The JASNA Annual General Meeting in Kansas City, MO, hosted by the JASNA Metropolitan Kansas City Region (Julienne Gehrer, AGM Coordinator) was magical and the largest attendance ever—900 people. Each day was filled with fun events and informative presentations. I thought I would share a few highlights for those not able to attend and, I hope, convince you to attend one in the future. I’ve sprinkled in a few quotations from Persuasion, the Oxford/Chapman version (for page numbers). Note that some of the photos were taken from the jumbo screens, so the coloring might be off. I took all the pictures here myself (or had someone use my camera for the pictures I am in). The picture in the header is the canvas tote bag that we got at the AGM along with a colorful luggage tag. Michele Larrow, Co-Regional Coordinator
- “Glowing and lovely in sensibility and happiness” (245). AMANDA ROOT shared dramatic readings from the novel and from her journal that she kept during filming Persuasion (1995). She said that Persuasion was her favorite movie to act in of all time! She was funny, kind, and warm and stayed around the next day to listen to several of the speakers and go to the concert. Many people got pictures with her and several times I was within feet of where she was. After her talk, it was a treat to re-watch the 1995 adaptation with about 900 other fans.
- “The company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation” (150). Everyone at an AGM is so friendly! I met and talked with folks from all over the country and Canada, even connecting with some friends from the area who follow our Facebook page. At the meeting for the Regional Coordinators (RCs), I met most of the RCs from the Pacific Northwest and also got to chat with Liz Philosophos Cooper, current VP for Regions and incoming JASNA President. I sat at the banquet and the breakfasts with the welcoming members for the Puget Sound Group (see picture below of the group). I was especially lucky that Agnes Gawne (far left in picture), the RC from Puget Sound, took me under her wing. She helped me learn more about being an RC and gave great Regency fashion advice. She is an expert Regency dancer who was very patient in helping me learn the steps to the dances. I also danced with Shirley from Puget Sound and other JASNA members for across the country.
- “The sense of an Italian love song” (186). The Bath Assembly Room concert was amazing. Ensemble Musica Humana did a performance of the kinds of music one might have heard in Bath in Jane Austen’s lifetime. There was Italian singing, a piano concerto played on period instruments, and a flute concerto (see below concert program). The performers played and sang with such passion (the video is very short from the end of one of the songs).
- “She could only resolve to avoid such self-delusion in the future” (42). JOHN MULLAN (author of What Matters in Jane Austen?) was seriously funny as he discussed the many delusions about the self that characters operate under in Persuasion. He moved from the funny (Sir Walter) to more subtle self-delusions (for example, how Anne thinks she must be happier because Captain Wentworth thinks her altered), suggesting that inner dialogue with the word “must” is a good clue to self-delusions. He was entertaining and informative, all while speaking with a charming British accent.
- “In earnest contemplation of some print” (169). DEB BARNUM, owner of a collectible books store and member of the JASNA VT Region, presented on the history of illustrations of Persuasion. The first illustration was actually for the French translation in 1821. There were many examples of the classic illustrators (Hugh Thompson and C.E. Brock; see below for two Brock illustrations of Louisa’s fall at Lyme) but the funniest were some covers from paperbacks (see below). Deb also presented on creating reading groups in your region with Holly Fields, so I have some great ideas for that.
- “The girls were wild for dancing” (47). After taking one of the optional dance workshops, I danced at the Ball! There was a wide range of levels of dance experience among the attendees and the caller taught the dance moves to beginners before the music started. I was not very elegant, but I had great fun and danced several times, including to Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot, which was in both Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Emma (1996).
- “A gown, or a cap would not be liable to any such misuse” (142). One of the pleasures about this AGM was actually creating a ball gown before the event. I sewed a white silk under-slip and a blush silk overdress and created a reticule. Jane Provinsal, our wonderful social media coordinator, knit me a shawl that I wore around my shoulders. Overall, I felt happy with my first attempts at Regency attire. Agnes Gawne loaned me a small gold tiara with leaves (see photo below of Agnes and me). There were so many amazing costumes. The video show about a minute of the promenade before the ball when all the costumed attendees paraded around the fountain. Perhaps the most elegant costume was worn by the woman who portrayed Lady Dalrymple at the concert, with her escort (below). We also had versions of a French captain (with the bad mustache) and a British naval captain.
8. “To take up a new set of opinions and of hopes” (249). KATIE DAVIS (Liberty in Jane Austen’s Persuasion) did an excellent presentation on how Lady Russell changes over the course of the novel, showing a source of hope for “aging with grace”. She focused in part on how Lady Russell saw Anne as so like her mother that she may have had trouble differentiating Captain Wentworth from Sir Walter in imagining Anne’s future at the initial proposal time.
9. “A foolish spendthrift Baronet” (248). SHERYL CRAIG (Jane Austen and the State of the Nation) did another informative talk on money and financial crises in Jane Austen’s time. She discussed how after the Battle of Waterloo, Britain experienced a financial crisis that ended up bankrupting Jane’s brother Henry. Contemporary readers of Persuasion would have known that the crash was coming soon after the end of the story, and this would have added an element of tension to the story. Naval officers’ money would be quite safe, but there is a chance that Sir Walter could have ended up in debtor’s prison!
10. “I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve” (247). One of the most amazing things about an AGM is actually getting to talk to some of the Jane Austen scholars and experts. I got to visit with two of JASNA’s grande dames. JULIET MCMASTER (Jane Austen, Young Author; Jane Austen on Love, etc.) did a wonderful presentation on the Lake Louise AGM in 1993 that was on Persuasion. She is also the illustrator of The Beautifull Cassandra and I had a chance to chat with her a little about that book and how I got an autographed copy used through Amazon! I also had breakfast with JOAN KLINGEL RAY (Simply Austen; Jane Austen for Dummies, etc. and former JASNA president) one morning when we entered the crowded breakfast buffet at the same time. We chatted about the history of JASNA, which novel is our favorite (her heart loves P&P and her head loves Emma, but I love Emma most, head and heart), and traveling. To quote The Beautifull Cassandra: “This is a day well spent!”
I feel so lucky to have been able to go to the AGM. It is such an exciting experience if you love the novels. Many of the talks will be featured in Persuasions On-Line, which will come out in December 2018, and the published Persuasions for next spring. Next year’s AGM will be on Northanger Abbey October 4-6 2019 in colonial Williamsburg, VA (see more info at http://www.jasna.org/agms/williamsburg/index.html). The fortieth anniversary of the founding of JASNA will also be celebrated at that time. Then on October 9-11, 2020, Cleveland, OH will host an AGM on the Juvenilia: http://jasna.org/agms/cleveland/index.html. So, save the dates, make your plans, and please join the festivities! Michele