2004 Annual General Meeting

Jane Austen Society of North America

October 7-10, 2004
Millenium Biltmore Hotel
Los Angeles, California

Anne Elliot in the City: Interior and Exterior Worlds


Plenary Speakers

Kenneth Turan
Jane Austen: From Page to Screen--Conversations with Film-makers

Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan is a noted film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio and Director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

After a screening of Persuasion in the Biltmore Bowl, starring Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds,  Mr. Turan will host a panel discussion by writers, directors, and producers of Austen film adaptations.  We are pleased to announce that Helen Fielding, author, screenwriter and producer of the novel and movie, Bridget Jone’s Diary,  has accepted the invitation to be on this panel. Ms. Fielding—as did Ms. Austen before her—writes unnervingly accurate depictions of womanhood of her era. Fielding’s  new film, Bridget Jones:  The Edge of Reason,  loosely  based on Persuasion and which also stars Colin Firth as Mark Darcy—is slated to open later this year.

Paula Byrne
Masquerade, Assemblies and Plays: Urban Pleasures in Jane Austen's World

Paula Byrne

Published in Persuasions 26 (2004).  “‘The unmeaning luxuries of Bath’: Urban Pleasures in Jane Austenís World.” Persuasions 26 (2004): 13-26.

Paula Byrne is the author of Jane Austen and the Theatre,  a book that the Times Literary Supplement described as a “definitive and pioneering study of a wholly neglected aspect of Austen’s art.” She has also edited the forthcoming Routledge Literary Sourcebook on Jane Austen’s Emma. Paula has taught in school, college and university, but is now a full-time writer. She has published essays on a wide range of women authors and is working on a major biography of the eighteenth-century actress, poet, novelist, feminist and royal mistress Mary “Perdita” Robinson, a contemporary of Jane Austen.

In Jane Austen and the Theatre, Dr. Byrne challenges the notion that Jane Austen was immovably attached to village life and deeply suspicious of urban pleasures. Her book presents quite another  picture: an Austen who enjoyed city life, who attended the theatre whenever she could and took enormous pleasure in the theatrical  scene.  In her plenary session, Dr. Byrne  will examine public social space in the theatre, and  also the masquerade and assemblies in the late Georgian era, both historically, and as presented in the literature of the time.

Isobelle Grundy

The Bath of Jane Austen and Persuasion:  A City of Women Writers

Isobel Grundy

Isobel Grundy is University of Alberta Professor Emeritus.  Dr Grundy’s areas of research interest are women writers in English from the Medieval period through the long eighteenth century.  This expert in 18th-century literature and women's literary history is a Chawton House Library Trustee and Co-Investigator on the Orlando Project, a collaborative undertaking--involving participants from universities   in Canada, the United States, England, and Australia.  She is writing the first full scholarly history of women's writing in the British Isles.

In her plenary discussion,  Dr. Grundy proposes to examine Bath through a lens quite different from the scrutiny of earlier observers.  Writers, readers and lovers of Austen have already paid close attention to many aspects of Bath such as its social, medical, and  cultural history.  We have heard about its balls, introductions, jaunts into the countryside. Some attention has been paid to its commercial history with examinations of the opportunities it provided for gaining a livelihood—not from marriage—but from marketing, acting, publishing, or teaching.

In Persuasion, Austen makes her heroine say that the pen has always been in men’s hands. Now, Dr. Grundy proposes to rectify this misapprehension by relating the story of Bath through the eyes of its women writers—how it functioned for them as home or vacation environment, as material or fictional setting, or as  market for their work.  She also will inquire  how far Austen may have been aware of Bath’s stories of women writers, and what the currency or invisibility of their stories may have meant to her.

Where Arts and Elegance have fix'd their seat: Musical Culture in Regency Bath

Robert Winter

Robert Winter

Robert Winter, Scholar and pianist, is Director of the Center for the Digital Arts at UCLA and Associate Dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture. He also holds the Presidential Chair in Music and Interactive Arts at UCLA.  Considered one of UCLA's most dynamic teachers,  Dr. Winter’s efforts have also been lauded in many print outlets. Mr. Winter is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including a 1983 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 1985 Kindeldey Award from the American Musicological Society for the best scholarly book on music.

Kathryn L. Shanks Libin

Kathryn L. Shanks Libin, musicologist and keyboardist,  teaches music history and theory courses at Vassar; her special interest is in music of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Ms. Libin also specializes in intersections between music and literature in early Romanticism, with special emphasis on musical issues and implications in the writings of Jane Austen. She has presented papers at several JASNA AGM's and recently served as Music Director for JASNA's 2003 meeting in Winchester, which included planning a historically authentic choral evensong in Winchester Cathedral.

Jane Austen participated in the flourishing musical culture of Bath during her residence there,  both as a concertgoer and as an amateur pianist. Her intelligent and sensitive creation, Anne Elliot, likewise partakes of Bath's musical offerings.  A pivotal scene is the encounter between Anne and Captain Wentworth at a concert, in a setting easily recognizable to any Bath concertgoer of the period:  Austen’s characters “took their station by one of the fires in the octagon room,”  a familiar feature of the Upper Rooms in Bennett Street where most of Bath’s subscription concerts took place.  Local singers will entertain with a re-creation of this concert.  The presentations by Dr. Winter and Dr. Libin, illustrated with slides and musical excerpts, will offer a glimpse of Bath’s extraordinarily rich musical culture at the turn of the nineteenth century, and will give a context for interpreting the concert scene in which Anne Elliot, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Elliot and others, provide their own counterpoint.