Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Night 2


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Night 2

Saturday October 22: Banquet and Ball

After the breakout sessions, I returned "home" to my cousin's house to take a quick nap and get ready for the ball. I brought a costume with me. I could either afford a Regency era dress or the AGM but not both. Luckily, in my closet, I had a costume ready to go. A few years ago I purchased a boho style blouse and skirt at an Indian store nearby. The white embroidery on white cotton looked very much like a Georgian/Regency dress. I made it look more like a dress by adding a sky blue satin sash to match my reticule, shawl and ballet slipper shoes. I also replaced the modern plastic buttons with Dorset buttons from Etsy seller ASButtonsMarket. (I highly recommend these buttons. They're beautiful, well-made and really made the outfit look somewhat more authentic).
I worked hard to achieve some kind of Georgian/Regency ringlets in my hair, tied my turban over my head and headed out the door again.

I took the public stage, otherwise known as the city bus, all the way across the city. As a consequence, I missed the social hour and barely had time to take off my modern shoes and outerwear and finish dressing for the banquet and ball. 

The banquet wasn't quite what I had expected. It felt very rushed and there wasn't much time to socialize. It felt a lot like a wedding. Being the world's pickiest eater over the age of 6, I had the children's meal of chicken fingers. They were OK but not great. Dessert was a sweet little apple tart in a graham crust with crumble topping. It tasted nice and was very seasonal but a little disappointing because it was something I could have made myself with some effort. With 850 Janeites and their companions, it was difficult to see or talk to many people.

I sat with some strangers who were quite nice. The lady next to me was from Madison, Wisconsin and I told her how much I love looking at their historical society's website. I wish I could get a job there! She said there are a lot of young(er) adults just out of library school like myself competing for very few jobs in that area. She told me about some other special libraries she had visited like the Budweiser archive. Who knew there was such a thing? Too bad I don't drink beer! It did expand my knowledge of special libraries and where to look for jobs. Next to her was a fellow New Englander and librarian who went all the way to Illinois for library school. On the other side of the librarian was a name I recognized - Janet Mullany. I've only read one of her books, The Rules of Gentility, and found it very funny; and one of her short stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I didn't have a chance to talk to her though.

After the banquet I joined in the promenade around the hotel lobby. We went up the escalator, around the first floor; up the next escalator and around the main lobby; down and around again. I saw some very lovely costumes and wanted pictures so I dropped out of the promenade after two trips around to photograph the other participants. The gentlemen looked very nice indeed!

More pictures of the promenade:
Promenade Part 1 and Part 2

While the ballroom was getting set up I attended a panel discussion on Jane Austen Around the World. The speakers were Susannah Fullerton of JASA (Australia), Claire Bellanti, (JASNA), Maureen Stiller from the Jane Austen Society (UK), Adriana Sales Zardini of JASBRA (Brazil) and Laaleen Sukhera-Khan of Jane Austen Pakistan; moderated by Joan Ray. 

The last two societies are quite new but very popular. The Jane Austen Society of Pakistan has a large Facebook group with occasional meetings for tea. Jane Austen's world feels very familiar to them, Pakistan being a former British colony. In contrast, Adriana had a difficult time translating Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility into Portuguese. In Portuguese they have only one word for carriage, but Jane Austen's text is so nuanced, the type of carriage named represents the social status and character of the owner. She consulted Spanish and Italian translations for assistance. I wonder if Jane Austen ever considered that people would be reading her novels in a time and place where the rules of society and pop culture references would be foreign to readers? 

The panel discussed patriarchy and Jane Austen readers. It was a difficult question to answer. Susannah Fullerton noted that her native New Zealand was the first country to allow women the vote and female readers there identify with Lizzie Bennet's independent spirit! There were a number of gentlemen in attendance and not just as companions. It seems more acceptable for men to read Jane Austen now. Sadly, Susannah Fullerton's sons don't share the love but they are fully well aware of their mother's work. She shared a funny anecdote about when her son was small, he had a friend over to work on a project. They needed the dining room table so her son told his friend they had to clear off his mother's Jane Austen stuff first. "Who's Jane Austen?" the friend replied. The son responded incredulously "You don't know who Jane Austen is?!" 

I peeked in the ball as the dancing was getting started. I've seen and tried Regency dancing and it's not easy. 

Health issues prevent me from trying to dance so I retreated to the card room upstairs. I met some nice ladies and together we learned to play four-handed whist, with special Jane Austen cards, of course. They also had instructions for piquet, lottery fish, backgammon and outside in the lobby area, an ongoing Jane Austen puzzle. See more pictures of the games.

Just as I was winning the card game, my too-modern phone rang with my ride announcing their arrival. Like Cinderella, I had to make a hasty early exit. I had just enough time at the ball to keep me from being bored. I was exhausted and ready to go to bed. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Day 2


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Day 2

Saturday October 22

JASNA North American Scholar Lecture: Dr. Susan Allen Ford "Not That You Would Think Anything Of" Robert Martin and Harriet Smith

This talk examined Emma's prejudice against Robert Martin as an appropriate husband for Harriet vs. the reality. After examining agricultural journals of the period, Dr. Ford discovered many subtle nuances in Emma that indicate Robert Martin is actually quite a well-to-do man and not a mere laborer! He was quite in love with Harriet. This was a really fascinating in-depth look at the things in Austen novels that have been lost to time. Certainly her readers would have known at least some of the subtle clues that give them a better idea of Robert Martin's character. 

Breakout Session C1: "So Prettily Done!" Illustrating Emma

Deborah Barnum, Regional Co-Coordinator, Vermont Region

From Bentley's 1833 edition to the latest Marvel comic, numerous illustrators have imagined the characters and settings of Emma. This visual journey takes listeners through the nearly 200 years of Emma's illustrated history, comparing the artists and their times, and discussing which of the many Mr. Knightley's works best.

I HAD to go to this session by my fellow New Englander and rare book collector. The various illustration styles and scenes illustrators have chosen to depict over time are quite interesting. Ms. Barnum invited the audience to interact by answering several questions:

  • What would you choose to illustrate?
  • How strictly do you need to stick to the text?
  • Do the illustrations give a true account of the times and setting of the story?
  • What of the illustration itself? Is the technique right for the action?
  • Does an illustration that does not agree with your subjective view ruin the reading of the book/or movie for you?
My personal answers are:
  • I'd have to read the book carefully. I would not have thought to include random scenes like the Perry children eating wedding cake. 
  • I'm a purist. If the text says Emma has brown hair and hazel eyes, the illustration/actress had better have brown hair and hazel eyes. For some reason Emma continues to be depicted as a blond. 
  • It depends on the illustration, obviously.
  • Yes! I can't stand it when illustrations and especially movies fail to get it right. 

The first illustrated Emma from 1833 by William Greenbatch after George Pickering.
Emma and Harriet look too much alike, the clothing styles are wrong. On the plus side, Mr. Elton is in the image.

Here we have two images from the 1870s. They are very nice for being black and white though once again the clothing styles are wrong. This Emma reminds me of Amy March in Little Women for some reason.

Now we have better clothing styles in this 1892 edition illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett. I like the action being outside and seeing the house in the background.

This is a great scene, illustrated by Hugh Thompson. It's not one I would have thought about including - Mr. Knightley tossing his nephew in the air - but it's sweet. It shows Mr. Knightley's character and Emma looking on. They could almost be a married couple with their own children. I like seeing Emma lounging and not posing stiff.

Emma and Knightley by C.E. and H.M. Brock. This is quite nice. It shows a sweet and tender scene - um is it still a spoiler of the book was written 200 years ago? The clothing looks right and the action is outside where it belongs. It looks very realistic-like the reader is right there at Hartfield with the characters.

This one by C.E. Brock from 1909 is beautiful! I love the soft colors. It's so romantic. As with the previous illustration, it's outside where it belongs and you can see Hartfield in the background. It's a little more romantic and dreamy than the previous image.

The first female illustrator, Christiana Hammond, did these drawings in 1898.
I think Emma looks rather older than her years here. It's a sweet scene but not one that I probably would have chosen to illustrate.

One more out of copyright image is from 1910 by William Sewall. I don't like this one at all. It's dark and the style is a little too modern for me. I do like the action being outside.
image from ebay
Fast forward to present day when illustrators are still giving us their own interpretation of Emma. From the super cute Cozy Classics (my personal favorite)
Emma Cozy Classics edition Jack and Holman Wang

to the bizarre Manga version
Manga Classics: Emma Softcover (Manga Classics, Jane Austen): Jane Austen, Stacy King, Crystal Chan, Po Tse

(Actually this image isn't that bad but the one shown in the presentation of Harriet Smith was strange).

Well, I like the modern sentiments expressed by Emma ...

Deborah Barnum invited people to e-mail her or comment on her blog weighing in  on their favorite illustrators and scenes. My favorite illustrator is H.M. Brock.

Breakout Session D8: One Very Superior Party: In Which Mrs. Elton Shews the Inhabitants of Highbury "How Everything Ought to be Arranged"  
Kim Wilson, Wisconsin region

What does Mrs. Elton mean when she criticizes the parties held at Highbury, and what sort of party should she give? Informative and amusing illustrations of Regency-era parties, games, foods and table settings will show participants what Mrs. Elton's evening party would have looked like and how they can easily recreate it.

Some of this was overlap from Joyce White's talk on desserts. Much of the information was known to me. What I liked was the hands-on experience of seeing, feeling and smelling things that were used at parties. We smelled orange flower water, which doesn't smell much like oranges; rosewater, which I have used before and don't like. It smells and tastes like soap. 

What I also really enjoyed was how to throw a Regency party cheaply. She threw a nice Regency party using mid-late-20th-century reproduction Regency/Victorian style table settings. Some were inherited from her mother-in-law and some were purchased at discount stores like Home Goods. Reproduction Spode can be found cheaply online too and blue and white transferware was popular in the mid-20th-century. 

Ms. Wilson also included a handout with many recipes. One side has recipes for rout cakes (little cookies or biscuits) from period cookbooks. The other side has recipes for water iceas. I want to try cinnamon ice

Recipe from The Professed Cook (1812)
Glace de Candle /Cinnamon Ice 
Infuse a proper quantity of cinnamon about an hour in hot water and boil it a moment. Add half a pound of fine sugar to a pint of water; sift it through a sieve and finish as others.

Modern interpretation:
4 3-inch cinnamon sticks
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
Bring cinnamon sticks and water to a boil, remove from heat and let sit an hour. Bring it back to a boil briefly, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool, chill until cold, then freeze. 
Kim Wilson gives further suggestion for what she calls the Lydia option: To a 1.5 litre carton of good vanilla ice cream mix 1-2 tablespoons of good ground cinnamon to taste, stir well and return to freezer.

You can see images of such ices on food historian Ivan Day's website

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Day One


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Day 1

Friday Oct. 21 - Breakout Sessions

I didn't make it back to the hotel from the DAR in time for the opening or keynote speaker. I squeaked in just before the breakout sessions began. 

Breakout Session A5: What Emma Knew: Modes of Education in Emma

Jessica Richard, Wake Forest University
This session will illuminate theories and models of women’s education in early 19th-century England and in Emma.  In this context, rather than teaching her lessons, the novel vindicates Emma’s independent intuition and knowledge, aligning her—and Austen—with radical theorists of women’s education.

This one went over my head. The only thing I really remember is whether Jane Austen was making a statement on the belief that the dumber a woman is, the more a man will want her. (Citing Northanger Abbey's Catherine Morland and Emma's Harriet Smith).

Breakout Session B4: Dependence or Independence? 
Sheryl Craig, University of Central Missouri
Emma contains 16 female characters who are gainfully employed and who have the ability to conduct business, to manage their own money, and to behave as rational creatures.  Thus, in this novel Jane Austen is making the same argument Mary Wollstonecraft made in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

This talk was really interesting. How many working women are mentioned in Emma? Sheryl Craig counted at least 16- depending on how you count working women. Do you count Miss Weston/Mrs. Taylor? The book opens with her wedding, so probably not. Do you count Jane Fairfax who is not yet working? Maybe. There are women who are mentioned by name like Mrs. Goddard, and other working women who have no names like Emma's maid. I had forgotten about Emma's maid. A comprehensive list would include other forgotten characters like Miss Nash, head teacher at Mrs. Goddard's school; Mrs. Ford, shopkeeper; Mrs. Hodges, housekeeper at Donwell Abbey; Wright, housekeeper at the vicarage; Hannah, servant at Randall's; Patty, servant to the Bates women; Mrs. Stokes, owner of the Crown Inn at Highbury; other teachers, Miss Price and Miss Richardson; Serle, cook at Hartfield.

(list from Strange Blog)

How did these women get their jobs? Is their basis in historic facts for these occupations? Cooks, housekeepers and maids are common occupations for women, as was teaching; but what about innkeeper or shop owner? Dr. Sheryl Craig has researched the Hampshire Chronicle (Winchester, England) from the period 1815-1816 and come up with a list of help wanted ads by and for women. The advertisements ask for teachers/governess, nurse, upper servant, cook. The more unusual ads give credence to the unseen/forgotten working women in Emma. 

ELIZABETH GLENCROSS... Linen-Draper, Hawker, &c. 

Mrs. Hardwell, Watchmaker

TO MILERS, WANTED ... A sober, steady, MAN (does this imply women had applied for the position?)

Other fabulous ads include:

To be LEFT.... PUBLIC-HOUSE.... £200 to £300-Imediate posession given. (Perhaps this is how Mrs. Ford acquired her inn?)

DINAH POINTER, Widow of the late John Pointer, Maltster, of the Soke, Winchester, ..... [thanks her husband's friends] and begs leave to inform them the business will be carried on as usual, under the direction of his Executors, for the maintenance of herself and children...

Mrs. Bradfield, Plumber and Glazier

For many women in England (and anywhere else) at that time, working wasn't a choice, it was a necessity. What we can learn from these ads is that women could and did hold occupations in early 19th century England. Widowhood afforded women the money and freedom to pursue occupations outside of the home and domestic realm.

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part VII


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part VII

Thursday Oct. 20

Emma is Presented in Washington, DC

An evening of theater listening to the conversation of a group of elite Washington ladies in 1816. Louisa Adams, future First Lady, hosts a "Ladies of 1816 Book Club" for her friends Rosalie Stier Calvert (1778-1821), First Lady Dolley Madison  (1768-1849) and her friend Elizabeth Paterson Bonaparte, the scandalously divorced former wife of Napoleon's brother Jérôme.

Laura Rocklyn, the author, states they took  a few liberties with the timeline as Louisa Adams and Betsy Bonaparte were still in Europe at the time. While the book club is fictional, the events discussed by the ladies are based on historical record. 

Louisa Catherine Adams
Louisa Catherine Adams

Rosie Stier Calvert

Dolley Payne Madison
Elizabeth Paterson Bonaparte

 The ladies sipped tea and gossiped about their family lives, fashion, modern marriage and the latest European fashions (scandalous!). Though Dolley Madison claimed she wasn't interested in other people's lives, she was an enthusiastic participant in the gossip fest. Louisa Adams, always a diplomat, tried to steer the topic towards the book they were supposed to discussing, Emma by the author of Sense & Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, etc. 

Betsy Bonaparte is upset because her ex-husband, Jerome, allowed his brother Napoleon to annul their marriage, leaving her alone and pregnant in Europe. She was forced to leave Paris and go to England to have her child safely and then return to Baltimore. Jérôme was hastily married off to a German princess. She misses her fashionable friends in Paris and their stylish clothes. Louisa and Rosalie secretly think Betsy's European style dresses are a bit too scandalous for their tastes. Betsy was the Kim Kardashian of her day. The gossips loved to malign her for her flimsy dresses and defiance of proper womanhood, but she took initiative to divorce her husband and control her own finances.  Betsy also thinks modern marriage should be based on wealth and admiration. The partners should also be close in age. This last statement upset Rosalie and Dolley, whose husbands were much older. 

There was also a barbed comment about husbands who have extramarital relationships behind their wives' backs. Mr. Calvert was known to have fathered a second family with one of his slaves. The ladies had much to say. They were all quite opinionated and intelligent. There was undoubtedly much more discussed but it was a long day and I didn't take notes. Hopefully someone else did! I also did not stay for the talkback, but I hope another blogger will share with the rest of us. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part VI


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part VI

Thursday Oct. 20: The Making of Cozy Classics

Another fun talk in the evening was by Jack Wang, creator of the Cozy Classics series of child-friendly classic novels.

The idea all started when Jack Wang's oldest daughter was a baby. He got tired of reading her the same stories over and over. They usually feature rhyming text, bright colors and animals. He wondered whether there were books adults could enjoy that will still teach children language skills and engage their interest. Not finding anything that suited his interest, Jack reached out to his twin brother Holman to bounce an idea off him. Holman liked the idea and suggested needle felted illustrations. His wife does needle felting and he thought it would be a good medium to work with. Holman does the needle felting and principal photography, so I wonder if he regrets his suggestion? (Ha ha) 

The first concept was to have 20 child-friendly words, however they soon realized that meant they needed 20 illustrations and that was too time-consuming and difficult. They reduced the number to 12 and brainstormed lists of words to use. Jack, an writing professor at Cornell, and dad, is well qualified to choose words that help a child develop and also words that adults will get a smile out of if they know the story. 

The books feature 12 illustrations of needle-felted characters. Needle felting is the processing of stabbing loose wool with a barbed needle. (This could be useful when designing the villainous characters). They wrap the felted wool around armature to allow their characters to be posed. Then they add faces and change the expressions to suit the story.

Holman had the idea to use pages from the original books as background. That didn't quite work out so they use the first page with the character standing on it. Many of the sets are made at Holman's house using dollhouse furniture.

 Other illustrations are photographed on location in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

They had interest from a publisher right away, but the publisher wanted them to change the name of Pride and Prejudice! The publisher felt Prejudice wasn't an appropriate word for a children's book. The publisher clearly missed the concept so they passed. Fortunately they have had interest from other publishers and started with a Canadian publisher. They are now with Chronicle Books. The new publisher is releasing some of the backlist titles and a new title each year. The newest releases are War & Peace (with only 3 figures-how?) and Great Expectations. Upcoming books include Wizard of Oz and Little House on the Prairie

The Wangs also have a Star Wars Classic Yarns series.

More pictures can be seen in this album

I've purchased some of these for my nieces and nephews and/or have read almost all of them. I just love the adorable needle felted illustrations. I don't always agree with the word choices used to tell the story but as Jack explained, the fun for grown-ups is in the storytelling. We can throw in the lines we've memorized, do voices, etc. I have to say that Emma is by far my favorite in the series. Her facial expressions are priceless and I think it tells the story well. Naturally, I was loved hearing Jack speak about the creative process and get some books signed for my young cousins with whom I was staying. Everyone else seemed to agree with me because the line to purchase books and have them signed was very long! My cousin and her husband appreciate the gifts and her husband actually read a Jane Austen book for the first time! 

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part V


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part V

Thursday Oct. 20/Friday Oct. 21

An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After the American Revolution

In the afternoon, I attended another curator talk. Alden O'Brien, curator of the costume exhibit "An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After the American Revolution" at the Daughters of the American Revolution museum, spoke about the exhibit. Alden is a devoted Janeite and Mr. Darcy lover. She is a very funny speaker and told us how she got to fulfill a lifelong dream and put her hands in "Mr. Darcy's" breeches - the manikin that is. She also quipped that the mannequin representing Miss Bingley got a little fresh with Mr. Darcy as they were moving the manikin down the corridors to the rooms. This devoted Janite also put together a little booklet just for Janeites about the exhibit in the context of Jane Austen's novels. 

Back to the process of creating an exhibit- the majority of the pieces in the exhibit are authentic pieces from the museum collections. The challenge was getting human clothing onto inanimate manikins, some of which lacked legs, heads, arms and hair.  They even had to carve down and build up portions of the foam forms to make them look more historically accurate. They used foam to fill in spaces and create the illusion of hair. You can read more about the exhibit process and see the photos on the DAR blog. Some of the accessories, mostly jewelry, are reproductions. This exhibit is a must-see! It will make any textile lover's heart go pitter-patter. I'd love to get in the vault and see what else they have. 

Skipping ahead to Friday, here are my (poor) photos from the exhibit with special appearances by my traveling companions Susanna (in her colonial/Federal child's dress) and mini-Jane  Austen wearing her most fashionable Regency ballgown. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part IV


A Trip to JASNA AGM 2016 : Pre-Conference Part IV

Thursday Oct. 20

I made it to the hotel late morning for a workshop on no-sew turbans and bandeaus. 

"Anne Mitchell had tried to put on a turban like mine, as I wore it the week before at the concert, but made wretched work of it — it happened to become my odd face, I believe, at least Tilney told me so at the time, and said every eye was upon me; but he is the last man whose word I would take." ~Isabella Thorpe
Northanger Abbey Ch. 27
Isabella Thorpe Northanger Abbey 1986

Turbans and turban-like headdresses were popular with European women throughout Jane Austen's lifetime. Women always covered their head with either white linen or muslin caps which were embroidered and ornamented with lace; straw, velvet or silk; hair ornaments like ribbons, flowers and combs; turbans of silk or cotton or a decorative hair wrap.

"Tuesday, 8 January 1799: I am not to wear my white satin cap tonight, after all; I am to wear a mamalone [mameluke] cap instead, which Charles Fowle sent to Mary, and which she lends me. It is all the fashion now; worn at the opera, and by Lady Mildmays at Hackwood balls. I hate describing such things, and I dare say you will be able to guess what it is like." Jane Austen to Cassandra Tuesday, 8 January 1799

Turbans were inspired by Turkish fashion but in Europe, they did not have a religious connotation. Fashion magazines began showing turban-like wraps in the 1780s. They were originally made from a silk scarf with fringed ends and also of crepe and silk. Toques (a small hat without a brim or with a narrow brim) of muslin, gauze or tulle fashioned over a wire frame were also popular. Women decorated their turbans with ribbons, feathers and jewels. 

By the 1790s, turbans were made in a wrap style. Since these were not religious turbans, it was fashionable to show some hair peeking out and down below the turban. Some ladies wrapped their turbans leaving an end hanging over the shoulder, while others added an additional bandeau. The top could be covered and women would attach ostrich plumes or brightly colored feathers with a hat pin. At this time the fashion was for the feather to stick straight up. 

The popular cartoonist Gillray lampooned the fashion.

In the early 19th century, the fashion for headdresses became more diverse. The Oriental style was in as was the pillbox style, which was a little more hat-like than a turban. The saque style was inspired by caps worn by French Revolutionaries. The fashion for decorations changed frequently from ostrich plumes to brightly colored feathers to egret feathers. Turbans of this period were ornamented with fringe, pearls, pins and tassels. It was not unheard of to wear pearls with a turban! Fixed turbans also became popular in this period.

We saw an example of a homemade 19th century fixed turban one of the presenters made. 

Fashions became more extreme after Jane Austen's death. In the 1820s exaggerated hairstyles, hats and turbans were all the rage. 

The presenter also gave us a tutorial on how to get the Regency turban look cheaply. She purchased several gauze scarves at the local hardware store in various colors for only a few dollars. She also went shopping at Macy's after-Christmas sale and picked up an infinity scarf. She demonstrated various ways to tie a turban and we each chose a scarf, a feather and some hat pins. We spent some time practicing in front of a mirror. 

The woman in front of me had long, straight hair wore loose under her turban. That reminded me a little too much of Captain Jack Sparrow so I resolved to curl my straight hair or hide it all under a turban. I tied a turban with my hair tucked under and thought that made me look too much like Professor Quirrell. Scary! Then I decided I really would curl my hair! A couple more tries with more hair sticking out made me look a little more Regency than Hogwarts. I went with long curls peeking partially out of a wrap style turban that had tails hanging down.
My turban after the ball... you get the general idea. 

Learn more about Regency turbans :