2019 JASNA Annual General Meeting
October 4-6, Williamsburg, Virginia
“200 Years of Northanger Abbey: ‘Real, Solemn History’”

 

Members of the Southeastern Virginia Region invite you to the JASNA 2019 AGM and are eager to show you “the kindest welcome.”  While official conference dates are Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6, 2019, you will surely want to extend your stay in Williamsburg, Virginia since activities and events will be held Wednesday, October 2 through Monday, October 7.

Gathering together to focus on Northanger Abbey, we will celebrate two hundred years since its publication.  Our working title is “200 Years of Northanger Abbey: ‘Real, Solemn History.’”  In addition to our discussion of Jane Austen’s novel, our theme is intended to encompass broader subjects relevant to the cultural background of Northanger Abbey: subjects such as the idea of the picturesque, the popularity of the Gothic novel genre, the history of the 12th Light Dragoons, the economics of importing India muslin versus producing muslin in England, even the conversion of Church buildings into private residences in the centuries after the Dissolution.  Despite our tag line, we do not expect our speakers or their subjects to be exclusively solemn!

The conference hotel, the Williamsburg Lodge, is nestled in the heart of the Historic Area—the mile-long stretch of outdoor, interactive museum of Colonial Williamsburg.  It is eminently walkable, with limited motor traffic.  The nearest major airports, in Richmond and Newport News, are an hour and a half-hour away, respectively.  Access by Amtrak train could not be simpler, as the train station is a mile away, just on the other side of the Historic Area, five minutes by car or fifteen to twenty on foot.  The modern portion of the city is only a few minutes’ drive away, or can be reached via the local bus service.  The most obvious asset to our location is the living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg, which offers changing daily programming that examines life in the 18th century, with a Virginia focus.  Its actor-interpreters are unparalleled, and visitors may suddenly find themselves conversing with Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Martha Washington, or the Marquis de Lafayette in the street.  Even King George III occasionally makes a special appearance as part of a theatrical presentation of Enlightenment ideas of leadership.

There are so many possibilities for special events and entertainment, we will doubtless struggle to narrow down our options.  However, we are definitely planning a fully-staged production of the musical version of Northanger Abbey that our region previewed for its first audience this past summer.  Without question, there will be an opportunity to watch an 18th century cricket match and to learn the game as it was played by Catherine Morland (or Jane Austen herself!).


Reading of the musical version of Northanger Abbey

With several local JASNA members also being avid English country dancers, we are sure to have dance workshops and a ball.  Outside of the Historic Area, Hampton Roads is bursting with possible activities.  Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America, is only ten minutes down the road in one direction, while Yorktown, the site of the climactic battle of the American Revolution, is twenty minutes the other way.  A little further afield is Bacon’s Castle, built in 1665, and thus the oldest standing brick residence in British North America.  Federal period houses in Richmond and Norfolk offer equal temptation for visitors, and we hope to arrange a lecture by the special collections staff from the University of Virginia, which holds one of the finest collections of Gothic Novels in the United States.

Civil War buffs are likewise in for a treat, because in addition to a number of battlefields within an hour’s drive—including all the major sites of George McClellan’s 1862 Peninsular campaign—there is the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, half an hour away.  The museum houses the remains of the Monitor ironclad (of the famous Monitor vs. Merrimack battle) in an engaging, state-of-the-art exhibit.  It also features an exhibit on Admiral Lord Nelson and a variety of other offerings spanning the centuries.  For those not so historically-inclined, or perhaps some younger spouses and children of conference attendees, there is Busch Gardens Europe, an amusement park which will be open on the weekend with its Halloween programming.

We hope you’ll join us in 2019 to celebrate Northanger Abbey and Jane Austen.


Duke of Gloucester Street in October