Special Interest Sessions

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages…”
                                                                                               —Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 8

Curating Jane: Austen-Inspired Art

Carolyn Brown, Mississippi Region and Lynda A. Hall, Chapman University
Thursday, October 14, 2:00 pm-2:50 pm

Artwork created by international working artists from around the world as well as multimedia projects by current graduate students will be the focus of this special session. What do they all have in common? They claim Jane Austen as their muse, whether they are creating gorgeous watercolor nature scenes, amusing satires of contemporary life, large abstract works that demand a knowledge of the text, pop-up picture books or even board games. This session showcases Austen in the 21st century, as she is reimagined through a diverse range of creative modes of expression.

Carolyn J. Brown is a retired educator and independent scholar. She is the Grants Chair for JASNA and Regional Coordinator of JASNA-Mississippi. She has published in Persuasions 35 and presented at the 2017 AGM. She has published articles in many journals and authored four books: award-winning biographies of Mississippi writers Eudora Welty and Margaret Walker; the first book on American Impressionist painter Kate Freeman Clark; and her most recent, A de Grummond Primer.

Lynda A. Hall is Associate Professor of English at Chapman University. Her research is in Austen, the English Gothic novel, and terror and traumatic memory in literature. She has been a Traveling Lecturer for JASNA, and has made several presentations at national and international conferences. She wrote Women and ‘Value’ in Jane Austen’s Novels, has published papers in Persuasion and other journals, and an essay in the forthcoming MLA’s Approaches to Teaching Persuasion.

Caricature of Austen’s Era in Chicago Public Collections

Robert Sylvester, Portland State University, being presented by Andrea Kayne, Greater Chicago Region
Thursday, October 14, 3:00 pm-3:50 pm

Jane Austen’s life paralleled “The Golden Age of Caricature” and through its artists represents a rich, visual commentary on her experiences. Rowlandson, Gillray, and Cruickshank, as well as lesser-known creators, all contributed to the world in which she existed. This journey into waters less navigated within the Jane Austen domain is based on artworks in Chicago public collections.

Robert Sylvester has had careers as Professor, Academic Dean and cello soloist. Now Dean Emeritus of Portland State University, he created and taught courses on the history of caricature and his research has taken him to libraries throughout Europe and the U.S. Andrea Kayne, who is presenting this paper in Sylvester’s absence, is an active lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). She has spoken widely at JASNA events and is Assistant Regional Coordinator of the Greater Chicago Region of JASNA.

Orientation for AGM First Timers

Linda Slothouber, JASNA Vice President-Conferences
Thursday, October 14, 4:00 pm-4:50 pm

Meet other first-time attendees during lively group activities and learn how to navigate your first AGM with helpful advice and practical tips gathered from seasoned AGM-goers.

Accessibility Through Adaptations of Austen

Lena Ruth Yasutake, Connecticut Region, and Trenell Mooring
Thursday, October 14, 5:00 pm-5:50 pm

This interactive, informative and entertaining session will explore how the intersection between Austen, drama, education and costume creates wonderful opportunities to include new, younger, and more diverse audiences while also delighting already devoted Janeites. Two presenters, one a career educator and one a career performer, will give a short fact-based presentation interspersed with four fully scripted and costumed vignettes from Austen adaptations by diverse playwrights, which will include volunteer performers from the audience. The presentation will conclude with audience members having the option to adapt a short scene from their favorite novel and share within their small group.

Lena Ruth Yasutake is a teacher with two decades of experience in History and Drama. She is co-proprietress of Cassandra’s Closet and a costume designer, specializing in the Regency period. She has written, directed, and costumed a production of Sense and Sensibility for the stage. Lena is a member of the JASNA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and is dedicated to bringing the joys of Austen's writings to new, younger, and even more diverse audiences.

Trenell Mooring is an actress and writer. Over the last twenty years she has performed on stage, in film, at theme parks and more. Her stage roles include Elizabeth Bennet in Kate Hamil's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in 2019. Her love of cosplay is perhaps best expressed through her popular YouTube channel, “Miss Tre.” Trenell recognized an opportunity in historical costuming, to create inclusion and celebrate Black culture; bringing together African textiles with Regency silhouettes.

Anything Slovenly: Adapting Austen to Comics

Georgie Castilla, New York Metropolitan Region
Thursday, October 14, 6:30 pm-7:20 pm

Emma by Georgie Castilla of DuniathComics
Jane Austen’s classics are making it big in the world of comics, manga, and graphic novels: from self-published and indie works to big-budget adaptations by Marvel. This interactive presentation walks audiences through the process of adapting Austen to art forms that rely heavily on visual composition and graphic storytelling. With digital illustrations being drawn live, audiences will experience the creation of a comic page based on Emma—from sketch to colors—while discussing how diverse art styles are bringing Austen’s genius to new generations.

Georgie Castilla is a NYC-based lyricist, production designer, and costume designer for film and theatre, and a freelance comic artist and illustrator. He is the founder of DuniathComics and creator of Regency era–inspired webcomics “Garden of the Year” and “Spinsterly Ever After,” as well as the LGBTQ+ slice-of-life strip “Your Sense & My Sensibility.” He is currently working on adapting Austen’s Emma to graphic novel. Georgie is a member of the JASNA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, as well as the ad hoc Search Committee tasked with finding an Ombudsperson to assist JASNA members regarding EDI concerns.

Whiteness: Beauty and Ugliness in Regency Dress

Amelia Rauser, Franklin & Marshall College
Thursday, October 14, 7:30 pm-8:20 pm

The most fashionable regency dress was overwhelmingly, distinctively white, with white-on-white embellishment and white accessories; as it draped women’s bodies, it seemed to dignify them as living sculptures and analogize their skin to marble. Whiteness was also central to neoclassical aesthetics, which prized purity and austerity and focused on contour instead of surface. Yet this dress also incorporated gestures to the plantation culture and enslaved people of the West Indies: turbans, hoop earrings, and especially plaid madras cloth. In this talk, we’ll explore the racialization of white regency dress, its material reality as a product of colonialist exploitation, and its participation in the discourse of citizenship and subjectivity circa 1800.

Amelia Rauser is Professor of Art History and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Franklin & Marshall College. She is the author of The Age of Undress: Art, Fashion, and the Classical Ideal in the 1790s (Yale UP, 2020), and a 2008 book on political caricature in the eighteenth century, Caricature Unmasked, as well as numerous articles on European and American art, fashion, and visual culture. She has served as President of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture (HECAA), and was Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in India in 2019.

Portrait of a Young Woman, attributed to Jean Antoine Laurent, c. 1795.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Louis V. Bell, in memory of her husband, 1925

Exploring Austen and the Arts in the Jane Austen Collection at Goucher College

Juliette Wells, Goucher College, and Kristen Welzenbach, Goucher College
Friday, October 15, 9:00 am-9:50 am

Juliette Wells and Kristen Welzenbach will offer a lively introduction to the multifaceted Jane Austen Collection at Goucher, highlighting this year’s AGM theme of the arts. They will share exciting news about recent acquisitions from generous JASNA members and will offer the opportunity to see a few historic books and objects up close.

Juliette Wells, Professor of Literary Studies at Goucher College, is the author of two histories of Austen’s readers—Reading Austen in America and Everybody’s Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination—and is working on a third. For Penguin Classics, she created 200th-anniversary editions of Persuasion and Emma. Her most recent publication on Austen and the arts is “Intimate Portraiture and the Accomplished Woman Artist in Emma,” in the collection Art and Artifact in Austen.

Kristen Welzenbach is the curator of Goucher College’s Special Collections & Archives, the official repository of the JASNA Archives. Kristen oversees the management of historical records, ephemeral collections, and rare books related Jane Austen. She works closely with faculty and staff to use these unique historical materials for teaching and scholarship.

Reflection and Change: Social Dance 1790 to 1817 and the Shape of the Space

Allison Thompson, Pittsburgh Region
Friday, October 15, 10:00 am-10:50 am

The five "Positions of Dancing" from Thomas Wilson's
Analysis of Country Dancing, 1811
Dance both reflects social trends and can act as an agent for change. More than just a satisfying social and performative experience, dance reflects attitudes about the body, about class relations, and about the relations between men and women. The waxing and waning popularity of certain social dance forms in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries changed the architecture of public and private spaces. Images and rarely-seen videos will illuminate the basic dance forms of Austen’s life—the country dance, the waltz, the reel, and the quadrille—and suggest how these dance forms reflected both shifts in society and changes in architecture.

Allison Thompson is a dance historian, folk musician, English country dance teacher, JASNA Life Member, and former President of the Pittsburgh Region. She has contributed several articles to Persuasions On-Line on the topic of dance in Austen’s time. Other works include edited collections of modern English country dances as well as the book May Day Festivals in America, 1830 to the Present which examines the huge festivals held at women’s colleges and in city parks. Her most recent work, fifteen years in the making, is Dances From Jane Austen’s Assembly Rooms, a compendium of dances selected from Austen’s own collection as well as popular dances of the day, poetry, songs, commentary and discussion.

George Polgreen Bridgetower (1779-1860) and Other Musicians of Color in Georgian England

Dr. Johann S. Buis, Wheaton College
Friday, October 15, 7:00 pm-7:50 pm

George Bridgetower, by an unknown German artist, c. 1800
London-based George Polgreen Bridgewater (1779-1860)—the Black British violinist and child prodigy—lived in Bath at the same time as Jane Austen. It was during this period that he met Beethoven on a visit to Vienna in 1803.

Bridgetower, one of at least 4,500 Black persons in London, was employed by the Prince Regent (later King George IV). Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) writer, composer, and harpsichordist—born into slavery unlike Bridgetower—entered British genteel society a generation earlier than the violin virtuoso. The contrasting lives of these two (and other) musicians of color in Jane Austen’s Georgian England expand the picture of arts and letters during this period.

Dr. Johann S. Buis, tenured in musicology at the University of Georgia (1989-97) and Wheaton College (2003-present), conducts research ranging from performance history of early music to the aesthetics and reception history of black music. He is the co-author of Shout Because You're Free! The Ring Shout Tradition in Coastal Georgia (University of Georgia Press, 1998). A versatile public musicologist, he has published widely in journals such as College Music Symposium, Ethnomusicology, Early Music America, etc.

Reading of A.A. Milne’s Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Play from Pride and Prejudice

Ghostlight Ensemble
Friday, October 15, 8:00 pm-10:00 pm

Chicago’s own Ghostlight Ensemble will delight us with a very special reading of Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Play from Pride and Prejudice by A.A. Milne, the beloved author of Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne originally set out to write a play about Austen, but found instead found that “it was just Miss Elizabeth Bennet speaking.” While preserving the central plot of Pride and Prejudice—that of the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy—Milne put his own touches on the story. The work is most notable for Milne’s decision to strengthen the male perspective of the story. With his choices, Milne has presented us with a version of Austen’s story that has been filtered through the male gaze. Ghostlight will engage us with an additional talkback session with the actors and production team to discuss the differences between the script and the book, bringing the characters to life, and what considerations must be made in order to translate a story from page to stage, among other topics.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a play by A.A. Milne


Saturday, October 16, 8:00 pm-9:30 pm

Come try your hand at Whist. Nothing stirs us up like a little competition, among friends. If you’d rather just play for the enjoyment, there will be tables for that as well. There will, of course, be a prize or two.

2021 Young Filmmakers Contest Screening

Erika Kotite, Southwest Region
Saturday, October 16, 8:15 pm-9:05 pm

Join us for a spirited screening of the top short films that are all inspired by Jane Austen. We will gather together theatre style for a lively hour to watch the winning entries, hear from the makers themselves and listen to comments from the judges. The Young Filmmakers Contest, run by the Southwest Region, began in 2017 at the Huntington Beach AGM. Now an annual tradition, the contest draws entrants from all over North America. Judges this year are: Amy Heckerling, Gurinder Chadha, Laura Rister, Sonali Dev, Suzanne Allain and Ty Burr.

Pub Trivia Tournament

Lauren Burke and Debra Miller, Greater Chicago Region
Saturday, October 16, 9:10 pm-10:00 pm

We will close our Saturday evening ball alternatives with a Pub Trivia Tournament! Jane Austen (or rather actress Debra Miller) and Lauren Burke of the podcast Bonnets at Dawn will lead an exciting contest, so plan your teams of 4-6 people and prepare to compete for Austen-related prizes.