North Carolina Region

Jane Austen Mini-Conference
October 13, 2012

Can’t get to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Brooklyn?  Come to Raleigh for a half-day conference featuring two nationally-known Austen scholars.

Celia Easton

Inger Brodey

The first speaker will be Dr. Celia Easton, Associate Professor of English at SUNY Geneseo, JASNA’s travelling lecturer for the East.  Her lecture is entitled, “Why on Earth Would Sir Charles Grandison Be Jane Austen’s ‘Favorite’ Novel?”  Wikipedia says the following about this novel:

The History of Sir Charles Grandison, commonly called Sir Charles Grandison, is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson first published in February 1753.  The book was a response to Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, which parodied the morals presented in Richardson’s previous novels.  The novel follows the story of Harriet Byron who is pursued by Sir Hargrave Pollexfen.  After she rejects Pollexfen, he kidnaps her, and she is only freed when Sir Charles Grandison comes to her rescue.  After his appearance, the novel focuses on his history and life, and he becomes its central figure.  Jane Austen enjoyed the novel so much that she adapted it into a play around 1800, although it wasn’t published until 1980.  Also, she claimed that the novel was so familiar that she could describe “all that was ever said or done in the cedar parlour.”

Why would Austen love this novel so much?  Join us to hear Dr. Easton solve this mystery for us.

Our second speaker will be Dr. Inger S. B. Brodey, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill, and a frequent presenter at JASNA-NC meetings.  Her topic is “The Entertainment Value of Suffering: Jane Austen and the ‘Luxuries of Distress.’”  Dr. Brodey describes her talk, as follows:

The cult of sensibility, to which Austen responds most explicitly in her juvenilia as well as in Sense and Sensibility, offered an interesting approach to the suffering of others.  It was a response that favored watching rather than acting and placed great value on stories told by the sufferer.  This model leads to some very funny extremes in Austen’s juvenilia, where she mocks using the suffering of others as a form of entertainment.  Austen the novelist continues to struggle with how to pay attention to suffering without making it into a source of entertainment.  Her struggle to address this issue can also be seen in the narrative structure of Sense and Sensibility, for example, where Marianne becomes such a picturesque spectacle of suffering that the reader is tempted to ignore the suffering of Elinor.

During the refreshment break, Virginia Claire Tharrington will be doing a “show and tell” about her Pride and Prejudice collection.  Virginia Claire owns over 100 different editions of this classic book, and she will bring some of her favorites to the conference.

After the conference you may want to have lunch at any of the more than one dozen restaurants within walking distance of the Cameron Village Library.

he program is free and open to the public.  It takes place on Saturday, October 13th, from 10:30 AM to 1:45 PM at the Cameron Village Regional Library, 1930 Clark Avenue, Raleigh NC 27605.  For more information: contact Sue Scott at 919-856-6701 or

—Gisele Rankin

This event is partially supported by JASNA with a Traveling Lecturer Grant.