Call for Papers
—Northanger Abbey, Chapter 20
Despite being one of the earliest of her novels to reach completion, Northanger Abbey remained unpublished in Jane Austen’s lifetime. “’Miss Catherine’ is put upon the shelf for the present,” Austen declared in a letter to Fanny Knight in 1816, “and I do not know that she will ever come out.” Thus, the work as it was eventually printed in 1818 leaves us with many tantalizing questions. To what degree was Jane Austen satisfied with it? What did it look like in its earlier form, the manuscript called Susan that had been sold to a publisher in 1803? How much of the story, besides the heroine’s name, had Austen changed by the time of her death? What other revisions might she have made to it had she lived? Of course, we think it is a perfectly delightful work as it is, offering biting commentary on everything from popular culture, to politics, to the ideal of the picturesque. Exploring all its nuances can be a frustrating, but also a rewarding experience, helping us to better appreciate the very real world in which our fictional friends moved. We are now seeking parties to join in this adventure!
The Southeastern Virginia Region eagerly invites proposals for breakout sessions related to our theme, “200 Years of Northanger Abbey: ‘Real, Solemn History.’”
We encourage both traditional lecture formats and more unusual ones such as debates or multi-media presentations. AGM attendees will appreciate hearing your insights in clear, lively language and relatable, participatory delivery styles.
Among the widely-varied topics we hope to see are the following:
- What can Northanger Abbey tell us about Austen’s attitude towards other forms of literature? (Gothic or sentimental novels, prescriptive literature, history, plays, periodicals, etc.)
- Do the types of education and training that the characters—male and female—receive reflect cultural trends, literary trends, and/or Austen’s own opinions?
- How does Austen’s experience of the late 18th century show up in tangible ways in Northanger Abbey?
- What sorts of history books and historians would Catherine, Henry, Eleanor, and Austen herself have read, and how did they inform or influence Austen’s text?
- How does a comparison of Northanger Abbey with Austen’s other novels demonstrate the evolution of her style, her use of dialogue, her development of characters, or other aspects of her technique?
- Austen concludes her novel by allowing her readers to decide “whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.” How do these opposing forces manifest themselves in Northanger Abbey and in Austen’s world?
Please visit our “Theme” page for additional inspiration! Breakout sessions should be approximately 40 minutes in length, allowing for a question and answer period afterwards.
- A cover letter including your name, JASNA region, any college or university affiliation you may have, your mailing and e-mail addresses, phone number(s), and a brief biography (100 words max.). Also, please let us know if you have been a speaker at a previous AGM.
- A one-page abstract of your breakout session. Describe your presentation both in content and in format, noting what about it will be new or different to a JASNA audience. Specify AV equipment if your presentation will require it.
The submission deadline is October 8, 2018.
Electronic submissions are preferred and may be sent to our committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, in physical form, they may be mailed to:
Dr. Amy C. Stallings
Lyon G. Tyler Department of History
College of William & Mary
PO Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Selections will be announced in early 2019. Please note that breakout speakers will be required to send a written version of their presentations for potential publication in Persuasions or Persuasions On-Line. (Do not submit full papers now; selected speakers will be sent more information about this requirement.)