. These include the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, also mentioned in our Oct. 24 post on the Fort Worth AGM (and discussed at the JABC-CNY luncheon at the Colgate Inn on December 10); Lindsay Ashford's The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, likewise mentioned in the Oct. 24 post, a murder mystery in which JA herself is the victim; P. D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley, a murder mystery thrust upon the Darcy family on the eve of a ball; and Second Impressions, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice by "Ava Farmer" (see the Chawton House Library website for details, and for more information about the Library's excellent work in general).
  • On her enjoyable blog Jane Austen in Vermont, fellow RC Deb Barnum of JASNA Vermont has recently posted a YouTube link to a segment from a BBC2 program titled "The Many Lovers of Miss Jane Austen," shown in the UK on Dec. 23. (And Jane Austen in Vermont is well worth your attention in general--which is why we're posting this indirect link instead of linking directly to YouTube.) This segment was shot at the Fort Worth AGM and gives some sense of the atmosphere there, although your RC personally wishes that the BBC had paid more attention to our love of JA and less to the commercialization of her!
  • As we look ahead to 2012, there's an upcoming JASNA event outside NY State but within a day's drive of Syracuse that may intrigue you: the Eastern Pennsylvania Region's "Jane Austen Day" on April 28, to be held at the Society Hill Sheraton in Philadelphia (setting of the 2009 AGM). The topic will be "Elizabeth Bennet: Delightful Creature," and more details are available here. Registration for this will open on Feb. 8, so make your plans now if you're interested.
  • Closer to home, don't miss our upcoming JASNA Syracuse meeting on Saturday, Jan. 14, in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library. The topic will be "Food, Glorious Food!" Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the Official Spokescat of JASNA Syracuse, takes her responsibilities seriously and is already preparing for this meeting, as you can see. We'll give more details about this meeting in a post soon after New Year's.

  • And, finally, we're tremendously excited about this year's AGM, "Sex, Money and Power in JA's Fiction," to be held in New York City in October. (Details available to this point about this AGM in general can be accessed here.) Not only will Co-RC Lisa Brown be reprising her "Dressing the Miss Bennets" presentation (which was a great hit in the Big Apple in September when she presented it to JASNA New York Metro), but RC A. Marie Sprayberry will be giving a breakout session titled "Sex, Power, and Other People's Money: The Prince Regent and His Impact on JA's Life and Work." So we're excited both generally and personally!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

As all good Janeites know and are celebrating today, JA was born on December 16, 1775. At age 236, she's going stronger than ever!

There has been considerable brouhaha in the British press lately about yet another recently discovered "lost portrait" of JA. (This article in The Guardian is representative.) Your Regional Coordinators, however, remain unconvinced that Dr. Paula Byrne's merely dating a portrait to 1815 and finding "Miss Jane Austin" written on the back of it constitute proof of its authenticity. They also wonder what St. Margaret's, Westminster, is doing in the background; why the lady in the portrait is wearing more jewelry than JA probably owned altogether; and so forth. Answers may or may not be forthcoming on Dr. Byrne's upcoming BBC2 special about the portrait--if we ever get to see it at all on this side of the pond, of course.

Your RCs would also agree with the sentiment several other Austen bloggers have expressed on this auspicious day--namely, that what JA looked like is a lot less important than what she wrote. Nevertheless, in casting about for an illustration for this post, we came across a very helpful collection of images on the Jane Austen Society of Australia website ( These include Cassandra Austen's two portraits (the unfinished sketch of JA's face, and the portrait of JA seated with her back to the viewer) and almost all other images except for Dr. Byrne's recent discovery. Of these, the 2002 painting by Tom Clifford is actually quite pleasing and deserves to be better known, we think. It shows JA reading in the garden at her beloved Chawton home. Here it is:

And we leave you with the epigraph from Rudyard Kipling's story "The Janeites," which has become the traditional JA birthday toast in many JASNA regions:

Jane lies in Winchester--blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made!
And while the stones of Winchester, or Milsom Street, remain,
Glory, love, and honour unto England's Jane!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Change for JASSYL; CNY Janeite Holiday Plans

First, here’s a piece of news about Jane Austen Singing School for Young Ladies (JASSYL) director Dr. Joanna Manring to warm any Janeite’s heart: She is following the call of romance! Unfortunately for her numerous Syracuse-area friends and admirers, however, she is following it all the way to Lexington, Kentucky, where her young man resides (he is an old schoolmate who recently reconnected with her via social networking). She assures us that this is not “goodbye forever” by any means; indeed, she hopes to return to Skaneateles for a “JASSYL summer camp” in the summer of 2012. We fervently hope so too--and we certainly wish Joanna all the best.

One short-term effect of Joanna’s departure, however, is that there will be no JASSYL Christmas concert in Skaneateles this year. Your RCs have done some mulling over this and several other facts:

(1) JASNA Rochester’s traditional Christmas/JA birthday lunch at the Chatterbox Club, 25 N. Goodman St., Rochester, will be Saturday, December 3, at 11:00 a.m. The speaker will be SUNY Geneseo Professor David Meisel, who will talk about science in the Regency era. As usual, there will be a fee for this luncheon, and advance registration is required. Your RCs are both planning to attend this and hope that as many JASNA Syracuse members as possible will do likewise. We’ll provide a link to the registration form as soon as we receive it ourselves. (P.S.: Click here for the link. We'll also put it in the "Events" listing at right. The cost is $25 per person.)

(2) JA Book Club-CNY coordinator Heather Elia is working on organizing an “each-pays-for-herself luncheon,” JA birthday toast, and discussion of the new anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (edited by Austenprose blogger Laurel Ann Nattress) in Hamilton, probably on Saturday, December 10, around noon (but now perhaps on Saturday, December 17, depending on what the membership decides). Again, we’ll provide more details about this event as soon as we receive them. (P.P.S.: The luncheon will be on Saturday, December 10, at noon, at the Colgate Inn, 1 Payne St., Hamilton. Again, see the "Events" listing at right for further details.)

(3) As (1) and (2) illustrate, the pre-Christmas social calendar can get complicated very quickly. In addition, we couldn’t book the Sargent Room at the Liverpool Public Library for December 10, and December 17 doesn’t work for a couple of regular Liverpool attendees.

So we’ve decided to combine the JASNA Syracuse Christmas meeting with the Candlemas (February 2) meeting, and hold one winter meeting on Saturday, January 14, at 2:00 p.m. at the Liverpool Public Library. The topic of this meeting will be “Food, Glorious Food!” We’ll talk about meal timing and planning during JA’s era in general; look over Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye’s The Jane Austen Cookbook, which includes several recipes compiled by JA’s lifelong friend and Chawton housemate Martha Lloyd; discuss the role of food in JA’s work (feel free to bring favorite food-related quotes); and say at least a few words about the Rev. James Woodforde, 18th-century country clergyman, diarist, and food lover.

In addition, the Liverpool Library folks have said that they have no objections to a few light refreshments in the Sargent Room, so we’ll lift a glass of something nonalcoholically pleasant for a late toast to JA’s birthday, and try a few “rout cakes” (a type of cookie) prepared according to The JA Cookbook’s recipe. We trust that this meeting will be an antidote to the post-holiday blues, and we hope you’ll join us for this “winter depression disperser”!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reminder: All Hallows Meeting in Binghamton, Sat., Nov. 5, 2 pm

Here’s a reminder about our upcoming All Hallows meeting next Saturday, November 5, at 2:00 pm, at RiverRead Books, 5 Court Street, Binghamton. The meeting will focus, in two different ways, on Sense and Sensibility. First, I’ll be describing the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Fort Worth, TX, where Sense and Sensibility was the topic. (See the October 24 post.) Then, JASNA member and Binghamton University professor Marilyn Gaddis-Rose has agreed to tell us something of her work on Isabelle de Montolieu's 1815 Raison et Sensibilite, the very first French translation of S&S--although, according to Marilyn, R&S may be not so much a translation as a re-imagining. Come prepared for some surprises!

And, speaking of surprises, I’ve got some freebies from the AGM to distribute (the traditional AGM “goodie bag” was extremely well filled this year). So do come and “have your share of the conversation”--and the fun!

To those of you who have just joined JASNA or have renewed your JASNA memberships for the coming year, many, many thanks. And for those of you who haven’t yet joined or renewed, please do--and take advantage of what’s still one of the best bargains in “Austenland”! (See "How to Join JASNA" in the top right corner for details.)

Finally, I know that most of you who live in the Binghamton area are regular shoppers at RiverRead already--but if you're planning to attend the meeting, please also plan on making a purchase from our kind hosts at RiverRead. They, and other owners of small businesses in downtown Binghamton, need our continuing support after the September flooding.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 AGM Report

Your Regional Coordinator writes:

This year’s JASNA Annual General Meeting, “Jane Austen: 200 Years of Sense and Sensibility,” is now history--and it was a blast from start to finish. Texans know how to have a king-sized good time, and our JASNA North Texas Region hosts certainly showed us how it’s done!

The Sundance Square area of downtown Fort Worth, where the Renaissance Worthington Hotel (our headquarters) is located, is full of interestingly repurposed older buildings and astonishing new ones. Here’s the view from my hotel window. Note especially the former Knights of Pythias Hall (the one resembling a church) in the middle distance, and the new white limestone Bass Performance Hall with its enormous angels behind it. (As usual, you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.)

I arrived in Fort Worth on Wednesday afternoon, October 12, and spent the rest of Wednesday and the first part of Thursday registering, greeting friends, doing justice to this year’s AGM quiz (which this year came as a two-parter, the “Fun Quiz” and the “Challenge Quiz”), shopping in the three-room Emporium, greeting more friends, and doing more shopping. Geez, it was an awful burden, but someone had to do it! The t-shirt depicted below was purchased from Jane Austen Books.

The special events started Thursday afternoon with two much-anticipated presentations. First, British crime writer Lindsay Ashford gave us an introduction to her new novel, The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen--told from JA’s friend Anne Sharp’s point of view, solidly grounded in research conducted at Chawton House Library, and offering a most unusual “take” on JA’s untimely demise.

Then Fort Worth’s one and only Baronda Bradley gave us her views on “Managing Muslins in the Modern Millennium.” Baronda’s Regency wardrobe is deservedly famous in JASNA, and her advice on doing your research, knowing your fabrics, taking the necessary classes, and reusing/restoring old materials should be invaluable for anyone with an interest in creating or wearing Regency-style fashions. She was ably assisted by her son Austen and her daughter Leah. Here, Austen shows off his waistcoat.

I must admit that I missed both of the Thursday evening presentations, because I went out to dinner with friends, and we never stopped talking till well after the end of the second presentation! However, I was on board for Friday morning’s tour of the Fort Worth Japanese Garden and Botanical Gardens, where “every disposition of the ground was good” (as Elizabeth notes of Pemberley in P&P), and where Kim Wilson, author of In the Garden with Jane Austen, gave us an enjoyable talk and several handouts on Regency gardening. Here’s a shot of the long cascade in the Botanical Gardens’ rose garden, which reminds me somewhat of a scene from the 1980 BBC version of P&P.

The AGM officially got under way Friday afternoon, with Joan Klingel Ray’s plenary address on “Sense and Sensibility as Austen’s Problem Novel.” Ray acknowledged the various reasons why many present-day readers are uncomfortable with S&S (mainly the facts that Colonel Brandon is “underwritten” and Edward Ferrars is unsatisfactory on several counts), and addressed these with her characteristic humor.

I was fortunate in all three of my choices for the breakout sessions that followed. Sheryl Craig’s “Wealth Has Much to Do with It” was an excellent discussion of the economics of the mid-1790s (when JA wrote the first version of S&S), which in particular put the John Dashwoods’ “improvements” at Norland into damning perspective. Linda Slothouber’s “Decorating Your Own Barton Cottage” was an enjoyable guide not only to acquiring small Regency-era antiques (such as china, glass, silver, and wooden boxes), but to using them “to pursue questions we might not have pursued otherwise.” And William Phillips’s “Meaner than a Texas Polecat:...Austen’s Largest Cast of ‘Nasties’” was a highly entertaining and somewhat controversial examination of the various “skunky” characters in S&S. Here’s William’s ranking of the “nasties” from least to most odiferous: (7) Lady Middleton; (6) Robert Ferrars; (5) Willoughby (“only fifth?”, but William made a plausible case for this); (4) Fanny Dashwood; (3) Mrs. Ferrars; (2) John Dashwood; and (1) Lucy Steele. Would you agree?

[Skunk photo credit: Ervin C. Nielsen/Painet Inc., Illinois Department of Natural Resources.]

Some of us went by bus Friday evening to the Stolen Shakespeare Guild’s production of S&S in an adaptation by Jon Jory, while others watched an S&S movie marathon at the hotel. The SSG evidently decided to solve the problem of what to do with Edward Ferrars by playing him for laughs (the actor in this role wore an oversized pair of spectacles and a coat two sizes too large), and the actor playing Willoughby lacked the necessary passion--but the over-the-top Mrs. Jennings was excellent!

The Saturday sessions began with “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of S&S,” featuring the all-Canadian plenary panel of Elaine Bander, Peter Sabor, and Juliet McMaster. Below, Elaine (at left) and Juliet engage in a brisk pre-plenary warmup. (That blur in Juliet’s hand is her trusty smallsword, by the way; she needed a special letter from the AGM organizers to get it through U.S. customs!) Elaine discussed the “good” and the “bad” as ethical judgments versus the “ugly” as aesthetic judgments in S&S; Peter examined the “good, bad, and ugly” letters in the novel; and Juliet discussed the novel’s various duels (the actual duel fought by Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, of course, plus the “duels in words” fought by Elinor and Lucy).

My good fortune in breakout choices continued with Pat Michaelson’s “How to Talk like Mrs. Palmer (and Other Silly People)” and Juliette Wells’s “S&S Will Change Your Life.” Pat began by noting the major characteristics of “silly” speech in Austen (notably “a lot of words for not very much content,” and a reliance on “empty exaggerators” such as “vastly” and “amazingly”). She then put us into small groups to practice our silly talk, and by far the best job was done by Ellen Fuller (at left below) and Moorea Corrigan!

Juliette, for her part, examined several present-day Austen-based “conduct texts” (JA’s Guide to Dating, The Tarot of JA, A Walk with JA, etc.) for their interpretations of what S&S has to teach us, and then opened the floor for personal accounts of what audience members have learned from the novel.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated plenary of this AGM was screenwriter Andrew Davies’s “Mr. Darcy’s Wet Shirt and Other Embarrassments: Some Pleasures and Pitfalls in Austen Adaptations.” A video prepared by the organizers and titled “16 Reasons Why We Love Andrew Davies” began the session. Once the standing ovation that greeted him had died down, Davies pretended to quaver: “Be gentle with me. I’m only a little old man!” He then, of course, demonstrated in his account of writing the screenplays for the BBC P&P, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and S&S that he’s not exactly a geriatric case yet. (In the photo below, however, he does seem somewhat dismayed at the length of the line waiting to ask him questions after the presentation!)

Although some of us were beginning to droop by the sixth and final breakout session, Persuasions editor Susan Allen Ford was well worth hearing as always in “Mrs. Dashwood’s Insight: Reading Edward Ferrars in Columella.” Susan showed that, like Volume 1 of The Mirror in NA (see the 11/8/10 entry on this blog) and Fordyce’s Sermons in P&P (see the 5/24/11 entry), Richard Graves’s 1779 comic novel Columella, or The Distressed Anchoret isn’t just mentioned in S&S, but seems to have exerted a considerable influence on it as well. Edward’s fate may have been a little happier than that of either the title character of Columella or its author: Both Columella and Richard Graves himself actually married their “Lucy Steele” figures, and both paid a price for it.

None of us, however, were so tired that we couldn’t enjoy the banquet, the promenade around Sundance Square, and the ball! As usual, the JASNA members in attendance turned out in their finest threads (both Regency-style and modern), and as usual, an excellent time was had by all. (Personally, I have more fun on the Saturday night of the AGM than I do any other night of the year these days.) The photo below shows 60% of NY State’s Regional Coordinators. From left to right: your humble servant; Celia Easton of Rochester; and Meg Levin of New York Metro. (Meg’s New York Metro co-RC, Linda Dennery, was elsewhere in the hotel at the time, and Syracuse co-RC Lisa Brown unfortunately couldn’t make the trip to Texas. Next year in Brooklyn, however, Lisa will be reprising her “Dressing the Miss Bennets” presentation at the “Sex, Money and Power” New York City AGM!)

It's never too early to introduce the littlest Janeites to the pleasures of the AGM promenade. (That's an elegant "baby barouche" they're riding in, too!)

And dancemistress Beverly Francis and the "Ladies at Play" enabled dancers of all skill levels to enjoy themselves thoroughly at the ball.

Next morning, after we Regional Coordinators had shaken ourselves awake for an 8 a.m. business meeting, we all enjoyed the delights of brunch. First, the winners of the two quizzes and the J. David Grey Young Writers’ Workshop were announced. I must confess I was too rattled to get the other winners' names (I'll add these as soon as I can), since from the two of us tying for first place on the “Challenge Quiz,” your humble servant’s name was drawn as the winner. I received a bag containing several prizes, chief among which was a Sense and Sensibility bangle bracelet in a cloth carrying case.

An unusual feature of brunch was the presence of the “Wedding Party at Delaford,” including three of the four newly married couples at the end of S&S. Not only was Willoughby unaccountably present without the “smart, stilish, but not handsome” former Miss Sophia Grey, but an altercation broke out between Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, and the gentlemen had to withdraw from the banquet hall so as not to disrupt the brunch’s main event--a video presentation titled “The Green Apple,” by independent Austen scholar and living legend Deirdre Le Faye.

A self-described “rambling chat,” the Le Faye presentation centered on her view of S&S as an “unripe” effort (hence the video’s title), but it also extended to her views on the “afterlives” of S&S and the other novels. Most interestingly, she may be almost alone in seeing possible problems for Captain and Mrs. Wentworth after the end of Persuasion: The Captain “has never had a home life,” and Anne “may have been a spinster too long” and may not make as capable a sailor’s wife as Mrs. Croft. Even those of us who were inclined to dispute this prediction, however, were delighted with her ultimate solution for General Tilney in NA: marrying him off to the title character of Lady Susan!

For me, the afternoon tour to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, followed by the group dinner at the famous Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican restaurant, concluded this AGM. And hearty thanks to the AGM organizers, Dr. Cheryl Kinney and Rosalie Sternberg, for everything they and their volunteers did to make this AGM Texas-sized fun!

P.S. I unaccountably forgot to mention that a launch party for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It anthology (edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose) and two other Austenite books was held at the Sundance Square Barnes and Noble on Friday night. If I hadn't already been committed to the play, I would have been at the launch.

P.P.S. The winners of the Young Writers' Workshop prizes were Fort Worth-area high school students Allison Garcia, Amanda Miller, and Catherine Miller. I haven't yet been able to find out the name of the "Fun Quiz" winner (who was chosen from among 49 perfect scorers on that quiz).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Masquerade Ball

English Country Dancing at Rochester's Third Annual Masquerade Ball
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Webster, NY
For more details go here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Michaelmas Daisies

This last Thursday was Michaelmas--the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and one of the "quarter days" in the Regency year, when important business was conducted. Followers of JASNA Syracuse already know or will have realized that we schedule our meetings for the Saturdays nearest several of the Regency "quarter days" and "cross-quarter days." The others are All Hallows or All Saints Day, November 1 (cross-quarter); Christmas, December 25 (quarter); Candlemas, February 2 (cross-quarter); Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25 (quarter); May Day, May 1 (cross-quarter); Midsummer, June 24 (quarter); and Lammas Day, August 1 (cross-quarter).

In honour of Michaelmas, and just for fun, here are some photos of asters from Syracuse gardens. Asters are better known as "Michaelmas daisies" in the United Kingdom, and, there as here, they bloom on or about Michaelmas. These fine purple New England asters, we think, are every bit the equal of their British cousins!

And these small white asters, though less showy, make a very attractive display against this brick wall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reminder: Michaelmas Meeting in Liverpool, Sat., Sept. 24

Don't forget that this coming Saturday, Sept. 24, is the date for JASNA Syracuse's Michaelmas meeting in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library at 2 pm. The topic will be "Sense and Sensibility: Divided Loyalties." In this novel, whose side are we supposed to be on? Come and share your opinion!

Also, Co-Coordinator Lisa Brown may be prevailed upon to tell us more about her exciting adventures in the Big Apple on the weekend of Sept. 10 (see the posts for Sept. 12 and 16, below). And a door prize will be awarded!

The Liverpool Public Library is located at 310 Tulip St., Liverpool, NY 13088. The Sargent Room is the smaller of the library's two meeting rooms (the Carman Community Room is the other). The library is easily reached from both I-81 North (if you're coming from the south) and the NY State Thruway:

From I-81, travel north from the junction with I-690, follow the signs for the Liverpool exits (near Carousel Center), and select the exit for NY Rt. 370 (Onondaga Lake Parkway). Take 370 along Onondaga Lake into the village of Liverpool, and stay on it as it angles slightly to the left and also becomes 2nd St. in the village. The library is on the corner of Tulip St. and 2nd St./370.

From the Thruway (from either direction), take Exit 38 (Liverpool/County Rt. 57). Travel south on 57 into the village, and take a right on Tulip St. (57 curves left at just about this point). Come down Tulip to 2nd St./370.

There is a small underground parking garage (entrance on Tulip), and ample free on-street parking is also available on Tulip and elsewhere. So we trust that your coachmen will be agreeably accommodated--and we hope to see you on the 24th!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Behind the Scenes at Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, A Musical

Amanda the composer, Lindsay the librettist and
Tim the musical director

Colleen the Costume Designer

Jeff the Choreographer and Igor the Director

On her recent trip to New York, your co-coordinator, Lisa Brown, was invited to attend a rehearsal of "Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, A Musical." Lisa's costume company, "Regency Rentals," is providing some of the costumes for the show. She was able to take photos of the creative team behind the musical.

Lisa, an English Country Dancer, was delighted to watch the choreography and staging of the Netherfield Ball scene during her visit. After spending the afternoon in the rehearsal room, she was heard to say, "Mr Bingley is adorable."

The show was sold out but an extra performance has just been added. Grab the remaining seats while they are still available.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Dressing the Miss Bennets" in NYC

We announce with pardonable pride that Co-Coordinator Lisa Brown's "Dressing the Miss Bennets" presentation to JASNA New York Metro on Saturday, September 10, was judged a great success by all. One attendee described it as "one of the most memorable events ever" for that region, in fact. JASNA-NYM Co-Coordinator Meg Levin has kindly provided us with a photo of the grand finale, showing Lisa (at far left) and all her models. A caption with all the models' names (plus identification of the ones who are such gifted needlewomen that they made their own gowns!) will be provided shortly. Clicking on the photo will provide a closeup, as usual.

Update: Here are the models, starting from the left after Lisa: Lynn Marie Macy, Mary Jenkins, Marilynn Doore, Kimberly Costa (wearing a gown she made herself), Karen Crane, Jean Hellering, Selena Hughes, Elizabeth Freedman, Linda Pedro, and Leia Lima (also wearing a self-made gown).

A Tale of Two Floods: Binghamton 2011, Steventon 1820

When we heard about last week's disastrous flooding in the Binghamton area, our thoughts here in Syracuse turned immediately to our JASNA Syracuse Region members and other friends of Jane in that area--particularly our kind hosts at RiverRead Books, where we hold our Binghamton meetings. (As the store's name indicates, it is very close to the Susquehanna--next to the Court St. bridge, in fact.) We are very happy to report this morning that we've heard good news from both Pat Day and Connie Barnes at RiverRead. The store did get a good deal of water in the basement, but no books on the first floor were damaged, many friends have helped, and they expect to reopen the store shortly. Three hearty huzzahs! (See the "Flood Update" they've just posted on the store website. As they note there, the best help we can all give them at present is to patronize the store and the other flood-damaged small businesses in the area.)

Believe it or not, Jane Austen herself may have gone through a flood or two in her early home at Steventon, Hampshire. And certainly her sister-in-law and niece, Mary and Caroline Austen, did. Caroline recorded in her "Reminiscences" that as she and her mother were packing up to vacate the Steventon rectory in January 1820, after the death of her father (James Austen, Jane's oldest brother) in December 1819, a sudden thaw inundated the cellar and first floor: "Next morning the cellar looked like the scene of a shipwreck." Pat and Connie report that they can relate to this description very well--they have "a big mess in the basement," according to Pat--but they add immediately that "We were luckier than most." We can only agree.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Autumn News #4: JASNA Syracuse Fall Meetings

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the Official Spokescat of the JASNA Syracuse Region, wishes to announce that the topic of JASNA Syracuse's fall meetings will be Sense and Sensibility--the novel that's also the topic of this autumn's JASNA Annual General Meeting in Fort Worth.

First up will be "S&S: Divided Loyalties," at our Michaelmas meeting. This will take place in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool, on Saturday, September 24, at 2 pm. Lady Mary, of course, has no trouble choosing a favorite character. She says (her remarks are freely translated from the Feline by her human, your RC): "No question about it, my favorite is Lucy Steele. We cats live by the rule 'Everything here is mine,' and so does Lucy. If I knew her, I'd ask her to come catch a few mice with me!" But whose side are we human readers supposed to be on? In Pride and Prejudice, our sympathies are of course with Elizabeth Bennet almost from the start. But deciding where our loyalties lie in S&S is not such an easy task, with two wildly different heroines, two not very heroic heroes, one dangerously attractive villain, one snarky narrator, and a supporting cast of nitwits and schemers. Come and share your opinion! It should be a lively discussion--and one that ties in very well with the "S&S (and Settlements)" topic of the September 10 meeting of the rechristened JABC (CNY) at the Colgate Bookstore.

The second S&S meeting will be our All Hallows meeting at RiverRead Books, 5 Court St., Binghamton, on Saturday, November 5, also at 2 pm. Your RC will begin this meeting with a brief description (or at least as brief as she can make it!) of the Fort Worth AGM. JASNA member and Binghamton University professor Marilyn Gaddis-Rose will then tell us something of her work on Isabelle de Montolieu's 1815 Raison et Sensibilite, the very first French translation of S&S--although, according to Marilyn, R&S may be not so much a translation as a re-imagining. Come prepared for some surprises!

Autumn News #3: JASSYL to Perform for JASNA Rochester

On Saturday, September 17, at 1 pm, the Jane Austen Singing School for Young Ladies (JASSYL)--fresh from the triumph of the August 7 concert in Skaneateles--will perform for JASNA Rochester's first meeting of the 2011-12 season. The exact lineup for the Rochester concert has not yet been determined, but most if not all of the Young Ladies who sang at the August concert will be there. (Above, another photo of the concert from JASSYL's Facebook page: From left to right, Miss Julia Hearn, Miss Christina Marshall, director Dr. Joanna Manring, Miss Imogen Olson, and Miss Emily Short.)

For the dancing, the Young Ladies and Gentlemen will be joined by a few volunteers from the Country Dancers of Rochester. And your JASNA Syracuse RC and co-RC will be there--as, indeed, they are for almost all Rochester meetings! So, especially if you had to miss the August 7 concert for some reason, do plan to attend this one. It will be held in JASNA Rochester's usual meeting place: the Community Room of the Pittsford Barnes and Noble, Route 31, Pittsford.

A postscript for those at the far eastern end of our region, who might have more difficulty making it to Pittsford: On this same date at 8 pm, soprano Julianne Baird will be performing what she calls "The Jane Austen Songbook" at Hamilton College, Clinton (further details are available at this site). Although at JASNA Syracuse we must confess our partiality for our own Young Ladies, the "Songbook" sounds like an excellent show as well.

Autumn News #2: Lisa Brown to Present "Dressing the Miss Bennets" to JASNA-New York Metro

On Saturday, September 10, our own Co-RC Lisa Brown will be giving the presentation at JASNA-New York Metro's first fall meeting: "Dressing the Miss Bennets," the feminine counterpart to her hugely successful "Dressing Mr. Darcy" presentation at the 2009 JASNA AGM in Philadelphia. (In the photo above, taken at the 2010 Jane Austen Ball in Rochester, Miss Brown demonstrates the use of the fan--an essential skill at the recent JASSYL concert in Skaneateles!) "Dressing the Miss Bennets" will be a "lecture with modeling," as "Dressing Mr. Darcy" was; this time, volunteer members of JASNA-NYM will serve as models. The event will be held at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, 7 West 55th St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Manhattan. Reservations and tickets can be obtained at the JASNA-NYM website.

Autumn News #1: Changes and Fall Schedule for the (Former) Colgate JA Book Club

Colgate JA Book Club moderator Heather Elia writes:

Dear Janeites,

I wanted to let you know about a small change to the Colgate Bookstore's Jane Austen Book Club that has taken place over the summer. Hopefully, you will barely notice the difference.

Instead of being sponsored by the Colgate Bookstore, the group will become a private book club.

What will stay the same?

We may continue to meet at the Bookstore.
The chosen books will still be available at the Bookstore at a 10% discount.
Membership will be free and open to the public, with new members always welcome.
We will still be the same friendly group of Janeites meeting to discuss books by and about Jane Austen, her times, and her legacy.
We'll continue to hold several joint meetings each year with the The Jane Austen Society of North America--Syracuse Region.

What will change?

Mostly, I (Heather) will be facilitating the book club on my free time, rather than as part of my job.
Emails about upcoming meetings (after this one) will no longer come from the Bookstore's email address, but from me personally.
IMPORTANT: if you would like to receive messages and reminders about future meetings, please email me at with your preferred contact information.
The name of the group will change to Jane Austen Book Club (CNY) rather than Colgate Bookstore Jane Austen Book Club.
And we'll have our own Facebook page.
We won't be limited to meeting during the Bookstore's normal hours of operation... although monthly Saturdays at 2pm still works best for me.

Heather adds that the proposed schedule of meetings for the autumn is as follows: Saturday, September 10, Saturday, October 1, and Saturday, November 12, all at the Colgate Bookstore at 2 pm; and Saturday, December 10, place and time TBD. We'll provide details about these in the "Events" list at the right.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"He Is Rear Admiral of the White"

It's full bloom time for your Regional Coordinator's buddleias, and these "butterfly bushes" are living up to their nickname by attracting many handsome lepidopteran ladies and gentlemen. Today, a White Admiral butterfly stopped by--and Anne Elliot's first description of Admiral Croft immediately came to mind: "He is rear admiral of the white." As JASNA Syracuse Co-RC and Royal Navy expert Lisa Brown would remind us, the Royal Navy of JA's day divided the admirals of various ranks into Red, White, and Blue squadrons (in that order), and so Admiral Croft would have been a rear admiral in the middle echelon. Like good Admiral Croft himself, this White Admiral wears his insignia proudly, but is otherwise a modest fellow.

Expect a major series of posts over the weekend, with autumn JA-related news from all over the region and Rochester as well. Anyone who thinks upstate NY is not a hotbed of Janeite activity should think again!

P.S. Lisa reminds us that England's greatest naval hero, Lord Nelson, was a Vice Admiral of the White. If any further proof were needed that White Admirals rock, this would be it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

JASSYL/JASNA Summer Concert Review

Despite a complete lack of cooperation from the weather--temperature in the high 80s outside and not much less inside, plus humidity you could cut with a knife!--the Jane Austen Singing School for Young Ladies (JASSYL) and JASNA Syracuse presented a very successful summer entertainment on Sunday, August 7, at the First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles. In the photo of the packed Fellowship Hall below, your Regional Coordinator can just be discerned at the podium, vigorously wielding her fan with one hand and clutching her drastically heat-shortened welcoming speech in the other! (All photos are courtesy of JASSYL's Facebook site. Click on any photo to enlarge.)

The vocal program, as always, featured the Young Ladies in various combinations of ensemble and solo work. In the words of JASSYL Director Dr. Joanna Manring, "Everybody's a star, and nobody's a star." Your RC can only add that all nine Young Ladies of the summer session--the Misses Phoebe Glowacki, Julia Hearn, Christina Marshall, Maria McLean, Abbie McMahon, Imogen Olson, Ellie Meyer, Emily Short, and Maddie VanRiper--performed excellently. Below, the Misses McLean and McMahon prepare for their roles in "Mary's Dream."

And Miss VanRiper awaits her solo in "The Little Gipsey."

The four Young Gentlemen who joined the Young Ladies for the dancing--Lt. Kyle Cherchio of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Lts. Shawn Cherchio and Jonathan Marshall of the 95th Rifles, and Mr. Christopher Hartnett--may deserve special commendation for their manful perseverance in the heat in heavy wool dress coats. And, as at last December's Christmas concert, the dancing (under the direction of JASNA Syracuse Co-RC Miss Lisa Brown, assisted by Mr. Thomas Grande of the Country Dancers of Rochester) drew special huzzahs. Below, Lt. K. Cherchio and Miss Short reenact the roles of Lt. George Wickham and Miss Elizabeth Bennet most convincingly!

Finally, as always, the musicians (here, Ms. Katherine Klein on flute and Mrs. Caroline Manring Dean on violin, plus Ms. Anna Egert on piano) gave their all.

More photos are available on JASSYL's Facebook site, and still more will undoubtedly be posted there in the near future.

"An Evening with the Writers" of P&P: A Musical

For those who have followed the fortunes over the past several years of Pride and Prejudice: A Musical, by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs, the following will be very welcome news! If not, a bit of background is in order. Rochester residents "Bake and Jake," as they call themselves, have been working on this project for the past dozen years. It received a staged reading in Rochester in October 2008, and two songs from the show were performed after Sunday brunch at that year's JASNA AGM in Chicago. Your Regional Coordinator was present at the latter performance, and all she can say is that it was a good thing most of us had already checked out of the hotel, or room cards would have been thrown en masse at Colin Donnell after his rendition of Mr. Darcy's big ballad, "Fine Eyes"! And the presence of JA as a character in the musical, debating her choices as she turns First Impressions into P&P, sets this production apart from (and, in your RC's partial opinion, well above) other theatrical adaptations.

The big news now is that P&P: A Musical has been chosen as a selection of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), to be presented on Broadway for six performances in late September and early October. (Go here for the details.) A fundraiser called "An Evening with the Writers" will be held on Monday, August 22, at WXXI (280 State St., Rochester), from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The authors will discuss their journey to the NYMF, and local musicians will perform selections from the work. A dessert reception will follow the performance, and raffle prizes (including an autographed script and tickets to the NYMF production) will be awarded! Full details about the evening are available here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

English Country Dance Events in Binghamton, Fall 2011

The Binghamton Country Dance group has sent us the following information about English country dance events in Binghamton this fall, which we are passing along:

2-5 p.m.
Christ Church, corner of Water and Henry Streets, downtown Binghamton.
No partner necessary; bring clean shoes
Callers - Terry Glasspool and Susanna Spiese
Music – Greenwood (Charlene Thomson, Susanna Spiese and Julian Shepherd) and also recordings
Snacks and/or donations welcome
Please come!

7 p.m. Beginners; 7:30 Regular class
All levels of experience, no partner necessary, bring clean shoes
Christ Church, corner of Water and Henry streets, downtown Binghamton.
Callers: Terry Glasspool and Susanna Spiese
Band – Greenwood (Charlene Thomson, Susanna Spiese and Julian Shepherd)
Registration Details - Fee $25
Pay at the first session.

8 consecutive Wednesdays through November 16.

2-5 p.m.
Christ Church, corner of Water and Henry Streets, downtown Binghamton.
$7 Admission Fee.
Band - Amarillis from Pittsburgh
Callers – Terry Glasspool and Susanna Spiese

For information on any of the above, call Charlene Thomson at 785-1903 or Lee/Julian Shepherd at 722-9327.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Concert Article in the Syracuse Post-Standard

Those of you who subscribe to the hard-copy version of the Syracuse Post-Standard will have noted that the JASSYL/JASNA summer concert (see the July 24 post) was the topic of today's main feature article in the CNY section. For those of you who don't, here's a link to the online version.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

JASSYL/JASNA Summer Concert on Sunday, August 7

The Jane Austen Singing School for Young Ladies (JASSYL) and the JASNA Syracuse Region will present a summer concert of music, readings, and dance in the Fellowship Hall of the First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles, 97 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, on Sunday, August 7, 2011, at 5:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. Free will donations of any amount are greatly appreciated and go toward the continuing work of JASSYL.

As most of our members and many of our friends know by now, JASSYL was created in Fall 2009 by soprano Joanna Manring of Skaneateles as a historical performing experience for young women ages 12-18.  Dr. Manring, a graduate of Peabody Conservatory, aims to help young women develop self-esteem and public presence by learning healthy vocal technique and musicianship in a supportive environment. More information about the Singing School is available at its website.

The Young Ladies appearing in the summer program will be Emily Short (home-schooled in Marcellus), Imogen Olson (home-schooled in Skaneateles), Abbie McMahon (Fayetteville-Manlius Central Schools), and Christina Marshall, Phoebe Glowacki, Maria McLean, Maddie VanRiper, and Ellie Meyer (all of Skaneateles Central Schools).  They will be joined by these Young Gentlemen for the dancing: Kyle and Shawn Cherchio (Onondaga Community College), Jon Marshall and Christopher Hartnett (Skaneateles Central Schools), and Thomas Grande (Country Dancers of Rochester). The supporting musicians will include Anna Egert on piano and Caroline Manring on viola/violin.

As always, Dr. Manring has worked to select music that would have been familiar in Jane Austen’s world. The program also includes short readings from Austen’s letters and novels. And, as in last year's Christmas program, JASNA Syracuse Co-Coordinator Lisa Brown is teaching English country dancing to the Young Ladies and Gentlemen. JASNA Syracuse Regional Coordinator A. Marie Sprayberry will introduce the concert and give a reading.

So, now that “summer finery and summer engagements” (in Jane Austen’s own words) are upon us, we hope you’ll join us for a “summer engagement” in Skaneateles!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lorenzo Driving Competition

Your intrepid Co-coordinator braved the tropical heat to attend the Lorenzo Driving Competition last Saturday. The photos can be found here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

News Flash: "The Watsons" Manuscript Sells for a Record Price!!

Our reporter in London, JASNA-NYM Co-RC Meg Levin, tells us that the portion of JA's "The Watsons" manuscript on view at the New York Sotheby's last month (see the June 26 "A Belated Report from the Big Apple" post) has just sold for 850,000 pounds, or $1.3 million!! Believe us, we had this as breaking news: Meg attended the auction in person, and rushed to send a message to us on her iPod from the Apple store in Regent Street.

And now let's take a moment to imagine what JA, in her lifetime, could have done with 850,000 pounds. Sigh...

Update #1: The BBC website ( reports the final price as 993,250 pounds, which presumably includes all the usual auction house fees. It also reports that the purchaser is an institution, not a private individual--which means that the rest of us may get to see the manuscript once in a while in the future.

Update #2: Mags Sullivan reports on AustenBlog that the Bodleian Library at Oxford is the purchaser (although several other groups, including Jane Austen's House Museum, chipped in). And the Bodleian will be featuring the ms. in an exhibition this autumn! Huzzah!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Now's a Great Time to Join JASNA!

Just a reminder that now is a great time to join (or rejoin) the Jane Austen Society of North America at the national level. The JASNA membership year officially runs from September 1 to August 31--but if you join between July 1 and August 31, you'll receive an extra issue of JASNA News (the Society's thrice-annual newsletter) and otherwise be enrolled for the coming full membership year. To join, you can go to the JASNA national website and click on the "Membership" link on the home page. Remember that joining JASNA at the national level automatically makes you a member of the JASNA Syracuse Region--this is our one and only regional membership requirement at present.

Our next JASNA Syracuse Region meeting will be at the Liverpool Public Library on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, at 2 pm. In keeping with our custom of holding meetings on the Regency "quarter days" and "cross-quarter days," this will be our Michaelmas meeting. Details about this meeting, and times/dates of other Syracuse Region 2011-12 meetings, will be given in a future post. Don't forget to check the "Events" column for news of JASNA Rochester meetings and other Austen-related activities in Central NY, too.

(Special note: Details about the Jane Austen Singing School for Young Ladies summer concert we mentioned to some of you at the June 25 "Box Hill" event are still being worked out. At the moment, it looks as if the concert will be on Sunday, August 7. Stay tuned!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

JASNA Syracuse/Colgate JABC "Box Hill" in Cazenovia

Despite a continuing lack of cooperation from New York State's weather (see the preceding post), JASNA Syracuse and the Colgate Jane Austen Book Club enjoyed a successful joint "Box Hill" event in Cazenovia on Saturday, June 25. In keeping with the "Plan B" for rain agreed upon earlier, JASNA and JABC members met and mingled at Circa restaurant in the village. Below, JABC leader Heather Elia and Sandra Stevens...

...Nadia Vedder and friend Jason...

...Lynette Lundy-Beck and Linda Robinson...

...Signe Weaver and her mother...

...and Pym Mumford and Sheila O'Connor.

After lunch, we enjoyed guided tours of the mansion and the visitors' center at the Lorenzo State Historic Site, just west of the village. Although the interior of the mansion is decorated in the style of 1900 (the year for which the best documentation is available), the exterior is neoclassical, as befits the 1807-1808 construction dates. And certainly the saga of five generations of largely collateral inheritance by successive Lincklaens, Ledyards, Fairchilds, and Remingtons (see the Friends of Lorenzo website for details) would have intrigued JA herself--and had some echoes of Downton Abbey as well, although entail wasn't involved to the same extent as in the TV series!

Once we completed the tours, some of us ventured on a brief, if damp, exploration of the beautiful grounds. The formal perennial garden, originally laid out by the renowned designer Ellen Biddle Shipman, is surrounded by a small copse that's reminiscent of the "wilderness" at Sotherton Court in Mansfield Park.

JASNA Syracuse Co-Coordinator Lisa Brown ponders the inheritance of Lorenzo...

...and your Regional Coordinator practices her "Lady Catherine de Bourgh"/"Dowager Countess of Grantham" imitation!

A Belated Report from the Big Apple

Your Regional Coordinator writes:

I paid a visit to the Big Apple two weeks ago, and I'm only just now getting around to writing about it. My gracious hosts were good friends Meg and Michael Levin (below). Meg and I first met when we were paired as roommates on the 2009 JASNA tour of England; we started making each other laugh on the bus from London to Canterbury, and haven't stopped since!

Meg is also JASNA-New York Metro's new co-RC, and the main purpose of my visit was to attend JASNA-NYM's "Box Hill" picnic at the New York Botanical Garden on Saturday, June 11. Alas, the weather on the 11th forced a postponement to the rain date of the 12th--but the substitute activity Meg and I chose certainly made up for the disappointment in my case. Meg saw a notice in The New York Times that the portion of Jane Austen's unfinished manuscript The Watsons to be auctioned off soon at Sotheby's in London would be on exhibit very briefly at the New York Sotheby's, starting that day!! So we met two other JASNA-NYM members, Joyce Melito and Jane Axelrod, there that afternoon for a look at the priceless treasure. (Its auction estimate is 200,000-300,000 pounds--but to Janeites, at any rate, it's priceless. It also may never be on public view again if the purchaser is a private individual rather than an institution, so this may truly have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.) Meg will be in London at the time of the auction and will try to attend it as a spectator, if the crush of other spectators, the media, and bidders isn't too great!

Editorial note: The ms. was open to the passage where Emma is whiling away the tedious hours before the assembly ball with the Edwardses, and Mr. Edwards is making tactless remarks about Emma's aunt's indiscreet remarriage. We saw plenty of evidence of scratching-out and other revisions by JA, but not quite such excessive use of dashes for punctuation as some have claimed.

Although the weather remained overcast on the 12th, the picnic went on at the NYBG's Clay Family Picnic Pavilion, and those who attended had a pleasantly cool day, an excellent potluck spread, and a fine time. Below, JASNA-NYM assistant RC Kerri Spennicchia relaxes with former co-RCs and present 2012 AGM coordinators Nili Olay and Jerry Vetowich.

New co-RC Linda Dennery, secretary Mary Ann Linahan, occasional quizmaster Marilyn Goldfried, Meg, and Kerri listen to Nili and Jerry.

After lunch and a stimulating round of "Jane Austen Botticelli" (a game directed by Jerry and best described as "Twenty Questions on steroids"!), we went our separate ways to enjoy the NYBG. Here, Meg pauses in the new Azalea Garden.

And the roses in the Rockefeller Rose Garden were at the height of their bloom and beauty!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Joint JASNA Syracuse/Colgate JABC "Box Hill" Event Saturday, June 25

Our plans for the joint JASNA Syracuse/Colgate JA Book Club “Box Hill” event on Saturday, June 25, center on a visit to the Lorenzo State Historic Site. Lorenzo is a beautiful estate just west of the village of Cazenovia, with a neoclassical Regency-era mansion overlooking Cazenovia Lake. For more details about Lorenzo, please see its NYS Parks webpage or the Friends of Lorenzo website.

Our original plan was to meet at Lorenzo for a picnic lunch, to be followed by a tour of the house (which not only is interesting in itself, but contains collections and artifacts from its five generations of inhabitants) and a visit to its gift shop (which offers many items of interest to Janeites--tea things, costume-related literature and accessories, etc.). However, the lovely picnic area at Lorenzo is not sheltered, and the question of what we’d do in case of rain arose in this (to date) unusually rainy season. Therefore, we’ve developed a “Plan A” for fine weather and a “Plan B” for rain. We three organizers (A. Marie Sprayberry and Lisa Brown for JASNA Syracuse, and Heather Elia for the Colgate JABC) will decide on the morning of the 25th whether Plan A or B is in effect, and will notify those planning to attend. (Let us know whether you’d prefer to be emailed or phoned.)

Plan A: We will meet at one of the picnic tables nearest the Lorenzo gatehouse (you can’t really miss them) for an al fresco lunch at 12:30 pm on the 25th. To keep things simple, we ask that each attendee bring his or her own lunch and beverage--although if anyone wants to bring easily managed finger food to share (chips, cookies, cut vegetables, etc.), that’s great. Paper plates and utensils will be provided.

Plan B: We will meet for lunch at Circa restaurant in the village (76 Albany St. [U.S. 20], on the south side of 20 at the intersection with Mill St.) at 12:30.

Either lunch plan will be followed at 2:00 pm by a tour of the mansion and a visit to the gift shop. The cost of the house tour is $5 per person, but if there are 10 or more of us, we can get the group rate of $4 per person. In any case, we do need to give the Lorenzo staff advance notice of our visit. For this reason, we ask that if you plan to join us on the 25th, please contact either A. Marie Sprayberry ( or Heather Elia ( no later than June 15. (No need to RSVP with regrets; just let us know if you’re coming.)

To reach Lorenzo, turn from U.S. 20 onto NY Rt. 13 south (just before the village if you’re coming from Syracuse/other points west, or just after it if you’re coming from Hamilton/other points east). The Lorenzo entrance is a signposted gravel drive on the right, about a quarter mile south of the intersection.

So, rain or shine, we hope you’ll join us on June 25 for a memorable Box Hill event!

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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Persuasions #32 Has Arrived!

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wishes to announce that Persuasions #32--the latest edition of JASNA's annual scholarly journal--is now arriving in JASNA members' mailboxes, or should be. (Lady Mary is not, of course, the famous 18th-century traveler and woman of letters, but your Regional Coordinator's cat, named in her honour.) Any JASNA Syracuse Region members who haven't received their copies in a week or so should contact either Marie or Lisa (see "Contact Us" at right for info).