Further Thoughts on the JASNA AGM in Louisville

October 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm (jane austen, jasna) (, )


Searching for reactions, thoughts, and etc. from other participants, I bring to the attention of readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen the following useful “follow-ups” on the Jane Austen Society of North America’s recent annual general meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

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clicking on the image above will bring you to the facebook page for the AGM 2015. As many know, the Louisville region hosts a yearly Jane Austen Festival, at Locust Grove.

I had been told that it was writer Sharon Lathan‘s husband who acted as AGM “PRESS” Photographer. And Sharon has posted countless photos of speakers, events, companions, and even Louisville. If you couldn’t make it to Louisvile in October 2015, take a look at Sharon’s 2015 AGM Album.

If you were there: You might see yourself! Or, at the very least, “relive” the experience.

  • JASNA Central & Western New York has a nice blog post, complete with photos, that you might wish to visit. I kept hoping we’d see more, following their Saturday (Oct. 17) meeting at a local Barnes & Noble, but I’ve not yet seen any newer post.
  • Sophie’s Diary offers a brief “first-AGM” write-up called “Weekend with Jane”.
  • JASNA linked various Persuasions articles into a “sampling” of Reading about LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD. Two of my early publications are there: look for Elizabeth Bennet’s trip to Derbyshire; as well as Elizabeth Darcy’s wedding journey [both listed under “TRAVEL”]

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I’d like to address a personal aside:

On Saturday, October 10th (breakout session D), I gave my paper, “Who could be more prepared than she was”?  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England.

In the front row sat someone who seemed to photograph EVERY slide in my presentation. We’ve all been in an audience where some image grabbed our attention so much that we wanted to remember it, to keep it. But I have a vivid memory of changing images at one point quite rapidly – for some slides were “topic” cards (like the above). And it is that memory which I cannot shake: of a camera being lifted, and lifted again, and yet again.

It’s a harried atmosphere, when presenting a breakout paper at a JASNA AGM. My session came immediately after the plenary speaker Amanda Vickery. I had to hustle to my room, unpack the computer, my “script”, my couple of “show and tell” objects.

I had planned on an iPad app for keeping track of time. The last portion of the paper could run as long or as short as required. It was an Excel sheet comparing & contrasting “confinements” in Emma’s family, beginning with the confinement Claire Tomalin pointed to in her biography of Jane Austen: Lady Compton’s 1790 confinement with her son Spencer (the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton).

There’s a certain amount of material to get through; there’s a time limit — and I had three different people telling me when my time was running out (no two in sync). Waiting for the AV tech to arrive with the correct projector connection (HDMI), I neglected to even turn the iPad on (No room ON the lectern, it sat on a shelf below.)

My paper had specific references, letter and diary excerpts, that I wanted to introduce – to an audience who would have NO CLUE who Emma Austen or her family members were. I put a lot of effort into the slides that accompanied my words. So much so, that it felt as if I wrote two papers!

Only late into the paper did I spot the audience member taking “snaps”.

Even as I went through my Excel sheet of “confinements”, I saw the camera rise each time I moved the text on the screen.

My research – culled over nearly ten years now – is very dear to my heart. I’ve written and blogged and talked, always with the hope of exciting others about the “history” of people in another land at another time.

But to what end does someone photograph an entire presentation?

The images and the conclusions made while culling stacks of letters and diaries, was something I wanted to SHARE – with the people in the room.

Cell phones and cameras and selfies are too ubiquitous, for my taste. Nowadays, no one thinks about the possibility that I might have prefered NOT to have my presentation so faithfully reproduced.

It’s great for people to share their thoughts, their photographs; but please do not make assumptions about how I wish to share my work.

If this is a new trend in “note-taking”, I hope audience members will consider asking the speaker beforehand. I, for one, will be more guarded – both about what items I bring and what I include as images during a presentation.

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2 Comments

  1. Charlotte Frost (@CharlotteFrost1) said,

    It is a tradition that, comedy excepted, the audience’s contribution to a performance or lecture is respectful, sympathetic silence, not just absence of sound but physical stillness and avoidance of distracting behaviour. Raising a brightly-lit camera flouts that tradition.

    And, as you say, for what reason?

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Charlotte – alas, long ago audience’s were NOT so respectful…

      Doubt anyone in the audience really noticed this person – shoulder-high hoist and the room not dark (though a lecture with slides).

      Just feel a bit proprietary (slides were not simply one image of one thing), and had never thought photographing an entire presentation a potentiality.

      Thanks for commisserating.

      k

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