Special Sessions

“I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for everybody.”

Important Things to Know about Special Sessions

Ticketed Special Sessions

The Jane Austen Playlist: Pride and Prejudice Program Premiere

Laura Klein, Denver-Boulder Region, and Guest Musicians & Performers

Thursday, November 2, 7:30pm - 9:00pm

We’ll raise the curtain on the AGM with an entirely new look at love and music in Regency England, created by pianist Laura Klein. The evening’s musical performance—including drama and period costumes—will feature songs from Jane Austen’s personal music collection, with a special focus on music that resonates with (or may even have inspired) her most beloved novel.

Laura Klein, a Denver-based pianist, is pursuing her PhD in Musicology at University of Colorado Boulder, where her research focuses on the Austen family music collection. Since founding The Jane Austen Playlist in 2019, she has created and performed programs throughout the United States and for Jane Austen’s House in England.

Being Mr. Wickham Viewing and Guest Appearance by Adrian Lukis

Friday, November 3, 8:00pm - 10:00pm

Friday’s evening entertainment begins with a showing of the recorded performance Being Mr. Wickham, starring Adrian Lukis, who so memorably embodied the rogue in the 1995 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Then the man himself will take the stage, in person, to talk about the creation of Being Mr. Wickham, share insights into his experience filming Pride and Prejudice, and give his perspective on Wickham as a character. A Q&A with the audience will follow.

Adrian Lukis has been acting since the tender age of nine, when he played St. George in the school play. He has enjoyed a varied and successful career in television, film, and theatre. Best known to JASNA members for his portrayal of Mr. Wickham, Lukis has had recurring roles in The Bill, Judge John Deed, Peak Practice, Toast of London, and 2022’s SAS: Rogue Heroes. He is a familiar face in British dramas and mysteries, including Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, Miss Marple, Death in Paradise, and Prime Suspect, as well as the speculative fiction series Black Mirror. Lukis co-wrote Being Mr. Wickham with Catherine Curzon.

Post-AGM Event: Traditional Afternoon Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver

Sunday, November 5, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

The Brown Palace is a famous destination for the full English afternoon tea experience. JASNA has reserved a private room for tea at the Brown Palace on Sunday, after the close of the AGM. Gather with JASNA friends old and new to enjoy traditional tea service, complete with a variety of teas, sandwiches, scones, and desserts. The elegant surroundings, impeccable service, and special touches just for Janeites will make for a truly memorable experience. Transportation is not included, but participants in other Denver tours on Sunday may be dropped off at the Brown Palace. See the Tours section for details.

Special Sessions Included in Attendee Registration Fee

Pride, Prejudice, and Toasted Cheese: The Rocky Relationship Between Biographers and Austen’s Love Life

Amy Franklin-Willis, Northern California Region

Thursday, November 2, 1:00pm - 1:45pm

Whatever the merits of toasted cheese, it is not a truth universally acknowledged that its procurement by a single man on behalf of a single woman signals a marriage proposal. This lively session will explore how biographers often over-interpret Austen’s romantic life as that of a super-dramatic Elizabeth Bennet, rather than relying on what the historical record indicates. When biographers fall prey to rapid imaginations that jump “from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment,” they become guilty of the same sin Mr. Darcy lays at the feet of women.

Amy Franklin-Willis is a doctoral candidate in creative writing at the University of Southampton (UK). Her supervisors are novelist and Austen descendant Rebecca Smith and Austen scholar Dr. Gillian Dow. Her dissertation novel explores Austen’s life through an unlikely friendship between a scholar and Austen’s ghost; it examines the role of biography in determining a woman writer’s place in history. She is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novel The Lost Saints of Tennessee.

Pride and Prejudice Potpourri

Thursday, November 2, 3:30pm - 4:30pm

In this exciting and fast-paced special session, a mix of seasoned and first-time AGM speakers will present a potpourri of mini-lectures on interesting aspects of Pride and Prejudice. They will use the PechaKucha format, in which each will show 20 slides for 20 seconds of commentary for each slide. A question-and-answer session for the whole group will follow. Mini-lectures include:

Lydia’s Bonnet and Other Headpieces on the High Street: What the Fashionable Regency Woman is Wearing

Renata Dennis, Georgia Region

Dennis will explore what Austen’s women would have worn on their heads at home, going on morning calls, and in the evening, and the status attached to all these accessories.
Renata Dennis is a Clinical Research Nurse at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and the Regional Coordinator for Georgia. Her addiction to all things Austen began after viewing the 1995 movie version of Persuasion.

Lost in Austen: Reworking Pride and Prejudice for a Contemporary Audience

Tabinda Khan, Toronto Region

Lost in Austen, a fantasy television adaptation, provides a critique of post-feminist society and presents a case for Austen’s pervasive popularity in our contemporary world.
Tabinda Khan specializes in nineteenth-century British Literature, specifically Austen’s Regency Era. Her research focuses on the economic and emotional difficulties of women of that time and how they still relate to our present world.

We Take No Leave of You, Lady Catherine: The Rocky Realities of Female Aging in the Regency and Today

Dr. Sarah J. Makowski, Virtual Region

Accustomed to being the center of attention, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is shocked at Lizzie Bennet’s indifference to her. Like many older women then and now, she has become invisible.
Dr. Sarah J. Makowski, author of Bitches in Bonnets: Life Lessons from Jane Austen’s Mean Girls, frequently speaks at the UK Jane Austen Festival and has written for Persuasions On-Line.

Communication and Personality in Pride and Prejudice

Jennifer Swenson, Greater Chicago Region

In an interesting juxtaposition of old and new, modern team building and communication theories are applied to Pride and Prejudice to show the brilliance of Austen’s mastery over human interaction.
Jennifer Swenson is the Quality Director for Electric Power Systems at Collins Aerospace. In addition to spending the last 15 years in various corporate leadership roles, she serves as RC for the Greater Chicago Region.

Lydia and Chamberlayne: The Joy of Cross Dressing

Constance Vidor, New York Metro Region

The episode in which Lydia Bennett helps to “dress up” a man as a woman is the springboard into this survey of cross-dressing in Austen’s era.
Constance Vidor is Director of Library Services at Friends Seminary, an independent K-12 school in New York City. Her interests are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, children’s literature, and French studies.

Candles, Flowers, and Chalk: Decorating the Netherfield Ballroom

Kim Wilson, Wisconsin Region

This session explores how the ballroom at Netherfield would have been elegantly decorated for the ball by Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst according to the fashions of upper-class society.
Kim Wilson is the author of At Home with Jane Austen, Tea with Jane Austen, In the Garden with Jane Austen, and the upcoming Entertaining Mr. Darcy. She is a 2022-23 JASNA traveling lecturer.

Darcy’s Fine Person

Kristen Miller Zohn, Georgia Region

Mrs. Gardiner’s assessment of Darcy’s pleasing mouth and dignified countenance and Elizabeth’s study of his portrait reflect the eighteenth-century concept of judging someone’s character through their facial features and expressions.
Art historian Kristen Miller Zohn is Executive Director of Costume Society of America and Curator of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. She is a frequent presenter at AGMs and contributor to JASNA’s journals.

First-Timers Welcome Session

Thursday, November 2, 4:45pm - 5:30pm

Get tips on making the most of your first AGM from JASNA Vice President for Conferences Debra Roush, and meet other first-timers and AGM veterans.

Ending A Marriage, Regency-Style

Jim Nagle, Puget Sound Region

Thursday, November 2, 4:45pm - 5:30pm

Ending a Regency marriage could be daunting! The formal processes could be complicated, lengthy, expensive, and very public and embarrassing, so one or both spouses often used other methods. One alternative was to desert the marriage and its obligations. Another was an agreement by the spouses to live apart but remain married. Such agreements were often formalized, using the most precise clauses. Another option was the Wife Sale—the wife would be led into a public market with a rope around her neck and sold to the highest bidder. This session will reveal these and other methods of dissolving marital ties and who was most likely to choose each one.

Jim Nagle is a semi-retired lawyer. A longtime member of JASNA and its former Secretary, he has spoken at numerous AGMs and to various regions, in person or via Zoom. Jim has also served as the JASNA Western lecturer. He has an abiding interest in the Regency. Jim’s talks have focused on such subjects as George III, the Army, Navy, Elections, Travel, Inheritance, and Death Rituals during Jane's life.

Darling Children: Pride and Prejudice in the Collections of Jane Austen’s House

Lizzie Dunford, Jane Austen’s House, Chawton

Friday, November 3, 9:30am - 10:15am

In January 1813, within the walls of the solid red-brick house at Chawton, Jane Austen and her mother read aloud from her own author’s copy of Pride and Prejudice, making this space not just the enabler of the creation of this extraordinary masterpiece, but also the witness to the first time its characters, so beloved by generations of readers, sprang from the page, animated by their creator’s voice. Over 200 years later, Jane Austen’s House holds an unrivaled collection of letters, first editions, and artifacts. This presentation will take ten objects from the collection and work back through two centuries until we reach Austen herself, revising and editing the text at her twelve-sided table in the Dining Room. Some of the highlighted objects will be familiar to the audience.

Lizzie Dunford has worked in the museums and heritage sector for more than 15 years, with a focus on house museums. She joined Jane Austen's House as its Director in April 2020 and led it through the Covid pandemic, working to ensure its financial stability while developing new visitor experiences. She oversaw the creation of a 360-degree virtual tour of the house, as well as a major re-roofing project to ensure the house's integrity into the future. Lizzie holds an MA in Conservation of Historic Objects from the University of Lincoln.

Designing Jane Austen Programming for Libraries

Stephenee Borelli, Greater Sacramento Region

Jennifer Jones, Maryland Region

Friday, November 3, 10:30am - 11:15am

In 2025, the world will celebrate Jane Austen’s 250th birthday. This session will help librarians, educators, and JASNA Regions prepare for a surge in her popularity by developing Austen programming in libraries. From simple book discussions to elaborate conference-style events, Austen library programs can draw in dedicated and new fans; foster a love of literature and lifelong learning; and provide opportunities to discuss difficult topics like race, class, and human nature. In this session, attendees will learn how to influence and support their libraries’ programming with a toolkit to assess needs and create resource lists and topics, and how to discover presenters within their own communities.

Stephenee Bennett Borelli has been a public librarian for more than 20 years. Her How Austentatious program series at Sacramento Public Library drew 500 participants in 2010. Since then, she has continued to create Austen programming for library patrons, as well as for JASNA members as founding and current RC of Greater Sacramento.

Jennifer Jones has worked in public libraries for more than 20 years. As a Branch Manager and reference librarian for the Harford County Public Library, she develops, plans, and facilitates training, public programs, and guest speaker events. Jennifer is serving a second term as President of the Public Services Division of the Maryland Library Association, where she also assists in coordinating continuing education training. She is the RC of the Maryland JASNA Region and Coordinator for the 2025 AGM in Baltimore.

Young Filmmakers Contest Finalist Films and Awards

Friday, November 3, 6:45pm - 7:30pm

Now in its seventh year, the JASNA Young Filmmakers Contest is the world's first film contest devoted to Jane Austen. Join the excitement as the finalists for 2023 are announced—watch the short films, vote for your own personal choice, and hear the opinions of world-class judges.

Talking Jane: Expanding Voices and Views on Jane Austen

Dr. Zan Cammack, Utah Region; Emily Davis-Hale, Louisiana Region; Diane Neu, Utah Region; Lauren Wethers, Louisiana Region; and moderator Janet Saidi, Central Missouri Region

Saturday, November 4, 3:30pm - 4:15pm

We’re doing a lot of talking about Jane Austen! This session features five podcasters, who will talk about what they’ve learned through the conversations they produce about Jane Austen. These podcasts share a goal of highlighting new voices and views on Austen, inviting readers and creators into the conversation.

Dr. Zan Cammack (she/her) is a lecturer at Utah Valley University in the Department of English and Literature. Her research focuses on public humanities, material culture, and new media and includes her work as producer and co-host of The Thing About Austen. She has published on Austen in Nineteenth-Century Studies; additional scholarship includes publications in journals such as Theatre Topics and Journal of Modern Literature, and her monograph Ireland’s Gramophones (Clemson University Press, 2021).

Emily Davis-Hale (they/them) is a producer and cohost of the podcast Reclaiming Jane. In the course of a PhD in linguistic anthropology at Tulane University they have published work on language and writing in ancient cultures. They try to read Austen from a perspective beyond literary analysis, bringing light to both the histories of ordinary people and the fans who remain underrepresented in Austen spaces.

Diane Neu (she/her) produces and co-hosts The Thing About Austen, a podcast about Jane Austen’s world. She is a life member of JASNA.

Lauren Wethers is a writer with a lifelong love of literature. She completed a B.A. in English and Spanish, an M.A. in English, and a minor in film studies at Tulane University. She applies her academic background to discussions and analyses of all things pop culture, from books to reality television. Her freelance writing has appeared in outlets like HuffPost, Screen Rant, and USA Today, and she is currently revising a full-length fiction manuscript for publication.

Moderator Janet Saidi produces The Austen Connection newsletter and podcast featuring conversations about how Austen’s stories connect to us today and connect us to each other. As a producer, host, and assistant professor at NPR-affiliate KBIA and the Missouri School of Journalism, Janet has produced many projects that seek to build community and inclusivity through audio and dialogue—and this is also the aim of The Austen Connection.

Jane Austen in 48 Minutes: 6 Rocky Romances

A Play by Syrie James

Saturday, November 4, 9:00pm - 10:00pm

This play presents Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen’s five other novels distilled down to about 8 minutes each, hitting the key romantic highlights of each book in a funny and witty retelling delivered at a lightning pace. A cast of costumed actors drawn from JASNA’s ranks (Devoney Looser, Francine Matthews, Diana Birchall, Paul Savidge, James Nagle, Paul Birchall, and Janet Todd) will perform all the parts, along with a cheeky and wise Jane Austen as narrator.

Fun Rocky Run


Sunday, November 5, 7:00am - 8:00am

“The distance is nothing when one has a motive; only three miles,” says Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Be you an excellent runner or walker, please join us for a led 5K journey around the Gaylord Resort. We will also have a 1-mile turnaround point for those who only want to go as far as Meryton. You can order an Austen-themed athletic shirt online at Jane Austen Books for pickup at the AGM. (Shirt purchase not required to participate in the Fun Run.)