Breakout Sessions

“...such of us as wished to learn never wanted the means.”

There will be five breakout sessions at the 2023 AGM. During registration, attendees may choose one speaker from each of the five sessions, A through E.

2023 New Voices Breakout Speaker

Deborah Paquin, Southwest Region

Having been told that women shouldn't go to college, Deborah Paquin paid her own way to USC, where she majored in International Business Studies and won a scholarship to the London School of Economics for graduate study. As principal of her own firm, she specializes in public relations for semiconductor companies. Four years ago, an accident left her with disabilities including a brain injury and impaired vision—and it motivated her to follow her heart. She enrolled at Chapman University to study English and creative writing and discovered Jane Austen in the process. In 2021 she completed her English Master's thesis, Black Panther Shatters Social Binaries to Explore Postcolonial Themes: How Ancestry, Identity, Revenge, and the Third Space Impact the Ability to Navigate Change and Create New Forms of Cultural Hybridity, and she plans to earn her creative writing Master's degree this year.

Deborah Paquin’s presentation, Old Money, New Money, No Money: The Role of Carriages in Pride and Prejudice, appears as Breakout A4. See description below.


A1. Carolyn J. Brown, North Carolina Region

Jason Solinger, University of Mississippi

Teaching Austen in the Age of TikTok

In 2022, two classes of Mississippi-based GenZ students set out to reimagine Austen’s classic. This multimedia session offers a chance to see some of the creative and critical work these students produced. Expect entertainment—film, TikTok videos, comic monologues, podcast excerpts, and news parodies—as well as instruction. Whether you’re a teacher or someone interested in the ways the study of literature remains vital in 2023, come learn about how new approaches to teaching and learning are both reinvigorating the study and appreciation of Austen’s fiction and bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world.

Carolyn J. Brown is a writer and teacher who now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is chair of the JASNA Nominating Committee, the former chair of the JASNA Grants Committee, and founder and former Regional Coordinator of JASNA-Mississippi. She has published essays on Austen in several journals, including Persuasions, and has presented at two previous AGMs. For the past five years, she has taught a Jane Austen seminar for high school seniors.

Jason Solinger is an associate professor of English at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity as well as essays on Austen and 18th-century literature and culture. His current book project examines the ways conversations about Austen have shaped our ideas about literature. Jason spoke at the 2020 AGM, and he enjoys speaking at regional JASNA events as well.

A2. Catherine Hayes, Southwest Region

Bookending the Bennets: Common Themes in Pamela, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre

This session will discuss common themes in both main text and subtext among Pamela, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. We will explore relationships (romantic, familial, and cross-class), plot points, and the place of each protagonist in her environment. The melodrama of Pamela’s sham marriage, Mr. Rochester’s passion and deceit, Pamela’s fervent religious belief, Helen Burns’s gentle soul, Jane Eyre’s loneliness—all resonate with Austen’s story. The novels offer subtle and varying insights on the accomplished gentlewoman and her place in the world, which we will examine in depth in order to enrich the experience of reading Austen’s masterpiece.

Catherine Hayes is a lifelong Austen enthusiast and a member of JASNA Southwest, where she serves as coordinator of the San Fernando Valley reading group. She is an amateur scholar of the fiction and drama of the 18th and 19th centuries, with a particular interest in the light these works shine on women’s lives. She holds a doctorate in applied mathematics but promises that there will be no quiz at the end of her presentation.

A3. Inger Brodey, North Carolina Region

West of Austen

In his 1902 seminal novel, The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains, Owen Wister's rough-hewn main character courts a more sophisticated Eastern lady. One of her tests for the cowboy is having him read two Jane Austen novels. He reads Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and his response to them is both mixed and telling. Why does one of the foundational novels of the American Western reference Jane Austen? What does Austen represent for the American audience of the turn of the twentieth century? These are some of the questions that this talk will attempt to answer.

A comparative literature scholar teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Inger Brodey has twice been a JASNA North American Scholar plenary speaker (in Seattle and Louisville). She is a former JASNA West Traveling Lecturer and currently serves as a JASNA East Traveling Lecturer. She is also a former board member and two-time JASNA essay contest winner. Her talk this year is colored by her own experience as an immigrant from Denmark to the ‘wild West.’

A4. Deborah Paquin, Southwest Region

2023 New Voices Breakout Speaker

Old Money, New Money, No Money: The Role of Carriages in Pride and Prejudice

Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen uses carriages as a financial shorthand to indicate wealth, class, status-seeking, and economic dependency. This session will delve into the economics and status represented by carriages to explore how Austen uses the dual nature of carriage mobility to define her characters and drive plot lines. Together, we will seek answers to questions such as, how does Elizabeth exert her independence through her transportation choices? How do Austen’s omissions help define the Gardiners’ role in the Bennets’ lives as well as in society? Can we decipher Mr. Darcy’s true character strictly through the rhetoric of carriages?

Deborah Paquin is the 2023 New Voices Breakout Speaker. See her short biography at the top of this page.

A5. Kathryn Libin, Vassar College

Mary Bennet and the Rocky Road to Accomplishment

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen turns a critical eye upon the notion of accomplishment, and musical accomplishment in particular. Her most damning critique emerges in her handling of Mary Bennet, who pursues music with earnest dedication, yet falls disastrously short of her aspirations. Austen's portrayal of Mary Bennet brings the author into dialogue with other writers who questioned the necessity for musical accomplishment in young women's education. This session will examine the nature of Mary Bennet's musical education, given the hints offered by Austen, and analyze her difficulties in light of concerns expressed by contemporary educators and social critics.

Kathryn L. Libin is Professor of Music on the Mary Conover Mellon Chair Vassar College. She studies 18th- and early 19th-century music, including music in Jane Austen's life and novels. She has presented talks at 12 JASNA AGMs and regional meetings, and published articles in Persuasions (vols. 19, 22, and 28), as well as Elegance, Propriety, Harmony: Jane Austen and the Arts (2013), and Edinburgh Companion to Jane Austen and the Arts (forthcoming). She teaches a course at Vassar on Jane Austen & Music.

A6. Jess House, University of Kansas

Negotiating the Rocky Terrain of Adaptations: Defining the Terms of the Darcy Wars

As rocky as the romance is between Elizabeth and Darcy, so also is the relationship that fans have with the film adaptations of the novel. Bitter battles have been waged between the Firthites and the Macfadyenians over who deserves to be crowned the ultimate Mr. Darcy. This breakout session will take a lighthearted look at these skirmishes while also introducing a new conversation in adaptation studies—applying the military combat principle of “center of gravity” to adaptation as opposed to strict “character fidelity.” Join us as we clarify the battle lines and seek resolution to the Darcy Wars.

Jess House holds a master’s degree in English and is a PhD student in Literature at the University of Kansas. As a fangirl turned academic, she specializes in adaptation studies with a focus on Jane Austen. Prior to her graduate studies, Jess published young adult novels and Austen adaptations under the pen name Jessica Grey.

A7. Lesley Peterson, Winnipeg Region

Writer’s Block, Road Blocks, Blockheads: Jane Austen’s Rocky Road to Acceptable Satire of the Clergy

Austen family theatricals regularly featured social and political satire—but not satire of the clergy. Is Mr. Collins a sanitized version of the unsavory priest in Samuel Richardson’s novel Sir Charles Grandison? Jane Austen put this priest center stage in Act 2 of her play (1792–1800) based on Richardson’s novel. Why did eight years pass between Act 1 and Act 2? Was it writer’s block? Or censorship? This session will invite participants to bring to life some of Mr. Collins’s ancestors in fiction and drama, and will facilitate a debate on Austen’s very different options as playwright and novelist.

Lesley Peterson was until her retirement Professor of English at the University of North Alabama, where she taught Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Currently she is Editor of the Journal of Juvenilia Studies. She has presented at three previous JASNA AGMs, has published on Jane Austen in Persuasions and elsewhere, and recently co-edited Austen’s “Sir Charles Grandison” for the Juvenilia Press. She is writing a book on Jane Austen as dramatist.


B1. Catherine Sweeting, Hudson County Community College, NJ

The Bennet Female Agency

The Bennet female agency is not a detective firm, but an exploration of how the Bennet women exert female agency. In the Regency era, choices, options, and agency for women were limited. This session will explore five ways the Bennet women exercise control over their lives and destinies, particularly as it relates to finding a suitable partner. The presentation will touch upon Jane Austen’s employment of female agency in her female characters’ lives, and will reference writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf. Use of the NearPod app will enhance this interactive presentation.

Katie Sweeting is Professor of English at Hudson County Community College, focusing on World and British Literature. In 2015, she was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to study Slavery in the American Republic, researching her historical novel on Olaudah Equiano. She was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru grant and taught two courses at Fergusson College, Pune, India, in 2022, along with founding a Jane Austen Book Club.

B2. Maria Clara Biajoli, Federal University of Alfenas, Brazil

The Rocky Road to Translating Pride and Prejudice into Brazilian Portuguese

One could argue that the most careful, and yet the most confusing, reading of a novel is made by its translator. This session will examine the obstacles and solutions, but also the discoveries, encountered during the translation of Pride and Prejudice into Brazilian Portuguese for a non-academic edition. We will briefly see the history of Austen’s translations and popularity in Brazil, and then discuss examples of Austen’s sentences, words, and even personal pronouns that threatened to frustrate this project and daringly demanded creativity and some freedom from the original, while highlighting the genius of the author.

Maria Clara Biajoli is Professor of English at Federal University of Alfenas, Brazil, where she teaches Jane Austen and other writers of the 18th and 19th centuries. She became a member of JASNA in Montreal in 2014 and is now part of the Virtual Region. She has presented papers at three previous AGMs and contributed a recorded presentation in 2021. She has published papers about Austen in Persuasions and other academic journals.

B3. Rebecca Dickson, University of Colorado, Boulder

Believing in Pride and Prejudice, Believing in Jane Austen

In this session, we will explore Jane Austen’s investigation of belief. The term “belief” here refers not to religious views but rather to the strong and often inaccurate interpersonal and social beliefs that people can hold. Centuries before scientists were able to measure belief’s potent effects on the human brain, Jane Austen dissected belief in her novels, revealing its ability to empower and imperil the believer. We will consider the physiology of belief, and we will also examine what believing in Jane Austen, in her characters and in her abilities as a writer, does for us as readers.

Rebecca Dickson is a Teaching Associate Professor who teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado, Boulder; she holds a doctorate in 19th-century English literature. She has published an essay on Jane Austen, entitled "Misrepresenting Jane Austen's Ladies,” which appeared in the book Jane Austen in Hollywood (1998). Dickson’s book Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury (2008) was published by Metro Books. Her short essay “Jane Austen, Multi-tasker” appeared in Jane Austen Knits (2011).

B4. Collins Hemingway, Southern Oregon Region

A Heart Full of Wonder: Pride and Prejudice

Having experimented with traditional forms in Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen applies the lessons learned in her third novel, Pride and Prejudice. This presentation shows what Austen achieves structurally and thematically when she writes a story afresh, systematically breaking down her new and lively techniques. The talk also examines the way Austen delves deeply, for the first time, into the heart and mind of a heroine. By stripping away historical writing techniques and influences, Austen writes the most successful and popular of the three Steventon novels.

Collins Hemingway is a frequent speaker at JASNA’s annual general meetings. He was JASNA’s Traveling Lecturer for the West, 2020-2022. He has published in the academic journals of JASNA and the Jane Austen Society of Australia and is a regular contributor to the magazine Jane Austen’s Regency World. This talk is based on essays about Austen’s development as a writer.

B5. Susan Allen Ford, Mississippi Region

The Heritage of Charles Bingley: The Children of the Abbey and Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen began First Impressions in October 1796. Earlier that year, Regina Maria Roche’s sentimental gothic The Children of the Abbey was published. Recommended by Emma’s Harriet Smith to Robert Martin, The Children of the Abbey has another claim to consequence: a secondary hero named Sir Charles Bingley. What is the connection between Roche’s character and Austen’s? Examining Mr. Bingley’s fictional ancestor highlights differing approaches to male constancy and male power, and to female constancy and female reputation. This session will also speculate about the shift from First Impressions to the “light, and bright, and sparkling” Pride and Prejudice.

Susan Allen Ford has been Editor of Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line since 2006, has been a JASNA Traveling Lecturer, and has spoken at many AGMs. She is Professor of English Emerita at Delta State University and has published essays on Jane Austen and her contemporaries, the gothic, detective fiction, and Shakespeare. She is finishing a book on what Austen’s characters are reading, Jane Austen’s ‘Great Readers’: When Characters Read Books.

B6. Avis Hewitt, West Michigan Region

“Not Handsome Enough to Tempt Me": Darcy’s Etiquette and Ethics

Who sustains our wild enthusiasm for Pride and Prejudice? Isn’t it Darcy? His mix of condescension with diffidence, of aloof posturing with struggles at sociability quickly damns him among Hertfordshire locals. Though not rakish, he does find himself in need of a bit of reform. Ten thousand a year and turned down in his marriage proposal? Something is not working for him. Perhaps our fervent regard for this novel lies in Darcy’s self-determined self-improvement. While Elizabeth merely frets, Darcy actually owns his flawed performance of privilege. His reformation is, in the main, his own disciplined doing, and his evolution from pompous to principled admirably engages equal parts etiquette and ethics.

Avis Hewitt, Professor Emerita at Grand Valley State University, focused for over two decades mainly on American writers and works. She served six years as editor of Cheers!: The Flannery O’Connor Society Newsletter, organized an international O’Connor conference, and co-edited Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism, while also publishing essays in The John Updike Review, Christianity and Literature, Renascence, and The Flannery O’Connor Review. Recently, she has turned her literary focus to British women writers, teaching a course on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and delving enthusiastically into the world of Jane Austen’s work and the rich scholarly context that surrounds her novels.

B7. Allison Thompson, Western Pennsylvania Region

Jane Austen, DragonRider

Recently, the world of Austen fan fiction has expanded beyond zombies to include werewolves, vampires, mummies, angels, demons, mages, fairies, and dragons—but not unicorns. (Why not unicorns?) Why should this fantastical genre be so popular and what do these different creatures tell us about the basic P&P story? Critically, what are the key elements in creating a successful P&P “variation”—elements that work across all genres? Is Austen fantasy fanfic worth reading beyond its novelty aspect, and are there tools to help readers select works that they will enjoy? Finally, would Jane have approved of dragons?

Writer, historian, musician, and English country dance teacher Allison Thompson has explored the intersection of Austen and popular culture with articles examining the trinkets that fans can buy or craft and what those objects say about them. She has spoken at the Portland and Chicago AGMs. Her most recent book is Dances from Jane Austen’s Assembly Rooms, a collection of dance music enhanced by descriptive essays and period commentary. She posts on these and other topics on her blog, “Allison Thompson, Writer.”


C1. Elizabeth Gilliland Rands, Alabama Region

Gossip, Girl: The Power of Rumor in Pride and Prejudice

Gossip has long been attributed to girls, women, and the communities they form and has often been dismissed as silly, petty, and dangerous. Yet gossip subtly influences the plot of Pride and Prejudice, from the general dislike of Mr. Darcy, to Lady Catherine’s engagement-intervention. Austen provides a surprisingly nuanced outlook on gossip, showing how it can be both positive and negative. Further, the use of gossip indicates the subtle power of women to be volitional agents with the ability to shape their world.

Elizabeth Gilliland Rands graduated from Louisiana State University in 2018 with her PhD in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. She is the winner of the 2017 JASNA Essay Contest (Graduate Level) and has presented at previous JASNA AGMs as well as other conferences. She teaches at St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Mobile, AL, and is the author of the Austen University Mysteries series, including What Happened on Box Hill and The Portraits of Pemberley.

C2. Linda Troost, Washington & Jefferson College

Sayre Greenfield, University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg

The Many Colors of Austen

Recent adaptations of Pride and Prejudice reflect our diverse and colorful modern world. It turns out that Austen’s focus on three or four families in a country village transfers adeptly to modern equivalents: African American, Japanese American, and South Asian diasporic communities can stand in for those villages. Publishers are recognizing that there is a market for updates that speak directly to a wider audience. These updatings preserve the crucial features that define Austen, but they also show the world as it now is and acknowledge the range of cultures and skin tones among current and future Austen readers.

Linda Troost is professor of English at Washington & Jefferson College, and Sayre Greenfield is professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Together, they edited Jane Austen in Hollywood, the book that initiated the field of Austen adaptation studies. They have published articles on Jane Austen and lectured on her work at eight JASNA AGMs. In the spring of 2015, they were both visiting fellows at the Chawton House Library in Hampshire. They are life members of JASNA.

C3. Melanie Hayden, Metropolitan Kansas City Region

From Old Friends and New Fancies to Fire Island: Why We Keep Coming Back to Lizzie Bennet

What makes a heroine for the ages? In Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen created a beloved heroine who has been revisited and reimagined hundreds of times by authors and directors all over the world. Readers have embraced Lizzie as a Regency-era detective, a modern-day poet, a punk-loving time traveler, and much more. This session will examine, with a heavy emphasis on recent pop culture, the many portrayals of Lizzie Bennet in film, television, and written form as a basis for understanding her enduring popularity across time periods, cultures, and genres.

Melanie Hayden is a non-profit professional currently serving as the Director of Foundation Relations at a social services agency. She leads a monthly Jane Austen discussion group that often includes companion novels, screen adaptations, and biographical works to better understand Austen’s influences and popularity.

C4. Juliet McMaster, Edmonton, Alberta Region

Characters Characterizing: The Netherfield Chapters

Like the "3 or 4 families in a country village" that are "the very thing for a novel," one might say that "a family on a country estate with unexpected visitors" is the very thing for the play-within-a-novel—the Netherfield chapters (7 to 12) in Pride and Prejudice. Here the characters take over the novelist's job of characterization: Elizabeth is defined as “as studier of character,” Bingley is placed on the analyst's couch and diagnosed with dangerous ductility, and Darcy is accused of “implacable resentment.” The episode is a concise preview of the action that is to come.

Juliet McMaster is a founding member of JASNA and a frequent speaker. Now retired from teaching at the University of Alberta, she is the author of books on Thackeray, Trollope, Dickens, and several on Jane Austen, including Jane Austen on Love and Jane Austen, Young Author, and she is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen.

C5. Jessica Volz, Denver/Boulder Region

Prospects, Proposals, and the Power of Refusal: Visuality and the Heroine’s Journey from “No” to “Yes” in Pride and Prejudice

This session will explore how Austen’s use of visuality and her empowerment of the female gaze are foundational to depicting Elizabeth Bennet’s prospect navigation as she reacts to three marriage proposals. Austen herself accepted a proposal of marriage in 1802, only to change her mind overnight, remaining single for life. Drawing from Austen’s letters and aesthetic vocabulary of character, the presentation will illustrate that while conforming outwardly to societal pressures on women to marry for economic security, her heroine pursues heartfelt happiness more than wealth. From Austen’s “yes–no” to Elizabeth’s “no–no–yes,” self-determination becomes the destination of their own dictation.

Dr. Jessica A. Volz, a Denver native, is the author of Visuality in the Novels of Austen, Radcliffe, Edgeworth and Burney (Anthem Press) and an Ambassador of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation. Her independent research focuses on the forms and functions of visuality in late 18th- and early 19th-century women’s novels. She works as a writer, editor, and translator and has employed her fluency in Austen’s art of persuasion to draft winning proposals for attorneys.

C6. Linda Slothouber, Metropolitan Washington, DC, Region, Moderator, and Session Attendees

Lydia Bennet: Fool or Force of Nature?

The discussion circle format encourages participants to express their thoughts and react to others’ ideas as we consider the youngest Bennet sister. Mr. Bennet mentions Lydia’s “insignificance” and Elizabeth sees her as “easy prey,” but Lydia imagines herself in a more active role, “flirting with at least six officers at once.” How do we interpret these different views? What makes Lydia’s elopement different from Georgiana Darcy’s intended one? What do we make of the many strong descriptors (self-willed, untamed, fearless) lavished on Lydia in the novel’s narration? What do we suppose Jane Austen thought about her?

Moderator Linda Slothouber is JASNA’s Conference Director. AGM attendees from all backgrounds are invited to take a place in the circle and speak, or simply listen to the discussion of one of Austen’s most memorable characters.

C7. Angela Carmela Fantone, Utah Region

Finding “The Austen Formula” in Pride and Prejudice and Modern Young Adult Adaptations

This session will present character tropes found in Pride and Prejudice and address how they have become a key formula both in the novel and how it is interpreted. The focus will be on “the Austen Formula” and how it possibly influences other novels by Austen and the romance genre. Then, two contemporary young adult adaptations of the novel, namely Pride and Premediation by Tirzah Price and Being Mary Bennet by J.C. Peterson, will be compared with regard to how they interpret this formula as a case study on Austen’s influence in young adult literature.

Angela Fantone is a MA English student at Weber State University. Her research interests include British and anglophonic world literature, women’s literature, young adult literature, adaptation studies, and memory studies. As an international student from the Philippines, she is interested in bringing multicultural perspectives to Austen’s works.


D1. Theresa Kenney, University of Dallas

Silence, Sublimity, and Joy in Pride and Prejudice

Austen portrays happiness perhaps better than any other author. In the chapters that unite Lizzy and Darcy, she describes an experience of pathlessness and timelessness to express the inexpressible. Her use of silence partakes of the romantic concept of the sublime because it begins when words fail. Austen unexpectedly uses silence to evoke joy and the sublime in crucial scenes between her most articulate heroine and hero. We will assess several film versions of the final scene in a lively discussion after the presentation.

University of Dallas Professor Theresa Kenney has published on Austen, Bronte, Dante, Dickens, Donne, and Southwell, and authored Women Are Not Human: An Anonymous Treatise and Responses and All Wonders in One Sight: The Christ Child Among the Elizabethan and Stuart Poets. She edited and contributed to The Christ Child in Medieval Culture: Alpha es et O! Currently revising Last Impressions: Jane Austen’s Endings, she is also writing a Girardian study of Pride and Prejudice.

D2. Jenny Rytting, Northwest Missouri State University

A Rock-Solid Foundation: Personal Construct Psychology and Identity Building

This interactive breakout session will examine the identity building performed by the four central characters in Pride and Prejudice—Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Bingley—through the lens of George A. Kelly’s Personal Construct Psychology. Together we’ll look at key moments where these characters question their assumptions and change their views (or, in Kelly’s terms, revise their constructs) and how their doing so paves the way for romance by forming rock-solid foundations on which relationships can be built.

Jenny Rebecca Rytting is a Professor of English at Northwest Missouri State University (specializing in British Literature from Beowulf to Austen) and a life member of JASNA (Metropolitan Kansas City Region). She has published in Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line and presented at the Williamsburg and Victoria AGMs and for the Kansas City, Iowa, and Nebraska regions. She attributes her keen interest in human nature to both Jane Austen and her psychologist parents.

D3. Laura Klein, Colorado Christian University

Pride & Prejudice and the Piano

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an accomplished woman in possession of a musical skill must be in want of an instrument. This was no less true for Jane Austen than for her beloved characters. This session will discuss the presence of the piano in Jane's life and its rich influence on her writing, specifically Pride and Prejudice, by exploring connections between her novel and the music in her collection. Note: this session will complement the AGM special session, The Jane Austen Playlist: Pride and Prejudice, by providing a behind-the-scenes-glimpse into the playlist's creation.

Laura Klein, M.M., Denver-based pianist and affiliate faculty at Colorado Christian University, is pursuing her Ph.D. in Historical and Performance Practice Musicology at University of Colorado, Boulder, where her research focuses on the Austen family music collection. She has created and presented multiple programs in the United States and United Kingdom since founding The Jane Austen Playlist in 2019, most recently at Jane Austen’s House for Pride and Prejudice Day 2023 as a Reimagine Resident.

D4. Rachel Gevlin, Birmingham-Southern College

Jane Austen: Protofeminist, Postfeminist, Bad Feminist

This session will consider scholarly and public perceptions of Jane Austen’s gender politics (a famously rocky subject) in conversation with Austen’s most written-about, adapted, and materially reproduced novel. Making use of both literary criticism and 20th-century ephemera from the Jane Austen Collection at Goucher College, we will trace a brief history of both scholarly and public debates around Austen’s role as a feminist—particularly as it relates to this novel—and consider its bearing on the continuation of these debates today.

Rachel Gevlin is Term Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in the history of the novel, masculinity studies, and legal histories of marriage and divorce. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Eighteenth-Century Life, and ELH, which published her essay “Adulterous Austen: Educating the Rake in Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park” in 2020. In 2021, she presented on Austen and divorce law for JASNA’s Metropolitan Washington, DC, Region.

D5. Jessica McGivney, New York Metropolitan Region

Seeds on Rocky Ground: Sowing Social Capital in Pride and Prejudice

Awareness of social status and influence are part of daily life for the characters of Pride and Prejudice. They are keenly aware of their own position and how it can be strengthened by their associations with others, such as through receipt of gifts, patronage, and through marriage. Parallel to this, however, is the characters’ awareness of their own ability to be of use to, or be used by, others seeking to do the same. For some characters in the novel, where they sow their social capital is a grave concern. What factors do they consider—and why expend it at all?

Jessica McGivney is a librarian at Farmingdale State College. She previously presented at the 2020 AGM, and her essay “What if Jane Austen Were Reading Mary Wollstonecraft in the Analytical Review?” was published in Persuasions On-Line. A frequent re-reader of Jane Austen, her other research interests include the intersections of the long 18th century, life writing, and film.

D6. Elizabeth Steele, Eastern Pennsylvania Region

Caroline Bingley: Darcy’s Faithful Assistant

On first reading Pride and Prejudice, readers immediately understand that Caroline Bingley was a no-good, horrible, very bad character, as Jane Austen had intended them to. But what was Jane Austen thinking in creating a character so very disagreeable and then sprinkling her throughout a novel known for being “light, and bright, and sparkling”? We’ll look at the various ways Austen brings Caroline Bingley to the fore in order to disclose Darcy’s growing feelings for Elizabeth Bennet, to move the plot forward, and to entertain.

Elizabeth Jane Steele has served as Regional Coordinator, AGM Coordinator for the 2009 JASNA AGM, Vice President for Conferences, JASNA’s 800 number operator, and in other JASNA positions. She has published essays in Persuasions 29 and 32, and last year gave her first AGM breakout talk. A former information technology professional, she is currently teaching a class about Pride and Prejudice through the Center for Learning in Retirement.

D7. Devoney Looser, Arizona State University

The Colorful History of Pride and Prejudice, from Page to Stage to Screen

This session considers the novel’s pioneering stage and screen adaptations, looking at actors cast in its roles. Adaptations have long shaped how we envision Austen’s characters, from amateur theatricals of the 1890s, to an apparently unmade silent film in the 1910s, to the star-studded MGM screen debut in 1940. You’ll leave knowing more names and faces, famous and not, of those who played or were almost cast as Elizabeth Bennet. We will also pore over the actor-Darcys (some female) who tackled the role or were passed over for it, before Olivier, Firth, and MacFadyen—perhaps discovering new favorites in the process.

Devoney Looser, Regents Professor at Arizona State University, is author or editor of ten books, including Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës and The Making of Jane Austen. Looser, a Guggenheim Fellow and NEH Public Scholar, is a JASNA life member. Her essays have appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, The TLS, and The Washington Post, and her Austen lessons are available through Wondrium/Great Courses.


E1. Lynda Hall, Chapman University

Gretna Green, Elopement, and Marriage Laws in Pride and Prejudice

When Lydia disappears from Brighton, it is assumed that “she has gone off to Scotland” with Wickham. For Austen’s initial readers, no footnote would be needed. This breakout session will provide that necessary context, explaining the history of Gretna Green in Scotland, Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753, clandestine marriages, the posting of banns, and the special license that Darcy must have obtained to facilitate the marriage of Lydia and Wickham. We will also consider how these laws and customs influenced the various other proposals and marriages in the novel.

Lynda Hall is Associate Professor and Chair of English at Chapman University, specializing in Austen and the English gothic novel. She has served as a JASNA Traveling Lecturer; has presented at nine AGMs; and has had essays published in various journals, including Persuasions, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and Texas Studies in Language and Learning, as well as chapters in various books on Austen. She published Jane Austen and "Value": Settling, Speculating, and Superfluity in 2017.

E2. Harriet Jordan, International Region—Australia

“Such different accounts of you": Representations of Darcy on Screen

This session will examine the presentation of Mr. Darcy in film and television adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. It will consider which aspects of the character each version chose to emphasize, which aspects were downplayed, what was changed from Jane Austen’s work, and how interpretations of Darcy have differed over the years. The primary focus will be on the “faithful” adaptations (1940, 1967, 1980, 1995, and 2005), but there will also be reference to some of the looser adaptations and modernizations, including (but not limited to) Bride & Prejudice and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Harriet Jordan is the creator and co-host of the podcast Reading Jane Austen. She has presented at the Jane Austen Society of Australia (JASA) Conference and other conferences. She has been on the JASA committee since 2021 and is currently Vice President.

E3. Sue Scott, North Carolina Region

Is My Idiolect Showing?: Individualized Speech Patterns in Austen’s Novels

We all have our own idiolect, or way of talking, and research has shown the same is true for Austen’s characters. We’ll look at this research and explore Austen’s genius in developing unique idiolects. Which character uses the word "I" more than any other? What does Lydia’s use of the word “fun” say about her? Which characters say nothing at all? While focusing on Pride and Prejudice, we’ll also compare these characters’ distinctive habits of speech to those of other Austen novels.

Sue Scott is a retired librarian and a lifetime member of JASNA. She belongs to the North Carolina Region, where she has served as both Regional Coordinator and Treasurer, and is a regular presenter at their regional meetings. Sue was a breakout session speaker at the 2019 AGM, where her topic was “The Brothers of Northanger Abbey: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous.”

E4. Cinthia García Soria, International Region – Mexico

Stronger than Pride: Pride and Prejudice’s Popularity in the Spanish-Speaking World

Is Pride and Prejudice popular among Spanish-speaker readers? Why is it so? Which is its best edition in Spanish? Has it been illustrated? Which is the best translation? Why? What challenges do translators face? Are there many printed adaptations? How has it been adapted? This session on Spanish translations of Jane Austen’s works will showcase a few discoveries not recorded in Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen.

Cinthia García Soria is a translator with an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. She co-founded and co-hosts Jane Austen en castellano, the oldest Spanish-speaking online community on Jane Austen. She was selected as the 2022 JASNA AGM New Voices Speaker and presented at the AGM in Victoria.

E5. Lona Manning, Vancouver Region

“Held Up To Ridicule”: Mary Bennet as a Comic Stereotype

Mary Bennet is the middle child who competes for attention by displaying her erudition and her accomplishments, such as they are, but nobody shows her any sympathy. Why was Mary a comic figure in Austen’s time, when today she is more likely to elicit our compassion? This presentation will place Mary in literary context with an exploration of the now-forgotten stereotype of the “female pedant.” Mary shares many traits in common with this comic stock character. This lively talk will include brief excerpts from works by Molière, Henry Fielding, Sarah Burney, and more.

Lona Manning is a writer whose research has appeared in Persuasions On-Line and Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine. She is the author of four novels based on Mansfield Park and has written Austenesque short stories for the Quill Ink Collective. She is currently studying the tropes used in novels of the long 18th century and publishes her findings at her blog, “Clutching My Pearls.” She has previously presented for the JASNA Vancouver Region.

E6. Juliette Wells, Goucher College

Pride and Prejudice through American Eyes

What did American readers think of Pride and Prejudice, and how did they envision its characters, before the 1940 film? You’ll meet three important advocates for Austen whose work is little known today. Oscar Fay Adams’s Chapters from Jane Austen helped 1880s readers of all ages to understand and appreciate her novels. William Dean Howells’s essays “Heroines of Nineteenth-Century Fiction,” illustrated by the leading commercial artists of the day, encouraged turn-of-the-twentieth-century young women to view Austen as modern and appealing. Beginning in the 1920s, Charles Beecher Hogan privately recorded his insightful responses to Austen in never-before-seen reading journals.

Juliette Wells, Professor of Literary Studies at Goucher College, has twice served as a Traveling Lecturer, was an AGM plenary speaker in 2016, and has presented more than a dozen breakout and special interest sessions. She edited Emma and Persuasion for Penguin Classics and is the author of Everybody’s Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination (2011), Reading Austen in America (2017), and A New Jane Austen: How Americans Brought Us the World’s Greatest Novelist (forthcoming).

E7. Jo Ann Staples, Middle Tennessee Region

The Netherfield Ball: Dressing to Impress

Public and private balls form a notable backdrop for many of the most dramatic moments in Jane Austen’s fiction. The preparation for such an occasion was a full-time occupation for the young ladies of the neighborhood. With their family’s limited income, the Bennet sisters were forced to focus on accessories rather than new gowns. Investigating ball adornments through quotes from Austen’s writings and illustrations from contemporary paintings and fashion plates will help us understand what’s involved for the heroines who must make the most of their chances to shine on the dance floor.

Jo Ann Staples is retired from the Department of Mathematics at Vanderbilt University. She is a life member of JASNA and served as the co-coordinator of the Middle Tennessee Region for seven years. She has presented at three AGMs. For her local region, she has hosted dinners, organized balls, and presented numerous lectures. Her research interests center on Regency-era pastimes and food, and she is the author of Jane Austen’s Card Games.