Breakout Speakers



2022 NEW VOICES BREAKOUT SPEAKER

Cinthia García Soria


Cinthia García Soria is a translator and holds a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics with a thesis on the translation of irony in Jane Austen’s novels. She co-founded and co-hosts Jane Austen en castellano, the oldest Spanish-speaking online community on Jane Austen.

As the 2022 JASNA New Voices Breakout Speaker, Cinthia’s presentation will be:

Judgment and Feelings: Sense & Sensibility’s Journey to the Spanish-speaking World
How has Sense & Sensibility been presented to Spanish-speaking readers? How many different titles has this novel been given in Spanish? Which is its best edition in Spanish? Has it been illustrated? Which is the best translation? This session will showcase some peculiarities among the editions of this novel in Spanish while examining the history of its publication in that language, the challenges its readers face, the publishing trends and policies in the Spanish-speaking countries, and the image created of the author, her work, and her times.



Dr. Melissa Anderson, Southern Oregon University

“Have I been rightly informed?—Is it so?” Information, Privacy, and Responsibility in Sense and Sensibility

We do not usually think about “information literacy” as a topic Austen explored in her novels, but Sense and Sensibility engages with the access, evaluation, and sharing of information in a way that reveals profound truths about character in surprising ways. Starting with a review of information history in the period, this session will examine how Austen grappled with epistemological questions while also using the sharing and concealing of information to develop narrative techniques. How we as readers come face to face with the challenge of evaluating and using information properly, right alongside Austen’s heroines, will also be discussed.

Melissa Anderson is Associate Professor in Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University. Her research interests include nineteenth-century British literature, the history of science and information, and the teaching of information literacy. Her most recent publications focus on information literacy instruction in literature courses. She is a longtime JASNA member and is active in the Southern Oregon Region.


Dr. Elaine Bander, Quebec

Reading Marianne Dashwood: Transforming the Two-Heroine Convention in Sense and Sensibility

Like all of Jane Austen’s novels, Sense and Sensibility is about reading strategies and reading disorders. Unusually, however, this novel dramatizes themes of perception and judgment by first adopting, and then adapting or interrogating, the two-heroine convention popular in the novels of the 1790s. Austen’s two heroines are loving sisters split not only between “sense” and “sensibility” (which terms, linked in the title by the coordinating conjunction “and,” are clearly not dichotomized or mutually exclusive) but also between reader and text, for throughout most of the novel Marianne remains a text that Elinor is challenged to read.

Elaine Bander, retired from the English Department of Dawson College (Montreal), has served JASNA as Regional Coordinator, Board member, Traveling Lecturer, and currently President of JASNA (Canada). In addition to her many regional and AGM presentations and Persuasions essays, she has contributed chapters to Art and Artifact in Jane Austen’s Novels and Early Works (Delaware, 2020) and The Routledge Companion to Jane Austen (Routledge, 2021).


Diana Birchall, SW Region

Syrie James, SW Region

What Did Lucy Steele?

Lucy Steele is one of Jane Austen’s most comically monstrous characters. What made Lucy? How did a girl from a family of some education grow up to be “ignorant and illiterate,” plus breathtakingly self-serving and competitive? After a revealing discussion of Lucy's origins, scheming and success, she will be brought to life in a dialogue playlet dramatizing her arsenal of tactics. We watch her win over her formidable mother-in-law Mrs. Ferrars with deliberate cunning and shameless flattery. Meet the girl with the "unceasing attention to self-interest," in a showcase that marries literary analysis and comedy, Jane Austen style.

Diana Birchall, retired from her career as story analyst at Warner Bros, is author of Austenesque novels such as Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, The Bride of Northanger, and In Defense of Mrs Elton. Some of her AGM play presentations are “The Austen Assizes,” “A Dangerous Diversion: Behind the Scenes in Mansfield Park” (both with Syrie James), and “You are Passionate, Jane.” Nondramatic talks include “Writers of the Austen-Leigh Persuasion” and “The Company of Clever, Well-Informed People.”

Syrie James is the author of 13 novels published in 21 languages that have been international, USA Today, and Amazon bestsellers, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, Jane Austen’s First Love, and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Her books have won numerous awards including the Audiobook Audie. A produced screenwriter and playwright, Syrie has performed often onstage as Jane Austen and presented at the JASNA Southwest, Chicago, Puget Sound, Idaho, and New Mexico Regions, and at AGMs in Huntington Beach, Brooklyn, and Montreal.


Brenda Cox, Georgia (Atlanta) Region

Faith Words in Sense and Sensibility: A Story of Selfishness and Self-Denial

In all of Austen’s novels, her Anglican faith and moral values strongly underpin her plots and characters. This interactive, illustrated session will explore faith and moral lessons in Sense and Sensibility. The characters either act out of selfishness or overcome their selfishness to love others more than themselves (a religious “duty”). As in all her novels, Austen uses words such as “principle” and “exertion” to express religious ideas; sources familiar to her show these meanings. This session will give participants keys to understanding Austen’s stories from a faith perspective.

For years, Brenda S. Cox has been researching connections between Austen’s life and work, the Church of England, and associated events and leaders. Brenda’s book, Fashionable Goodness: Christianity in Jane Austen’s England, should be available soon. Her work regularly appears online at Jane Austen’s World and Faith, Science, Joy, and Jane Austen. She has written for Persuasions On-Line, given talks to the Georgia and North Carolina Regions, and led breakout sessions at the Williamsburg and Chicago AGMs.


Donna Fletcher Crow, Southern Idaho Region

Jane Austen in London with the Dashwoods

Jane Austen comes from Paradise to take us to London to visit the locations Elinor and Marianne Dashwood experienced during their turbulent stay in that great city. “Jane” will illustrate her talk with period or modern pictures, and use Regency maps to find the locations she mentions in her most urban novel. “Jane” will explain what great care she took in her choice of addresses for what they reveal about her characters’ personalities, class-consciousness, and family connections, and show us how knowing the actual shops and locations her characters visit heightens the realism of her story.

Donna Fletcher Crow, a novelist of British history, has two Austen titles, A Jane Austen Encounter and A Most Singular Venture, both modern mysteries set in places Jane Austen lived. Her Where There is Love series and The Shaping of the Union are Georgian novels. Donna is a life member of the Southern Idaho Region. She has presented talks to her own Region and empanelled The Jane Austen Society of New Zealand as jury for her talk “Frank Churchill in the Dock: Did he murder his stepmother?”


Dr. Laura Dabundo, Georgia Region

Jane Austen’s Ode to Duty: Morality and Conscience in Sense and Sensibility

In “Ode to Duty,” Wordsworth wrote of “a light to guide/A rod to check the erring, and to reprove. . .” and that duty is present as “the Voice of God.” Whether or not Austen knew this poem, its sentiments resound throughout Sense and Sensibility and were at the heart of the Anglicanism of both writers. For Austen, as for Wordsworth, duty is manifest in one’s principled obligations to family, friends, church, and nation, personally and in community. The novel illustrates this understanding, driving its characters’ actions to the close, in the “consciousness of doing right” or not at all.

Laura Dabundo is Professor of English, Emerita, at Kennesaw State University and author of Jane Austen: A Companion (McFarland, 2021), The Marriage of Faith: Christianity in Jane Austen and William Wordsworth, and editor of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley and their Sisters and the first one-volume encyclopedia of English Romanticism. She has presented at AGMs in Philadelphia and Chicago as well as to JASNA’s Georgia and San Diego Regions.


Jenny Sullivan DeGurse, Queen’s University

Making Faces: Female Physiognomy and its Revolutionary Potential in Sense and Sensibility

This session will explore the significance of faces in Sense and Sensibility. Female characters in the novel exert agency both through their ability to read the faces of others and through the ability to control their own facial expressions. However, the face-to-face encounter also poses a threat in its ability to strip the wearer or the reader of control through the vulnerability of the face and its deceptive potential. This analysis will illuminate the precarious position of the female characters, as well as opening an avenue for women to assert equal dignity, and to exert control over those around them.

Jenny Sullivan DeGurse is a doctoral candidate in English Literature at Queen’s University. Her dissertation is entitled “Face to Face with the Sublime: Empathy and Alienation in Romantic Literature and Art,” and her research explores the transformative power of face-to-face encounters through the intersection of literature, art history, and philosophy, especially in the works of Mary Hays, Thomas De Quincey, and Jane Austen. In addition to her academic work, she is a novelist and poet.


Dr. Kathryn Duncan, St. Leo University, Florida

Sense and Sensibility and Suffering

Though Jane Austen was unfamiliar with Buddhism, her novels share Buddhism’s understanding of human nature and how the stories we tell ourselves create suffering. Through a TED-talk style presentation that includes visuals and discussion, we will explore how Marianne and Elinor are trapped by societal concepts that prevent them from understanding true love as defined by Buddhism: equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion, and joy. Instead, “love” in the novel is attachment to concepts and material goods, leading to division and suffering. While Austen provides the happy ending, the characters of Sense and Sensibility fail to find true happiness.

Kathryn Duncan is a Professor of English at Saint Leo University. In addition to publishing scholarly articles on Austen, she is author of Jane Austen and the Buddha: Teachers of Enlightenment from Toplight Books. Written for a general audience, the book explores how Austen and the Buddha shared an understanding of human nature and how stories can alleviate or create suffering.


Dr. Celia Easton, State University of New York College at Geneseo

Colonel Brandon and Military Service in the East India Company

Willoughby and Marianne’s dismissive remarks about India distinctly contrast with Eleanor Dashwood’s respect for Colonel Brandon and his geographic, cultural, and military experience. But as she does throughout much of Sense and Sensibility, Austen problematizes this binary without resolving many unanswered questions about the moral and political issues raised by the corporate, military investment of the East India Company. We empathize with the solutions Colonel Brandon sought in India: emotional escape from his disappointment in losing Eliza and military prizes to repair his family’s financial ruin. But what should Austen’s readers think of how European aggression, as Edmund Burke put it, destroyed the laws, rights, liberties, and property of the people of India?

Celia Easton is Professor of English and Dean of Academic Planning & Advising at the State University of New York College at Geneseo. She has given talks at several AGMs and has published on Jane Austen and other authors of the long eighteenth century in Persuasions, The Age of Johnson, Journal of Narrative Technique, Restoration, and the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching Austen’s “Emma,” edited by Marcia McClintock Folsom. She is a former regional coordinator of JASNA Central & Western New York.


Dr. Susan Allen Ford, Mississippi Region

Thoughts on the Education of Daughters in Sense and Sensibility

“Thoughts on the Education of Daughters” might serve as a description of many novels—especially didactic novels—written in the 1790s, particularly Sense and Sensibility, with its implicit comparison of the Dashwood sisters, the Steele sisters, the Jennings sisters, and others. We will look at Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1787 conduct book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, and the ways it seems to inform Austen’s thinking about the women of Sense and Sensibility—particularly in terms of the nursery, moral discipline, dress, accomplishments, reading, love, marriage, motherhood, and benevolence. What is Jane Austen doing with conduct literature?

Susan Allen Ford is Editor of Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line and Professor of English Emerita at Delta State University. She has spoken at many AGMs and to many JASNA Regions and has published essays on Austen and her contemporaries, gothic and detective fiction, and Shakespeare. She is working on a book-length study entitled Jane Austen’s Great Readers, focusing on the books Austen’s characters are reading in the novels.


Dr. Lynda A. Hall, Chapman University

Marianne Dashwood’s ‘Animating Gales’ and ‘Dead Leaves’

This talk will look carefully at Jane Austen’s use of outdoor settings in Sense and Sensibility and how they reflect the motivations and “sensibilities” of Marianne Dashwood. The vast grounds of Norland, and the wild downs of Barton Park contrast with the confines and structures of London. Understanding Marianne’s connection to nature will unpack her role as a sentimental heroine in the romantic tradition. Comparing the various outdoor scenes in the novel with some of Marianne’s favorite works of literature that she reads alone and with Willoughby will also reveal the reasons for Marianne’s particular characteristics.

Lynda Hall is Associate Professor of English at Chapman University, specializing in Austen and the English Gothic Novel. She has served as a Traveling Lecturer, has presented at eight AGMs, and has essays 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.


Collins Hemingway, Southern Oregon Region

Examining Sense and Sensibility, Letter by Letter

This presentation explores the way Sense and Sensibility’s origin in the epistolary format affects its rendering as a story. After a summary of the epistolary tradition, the talk delves deeply into the text to show clearly where the original epistolary style remains and how these remnants affect the reader’s reception of the material. This “forensic examination” of the novel shows which chapters labor under the epistolary approach and which chapters break away from the old style to crisply render characters and scenes. The novel begins Jane Austen’s transition to the modern techniques that made her literary reputation.

Collins Hemingway is the most recent JASNA Traveling Lecturer for the West. He has lectured on Jane Austen and the Regency era in the U.S., England, and Australia. He presented at the 2018, 2019, and 2020 AGMs. He has published in Persuasions and in the journals of the Jane Austen Society of Australia. He is a regular contributor to Jane Austen’s Regency World. He authored The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, literary fiction based on Austen’s life.


Victoria Hinshaw, Wisconsin Region

Kim Wilson, Wisconsin Region

Picturesque vs. Practical: Jane Austen’s Complex Portrayals

Marianne Dashwood sees the world in terms of sentiment and picturesque beauty above all, but practical Edward Ferrars prefers tidy farms and a cultivated landscape. Jane Austen herself admired William Gilpin, the originator of the concept of the picturesque, but also appreciated works poking fun at the notion. This talk explores the popularity of the picturesque and how Austen’s presentations of it in Sense and Sensibility and her other works both approvingly reflected and mocked contemporary society’s opinions on the subject.

Victoria Hinshaw is the author of a dozen published Regency novels. Kim Wilson is the author of Tea with Jane Austen, In the Garden with Jane Austen, and At Home with Jane Austen, and is the Regional Coordinator for the Wisconsin Region. Both have spoken at several AGMs and frequently present programs for JASNA Regions.


Marsha Huff, Wisconsin Region

Austen’s Heroines of Sensibility

Marianne Dashwood is Jane Austen’s perfectly developed parody of the heroine of sensibility. Twenty-first-century readers may not recognize the parodic elements of Sense and Sensibility because its antecedent—the novel of sensibility—has disappeared. This lecture will explain the eighteenth-century culture of sensibility and the way in which Sense and Sensibility both critiques and takes the form of a novel of sensibility, with Marianne and Elinor as distinct but parallel heroines. Robert Ferrars and John Dashwood represent the antithesis of the Dashwood sisters—sense untempered by sensibility.

Marsha Huff was a breakout speaker at the Williamsburg and Chicago AGMs. Her essays “Sir Thomas Bertram and the Slave Trade” and “Austen and Vermeer, Fellow Artists” are published in Persuasions On-Line. From 2006 to 2010, she served as President of JASNA. Marsha is a lawyer specializing in tax-exempt organizations.


Dr. Kathleen James-Cavan, Saskatchewan Region

Marianne and the Middletons: Why Misprints Matter

This session tells the story of a misprint and why it matters. By tracing the genealogy and perpetuation of a seemingly innocuous substantive error, this session shows that Chapman’s 1923 scholarly treatment of Sense and Sensibility had its origins in so-called lowbrow, popular culture. In addition to correcting the error and proposing a revised view of Marianne’s sociability, the interactive portion of the session will invite participants into the editing process to offer suggestions toward a revised edition of the novel.

Kathleen James-Cavan is a retired Associate Professor of English, University of Saskatchewan. She edited Sense and Sensibility for Broadview Press and has published on Austen’s works in Persuasions, Persuasions On-Line (most recently in the 2021 special issue on Diversity), and in Studies in the Novel. She has presented at AGMS in Vancouver, Chicago, Lake Louise, and San Francisco.


Hazel Jones, Jane Austen Society UK

‘Within four miles northward of Exeter’: Landscapes of the Mind and Map in Sense and Sensibility

'It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire', stated Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice, a literary policy applied equally to Devonshire in Sense and Sensibility. We learn that there are hills and valleys, fine views and muddy lanes, aspects of topography common to many English counties. The Devonshire scenes seem to fade into insignificance when compared with Persuasion’s emotionally charged West Country, and, as well as falling short of picturesque expectations, appear to have little psychological impact. This illustrated presentation will reconsider the author's approach to landscape in Sense and Sensibility against the more descriptive responses of contemporary visitors to the South West.

Hazel Jones has presented breakout and special interest sessions at JASNA AGMs in Washington, Kansas City and Williamsburg, together with lecturing in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the JASNA Region there. She is the author of Jane Austen & Marriage, Jane Austen's Journeys, and The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen's Dispossessed Nephews, and is editor of JAS's Annual Report. She is currently working on Charles Knight’s diaries and lives in a cottage eight miles north-westward of Exeter.


Dr. Beth Lau, Indiana Region

Passion and Despair: Sense and Sensibility and Madame de Staël’s Corinne

Numerous parallels can be traced between Sense and Sensibility and Madame de Staël’s popular French novel, Corinne, or Italy (1807), a work that we know Austen read. Staël’s novel, like Austen’s, features a passionate, unconventional, artistic heroine who falls deeply in love with a dashing hero, then suffers intense despair when he abandons her for another woman. Both novels also feature contrasting sisters, one emotional and the other reserved. Just as interesting as the similarities, however, are the differences between Sense and Sensibility and Corinne, indicating how Jane Austen composed her works in creative dialogue with other writers.

Beth Lau is Professor of English Emerita at California State University, Long Beach, where she taught British Romantic writers, including Jane Austen. She presented papers at the 2011 and 2017 JASNA AGMs, and those essays were subsequently published in Persuasions and Persuasions Online, respectively. Her other publications on Jane Austen include the edited collection Jane Austen and Sciences of the Mind (Routledge 2018) and a critical edition of Sense and Sensibility (Houghton Mifflin 2002).


Dr. Juliet McMaster, Edmonton Region

The Feeling Body: From Love and Freindship to Sense and Sensibility

In Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen continues the exploration of the bodily manifestations of feeling (sighs, tears, faints, etc.) that she had satirized in Love and Freindship. She inherited a discourse that affirmed physical signs are more reliable and authentic than words: words can lie, but blushes can’t. Marianne’s emotions are readily communicated through her body; but Elinor, physically reticent, champions the word: she believes Willoughby, for instance, should declare his love and his intentions verbally. This distinction is traced intricately through the novel, and we watch as the villainess, Lucy Steele, can lie with both words and body.

Juliet McMaster, Professor Emerita at the University of Alberta and founder of the Juvenilia Press, is a frequent speaker at JASNA AGMs and has served as a JASNA Traveling Lecturer. She is the author of Jane Austen on Love and Jane Austen, Young Author (as well as of books on Thackeray, Trollope, Dickens, and the eighteenth-century novel), and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen.


Dr. David Monaghan, Nova Scotia Region

Multiple Authors: The Making of Sense and Sensibility (BBC, 2007)

Auteur theory notwithstanding, film making is a collaborative process. This paper will identify some of the most important elements that contributed to the 2007 television adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. The first half offers an overview of the chronological sequence during which more and more people were drawn into a collaborative creative endeavour. In order to demonstrate in detail the various roles played by script, lighting, set and location design, acting, direction, cinematography, editing, and music in the multi-layered but beautifully coherent final product, the second half of this presentation will offer three close readings.

David Monaghan is a Professor Emeritus in the English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has written or edited three books on Austen’s novels and co-authored one on their film adaptations. His articles on Austen have been published in Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Studies in the Novel, Mosaic, and other journals. He has presented at AGMs in Ottawa, Los Angeles and Tucson.


Dr. Roger E. Moore, Vanderbilt University

Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austen’s Most Religious Novel?

This session will examine the religious content of Sense and Sensibility, a novel not often considered to have much to say about religion, other than fleeting allusions to Christian repentance at the novel’s end. However, the work contains tantalizing references to other eighteenth-century religious concerns, particularly the fear of enthusiasm, or the belief in one’s possession of a special divine revelation. Is Marianne an enthusiast? Does her often-mentioned melancholy have religious roots? Does her deadly fever lend a spiritual cast to her suffering? Considering these questions allows us to regard Austen afresh as a commentator on contemporary religious issues.

Roger E. Moore is Senior Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University, where he is also Principal Senior Lecturer in English. He is the author of Jane Austen and the Reformation: Remembering the Sacred Landscape (Ashgate/Routledge 2016). He served as a Plenary Lecturer at the 2019 AGM in Williamsburg, VA and is currently a Traveling Lecturer for JASNA.


Keiko Parker, Vancouver Region

Sense and Sensibility Illustrated

This session will start with a brief mention of illustrated book collecting and the joy the illustration brings to one’s reading experience. The main discussion focuses on various scenes from Sense and Sensibility illustrated by five different artists, including comparisons of the same scenes by various illustrators and their different approaches to the subject matter. There will be explanations of the artists’ methodology and their efforts for truthful recreation of 18th-century life. The illustrators discussed will include Hugh Thomson, the Brock brothers (Charles and Henry), A.W. Mills, and Joan Hassall. This is a visual presentation.

Music teacher for 46 years and JASNA member since 1981, Keiko Parker was a breakout speaker at the Santa Fe, Lake Louise, and Seattle AGMs. She served as Vancouver Regional Coordinator from 1998 to 2007 and coordinated the 2007 Vancouver AGM. Her articles have appeared in Persuasions. Having translated Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Pride and Prejudice into Japanese, all published in Japan, she is currently translating Sense and Sensibility. Keiko leads a group of Japanese women reading Austen in English.


Dr. Yvonne Petry, University of Regina

Elinor Dashwood the Artist: Drawing and Perception in Sense and Sensibility

Most discussions of Elinor Dashwood focus either on her personality or her relationships to other characters, not on her artistic talents. Drawing and painting were popular pursuits for young women in Austen’s time, but they could be more than pastimes. By looking at Sense and Sensibility through the lens of art and perception, we discover nuances in Elinor’s temperament, and in the novel, that are often overlooked. This session will examine the character of Elinor Dashwood as someone with the eye of an artist and will demonstrate the masterful hand Jane Austen used in drawing her character.

Yvonne Petry is Dean and Professor of History at Luther College at the University of Regina. She is primarily a scholar of sixteenth-century religious, cultural, and gender history but also has a strong interest in the social and cultural history of Austen’s era. She is a lifetime member of JASNA, has attended many AGMs, and served as the Regional Coordinator of JASNA Saskatchewan from 2015 to 2020.


Dr. Lesley Peterson, Winnipeg Region

As You Like (to Adapt) It: Adapting Sense and Sensibility Using Shakespeare’s Comedic Dialog

Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility screenplay (1995) borrows language for Marianne from Silvius, a love-struck character in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. What does this reveal about Austen? About Shakespeare? About costume drama and the craft of adaptation? Using PowerPoint slides, video clips, and handouts, this interactive session will identify key parallels between Austen’s novel and Shakespeare’s comedy; draw on recent scholarship in Austen, Shakespeare, and adaptation studies to consider these parallels’ significance; and, finally, introduce a generous menu of lines from As You Like It that might fit Sense and Sensibility, for participants to explore, enjoy, and debate.

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 and teaches Shakespeare to children. She has presented at two previous JASNA AGMs, has published on the juvenilia of Jane Austen in Persuasions and elsewhere, and has directed Austen’s juvenilia drama “The Visit.”


Dr. Jenny Rytting, Northwest Missouri State University

The Other Siblings in Sense and Sensibility

Besides Elinor and Marianne, Sense and Sensibility includes two additional sets of contrasting siblings—sisters Anne and Lucy Steele and brothers Edward and Robert Ferrars—who are essential to Austen’s exploration of her theme. This breakout session will explore the concepts of sense and sensibility as they relate to these and other secondary characters, using contemporary definitions (such as Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary), close reading (of how and about whom Austen uses those terms), and an audience poll (so bring your smartphones). Examining these foils will enrich our understanding of the complementary—not opposite—qualities of sense and sensibility.

Jenny Rebecca Rytting teaches in the Department of Language, Literature, and Writing at Northwest Missouri State University, where she pursues a variety of interests, including medieval literature, religious studies, Shakespeare, and—of course—Jane Austen. A JASNA life member, she belongs to the Metropolitan Kansas City Region, where she has presented more than once. She has also presented for the Iowa Region and at the 2019 Williamsburg AGM and has published in Persuasions and Persuasions Online.


Dr. Peter Sabor, McGill University

Less Sense, More Sensibility: What Isabelle de Montolieu did to Sense and Sensibility in 1815

In the preface to her fascinating translation of Sense and Sensibility, Isabelle de Montolieu contends that the anonymous author has succeeded in understanding female emotions and the female heart: the novel is depicted as a quintessential work of sentiment. Nothing is said of Jane Austen’s irony, and the translation follows suit. Marianne is placed at the forefront, and her sensibility is shared by several other characters, including Edward Ferrars. Engraved frontispieces, which I shall show, further accentuate the primacy of sensibility: Marianne is the central figure and Willoughby also plays a leading role, while Elinor is nowhere to be seen.

Peter Sabor is Professor of English and Canada Research Chair at McGill University, where he is Director of the Burney Centre. He was coordinator of the 1998 AGM in Quebec City and has been a speaker at several others. His publications on Jane Austen include an edition of her early writings, Juvenilia (Cambridge, 2006), Manuscript Works, co-edited with Linda Bree and Janet Todd (Broadview, 2013), and The Cambridge Companion to Emma (Cambridge, 2015). He is also Principal Investigator for Reading with Austen, a digital recreation of the Godmersham Park Library.


Elizabeth Steele, Eastern Pennsylvania Region

Reading Jane Austen Novels While Watching Jane Austen Movies

Do readers ever wonder if watching a Jane Austen movie, particularly Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility, impacts their memories of what Austen had intended them to remember about her novel? Do the scenes painted by the films begin to erase the pictures painted by Austen’s words? When reading about Marianne, does Kate Winslet’s image come to mind? Comparing and contrasting Lee’s film with Austen’s written word can help us enhance our understanding of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and distinguish where the book and the movie each shine.

Elizabeth Jane Steele (no relation to Lucy and Nancy) served as Coordinator of the 2009 JASNA AGM in Philadelphia and as JASNA’s Vice President for Conferences. She has written essays for Persuasions Volumes 29 and 32. A former information technology professional, she now teaches courses on Jane Austen’s novels through the Center for Learning in Retirement.


Harper Sutherland, Washington, DC Metro Region

Brandon in India: Colonialism and Masculinity in the Late 18th Century

This session will assess the version of masculinity presented in the character of Colonel Brandon, concentrating on the impact of Colonel Brandon’s mostly off-page experiences in India. These experiences, and the lens through which the audience—Jane Austen’s readers, or modern readers today—understands the imperial project, have great power on the question of Brandon’s suitability as a match. Is he damaged goods, or elevated in stature? Discussion will focus on the romantic relationships that British soldiers formed with Indian women, a very common circumstance in the 18th century, and will include information about sexual mores of the period. This session will include audience participation.

Harper Sutherland is a policy analyst for the U.S. government. Although new to JASNA—this is her first AGM presentation—Harper’s appreciation of Jane Austen actually sparked an earlier passion in her life, for the study of Indian culture and languages. Watching the films Bride & Prejudice and Kandukondain Kandukondain/I Have Found It (a Tamil language adaptation of Sense & Sensibility) as a teenager inspired her to pursue a degree in South Asian Studies.


Carole Thompson, Nova Scotia Region

Cast out and Taken in: Exploring Despair and Disparity in Sense and Sensibility and in the Modern Day

Austen encourages us to believe the concepts of pride and prejudice (and sense and sensibility) are intricately intertwined. This session explores how despair and disparity are equally related. Despair, resulting from disruptive change, is often born of disparity based on exclusionary societal constructs protecting financial security, social position, and power for a privileged few, while marginalizing others within society. This will be explored within Sense and Sensibility, as will foundational aspects of diversity, equality, and inclusion relevant both to the novel and to nonfictional modern-day issues associated with the residential school system in place for native Canadian children during the 20th century.

Carole Thompson, past Nova Scotia Region Secretary and Planning Committee member, is a Critical Care/Intensive Care Unit Dietitian. Her previous presentations include a day-long regional workshop on the role and importance of lavender in Austen’s novels, (lecture and lavender-related activities), as well as “200 Years Later: Reliving the Regency Ball,” delivered in a curated lecture series at Nova Scotia’s Government House and during the “Transatlantic Perspectives: Persuasion” International JAS conference in Halifax.


Dr. Alice Villaseñor, CWNY Region

From Prada to Nada: The Dashwood Sisters in Los Angeles

This session examines the ways in which From Prada to Nada (2011) uses Sense and Sensibility to highlight issues facing Latinx communities in Los Angeles. We will delve closely into Austen’s first chapter in order to highlight how the film uses Austen’s story of displacement of the Dashwood women to highlight the displacement of Latinx communities. We will also discuss the film’s critique of Anglocentrism, including Olivia’s (Fanny Dashwood’s) overt racism; ignorance (in Nora’s case) or self-loathing (in Mary’s case) of one’s cultural roots; the othering of the Spanish language; and the illegal and disrespectful treatment of Latinx workers.

Alice Villaseñor is the Associate Director of the Civic and Community Engagement Office at Buffalo State College. She has published on the Austen family, Austen’s fiction, Austen film adaptations, and Austen societies. A lifetime JASNA member, she was the 2006 JASNA International Visitor and a past Board member of JASNA and the Southwest Region. She has served on the JASNA International Visitor Program Committee and is a current member of the JASNA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.


Ruth Williamson, International Region

Chris Hammond’s vision of Sense and Sensibility

What stands out in Hammond’s visualization of Jane Austen’s work? Hammond was a 19th-century illustrator of Austen’s novels, but also a single woman of limited means, reminiscent of the author herself. This presentation will review Hammond’s life, display her conception of characters and scenes from Sense and Sensibility in context, and suggest how her interpretation enhances appreciation today. Austen’s work has a fascinating after-life, as do eleven of Hammond’s original drawings for Sense and Sensibility. Their story spans more than a century, with a beginning, middle and satisfying conclusion that fulfill a dream cherished by many Austen enthusiasts.

New Zealand-based Ruth Williamson joined JASNA in 2017 and is a long-term member of the Jane Austen Society of Australia. She edits JASA’s Chronicle publication, has addressed JASNA’s Vancouver chapter, and presented an AGM break-out session called ‘The Life of Jane Austen’s Letters’ at Huntington Beach. Last year she discussed Austen’s multi-cultural international following as part of JASNA’s Pan-Pacific Jane Austen online conference.


Deborah Yaffe, New Jersey Region

Two Cheers for Edward Ferrars

Quiet, unglamorous Edward Ferrars is no one’s favorite Jane Austen hero. Critics have called him weak and insignificant; non-academic readers have amused themselves by imagining better matches for Elinor Dashwood. But a closer look at the themes and structure of Sense and Sensibility suggests that Edward is unfairly maligned by contemporary readers. Does our cultural distance from Austen’s time make it hard for us to appreciate the heroism in Edward’s choices?

Deborah Yaffe is a freelance journalist and the author of two books, including Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom (Mariner Books, 2013), an entertaining and affectionate non-fiction look at our quirky subculture. A member of JASNA since her (now sadly distant) teenage years, she has served as treasurer of the New Jersey Region.