Breakout Sessions

“He was evidently a young man of considerable taste in reading.”
                                                         Persuasion, Vol. III, Ch. 11

Lady Russell and the 2018 AGM organizers are pleased to announce the following Breakout Sessions. During AGM registration, you will be asked to select one talk from each of four sessions.

Breakout Session A - Friday, Sept. 28, 2:45 pm – 3:35 pm

A1. “The Misfortune of Poetry”: Retrenching Through Literature in Persuasion and Sanditon
Sara Dustin, Florida Southwestern State College

In Persuasion and Sanditon, Austen’s heroines attempt to correct her male characters’ mishandling of Romantic poetry. Her heroines connect literature with morality. Sara Dustin contextualizes Austen’s incorporation of male Romanticism by also discussing some of the lesser- known Romantic women writers.

Dr. Dustin is Professor of English at Florida Southwestern State College where she teaches composition and literature courses. Sara serves as the Regional Coordinator of the JASNA Southwest Florida Region. She has presented papers at a variety of academic conferences and published scholarly reviews, encyclopedia articles, and a journal article on nineteenth-century literature.

A2. Lady Elliot Wannabes
Marilyn Francus, West Virginia University

What is it about Lady Elliot—or the role of Lady Elliot—that is so appealing? How does the hope of becoming Lady Elliot shape the characters in the novel? The Lady Elliot wannabes and their failure to become Lady Elliot open possibilities for understanding and exploring Persuasion.

Marilyn Francus is a professor of English at West Virginia University, where she teaches eighteenth-century literature and Austen in popular culture. Marilyn is the author of Monstrous Motherhood: 18th-Century Culture and The Ideology of Domesticity (2012). She has published articles in Persuasions and Persuasions Online. Marilyn also chairs JASNA's International Visitor Program.

A3. Captain Wentworth—Brilliant, Dangerous, and Headstrong
Jocelyn Harris, University of Otago

Captain Wentworth derives from Nelson, Cook, and Byron, but Leigh family history gave him a plot and a name. In her revision, Jane Austen pulled him down to balance Anne. His proposal shows him still used to command, but his thinking about the abilities of women has radically changed.

Jocelyn Harris, professor emerita at the University of Otago, New Zealand, has written Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (1989); A Revolution Almost beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (2007); and Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen (2017). She publishes often in Persuasions and speaks regularly at JASNA AGMs.

A4. Men Reading Badly: the Representation of Male Readers in Jane Austen’s Persuasion
Robin Henry, Clovis Community College

During the eighteenth century, perceptions of male and female readers were widely different. A close reading of Austen's Persuasion, offers a depiction of men reading badly. She intentionally shows that women and men are equally susceptible to “bad” reading, making women the intellectual and moral equals of men, a revolutionary idea for the time.

Robin Henry is a K-12 educator, librarian and an online Humanities instructor. She holds a Master of Library Science from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. A lifelong Austen fan, her research interests include the history of reading and writing (particularly women’s) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

A5. Persuasion and the Passage of Time
George Justice, Arizona State University

Persuasion depicts the passage of time, using different literary techniques to create emotional impact and prompt reflection on the meaning of our lives individually and with family, community, and nation. This interactive talk will shed light on Austen's novel and engage the audience in group reflection.

George Justice is Professor of English at Arizona State University. The editor of the fourth edition of the Norton Critical Edition of Emma, he is the author of books and articles on eighteenth-century literature, particularly women's writings and analysis of the literary marketplace.

A6. “In Very Good Anchorage Here”: The Conversation at the Core of Persuasion
William Phillips, Greater Chicago Region

The Conversation between Captain Harville and Anne Elliot, which, overheard by Captain Wentworth, clinches his overdue reconciliation with her. Along with examining other characters, the core of the presentation is the claim that Anne and Captain Wentworth share culpability for the nature of their separation. In addition, Anne resorts to a shade of dishonesty (or at least critical omission) to achieve the reconciliation for which they both hunger.

William Phillips became a Jane Austen “addict” around 1990, He has made presentations and published on Austen themes in the UK, Japan, and Australia as well as North America. He is active in the Greater Chicago Region and was Co-coordinator of the 2008 AGM in Chicago.

A7. From Emma to Persuasion
Juliette Wells, Goucher College

In a guided discussion, explore how our appreciation of Persuasion deepens as we bear in mind that Austen wrote this novel while she was also closely concerned with the publication and reception of Emma. Images of letters to and from Austen and other historical documents bring alive this intriguing overlap.

Juliette Wells, the Elizabeth Conolly Todd Distinguished Professor of English at Goucher College, created 200th-anniversary editions of Persuasion (2017) and Emma (2015) for Penguin Classics. A frequent AGM presenter, she is the author of Reading Austen in America (2017) and Everybody’s Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination (2011).

Breakout Session B - Friday, Sept. 28, 4:00 pm – 4:50 pm

B1. Who’s Who and Who’s Where—an examination of the social status implied by Bath locations in Persuasion
Julie Buck, Puget Sound Region

This slide lecture will trace the importance of Location, Location, Location, in the social structure in Bath. “The proper address” was acutely important to Sir Walter Elliott, and everyone in the novel is aware of what his lofty perch in Camden-Place connotes.

Julie Buck has been a member of JASNA in the Puget Sound Region since 2011. As Newsletter Editor and then Program Coordinator, Julie has been on the regional board almost since her first days as a member. She has presented previously at the 2015 AGM in Louisville.

B2. The Final Chapters of Austen’s Persuasion
Marcia Folsom, Wheelock College

The good luck of a single surviving manuscript of an Austen novel, the cancelled final chapters of Persuasion, offers a glimpse of Austen transforming her own work. The brilliant revised ending engages the novel’s central issues; including, the difficulty of expressing emotion, the contrasting experiences of men and women, and the possibility of telepathic mind-reading.

Marcia McClintock Folsom is Professor of Literature at Wheelock College. She edited Approaches to Teaching Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Approaches to Teaching Austen’s Emma; with John Wiltshire, Approaches to Teaching Mansfield Park (2014), and Approaches to Teaching Austen’s Persuasion (forthcoming). Her most recent Persuasions essay is “Emma: Knowing Her Mind” (2016).

B3. Heroic Capacity for Love
Tom Kelly, Jane Austen Society Scottish Branch

This session considers heroes’ capacity for love in Jane Austen’s novels, particularly Persuasion. Romantic thrillers require sympathetic as well as strong suitors to engage the heroine and to fully involve the reader. How convincing is Austen’s characterisation of the men who successfully woo her leading heroines?

Tom Kelly is a member of the Jane Austen Society Scottish Branch and specializes in the male characters in Jane Austen novels. He has given presentations in the USA (Fort Worth AGM and North Texas Region), Australia, and Scotland. He also lectures on church buildings, British composers, and popular culture.

B4. Persuasion’s Plot Enabler: Prize Money – How Did Adm. Croft and Capt. Wentworth Make Their Money?
James Nagle, Puget Sound Region

Besides being an important recruitment incentive, prize money vitally supplemented Royal Navy wages during Jane's time. Indeed where would Adm. Croft and Capt. Wentworth be without it? This session will explore how it worked, its impact on the Navy, especially on individual officers, and its good and bad results.

Jim Nagle is a member of the Puget Sound Region and a former JASNA Secretary. He is a semiretired lawyer who loves studying the Regency period. He has become a popular guest speaker at numerous AGMs and Regional meetings regarding various aspects of Regency life.

B5. The Cobb as Anchor against Eternal Ruin: The Influence of Lyme’s Cobb on the Renewal of Anne and Wentworth’s Love
Randi Pahlau, Malone University

Persuasion is known for the themes of autumn and loss: but Jane Austen’s chosen settings of the Cobb at Lyme, with the seaside and fossils, and the city of Bath counteract those themes and provide an underlying sense of hope and rebirth that foreshadow the reunion of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.

Randi Pahlau is an Assistant Professor of English at Malone University in Canton, Ohio where she teaches and researches British Literature, primarily Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and World Literature. Her work has appeared in the British Journal Harts & Minds: The Journal of Humanities and Arts.

B6. Ivory and Canvas: Naval Miniature Portraiture in Jane Austen’s Persuasion
Moriah Webster, National Museum of the Marine Corps

Jane Austen brilliantly effectuates the climax of Persuasion with a discussion between Captain Harville and Anne Elliot about the reframing of Captain Benwick’s miniature portrait. The inclusion of miniature portraiture in Persuasion acts as a socioeconomic metonym that underscores the frailty of the aristocracy within the new social order with the Royal Navy at the helm. Austen’s inclusion of naval portraiture both as personal mementos and markers of collective social identity provides insight as to the permeability of the social and class boundaries of the period.

Moriah Webster is a second-year M.A student in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.A. in art history from Randolph-Macon College. Her primary research interests are early American portraiture, eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century naval history, and the visual and material culture of these periods. The present project stems from research undertaken as the curatorial assistant at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

B7. In Defense of Inconstancy: The Rewards of Second Attachments
Carol West, Hendrix College

Is Persuasion’s celebration of constancy to first loves the prevailing pattern of Austen’s fiction, or could it be the exception to the rule? This session will examine the basis of true “attachments” in Austen’s novels, proposing the reconsideration of Persuasion as one of her strongest cases for the rewards of “second attachments.”

A life-long Austen fan, Carol West is Professor of English at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where she teaches a variety of courses on British novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the a senior seminar on Jane Austen.

Breakout Session C - Saturday, Sept. 29, 10:30 am – 11:20 am

C1. “Cheerful beyond her expectation”: Mrs. Smith and Jane Austen
Elaine Bander, President of JASNA (Canada)

At Bath, Anne Elliot rediscovers her hope for Wentworth’s constancy, taking active steps to encourage that constancy. This new “hope” coincides with Anne’s renewed friendship with her invalid school friend. Mrs. Smith is clearly a character of substance, apparently on the margin but in subtle ways undermining the predictable trajectory of the courtship novel’s central characters, for she has achieved purpose and contentment in life without a Captain Wentworth to love her.

Elaine Bander, retired from the English Department at Dawson College (Montreal), has been JASNA VP (Publications), Regional Coordinator, and Coordinator of the 2014 AGM. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Persuasions and as President of JASNA (Canada), and is assisting editor Stewart Cooke with vol. 3 of The Letters of Charles Burney (forthcoming OUP, General Editor Peter Sabor).

C2. “…a new set of opinions and of hopes”: Lady Russell’s Education
Kathryn Davis, University of Dallas

Jane Austen understood what it meant to age with grace. A frequently overlooked source of hope in Persuasion is Austen’s presentation of an older woman (by Regency standards) undergoing what C.S. Lewis has called the process of “undeception.” Lady Russell must come to terms with her own “prejudice” and “blind [ness].” How has she been able to preserve the flexibility required to take up a “new set of opinions and of hopes”?

Kathryn Davis is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dallas. She has spoken at JASNA AGMs in Fort Worth, Montreal, and Louisville. Her writing on Austen has been published in Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line. She is the author of Liberty in Jane Austen’s Persuasion (Lehigh University Press, 2016).

C3. Sailors in Fiction before Persuasion’s "Gentlemen of the Navy”
Susan Ford, Editor of Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line

This session will examine the literary pedigree of Wentworth and his brother officers on stage as well as in the pages of fiction, through sailors ranging from violent to benevolent. What traits and what possible plots might Austen’s knowing readers have expected to encounter?

Susan Allen Ford, Editor of Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line, has been a Visiting Fellow at Chawton House Library as well as a JASNA Travelling Lecturer. She has published essays on Austen and her contemporaries and is working on a book about what the characters in Austen’s novels are reading.

C4. “A Famous Set-to at Rat-Hunting”: Men and Their Pastimes as a Guide to Constancy in Persuasion
Susan Jones, Palm Beach Atlantic University

When Charles Musgrove discusses his sisters’ suitors, he sorts out his feelings about them in accordance with their pastimes. Captain Benwick, for example, looks like a pretty poor figure until he proves his mettle in “A famous set-to at rat-hunting.” This session will examine the men’s pursuits in Persuasion to create a continuum of male pastimes as a mini-manual to readers searching for constancy in marriage.

Susan Jones is a Professor of English at Palm Beach Atlantic University and co-author of Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift: An Independent Woman’s Advice on Living within One’s Means. She has a special interest in material culture, including women’s “work,” the language of food in the Regency, and Regency men’s pastimes, collections, and recreations.

C5. Captain Benwick and Louise Musgrove: Shipwreck or Love Boat?
Theresa Kenney, University of Dallas - Irving
Diane Capitani, Northwestern University

Does Captain Benwick have a “heart worth having”? Or is Mary Musgrove right about him? Could Louisa Musgrove—censured by her creator for her headstrong, self-destructive behavior—really find happiness with the Byron-quoting Benwick? Or is it all made right by her “all-too precipitate jump”? Is this couple afloat or aground after the novel ends? Will it be a shipwreck or will their love boat be shipshape? This bipartite session will examine these questions and provide clarity concerning this most unlikely of all relationships in the novel.

Dr. Theresa Kenney is Associate Professor of English at the University of Dallas in Irving, TX. She is the Director of the Christian Contemplative Tradition Concentration and the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Concentration. She has had several essays published in Persuasions and sponsored numerous JASNA essay contest winners and runners-up.

Dr. Diane Capitani is Director of the Writing Center and Affiliate Faculty in writing and theology at Northwestern University. She is a past JASNA Traveling Lecturer and has spoken at numerous AGMs and Regional events. She has published articles and books, and is currently finishing Jane Austen, Augustinian, as well as a Jane Austen novel.

C6. Plans of Economy in Persuasion
Linda Zionkowski, Ohio University

Who in Jane Austen's culture truly held the power of the purse? Although a family's wealth generally belonged to men, the task of managing that money often fell to women. This session will discuss how attitudes towards spending and saving give shape to Persuasion's plot and characters, and how the novel proposes a balance between prudence and profligacy, caution and abandon, in money and love alike.

Linda Zionkowski is Professor of English at Ohio University, and most recently author of Women and Gift Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Fiction: Richardson, Burney, Austen. Along with Miriam Hart, she has published several essays on the role of domestic music in Austen's life, culture, and novels.

C7. “A State of Alteration”: Stylistic Contrasts in the Musgroves’ Parlor
Kristen Zohn, Executive Director of the Costume Society of America

Austen’s descriptions of the Musgroves’ ancestral portraits and the new furniture added by their daughters to the old-fashioned parlor allude to the era’s changing aesthetics in furnishing and clothing styles. This slide lecture will illustrate those “alterations” with contemporary prints and other images of elegant interiors and exquisite garments.

Art Historian Kristen Miller Zohn lives and works in Columbus, Georgia, where she is Executive Director of the Costume Society of America. She also serves as curator for the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Mississippi. Her essays on portraiture, decorative arts, and architecture have been published in JASNA’s journals. She has presented at several AGMs.

Breakout Session D - Saturday, Sept. 29, 2:30 pm – 3:20 pm

D1. 200 Years of Illustrating Persuasion: Preening Sir Walters and Falling Louisas
Deb Barnum, Co-Regional Coordinator for Vermont Region

How would you portray Capt. Wentworth? Persuasion was the first Austen novel to be illustrated and many artists have imagined her sparingly described characters and settings since. This visual journey through 200 years of Persuasion’s illustrated history will compare artists and their times and discuss which are the most effective and why.

Deborah Barnum owns a store of collectible books and compiles the annual Austen and Burney bibliographies. She is an Austen blogger, JASNA Publications Secretary, Co-Regional Coordinator for Vermont Region, and Board Member of the North American Friends of Chawton House Library.

D2. “The Grace to Deserve”
Mary Ellen Bertolini, Middlebury College

Anne Elliot struggles to believe herself deserving of the right to speak, to make her own decisions, and to choose the man she loves. He, Captain Frederick Wentworth, who believes himself “to have earned every blessing that he enjoyed,” must “learn to brook being happier than [he] deserves.”

Mary Ellen Bertolini has been in love with Jane Austen since she played Jane in Helen Jerome’s play of Pride and Prejudice in high school. She directs the Writing Center at Middlebury College (VT) where she has been teaching the works of Jane Austen for over 25 years.

D3. Persuasion’s Lack of Fan Fiction—A Love Story of Constancy May Not Be Enticing Enough
Maria Biajoli, Anchieta University

This session will discuss why Persuasion is not a very frequent source for Jane Austen fan fiction authors, who generally prefer Pride and Prejudice, even though its love story is frequently appreciated along with Capt. Wentworth’s famous letter. An analysis of the few existing Persuasion fan fiction novels will be presented in comparison with Pride and Prejudice fan fiction.

Maria Clara Pivato Biajoli teaches English Language and Literature at University of São Paulo/FAPESP in Brazil. In 2017 she concluded her PhD in Literary Theory and History at University of Campinas, Brazil, with a thesis about Jane Austen Fan Fiction and Austen’s current popularity. She presented at the 2017 AGM in Huntington Beach.

D4. Seduction and Seducers in English Spa Towns: Jane Austen’s Opportunity of Place
Celia Easton, State University of New York at Geneseo

Bath and Lyme Regis clearly attracted a disproportionate share of seducers, social manipulators, and criminals, but Jane Austen seems to be determinedly opposed to the rhetoric of scare tactics to guard young women’s reputations. In Persuasion, Austen explores the ambiguity of behavior in spa towns that shifts between seduction and flirtation. This session looks at Austen’s multiple depictions of seductive men and asks the question, “Why isn’t Jane Austen more worried?”

Celia Easton is Professor of English and a college administrator at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where she has taught courses on the long eighteenth century and Jane Austen for more than three decades. She is a former coordinator for the Central and Western New York region of JASNA and she serves on the editorial board of Persuasions.

D5. Austen in Battle: How the “Long War” Affected Jane’s Family and Her Naval Novel
Collins Hemingway, Bend, OR

The Long War with France, which carried on for most of Jane Austen’s adulthood, drove England to the brink of political and financial ruin. This talk begins with an overview of the impact of this war and the service of all the men in her family. It then analyzes Persuasion, which emphasizes the social and economic shifts after the war, when self-made naval heroes return to supplant the attenuated aristocracy. The talk explores the direct connections between the naval careers of her “Sailor Brothers,” Frank and Charles, and the development of the storyline and characters of Austen’s naval novel, her last and most emotionally intense work.

Collins Hemingway is a modern technologist and lifelong student of Austen and the Regency period. He has lectured at Austen societies, libraries, universities, and book clubs in the U.S., England, and Australia. He has published articles in Austen academic and trade publications; written literary fiction based on Austen’s life; published nonfiction books on business, science and technology; and written award-winning journalism.

D6. “The Curate’s Egg”
Maureen Kelly, Chairman, Scottish Branch of JAS

The Curate in the famous ‘Punch’ cartoon disclosed that his bad egg was “good in parts”. So, what good and bad parts might a Regency Curate such as Charles Hayter and his wife-to-be, Henrietta Musgrove, expect—and how well are they equipped to meet them?

Maureen Kelly is a regular presenter on Jane Austen and related subjects to many groups including JASNA AGMs (Did Marianne Sing Scots Songs? – Texas 2011; Ring the Bell for Hill – Minneapolis 2013), JASNA North Texas Region, JAS Annual Conference and branches, JASA and branches. She has published several articles and retired as Head of Department, Edinburgh Napier University.

D7. “Consequence has its tax”: Elliots, Knights, and Lushingtons in a Changing World
Linda Slothouber, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Region

The Journal of Louisa Lushington, published by Chawton House Library, illustrates how several families navigated the changing postwar world that readers can just glimpse in the pages of Persuasion. Retrenchment, mobility, and uncertainty in marriage are among the themes that link Anne Elliot’s story to Louisa Lushington’s life experience.

For CHL, Linda Slothouber researched the Lushingtons’ lives and their fascinating connections with Jane Austen’s family and prominent people of the era. Linda has spoken at several AGMs on the historical context of Austen’s novels, and is the author of Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce & Community.


Rozzelle Court Fountain, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art