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”.
“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!).
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:
“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
Gary Library, 36 College Street
Vermont College of Fine Arts
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!
One point made in my October JASNA AGM paper at Louisville was the propensity for Jane Austen to close after the relevant couples departed the church. We are told little of Wedding Breakfasts, Honeymoons, or burgeoning of “twigs” on “family trees”.
BUT: In amongst the “happily ever after” intentions of the closing chapters is also the recent history of Mrs Weston (Emma’s former governess). Hers is a narrative arc that encompasses Spinster – Wife – Mother all in one novel. Mrs. Weston (or Mister Weston, for there are men in JASNA audiences!) was someone to keep in mind, as I went on to speak about Mothers-to-be preparing for confinements.
Let me mention here that anyone able to visit Montpelier, Vermont in March 2016 will be welcome to attend the same talk, “Who could be more prepared than she was? True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England”, thanks to JASNA-Vermont.
Just visible in the photo above is an image (lower corner) showing Emma and Mr Knightley, during a discussion of “due dates”. (You might just recall Mr. Austen’s comment that he and his wife had “in old age grown such bad reckoners” when Jane Austen failed to appear as predicted, in November.)
I can’t say I ever think of Austen’s characters as other than relatively happy couples and families – much like what I’ve seen played out over the course of fifty years (1790 to 1840) of family letters for Emma and her siblings. So, it was with great interest that I read Deborah Yaffe’s recent blog post HOW DARE YOU?, a refutation of the “long-term chances” of Austen couples like Emma & Mr. Knightly (deemed to have “So-So” chances) and Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth (whose chances were assessed as “Dodgy”).
While staying at Louisville’s Galt House hotel, and traipsing DAILY back and forth from the JASNA AGM to our hotel room, I never realized the overpass, described by the hotel as their “conservatory”, was “Modeled after the Crystal Palace in London”.
Their aviary of “exotic and colorful songbirds”, within the conservatory, however, fascinated me! You can just glimpse it in this “empty room” shot from the hotel’s website:
And even a dolt like me sees the Crystal Palace likeness, when I’m no longer rushing through it. Thank goodness I can say I breakfasted one day (Friday, the first day of the conference) under its arches.
As a child I had one pet: a dog. He spoiled me for ever contemplating a “replacement”. Other relatives had pets, among them a few dogs and the odd cat. I’m sure I had a goldfish at some point. But they never seem to last long, do they… Can’t say I recall any aquariums of vast size; or any caged birds. Maybe they were there, though.
In short, _I_ have often scoffed when reading about the Smiths & Goslings and Aviaries. Seemed like a “wealthy” kind of thing to have…, a fruitless “nothing”…, a “bauble” added to a room.
NOW I HAVE SEEN THE ERROR OF MY THINKING!
The hotel was busy-busy-busy. There was our conference – with over 800 Jane Austen enthusiasts. There was the Ironman Louisville Triathalon. And at least two other “groups” with conference space taken up in BOTH “towers” of the hotel. How wonderful it would be to sit, at leisure, and watch the little birds….
I remember one that swooped down, plucked up straw from the floor of the aviary, and brought it back up to the “basket”-like nest. I watched, amazed, as the straw piece was twisted and turned by the rapid movements of the little beak.
Only now do I wish I had “video”. But I post these photographs in order to share a little of my enthusiasm.
And from the letters, although I put my finger only on one comment by Lady Northampton about her aviary, I give you these snapshots of Smiths & Birds:
1804, Sarah Smith to Eliza Chute:
thank her [Mrs Bramston] for the kind offer of sending me a Canary Bird or two for the Aviary, Fanny [Lady Frances Compton] I am sure will be so good as to bring them with her
1807, Mamma to Augusta:
If the weather is as bad with you, as it is here, you cannot walk out much, & poor Grandmamma will be quite a prisoner; but you can always get to the Aviary, & there see a chearful scene.
1812, Maria Lady Northampton to her daughter:
my little birds are cheering me with their soft notes & appear pleased to see me
1825, Mamma to Maria:
my condolences on Valentine’s abominable behaviour [a Canary bird is written underneath]; the only excuse for such unnatural voraciousness is that she has been living constantly in the world w:h is a great trial to many people’s principles, you must not expect her to lay any more eggs this year.
and, a few months later:
Valentine is building another Nest, which excites Maria’s anxiety
I’ve now made a memo: The next estate that I buy must CERTAINLY come complete with an AVIARY!
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.
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”]
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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???
I swear it looks like my Edward Austen. (Someone in the know: tell me!)
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:
and you might like to see our tote bags, for JASNA AGM 2015:
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!
Here I am at the JASNA – Jane Austen Society of North America – Annual General Meeting 2015. I’ve given my paper Saturday (the room seemed filled; but it is rather all a blur), and some participants had interest in my book that went on sale at the Boutique shop JANE AUSTEN BOOKS.
The bookshop does mail order! so click on the link to ask about obtaining YOUR copy of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN: RANDOM JOTTINGS, 2008-2015. This is a new expanded version of the Kindle book (sorry to say, I’ve no current plans to re-do the Kindle version). I may do PDFs of the updated book version (write to me, if that interests you).
Copies arrived at my home a couple months ago (above), but have not been on sale prior to this AGM weekend. Here they are (unfocused, I’m afraid; not my camera!) on the table, amid all the other JANE AUSTEN goodies, at the Regency Boutique here at the Galt House hotel:
I’ll have more to say a bit later. So enjoy this view of Louisville in the meantime (from our hotel room):
Jane Austen Books will need time to get their inventory home – but I’d love to see readers support this research, and I hope the book would interest — given all the pertinent articles spelling out the family of Emma and Mary exist in one place. Thanks – no matter what – for reading and commenting on the blog. Support comes in many forms, and from many people. I’m always GRATEFUL when you “lend an ear”.
NB: Amanda Vickery was plenary speaker this year. Fascinating talk – and she signed TWO of my books, The Gentleman’s Daughter and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.
Penny Gay’s “A Hypothetical Map of Highbury” has hit the JASNA website (although destined for Persuasions On-line late in 2015). Emma has been on my mind after reading a letter – written at the time of Edward Austen’s engagement to Emma Smith (and they were reading Emma about this time too!) by his great aunt Mrs. Leigh Perrot. She quite liked Mr. Knightley (who doesn’t) and Jane Fairfax, but I’m afraid she was not a fan of Emma Woodhouse – and had grown QUITE tired of Miss Bates. As to Frank Churchill: she would not have married him, had she been Jane Fairfax!
My paper for the 2015 JASNA AGM (‘Who could be more prepared than she was?’ True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in Early 19th Century England) looks into Mrs Weston’s pregnancy and delivery by talking about the confinements of Lady Compton (c1790) and Emma Austen (c1830). So to illustrate what a FABULOUS map Penny Gay has come up with I supply at peep at RANDALLS, the Weston home. CLICK on the map for the story and the “full picture”. And then pull your copy of Emma off the shelf…
The list of breakout speakers for the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA is up. Under the banner title of “LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD”, breakout speaker topics are diverse, and fascinating.
In the appropriately-named novel Emma, Jane Austen wrote of a marriage – that of Miss Taylor (Emma Woodhouse’s governess and dear friend) to Mr Weston, that resulted in the birth of a child! and a woman’s lying-in or “confinement” is the topic of my breakout talk, taking place in the Saturday, October 10th “D” session.
As before, that means _I_ miss some great speaker, such as: Sheryl Craig (whom I know) on “William Wickham”; Kristen Miller Zohn (whose AGM talk on miniatures I so enjoyed) on “silhouettes”; and Sue Forge on “London High Society” – which readers of this blog will know, I consider my Smiths & Goslings to be, if not “movers and shakers” in society, at least “prevalent” among the party-goers. And here’s why:
- see, 1816 Fashions, At Mrs Gosling’s Ball
- experience, Emma’s “London Season,” 1816
- and be part of the ‘crush’ in What if you threw a PARTY – and everyone came?!
- At the BookRat, go Behind the Facade
Of course, as an AMG participant, I must also pick speakers to hear. Too many to choose among!
Do I hear about Jane Austen’s ideas on being “Past the Bloom” (Stephanie Eddleman) or “A Quack or Dr. House” (Sharon Latham)?? When, equally, I’d dearly love to learn about Embroidery (which I used to enjoy) (Julie Buck)… or Estate Tenants (Linda Slothouber)… or Austen family cookbooks (Julienne Gehrer)… or Village Life (Sara Bowen)… or the treatment of poor George Austen, Jane Austen’s sometimes-forgotten brother (Bridget McAdam).
And that’s only the FIRST session! Good thing there are several months to think over the possibilities.
I’ll say more, at a later date, about my topic — “Who could be more prepared than she was?” True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England — at a later date, but will take the time to say that many of the letters & diaries excerpts come from the copious examples of this Smith & Gosling research. From the “bantling” born in 1790 — the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin “Lord Compton”), to the Confinements of Emma Austen herself.
And, no, I won’t forget Mrs Weston!
Being the anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth (16 Dec 1775) — as well, I must mention, of the marriage of Emma Smith and James Edward Austen (16 Dec 1828) — JASNA publishes Persuasions On-line. The first article which GRABBED my attention was Natalie Walshe’s “The Importance of Servants in Jane Austen’s Novels.”
The servants who come-go-serve the Smith & Gosling households are, as in Jane Austen’s novels, there. One must, however, tease them out! Sometimes they appear as a surname only. Or, when a first name, you wonder if when a first AND last name comes up IF the two are the same person — or different people. I’ve a few names posted online – but, gosh, there are TONS more. (I have been VERY remiss getting more names online.)
And how welcome an opportunity when someone points out a more subtle WHY behind the “half-smile” of such as Baddeley! (Mansfield Park) So many small points go over our heads (for, I don’t know about YOU, but I’ve never employed a servant…)
Consider Persuasions On-line as an early Christmas present: much to be enjoyed!
* * *
- Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs (BBC)
- The Complete Servant  (books.google)
- Mrs Woolf and the Servants
“A servant should neither blow his nose or spit in his master’s presence;
and, if possible, neither sneeze nor cough.”
— Dr. Trusler, Domestic Management (1819)