Jane Austen Society of North America
2008 Annual General Meeting, Chicago, Illinois
October 2-5

"Jane Austen's Legacy: Life, Love, & Laughter"

Welcome Schedule Plenary Speakers Potpourri
Breakout Sessions Poster Sessions Diversions Banquet & Ball
Registration Hotel Local Information and Attractions Tours and Off-Site Events


1 - Thursday Evening - Curtain Raiser
Visualizing Jane Austen and Jane Austen Visualizing

For our Thursday evening Curtain Raiser, Jeff Nigro will give his slide/lecture, "Visualizing Jane Austen and Jane Austen Visualizing." Jeff Nigro is Director of Adult Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, a member of JASNA Greater Chicago Region, and a favorite speaker on art and culture. A reception will follow. The Art Institute is free to the public Thursday evenings, 5-8pm. Take advantage of this opportunity to see a world renowned collection and hear an informative and entertaining talk. More details will follow.
2 - Friday Afternoon - Special Session

"Austen's Beautifull Cassandra: The Pictures, the Music, the Dance"

Composer Joanne Forman and author, editor, illustrator Juliet McMaster collaborated on Beautifull Cassandra, which debuted as a multi-media musical presentation and was then adapted as a ballet. The two will discuss their creative processes, accompanied by some of Juliet's original pictures and live music provided by a harpist and flutist. Joanne Forman, winner of a NEA Composer's Fellowship has also composed orchestral and choral music, several operas, and some musicals for children. Now Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Juliet is the author of several books on Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray and other English novelists as well as a extremely talented illustrator.
3 - Friday Evening
An Evening of Mysteries and Characters

Friday evening, three intriguing Janeites will engage in a conversation about how mysteries can lead to the analysis of characters in Austen on the one hand, and how Austen and her characters can lead to mysteries on the other.

Participants are:

  • Stephanie Barron, Author of the Jane and . . . mysteries;
  • Carrie Bebris, Author of the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries;
  • Steve Martin, Chicago area businessman, Austen enthusiast, and life-long mystery reader.
  • Moderator: Jennifer S. Hunter, Chicago Sun-Times

Greater Chicago Region's own Steve Martin, after a lifetime of reading classic mystery fiction became interested in Austen and noticed similarities of structure and characterization. When he can spare time from business and family pursuits he gives fascinating presentations on his emerging analysis of the connections. He has a work in progress to explain all. Carrie Bebris and Stephanie are known to many JASNA members as the authors of engaging mystery novels which employ Austen or her characters in the capacity of sleuths. 

In this Friday evening special event, Steve will sketch his system of analysis of Austen characters, the mystery writers will respond, and the whole should make for a delightful and edifying conversation.

We are fortunate to have engaged Austen reader and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Jennifer S. Hunter, to server as moderator for the event.

Stephanie Barron

Carrie Bebris

Steve Martin
4 - Saturday Evening - Interlude
Romance Fiction in the Wake of Austen

Contemporary critics and phrase-makers may link romance fiction with terms like "Post-Austen, post-Regency, post-modern, and perhaps even post-romantic", but never Post-Passion. Four experts on romance in life and literature bring us up to date on the where's and why's of romance since Austen's time. This panel may be designed as an interlude between Banquet and Ball at the AGM; however, we assume that Romance is a topic that never is, or never has, an interlude.

Pamela Regis

Pamela Regis is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland where she teaches the Austen course. In her A Natural History of the Romance Novel (U Penn Press, 2003), she defines the romance novel and argues that Pride and Prejudice is the best one ever written. She led breakout sessions at both the L.A. and Tuscon AGMs.
Eric M. Selinger

Eric Selinger is Associate Professor of English at DePaul University where he teaches courses on Modern and Contemporary Poetry and on popular Romance Fiction. He is the author of What Is It Then Between Us? Traditions of Love in American Poetry (Cornell UP, 1998) and co-editor of several collections of essays. He is founder of the RomanceScholar Listserv and "Teach Me Tonight," a collaborative blog about romance fiction. In 2006-7 he received a research grant from the Romance Writers of America for an ongoing project on the art of reading Romance Fiction. 
Mary Bly/Eloisa James

Mary Bly is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department, Fordham University. A Shakespearean scholar, she specializes in plays written for boy companies. Queer Virgins and Virgin Queans on the Early Modern Stage was published by Oxford University Press in 2000. The Geography of Puns was published in the PMLA in January, 2007. As Eloisa James she writes bestseller historical romances, the kind not celebrated in Shakespeare Quarterly. Her current release is Desperate Duchesses, published by Harper Collins in June, 2007.

Photo by 
Amanda Stevenson Lupke

Sarah S. G. Frantz: (Panel Organizer and Chair)

Sarah Frantz is Assistant Professor of Literature at Fayetteville State University, NC and a Chemical Officer in the Army National Guard.  A specialist in Romantic-era British women novelists, Sarah’s favorite is Jane Austen.  A regular speaker at JASNA events, Sarah spreads the gospel of Austen at every opportunity.  She is currently working on two book-length academic projects, one on popular romance fiction and another on the way women writers construct male characters.

5 - Sunday Brunch

Of Composing, Collaborating and Creaking Doors:
A Conversation about Austen-inspired Musical Theater (with some singing and speaking as well)

Of all the forms of artistic and critical expression that have been inspired by Jane Austen over the last 200 years, musical theater has been among the least frequent to appear. Those who attended the 2002 AGM in Toronto will recall that some musical numbers from a forthcoming light opera version of Pride and Prejudice were performed at the final plenary session. These preliminary versions of some of the songs from the score were the result of a unique musical/theatrical collaboration which is ongoing. 

The fully staged operetta, Pride and Prejudice, with book, lyrics, and music by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs was given its world premier performances by the Ohio Light Opera Festival in July and August of 2006. According to the program notes, while the names are given in the traditional writer/composer order, both members of this team contributed to all three elements of the musical theater worked performed in Ohio.

JASNA members, Ms Baker and Ms Jacobs will be our very special guests at the final general session on Sunday October 5th. They will be engaged in conversation about their journey with Jane Austen and the creative process which has emerged from that journey. That journey continues. As of this writing, a production company has been formed and Baker and Jacobs are revising the work into a form appropriate for the Broadway stage. By the time we gather in Chicago, some of us may have had the opportunity to see Broadway performances or be planning our trips to New York to see it.

Ms Baker and Ms Jacobs will be interviewed by Arlene Crewdson.  Arlene Crewdson founded Pegasus Players in 1978 and has directed numerous productions for the theater. She has taught classic theater on PBS station Channel 11 in Chicago and published A Study to Classic Theatre. The Chicago Tribune has twice named Arlene one of the twenty Chicagoans who annually are singled out for having made memorable contributions to the arts.

We are planning to interpolate scenes and songs from this work between sections of their conversation. Milwaukee left us in epistolary mode. Tucson left us debating. Vancouver will no doubt leave us pondering. We hope that Chicago will leave us all singing.


Arlene Crewdson

Amanda Jacobs
Photo by Ali Vatansever

Lindsay Baker
Photo by Ali Vatansever

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