Jane Austen in California

October 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm (jasna, travel) (, , , )

I returned Monday morning from a week in California – including the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Jane Austen Society of North America. The theme was

“Jane Austen in Paradise: Intimations of Immortality”. The resort hotel chosen, the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach proved a FANTASTIC find. Just walking from the conference building to my room, the eye was greeted at every glance, every turn with fountains, “birds of paradise” in flower, places to sit and enjoy a “fire”. If there was a downside, it was the “sound quality” coming from the speakers especially in the larger rooms. Even our guest, Whit Stillman, commented (more than once).

In reviewing my notes, I have a feeling that because so many attendees were “first-timers” they would disagree with what I’m about to say: too many sessions were “too basic”. I’ll mention two that I attended because I thought they would be “useful”.

“Reading Jane Austen through the Lens of the Law” was a two-part, two-speaker session. The first speaker talked a lot, but didn’t have much to say that was ‘new’ or ‘unknown’. The second speaker was better, but “the historical” context was missing. And neither managed to actually answer someone’s question of “What was a Jointure?”

The other disappointment was the session entitled “Jane Austen’s Earthly Sendoff to Paradise”. Right out of the gate came information that I knew to be a mistake: People were NOT buried within two to three days of death. A review of primary materials for the correct “historical” context would have nipped this deadly mistake in the bud.

One thing I did _learn_ was to think of Tumblr (a platform I am not on) as a 21st Century “Commonplace Book”. THAT _WAS_ exciting to think about! I had been looking at Commonplace Books on eBay…. So it was rather timely as being already on my mind.

I spent a day in San Francisco, since I had never been to California before. It was the “Autumn Moon Festival” in Chinatown:

I can’t say that I “left my heart in San Francisco”…. But the Blue Angels and Snowbirds certainly did:

It was “Fleet Week 2017” – and somebody was up there, practicing.

 

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reviews for JANE AUSTEN and the ARTS

January 24, 2017 at 11:11 am (books, entertainment, jane austen, jasna) (, , , )

Natasha Duquette, as one of the editors (along with Elisabeth Lenckos) of Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety and Harmony, has recent uploaded some reviews of the book. One, by Audrey Bilger in the journal Women’s Studies, mentions my contribution, the chapter entitled, “‘A Reputation for Accomplishment’: Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse as Artistic Performers”.

ja and the arts

“Kelly M. McDonald examines Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse in terms of their skill as artistic performers and sees the primary lessons that each heroine needs to learn as being linked to their initial stance as artists: Marianne, who is ‘consumed with interior passions,’ must cultivate restraint; Emma ‘[c]onsumed with exterior experiences’ must develop deeper insight.”

This is a chapter that I have not revisited in the recent past, yet, given my 2016 topic for the JASNA Annual General Meeting that celebrated the 200th anniversary of the novel EMMA, the ‘art’ of Emma is definitely an ongoing preoccupation of mine. (My paper was entitled, “Sketching Box Hill with Emma”, also given to the Vermont JASNA chapter in December 2016.) I found, in revisiting the paper AFTER transcribing more Smith & Gosling family letters in October and November, that I had a few new points to make on the subject.

But to get back to Audrey Bilger’s review of Jane Austen and the Arts

Being an academic press (Lehigh University Press), Jane Austen and the Arts is currently selling for $30 (used; paperback) and up on Amazon. Bilger’s comments on the book as a whole, include:

  • “The editors perceive the arts in the broadest possible way, … encompassing painting, music, dance, and theater, … also judgment, taste, morality and ultimately reading and writing as aesthetically charged activities.”
  • “An excellent preface by Vivasvan Soni, ‘Jane Austen’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment,’ explains the meaning of the book’s subtitle.”
  • “most of the contributions are theoretically nuanced, especially with regard to the history of aesthetics.”
  • “the book’s focus on the arts illuminates aspects of Austen’s work in fresh ways…. Readers familiar with the Austen canon will appreciate the book’s numerous close readings and textual analysis.”

Another review Natasha posted is by Marina Cano, for The Modern Language Review. Cano recognizes the volume as “a highly interdisciplinary and polyphonic study”. Cano is especially enthusiastic about Jeffrey Nigro’s “The Sister Artist: Cassandra Austen’s Portraits of Jane Austen in Art-Historical Context”: “he argues, here Cassandra was experimenting with the artistic conventions of her time”.

Cano concludes, “Jane Austen and the Arts is a valuable collection in its exploration of Austen’s involvement in the aesthetic concerns of her time and in its examination of little-studied materials.”

Looking today at books.google I see Jane Austen and the Arts listed as being in 204 libraries worldwide; maybe one of these is nearby, allowing you, too, to dip your toe. Would love to hear from readers on any and all aspects of the book (ie, you don’t even have to comment on my chapter!).

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Living in Jane Austen’s World: 5 reasons to visit Montpelier

March 3, 2016 at 10:52 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, jasna, research) (, , , , )

The Jane Austen Society of North America, Vermont Chapter hosts their March 2016 meeting in Montpelier, Vermont, on the campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Several members of “Jane Austen in Vermont” travelled to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the JASNA AGM. I was lucky enough to present a paper, which will be re-presented for a home-audience:

ja world

“Who could be more prepared than she was”
True Tales of Life, Death, & Confinement:
Childbirth in 19th Century England

Kelly M. McDonald

Period letters and diaries present stories of Austen-related mothers-to-be.  Georgian women discussed among themselves what potentially preoccupied a woman’s life for twenty years and more: miscarriage, pregnancy, labor, childbed fever, lactation barriers, and rituals affecting a new mother up to (and including) “churching.”

Sunday, 13 March 2016
2:00 PM
Gary Library, 36 College Street
Vermont College of Fine Arts
Montpelier, VT

1. Learn & Discuss, “Living in Jane Austen’s World”

2. Illlustrations include images of actual letters & diaries

3. Meet others who read, watch, and love Jane Austen & England

4. Have a cup of tea and enjoy some munchies

5. It’s FREE and open to the public!

bright star_letter

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Louisville: Living in Jane Austen’s World

October 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm (jane austen, jasna, travel) (, , )

For FOUR DAYS we all certainly DID LIVE in Jane’s Austen’s World! But I’m back, having roamed to the state of My Old Kentucky Home for oh-so-short a time only.

kentucky quarter

I never thought about it, until the guide at Locust Grove (a Mr. Boone !), said that Kentucky was the fifteenth state in the Union. Vermont (as some may know), was the FOURTEENTH! We joined in 1791!

(Kentucky, for those wishing to know, entered a year later, in summer 1792.)

It put the “geography” of the JASNA AGM in perspective, a bit, for me. Of course, being a conference, unless you make TIME for something by bumping something else you don’t get to see too much of the conference city. Did take a lovely walk by the Ohio River…; did take a drive through some neighborhoods of “historic Louisville”…; and did get out (thanks to JASNA member Lady Smatter and her husband [Lord Smatter? I’ll have to ask. We quickly got down to first names, and I’m unsure of the gentleman’s title… Lady Smatter may be a lady in her own right.]) to Locust Grove Sunday afternoon.

NB: we’ve heard a rumor that a portrait within the house – and we sense two contenders – had her decolletage painted over at some point (which has been removed… like the lady’s clothing in a JASNA special session!). IF anyone can tell us WHICH painting, Lady Smatter and I would be delighted to know. (Mr. Boone had had no clue.)

Speaking of Mr. Boone – I will say that I did ASK. For I watch some mornings (on ME.TV) the TV series Daniel Boone. Today’s episode was QUITE delightful: the Daniel and Mingo (and even Rebecca) was helping to destroy some new rifles the British were acquiring:

boone1

boone2

I, too, love a “red” coat. And powdered wigs. (Apologies for the poor images: will have to check my camera setting…; NB: Mingo stands besides Rebecca, in “disguise” as a British Major.) Mr. Boone said his family predated that of Boonesboro’s founder.

To toot my own horn, although so much of the 30-plus minutes is a blur to me (I can see why people getting the Academy Award later say they don’t remember…), my talk entitled:

AGM1

went quite well. I remember a roomful of people (standees even). And was very happy to have a woman come up to me prior to Saturday’s banquet saying how much she had enjoyed the talk. I don’t get much feedback on my work (and sometimes, in my daily life, I don’t get much encouragement for the pursuit of the Smiths & Goslings), so this was really touching to me that she would take a moment and come up to tell me her reaction.

I had brought with me a new purchase – the 1793 Will of Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), a eight-page original document; and a letter I gifted to myself for my 50th birthday, an 1824 letter written by Augusta (the sister) and Augusta (the mother) Smith. Not too many people have seen an original pre-stamp era letter. I am lucky enough to own two full letters (the other from 1837). And (ah-hem) always on the lookout for MORE Smith & Gosling ephemera and materials.

I was lucky enough to be gifted, by the author, with this delightful Jane Austen Daybook:

ja daybook

LOTS of illustrations – I couldn’t locate it on the US site, so the link is to the UK one; but do check both.

A woman beside me at the banquet (who also had attended my talk! small world sometimes…), asked if breakout session speakers were compensated in any way. I was holding up my hand, with fingers meeting the top of the thumb, when my roommate said, “You got a mug”.

True: in our registration packet there was a half-page letter, telling us to pop over to the Kentucky Table at the Regency Boutique to claim our prize! (I have no letter to show you, b/c that was the “prize” they claimed in return.) There was a Jane Christmas Ornament (haven’t put up a tree in decades) or a license plate surround (never put anything on the car) or a MUG. It’s lovely! With the quote of Captain Wentworth’s letter, Jane’s silhouette on one side and a “man” on the other.

But who IS that “masked” man???

agm2

I swear it looks like my Edward Austen. (Someone in the know: tell me!)

EdwardAusten-silhouette

I’m sure there are mugs for sale (JASNA’s website as “shops” for various regions; if I find that Kentucky and this Persuasions mug is there, I’ll pop in a link later). Your price would be far less than the amount of time it takes to write a paper, condense it (for it has more info than could possibly be rattled off in 30 to 40 minutes), AND come up with a very lengthy and involved Powerpoint presentation.

This morning I did christen it with a cuppa! But I have SO MANY mugs – and only three that I perpetually drink tea from.

MUST mention one of the most intriguing of the special sessions: Thomasina’s Notebook and Tom Lefroy’s House“, presented by Prof. Glynis Ridley. FASCINATING *find* at a flea market (of all places) of this handwritten commonplace book.

I feel like Mamma Smith… a visitor has captured my attention, mid-blog, and now I once again pick up my “pen” – BUT: my original train of thought may – or may not – be followed. If I’ve left out anything I REALLY wanted to say, I’ll either put addenda to this post, or post anew.

I simply must share my “pins” – the Emma one in our “goodie bag” (next year’s AGM is in Washington, D.C.) and the butterfly (my one splurge) comes from Locust Grove’s giftshop:

agm3

and you might like to see our tote bags, for JASNA AGM 2015:

agm4

A Kentucky Derby theme! Our own “colors” in jockey silks.

I travelled – by bus – for over 24 hours (include ride & wait times); a tale to be told on the ride back: in Ohio a fist fight broke out in the aisle! The guys landed on a woman in the set of seats right in front of me. Police were called – and the bus, at that point, was already running more than an hour behind schedule. (Up to that point, no one at Greyhound/Trailways in Ohio seemed to worry about trying to make up time! Bus arrived IN Louisville about the time it should have DEPARTED. Ditto for all the other stops along the way. Luckily, my layover IN Buffalo had been two-plus hours = I made it with about 20 or 30 minutes to spare.). The police came instantly; didn’t even come on board to ask questions, except from the guy who broke them up. It was an odd occurrence: no shouts, not “wham” or “bamm” (like in the TV show BATMAN), just a pair of bodies moving in the aisle in the middle of the night (it was like 3 AM).

It might be “All in the Name of Jane,” but at the same time I will never again bus through Columbus-Cincinnati!

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Mansfield Park in Montreal

May 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm (entertainment, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

This coming October, the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of JASNA – the Jane Austen Society of North America – is hosted by Montreal, a not-far drive from my northern Vermont home. I’ve been taking a look at the schedule of break-out speakers.

Session F is going to be REALLY hard to decide one “just one” – for there are three speakers whose topics call to me. Sarah Bowen discusses CLERGYMEN’S WIVES, which of course encompasses my Emma – and her sisters Augusta, Fanny, and Maria!

But there’s also Jacqueline Reid-Walsh‘s topic of “girls’ domestic activities,” which includes a look at “modifying prints as artwork”. Those show up in the Smith & Gosling homes several times over.

Tess O’Toole and Jocelyn Harris offer two more talks in the same session. Oh, dear… I slightly (currently) give the nod to Harris, for she wonders if Fanny and Susan Price could possibly have been based in some way on Fanny and Susan Burney.

And Sarah Emsley‘s topic has really caught my attention: Lady Sherbrooke, wife of the Lt-Gov. of Nova Scotia has been caught reading MP in tandem with her sister in 1815! What nuggets of diary or letter entries might this talk hold???

LOTS to think about in the weeks before the AGM opens for registration.

The post-chaise to Montreal leaves in October

 

 

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2016: Jane Austen’s Emma

October 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm (books, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , , )

A couple of weeks ago, the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) held its annual conference (AGM); and the announcement would have been made about the latest addition to the upcoming AGM line up:

2013 – “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice … Timeless” = Minneapolis, MN

2014 – “Mansfield Park in Montreal: Contexts, Conventions, Controversies” = Montreal, Quebec

2015 – “Living in Jane Austen’s World” = Louisville, KY

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will know how “bullish” I am on studying the life of Cassandra Austen, and reading actual letters, and learning more about life in Regency England; so I really look forward to Louisville as a slice of something out of the ordinary. While Minneapolis and Montreal carry forward the 200th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Austen’s novels begun last year, in Fort Worth, with Sense and Sensibility.

So it was with GREAT interest that I looked up JASNA’s website listing of AGMs to see that Emma in 2016 will be held in our nation’s capital: Washington, DC!

Emma at 200: ‘No One But Herself’” builds on the idea of Austen writing that she was creating a heroine whom no one but herself would like. Fans know this is not true.

Can’t imagine a better place to celebrate Emma‘s “bicentennial”!

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It’s a Long LONG way to publication

June 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm (books, jane austen, jasna, news) (, , , , , , , , , )

Three days ago I received notice that an edited, multi-author-submissions volume entitled

 

Elegance, Propriety, Harmony:

Jane Austen and the Arts

 

was given the green light by Lehigh University Press.

My own humble submission appears as chapter six, in the section “Artistic Elegance: Portraiture, Music, and Dance“. The focus of my chapter is outlined in its title:

A ‘Reputation for Accomplishment’:

Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse

as Artistic Performers

Ah, but the road has been long, and still there is only a glimmer of end in sight…

The chapter first saw light of day under a different title – and was submitted at the end of summer 2010 — two years ago. A year or more later, the middle was removed whereby the guts of my original idea was weakened. A new approach was required. That major rewrite brought about the current title, and only came about after much reading, researching, rethinking and (of course) re-rewriting. The editors have edited, the reviewers have read, and now the press exclaims We’ll publish. Comments were made about a gathering at the Pride and Prejudice– centered AGM in 2013.

  • three days ago: news
  • two years ago: first draft submitted
  • one year to go: book launch!

 whew…

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Howdy from Texas and the JASNA AGM

October 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm (jane austen, jasna) (, , , , , , , )

How-dee!

Been some wonderful weather down here in Fort Worth, Texas — cloudless blue skies; warm days but some breeze. Can’t say I’ve seen much of the city, however what I’ve seen is quite lovely. This evening, for instance, on the Promenade (yes, those dressed in costumes walked the square; I don’t dress but I did walk!), a gorgeous building near Sundance Square was illuminated and the trumpeting figures on the sides of the facade stood out in full relief. A-ma-zing.

Some highlights:

  • Tried taking the public transportation (bus –> train to Fort Worth and the hotel); all worked well, but it took me nearly as long to get luggage, get bus, await train, and walk to hotel as it did to FLY from Manchester (NH) to Atlanta (GA)! 3 hours….
  • My Friday talk — “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters” — went well. People seemed interested in hearing about music and opera, art and drawing and how the two elder Dashwoods somewhat personified the art they each practiced.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner was on our own Friday; I had a cup of tea English Breakfast tea made with water in the coffee maker, and with half-and-half (no milk!). Lunch was a sandwich; I think it was turkey & cheese on a croissant. Not bad – but purchased in the hotel so a bit pri$ey. Thanks to the PRESS for TIME (am: last read-through of paper; lunch: really the last read-through and a little preparation — while the room was being cleaned…) dinner was going to be the bag of popcorn on offer for the evening’s movie marathon. Instead: it was pizza shared with screenwriter Andrew Davies, who sat down beside me. How kind. Can say that I ‘rubbed elbows and shoulders’ with him. If only some of his Austen “luck” would rub off on me.
  • an interesting talk on miniatures and hair tokens, with perhaps a source for helping to track down some of those “missing” portraits I know about.
  • a nice breakfast on Saturday with three British ladies (and much better tea than the day before!).
  • a lovely dinner Saturday night, followed by the promenade.
  • a fun talk (though it lacked any true “ending”) by Andrew Davies, with clips from Pride & Prejudice (of course), Northanger Abbey, Emma (EXCEPTIONALLY hysterical story behind that one!), and Sense & Sensibility.
  • the singing Cowboys, “(clap-clap-clap-clap), deep in the heart of Texas”.
  • a five-second face-to-face with Freydis Welland and her sister about their relatives: the Austen Leighs, Smiths of Suttons &c.
  • a wonderful roommate in JASNA board member Sally Palmer.

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Texas Beckons – Long and Winding Road nears its end

October 12, 2011 at 8:03 am (jane austen, jasna, news, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Today marks the beginning of the JASNA AGM long and winding road: I leave for Manchester, NH and a Thursday flight for Dallas-Fort Worth.

It has, indeed, been long and winding…

Was last year about this time that I proposed a paper to the Annual General Meeting 2011 of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Then came the acceptance! Hurrah, was my first thought; but it’s been much work — and time away from my beloved Smiths & Goslings. In the last month, when I might have been living life in 1830s England, transcribing Richard Seymour’s diaries, I’ve been looking to fine tune some Jane Austen writings. I’ve read Austen because she would have been Emma’s “Aunt”; Emma, on visits to Chawton, when she describes Cassandra Austen or Edward Knight, might have been rubbing elbows with a woman whose books she read (there is a diary notation of Mansfield Park in 1818). I’ve certainly learned a lot about life, reading Austen’s novels; and also learned about obscure aspects of her novelistic world by studying the Smiths & Goslings. Yet, I’ll be glad to get back to “work” come November. I’m missing “my people”!

I’ve never been West – so this will be a bit of a treat. Going book-looking in New Hampshire (if all goes well) at my favorite used bookstore: Old Depot No. 6, in Henniker.

Not a lot of book room in the suitcase, should the JASNA Emporium beckon…

Hope to keep you up-to-date while I’m at the AGM!

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Long, Winding Road: One Month to JASNA AGM

September 14, 2011 at 2:26 am (books, jasna, news, research) (, , , , , , , )

It’s getting to the point where I can “count down” to the JASNA AGM. October 13th is the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth. My paper gets presented on the following day. Eek!

I like what it says, however, about music and art, about Elinor and Marianne. My thoughts are usually “history” based, and I begin with a Beechey painting and segue into a short discussion of “accomplishments”. I have a feeling — being a bit of a craftsperson/artist — that I think differently than many JASNA speakers about the actions behind the term “accomplishments.”

Sometimes there is so MUCH you’d like to say, but: you have only 40 minutes…

Sometimes, you just have to say “enough” and be done adding information.

Still, as much as I love talking about the era, I’d much rather talk about my Smiths&Goslings! So I’m not sure about future AGM paper proposals.

Lately, I’ve been looking at sketches, somewhat in anticipation of speaking about Elinor, done by Fanny Smith, Emma’s middle sister. I’ll blog about those sketches later.

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