It was an exhilarating experience to be with 600+ Jane Austen fans in Portland OR from October 27-31, 2010, for the yearly AGM on the topic of “Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin.” At right, a collection of costumes on exhibit in the Milsom Street Emporium. Frankly, I was much more interested in all the books on sale — but I tried to be judicious in my choices.
A pre-conference offering was the presentation:
“Team Tilney Explains It All,” a light-hearted look at the (beloved) hero (center) of Northanger Abbey.
Team TilneyL l-r, Margaret Sullivan, Kelly Brown, Henry Tilney, Heather Laurence, Lynn Marie Macy.
On Friday afternoon, the AGM officially opened with a talk by Stephanie Barron, author of the Jane Austen mystery series. She analyzed Northanger Abbey as a mystery plot by which Catherine and Henry learn about each other and grow toward a lasting relationship, a very clever take on the novel.
Ms. Barron has a new book, Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron, which promises to be another fascinating read for those of us who love her imaginative style. She said she combs through Austen’s letters for kernels of information she turns into her stories.
In between sessions, our colleagues in the Wisconsin chapter of JASNA sold our wonderful 2011 calendars. Here, l-r, Area coordinator Liz Cooper, Susan Richard and Yolanda Jensen stand by to make the sales. If you are interested in all the dates in Jane’s life and in her novels, they are here! For more information, click here
and click again on Merchandise.
|Farleigh Hungerford Castle
Janine Barchas of the University of Texas, Austin, spoke on Bluebeard’s Castle. She suggested that Jane Austen had probably visited the ruins of Farley Hungerford Castle near Bath. A period guide to Bath and its environs was owned by the Austens and contained information the castle and its bloody history, which could well have been one of JA’s inspiratons for Catherine’s suspicions of mayhem at Northanger Abbey.
The next break out I attended was –MINE! Kim Wilson, left, author of Tea with Jane Austen
and Jane Austen in the Garden
, and I presented “About Those Abbeys…in Fact, Fiction and Landscape.” I will post about our talk soon. This is a picture of Kim and me at a previous event. I was too busy with our power point to take photos.
The evening presentation was by popular speaker Jeff Nigro, Area Coordinator for the Greater Chicago Chapter of JASNA. His topic was “Mystery Meets Muslin: Regency Gothic Dress in Art, Fashion and the Theatre.” As always, Jeff (a Chicago Art Institute staffer) was knowledgable and charming. I show him at right in his modeling debut from the Philadelphia AGM in 2009 (because I forgot my camera at his talk this year.)
The next morning, Saturday, we prepared for a busy day. Juliet McMaster gave the opening plenary talk on “A Surmise of Such Horror: Catherine Morland’s Imagination.” As with Jeff’s talk, the audience was charmed, amused and illuminated by Juliet.
She is a leading Austen scholar, as well as an artist and playwright. She and Jeff exhibit the best of what AGM’s provide: worthwhile talks that also entertain. Just like Jane Austen’s novels.
Dr. McMaster pointed out how Henry Tilney relished Catherine’s freshness. The naive Catherine, who has lost herself in gothic novels, is susceptible to Henry’s teasing about the horrors awaiting her at Northanger Abbey. But after he catches her snooping and realizes she actually believes she will find evidence of terrible crimes committed there, he chastizes her. And with his gentle teaching, she grows to appreciate realy natural beauty and truth, gains confidence in her instincts and grows into the kind of woman he can not only admire and tease but love. This is a very rough approximation of Dr. McMaster’s theses, but it will have to do, I’m afraid. Above and right is Dr. McMaster in the center, with admiring throngs.
I fear I have run out of space, so I will conclude now, and report on other AGM events in Parts Two, Three, and Four upcoming.