Breakout Speakers

Session A: Friday, October 9, 2:45 pm - 3:35 pm

A1. Jane Austen & 18th Century Kitchen Wisdom

Julienne Gehrer, Metropolitan Kansas City Region
We imagine Jane taking up her pen rather than stirring the stewpot, but correspondence reveals her keen understanding of foods.  Did a Steventon upbringing arm the author with kitchen wisdom?  What did the Austen women know about curing, brewing and pickling?  This kitchen conversation considers two Austen family cookbook manuscripts.

A2. Past the Bloom: Aging and Beauty in the Novels of Jane Austen

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“Past the Bloom: Aging and Beauty in the Novels of Jane Austen”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 107-133.

Stephanie M. Eddleman, Harding University
Many eighteenth-century writers are not kind to aging characters, treating them as mere caricatures or as people whose only purpose in life is to guide the young.  Yet this charge is not true of Austen.  Stephanie will explore Austen’s complex ideas about the relationship between beauty and aging.

A3. A Quack, or Dr. House?  Medical Practitioners and Practice in Regency England

Sharon Lathan, Greater Louisville Region
Medical care in Jane Austen’s era was frightening from our perspective, yet, in truth, was a period of extraordinary advancements in medical science with improved health and healing.  Sharon will discuss how the education, research, and roles of the four medical practitioners in England made this possible.

A4. Schoolgirl Embroidery in Regency Britain

Julie Buck, Puget Sound Region
Embroidery was an important part of the curriculum for female education in England for over 200 years.  Jane Austen’s schoolgirl sampler is typical of its time.  Until the 19th century was well under way, “accomplishments” were the focus of the female curriculum, and embroidery was chief among these.

A5. Village Life in Jane Austen’s World: The View from the Parsonage

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“Village Life in Jane Austen’s World: The View from the Parsonage”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 43-61.

Sara Bowen, Wisconsin Region
Clerical families were the chroniclers of daily village life in Jane Austen’s world.  The immediacy of their intimate letters and diaries takes us directly into the daily routines and crises, joys and sorrows, and irritations and pleasures that Jane Austen understood as the background of her characters’ lives.

A6. Landowner, Farmer, Laborer: People and Relationships in the Estate Economy

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“‘The Holders of Hay & the Masters of Meadows’: Farmers in Jane Austen’s World”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 29-42.

Linda Slothouber, Washington DC Metropolitan Region
Estate-owners, such as Edward Austen Knight, enjoyed prominence and wealth, but their prosperity depended on cooperative relationships with tenants, and their character was judged according to the well-being of their poorest cottagers.  How do Austen’s novels reflect and derive humor from the social and economic relationships underpinning the English estate?

A7. “Excluded and Forgotten”: Studying the Treatment of Individuals with Physical and Intellectual Disabilities in the Regency Era

Bridget McAdam, Middle Tennessee Region
Jane’s older brother, George, lived with a disability that necessitated his being excluded from family life.  How did George’s life compare to other individuals who lived with disabilities during the Regency era?  Join Bridget as she explores this question and brings the stories of these “forgotten” individuals to light.

Session B: Friday, October 9, 3:50 pm - 4:30 pm

B1. A Revolution in Masculine Style: How Beau Brummell Changed Jane Austen’s World

Jeffrey A. Nigro & William A. Phillips, Greater Chicago Region
Austen’s contemporary Beau Brummell, arbiter of male style, enjoyed greater fame/notoriety than Austen did at the time.  Superficially different, Austen and Brummell shared detached views of society, and both contributed to perceptions of “modern” masculinity.  This illustrated presentation discusses how Brummell may have influenced Austen’s characters, and how both Austen’s and Brummell’s masculine ideals continued beyond their time.

B2. Children Writing in Jane Austen’s Time

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“Children Writing in Jane Austen’s Time”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 13-28.

Juliet McMaster, Professor Emerita, University of Alberta, Canada & Christine Alexander, Professor Emerita, University of New South Wales
A number of children, including Jane Austen herself, were busy writers in Austen’s time, and thirteen-year-old Anna Maria Porter, with encouragement from Scott, even published her work.  Juliet and Christine will examine this writing culture among Austen, Porter, Marjory Fleming, and others, and explore such common themes as the championing of Mary Queen of Scots.

B3. “Plucking a Rose Under the Crescent Moon”: Water and Sanitation in Jane Austen’s Time and Beyond

Janet Fahey, Southwest Region
A light-hearted but informative discussion of something Jane Austen never wrote about, but which was part of her daily life and that of everyone else in the world.  Come learn about pit privies, political chamber pots, cholera, and the historic pump handle, Thomas Crapper, and more.

B4. A Jane Austen Christmas

Maria Grace Castor-Scheufler, Greater Houston Region
Many Christmas traditions and images of “old fashioned” holidays are based on Victorian celebrations.  Going back just a little further, to the beginning of the 19th century, the holiday Jane Austen knew would have looked distinctly odd to modern sensibilities.  Explore the traditions, celebrations, games and foods that made up Christmastide in Jane Austen’s era.

B5. Boximania, or The Regency Fancy for Fisticuffs

Art Bilodeau, Greater Louisville Region
From 1780 to 1827, bare-knuckle pugilism was “all the go” in England.  Prints, pamphlets, sporting papers, books, and even plays extolled the virtues of “Boximania.”  Art will discuss the colorful history of Regency pugilism, and offer a few ideas about why fist-fighting became such a cultural phenomenon.

B6. The Economics of Jane Austen’s World

Katherine Toran, University of Kentucky
How much is Mr. Darcy’s income of 10,000 pounds a year worth in modern dollars?  Where did this amount place him on the social scale?  Katherine will answer this question for various Austen characters and will also discuss how Austen’s works reflect the changing economy in early 19th century Britain.

B7. Locations for Jane’s Stories: Why were they chosen?  What clues did they give to her readers?  What have we missed?

Carolyn C. Meisel, Rochester Region
Austen gave broad hints for the location of each story.  Come learn what old county names, real locations, and hints of distances tell her readers.  Interact as we locate her clues and leave with a sharpened awareness of location with some maps to guide you while reading or re-reading Jane Austen’s novels.

Session C: Friday, October 9, 4:45 pm - 5:35 pm

C1. “my Br Fanny & I have the Library to ourselves in delightful quiet” (October 1813): Edward’s Library, Jane’s Reading, and the Business of Books in the Regency Period

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“Reading at Godmersham: Edward’s Library and Marianne’s Books”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 152-162.

Dr. Gillian Dow, Executive Director, Chawton House Library, Associate Professor, University of Southampton
Where, and how, did Austen’s brother Edward Austen, later Knight, and his ancestors buy their books?  This presentation will focus on Edward’s library at Godmersham Park.  Concentrating on the library catalogue for 1818 (now in Chawton House Library), come and explore the “work of many generations” that assembling a library involved.

C2. Don’t Try This at Home: Household Remedies from the Regency Era

Jo Ann W. Staples, Middle Tennessee Region
Jane Austen’s characters suffered from violent colds, fevers, persistent coughs, consumption, gout, biliousness, chilblains, and rheumatism.  With few effective remedies available from the medical establishment, they would have relied on household “receipts” for treatment.  Were any of these concoctions helpful, or were they completely useless or even dangerous?

C3. You Dirty Rat: Ratting, a Regency Necessity and Sport

Jack T. Laney, Puget Sound Region
In Jane Austen’s time, just as today, rats spread disease, consumed valuable foodstuffs, and destroyed property.  Rat catching was an essential profession, and the rat-catcher was a common sight in town and country.  Jack will explore the process of ratting and its transformation from necessity to Regency sport.

C4. “Places are secured at Drury Lane for Saturday . . . ”

Kimberly Brangwin Milham, Puget Sound Region
Come experience the raffish and risqué world of Georgian theatre, a place of high drama on and off the stage.  Learn about the actors and the playhouses in London and Bath.  With visuals, anecdote and humor, Kimberly will create the world of Georgian theatre, incorporating Austen’s critical eye.

C5. Achieving an “Air of Decided Fashion”: How Jane Austen’s Ladies Adapted the Latest from London

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“Achieving an “Air of Decided Fashion”: How Jane Austen’s Ladies Adapted the Latest from London”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 106-118.

Alden O’Brien, Washington DC Metropolitan Region
What gave the Bingley sisters their “air of decided fashion”?  How was high fashion communicated and adapted in the country?  How did budget, age, and status also factor into one’s clothing choices?  We’ll use costume and more to decipher the code, which all Meryton apparently understood at a glance.

C6. What if Dolley Madison had been a Janeite?

Linda Griffiths-Gish, Greater Sacramento Region
Against the extravagant Regency Period, the newly-founded United States struggled to create a national identity that was stately, but not European.  Were there single American men of good fortune in need of a wife?  Were there balls?  Which customs were kept, rejected or relabeled and which would became uniquely “American”?

C7. Another look at Mr. Elliot’s “habits”: What’s so bad about “Sunday-traveling”?

Kathryn E. Davis, Carthage College
Kathryn E. Davis will consider Anne Elliot’s unspoken criticism of Mr. Elliot’s habit of Sunday-traveling.  Through which, Austen reminds her Regency readers—and teaches us—to celebrate the body, hope in the resurrection, and appreciate the authentic liberty to which we are called through the commandment regarding Sabbath rest.

Session D: Saturday, October 10, 10:50 am - 11:40 am

D1. Jane Austen and the Master Spy

Sheryl Craig, Central Missouri State University
William Wickham was the first Master Spy and head of the British Secret Service.  Pride and Prejudice’s George Wickham shares the Master Spy’s name, his good looks, charm, cunning, and duplicity.  George Wickham’s despicable behavior appears to be Jane Austen’s comment on the spy controversy raging in Georgian England.

D2. Garden Like Austen: Plants Jane Knew and Grew

Linda Beutler, Oregon/SW Washington Region
Jane Austen loved gardens and would be delighted to know that many plants she knew and grew are still available today.  However, would she know their names?  Most likely not.  Changes in nomenclature make finding Regency era flowers a challenge.  Let’s get our hands dirty planting Austen’s favorites in modern gardens.

D3. A Very Fine Dish: Culinary Class Distinctions in Jane Austen’s England

Melissa Mary Alexander, Greater Louisville Region
Travel with your taste buds to Jane Austen’s world as we decode a very subtle form of character distinction: food.  What makes a dish “very fine,” and how did Jane use this in her novels?

D4. Portraits in Profile in Jane Austen’s World

Kristen Miller Zohn, Georgia Region
During Austen’s era, silhouettes and other profile portraits in imitation of Greek vase painting and Roman coinage were particularly fashionable.  Kristen will explore examples from Austen’s family and in her work; the pervasiveness of the format; and the association of these portraits with the pseudo-science of physiognomy.

D5. “Who could be more prepared than she was”?  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England

Kelly M. McDonald, Vermont Region
No recitation of bare facts: period letters and diaries present stories of Austen-related mothers-to-be.  Georgian women discussed among themselves what potentially preoccupied a woman’s life for twenty years and more: miscarriage, pregnancy, labor, childbed fever, lactation barriers, and rituals affecting a new mother up to (and including) “churching.”

D6. Socio-Political Implications of Jane Austen’s Jewelry, and the Jewelry in Jane Austen’s Novels

Carrie Wright, University of Southern Indiana
Carrie Wright will argue that the connection between Austen’s uses of jewelry in her novels to depict characters’ understanding of social politics enhance our knowledge of Austen’s own social politics through the lens of her jewelry in the context of the social, political and economic circumstances of the Regency Era.

D7. London High Society in Austen’s Novels

Sue Forgue, Greater Chicago Region & Victoria Hinshaw, Wisconsin Region
When Jane Austen’s characters flock to London to partake of the “Season,” not all of them have the “Marriage Mart” as their goal.  Join us as we explore many practical reasons Austen’s characters travel to Town, when and how long they stay, and detail the preparations needed to launch into social whirl.  Finally, Sue and Victoria will distribute pre-addressed invitations to the pinnacles of social success, Almacks’ Assembly Rooms and a Presentation at Court.  It’s a Regency version of Mystery Date to find out who will be in “the seventh heaven of fashionable society.”

Session E: Saturday, October 10, 1:30 pm - 2:20 pm

E1. “What’s Love Got to Do with It“? The Marriage Market (or Happy Endings are for Fairy Tales)

Diane Capitani & Holly Field, Greater Chicago Region
Austen’s novels speak of the etiquette of courtship, but what about weddings?  Learn about posting bans and special licenses.  The speakers will whisper of scandals and the need for Gretna Green.  What could women lose or gain in marriage, and how did their legal positions change?  And the important question: if Darcy isn’t available, why marry at all?

E2. Jane Austen and Crime

Theodore M. Benditt, Alabama Region
In Northanger Abbey, Henry ridicules Catherine for her fears about crime.  But there was crime in England in Jane Austen’s time.  Various examples of crime, such as dueling, gaming, adultery, desertion, poaching, and others, do show up in her novels.  Come examine crime in Jane Austen’s world and her novels.

E3. Fallen Women of Jane Austen’s England

Debra E. Alderman, Puget Sound Region
Certain characters in Austen’s novels hint at the tragic descent from respectability to degradation that result from sexist laws and economic conditions of the Regency period.  Discover the tough choices and hard realities of prostitutes, mistresses and other “fallen women” of Austen’s day in this lively presentation illustrated with editorial cartoons of the Georgian era and other artwork and images from Georgian publications.

E4. From Daylesford to Delaford: Jane Austen and the Brilliant, Terrifying World of Marian Hastings

Elisabeth Lenckos, Greater Chicago Region
Elisabeth Lenckos explores Daylesford, the exotic, extravagant showcase home of Warren and Marian Hastings, built at the exorbitant cost of £60,000 and containing one of the finest collections of furniture and art known in Jane Austen’s world.  Eliza de Feuillide visited Daylesford, but did our author, who named Colonel Brandon’s estate Delaford?

E5. Influence of India on Jane Austen’s England

Shailendra Chopra, Greater Louisville Region
In Jane Austen’s time, Company Rule was establishing itself in India.  Although it would change India forever, it would touch English life intimately.  Did Indian spices inflame passions?  Was Indian muslin too diaphanous to leave anything to imagination?  Were the magnificent Indian jewels truly cursed?  Travel through time with Dr. Shailendra Chopra to see how India was influencing life in Jane Austen’s England.

E6. George III: The Sovereign of a Lifetime

James F. Nagle, Puget Sound Region
George III was Jane’s sovereign for everyday of her life.  But who was this man who dominated the English speaking world as England’s longest serving king?  This session will explore his successes, failures and legacy.

E7: Meet the Beast that Made Britain Strong

Shannon Campbell, Edmonton Region
Sheep, an important part of the landscape of the Regency world, don’t get the respect that other beasts of the field attract.  See them through the eyes of Jane Austen’s father, Reverend George Austen, for a new appreciation of their contribution to British health and wealth.

Session F: Saturday, October 10, 2:35 pm - 3:25 pm

F1. Censure in Common Use: Jane Austen’s Satires on the Royal Family

Published in Persuasions 37 (2015).
“Jane Austen, the Prince of Wales, and John Thorpe”
Persuasions 37 (2015): 94-105.

Jocelyn Harris, Professor Emerita, University of Otago, New Zealand
Jane Austen is usually regarded as an ironist rather than a satirist.  In her younger years, she attacked former kings and queens in The History of England, and as a mature writer, she critiqued current members of the royal family, whose fitness to rule she questions from the juvenilia to Sanditon.

F2. Jane Austen and the Royal Navy: A View from the Quarter Deck

Dr. Robert Fryman, Central Virginia Region
Dr. Robert Fryman, using a “first-person impression” format, will present and contrast the perspective of a captain who rose through the ranks by the more “traditional” of going to sea at the age of twelve, acquiring the knowledge necessary to navigate both a vessel and the complex social structure of the Royal Navy to that of Austen’s brothers who attended the Royal Naval Academy.

F3. A Few of My Favorite (Georgian) Things

Anthony Finney, Trustee of Jane Austen Society, UK
What can Mrs. Croft’s blister tell us about George III’s illness?  Did Robert Ferrars contribute to the British exchequer?  What do Mr. Palmer and Sir Thomas Bertram have in common?  What is the greatest difference between Georgian times and today?  These questions, and others, will be answered by reference to a collection of Georgian artifacts.

F4. The Marriage Law of Jane Austen’s World

Martha Bailey, Toronto Region
Marriage is the central preoccupation and conclusion of all of Jane Austen’s novels.  Referencing plot points in the novels, this session will examine Georgian marriage law, including the law relating to clandestine marriage, marriage settlements, extra-marital liaisons and bastardy.

F5. “I Am the Neatest Worker of the Party”: Making and Mending the Family’s Wardrobe

Ann Buermann Wass, Washington DC Metropolitan Region
In 1796, Jane Austen wrote, “We are very busy making Edward’s shirts, and I am proud to say I am the neatest worker of the party.”  Letters, diaries, and novels suggest mothers, sisters, and daughters were seldom idle as they sewed and mended garments for themselves and their families.

F6. Keyboards and Courtship: Cultural subtexts and functions of music in Jane Austen’s England

Lidia Chang, Massachusetts Region
Why does Mary Crawford play the harp?  What does it signify that Mary Bennet studies “thorough bass”?  Musical life is alluded to constantly in Austen’s novels.  However, these references are often so tailored to the nineteenth-century reader that modern readers may miss their important social implications.

F7. A Woman Never Looks Better Than on Horseback

Jill R. Ottman, Wyoming Region
Jill R. Ottman will present on the everyday facts about what a Regency lady needed to ride a horse properly: the saddle, the clothing, and the process itself.  Instances in which ladies ride in the Austen novels will be discussed, supplemented with contemporary illustrations, film clips and a mount and dismount demonstration.