Jane Austen society holds yearly celebration in New York

Activities at the annual gathering included a workshop on how Regency women dressed and a talk by scholar Cornel West on human misfortune in Austen's works.

Jane Austen's most well-known novel, 'Pride and Prejudice,' was adapted for the screen in 2005, with actress Keira Knightley playing heroine Elizabeth Bennet.

The Jane Austen Society of North America held its annual gathering in Brooklyn this past weekend, a meeting that included lectures by Austen scholars as well as activities like a traditional ball.

More than 700 people came to the event, which lasted three days at a Marriott hotel. One session included a lecture on how women would have dressed in Austen’s day, an appropriate topic considering many of the conference participants were dressed in Regency gowns and hats.

One attendee, Goucher College associate professor Juliette Wells, said the first time she came to the meeting she was taken aback by the level of fandom exhibited by the JASNA members.

“When I first came, as a graduate student, I was kind of freaked out by the level of ardor,” said Wells, who wrote a study of Austen in pop culture titled “Everybody’s Jane,” in an interview with The New York Times. “I wasn’t sure if I would come back.” But JASNA, she said, “has been very good to me.”

Lecturers included writer Anna Quindlen, who decried those who pigeonhole Austen as “chick lit,” and professor and writer Cornel West, who discussed Austen’s comprehension of people’s misfortunes.

West Virginia University professor Marilyn Francus, who spoke about finances in Austen’s works, said she is always impressed by the level of knowledge exhibited by Austen fans. When she brought up the question of how everyone in the neighborhood knows protagonist Fitzwilliam Darcy’s income in "Pride and Prejudice," one person in the audience informed her that inheritance information sometimes ran in newspapers at that time, while another volunteered the information that men of that era would occasionally record their income so they could get credit.

“I learn so much from these people,” Francus told The New York Times. “I would never dare condescend to a JASNA audience.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Jane Austen society holds yearly celebration in New York
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today