Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Austenmas" News Roundup

Your Regional Coordinator writes: 

First, of course, a very happy "Austenmas" (as Syracuse/Rochester Co-RC Lisa Brown calls Jane Austen's birthday) to all Janeites everywhere! At 237, Our Author is going stronger than ever!

As noted in the preceding post, JASNA Syracuse Region members and JABC-CNY members gathered at the Colgate Inn on December 8 to celebrate Austenmas in particular and the winter holidays in general. After we toasted JA's birthday, Lisa Brown regaled us with a holly- and yew-trimmed presentation on Regency Christmas customs--including some holiday sports and games that would definitely not meet modern safety standards. (Nevertheless, someone has had the temerity to demonstrate the game of "Snap Dragon" on a YouTube video, and Lisa hopes to post a link to this shortly.)

The elegant cake above (with a frosting inkwell and both a frosting and an actual quill) was served at yesterday's JASNA Rochester birthday luncheon at the Chatterbox Club in Rochester.  Alice Villasenor's description of JA's niece Catherine Anne Hubback and of Hubback's career as a novelist was fascinating. Edith Lank led us as usual in Kipling's epigraph to "The Janeites" as a birthday toast to JA. The team of "Bake and Jake" (a/k/a Rochester's own Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs) gave us an update on the progress of their Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: A Musical, and treated us to an impromptu performance of its newest song, Mr. Collins's hilarious paean to Lady Catherine. 

And on a much somberer but most salutary note, Rochester RC Celia Easton reminded us in her opening remarks of how necessary JA's six novels and other works are to us--as inspiration, not just as escapism--in the face of tragedies like the school shooting in Newtown, CT. We send our thoughts and prayers to all the residents of Newtown and of Connecticut, including our JASNA Connecticut colleagues. (On Dec. 8, I'd promised the Colgate Inn attendees to post a link to the website for JASNA Connecticut's upcoming "Jane Austen Summer Camp" on July 26-28, 2013. I'll do so in a future post.)

To quote from JA's correspondence with Cassandra, "[The rest of] This Letter is to be dedicated entirely to Good News." JASNA's annual Austenmas present to its members and the world is the publication of the winter issue of its electronic journal, Persuasions On-Line--and Upstate New York is well represented in the new number (go here for the link).  The paper based on my Brooklyn AGM breakout session about the Prince Regent is included in the section of papers from the AGM, and another meditation on Pride and Prejudice by our Rochester friend Leo Rockas (this time, a review of the similarities between P&P and the Juvenilia piece "The Three Sisters") is included in the Miscellany section.

Over at Jane Austen in Vermont, "Janeite Deb" (a/k/a JASNA Vermont RC Deb Barnum) has put up a long Austenmas post on "The Ten Best Reasons to Go to a JASNA AGM," in which she kindly includes my breakout under reason #6 and Lisa Brown's "Dressing the Miss Bennets" presentation under #9. Go here for the link. Thanks and cheers, Deb! (And, hey, I thought JA in Vermont was the best regional blog in JASNA even before she put up this post!)

Finally, as we look ahead to 2013, several local events are being planned to honor the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice--JA's "own darling Child"--in late January 1813. See the updated "Events" column at right for three of these.  As you can see below, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the Official Spokescat of JASNA Syracuse, is getting in the proper frame of mind by contemplating an Austenmas ornament filled with individual sentences from the novel. (The ornament is yet another creation of the multi-talented Lisa Brown!)