2007 Annual General Meeting, Oct. 5-7, Vancouver, BC Canada

Theme: "Discovering Emma in Vancouver"

Welcome Plenary Speakers Breakout Sessions Schedule Registration
Special Events Amusements Hotel Tours Travel Info

Breakout Sessions


Session A: Friday, October 5, 3:30 to 4:15 PM

A1 Shannon Campbell, Edmonton, AB
Apples and Apple Blossom Time (Wherein Jane Austen’s Reputation for Meticulous Observation is Vindicated)
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “Apples and Apple-blossom Time (Wherein Jane Austen’s Reputation for Meticulous Observation is Vindicated).” Persuasions 29 (2007): 89-98.
It was suggested by Jane’s own brother that she was in error regarding apples blooming in summer. The session addresses the controversy, explores some of the attributes of espalier trees, and names the finest apples for baking.

A2 Rosemary Coupe, Capilano College, North Vancouver, BC
Mr. Knightley’s “Natural Grace”: Dancing in Emma
At the Crown ball Emma sees Mr. Knightley with fresh eyes. Like Donwell Abbey, his “natural grace” fuses nature with culture. He embodies the social, aesthetic and moral values of the dancing manuals of Austen’s time.

A3 Catherine Morley, West Vancouver, BC & 
      Lorraine Meltzer, Alpha Secondary School, Burnaby, BC

Exploring Neighbours and Neighbourliness in Emma
What did Austen value about neighbours and neighbourliness when she created Highbury? The speakers will discuss how relationships with neighbours affect the quality of life.

A4 Debra Stein, Attorney, San Francisco, CA
Status, Social Climbing and the Meaning of Gentility in Emma

Highbury residents continuously seek to boost their own standing and respond to the neighbours’ upward or downward social movements. Stein explores eight factors that Austen uses to establish an individual's position on the social ladder.

A5 Elaine Bander, Dawson College,  Montréal, QC
“Of Very Important, Very Recordable Events”: Emma Reads  Emma

In Emma Austen redefines what constitute fictional “events.”  Emma first constructs fictions about others, but eventually learns that she is the heroine of her own novel. These apparently negligible events have been “very important, very recordable,” indeed.

A6 Susan Allen Ford, Delta State University, Cleveland, MS
Reading the Elegant Extracts: Very Entertaining!
Knox’s huge three-volume collection of extracts from prose, poetry, and letters went through many editions from the early 1780s to the 1820s. This talk explores the centrality of the Elegant Extracts to discussions of education, letter writing, reading aloud, reading character, and reading texts such as letters and riddles.

A7 Barbara Hodgson, Author/Curator, Vancouver, BC
Travel in the Time of  Emma

In Emma travel is viewed as a suspect activity, replete with danger and fatigue. Was travel in the early 19th century really so bad? How do the attitudes expressed in Emma compare with the lively accounts of Thomas De Quincey and Johanna Schopenhauer? They show us what it was like to be on the road in the time of Emma.

Session B: Friday, October 5, 4:30 to 5:15 PM

B1 William Phillips, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL & 
Louise Heal-Kawai, Researcher and Translator, Fort Worth, TX
Finessing the Fricassee: Food as a Primary Source of the Humour and Humanity in Emma

These longtime theatre collaborators claim that the preparation, presentation and consumption (or not) of food are among the things most delightful and entertaining in Emma. They also discuss the centrality of food to the decency, generosity and humanity of Highbury society. Expect some sample readings.

B2 Penny Gay, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Jane Fairfax and the “She-Tragedies” of the Eighteenth Century
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “Jane Fairfax and the “She-tragedies” of the Eighteenth Century.” Persuasions 29 (2007): 121-131.
Emma is the heroine of a romantic comedy, but Jane appears to be modelled from the popular “she-tragedy”: those plays in which the only exit is madness and/or death. The talk will be illustrated with contemporary images of actresses and performances of key speeches from the plays.

B3 David H. Bell, California State University, Sacramento, CA
Fun with Frank and Jane: Austen on Detective Fiction
P.D. James praised Austen for planting clues “with deceptive cunning” in Emma. A close reading of just one section of Emma reveals how cleverly Austen plants clues about Frank and Jane’s secret engagement. This talk will include dramatic readings of crucial passages. 

B4 June Sturrock, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC
“I am Rather a Talker”: Speech and Silence in Emma

Emma, deeply concerned with community, foregrounds speech, showing the need for intelligent negotiation between speech and silence. Both speech and silence can offend: Emma offends by speech, Jane and Frank by silence. Emma’s relationship with Knightley shows the social value of communication.

B5 Sarah Emsley, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
“‘Speaking’ Portraits” and “llluminating Incidents”: Edith Wharton’s Response to Emma

Wharton praises Austen’s character portrayal in Emma and sees the Box Hill picnic as one of the finest scenes in fiction. Emsley illustrates the brilliant narrative technique of Emma and the similarities between Emma and Wharton’s Undine Spragg. 

B6 Adele Shaak, Bookbinder, North Vancouver, BC
“Charming Furniture”: Book Production in Austen’s Time
“There is no furniture so charming as books” (Sidney Smith, 1771-1845). This talk is about book production in Austen’s time. Customer taste and economics meant a variety of formats for the same edition of the same book. Mr. Knightley’s copy of Emma would look very different from that of Miss Bates. Find out why.

Session C: Saturday, October 6, 10:30 to 11:15 AM

C1 Cheryl Kinney, MD, Dallas, TX
The Idlest Haunts in the Kingdom: Discovering the Spas and Resorts in Emma

Austen uses various spas and resorts in Emma knowing that her Regency readers would have understood the class and political implications of her choices. Kinney places these spas and resorts in their Regency context to reveal some of the subtext that we might miss.

C2 Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer, Speech Language Pathologist, North Vancouver, BC
A Speech Language Pathologist Journeys to Highbury
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “A Speech Language Pathologist Journeys to Highbury.” Persuasions 29 (2007): 155-166.
While conversation forms a key component of the social life of Highbury,  not all possess the ability to converse or interact socially. Are there one or more characters in Emma whose difficulties are due to an autistic spectrum disorder?

C3 Lynda A. Hall, Chapman University, Orange, CA
Jane Fairfax’s Choice: The Sale of Human Flesh or Human Intellect
Jane Fairfax sells her “flesh” in a marriage rather than selling her intellect as a governess. Hall examines the governess trade of Jane Austen’s time, and traces the early 19th-century debate on woman as commodity.

C4 Tara Ghoshal Wallace, George Washington University, Washington, DC
“It Must Be Done In London”: The Suburbanization of Highbury

London, rapidly becoming a mega-metropolis, encroaches into the communal, domestic, and psychic spaces occupied by characters in Emma. The novel traces the ways the giant city turns the autonomous town of Highbury into a suburban satellite, despite its presumed insularity

C5 Kathleen Glancy, Edinburgh, Scotland
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Emma was singularly unsuccessful in her attempts to arrange suitable matches in her own novel. If she were dropped into the other novels, would she do any better? Form your own ideas. Come prepared for a lively debate.

C6 Peter W. Graham, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Harriet Smith Is Smarter Than You Think
Harriet’s speech and actions are often undiscriminating, indecisive, or both. Graham shows that for the plot of Emma to succeed as brilliantly as it does, it is crucial that readers think Harriet less intelligent than she is, and just as important that she turns out to be smarter than we think.

Session D: Saturday, October 6, 3:15 to 4:00 PM

D1 Barbara Britton Wenner, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Exploring the World in Highbury
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “'Exploring the World in Highbury.” Persuasions 29 (2007): 54-66.
Great voyages of exploration flourished during Austen’s lifetime, and yet she chose to limit her novel’s settings, as in Emma, to a small part of England. Why would Austen limit her own scope, or did she? As we explore Highbury, we’ll see how Austen used her narrative powers to respond to the geopolitics of her time.

D2 Theresa M. Kenney, University of Dallas, Irving, TX
“And I am Changed also”: Mr. Knightley’s Conversion to Amiability
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “‘And I am changed also’: Mr. Knightley’s Conversion to Amiability.” Persuasions 29 (2007): 110-120.
Mr. Knightley as mentor is unlikely to win Emma’s heart. How can he assume the role of lover in Emma’s imagination? He must become a humble suppliant and be “aimable,” a term he decries earlier in the novel.

D3 Nora Foster Stovel, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
An Invitation to the Dance and a Proposal of Marriage: Comparing Film Adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma

“Fine dancing … must be its own reward,” says Mr. Knightley to Emma, but he discovers dancing with the right partner can have greater rewards. Austen skilfully choreographs the Crown Inn ball to prefigure their marriage. This talk will evaluate the ballroom and proposal scenes from three recent adaptations of Emma

D4 Ivan Sayers, Costume Historian, Vancouver, BC
Women’s Clothing in Jane Austen’s Time

Come dressed in your Regency finery!
Although Jane Austen does not focus on clothing, a person’s social standing was very much reflected in what they wore. Ivan will discuss this while presenting select items from his extensive collection of historical clothing. (Please see also E4.)

D5 Susannah Fullerton, President, Jane Austen Society of Australia/Author, Sydney, Australia
The Crimes of Emma

Find out which characters in Emma commit crimes. Learn what Mr. Knightley does as a magistrate and discover how Austen uses crimes to portray character, further the plot, and bring about the romantic ending. In Emma, crime is more important than you ever imagined!

D6 René Goldman, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
Anguish and Serenity: A Look at Some French Literary Contemporaries of Jane Austen
Take a look at some French novelists and poets whose years roughly overlap those of Austen. Their works illustrate the contrast between the relative serenity of England and turmoil-ridden France. 

Session E: Saturday, October 6, 4:15 to 5:00 PM

E1 Douglas Murray, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Austen’s “passion for taking likenesses”: Portraits of the Prince Regent in Emma
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “Jane Austen’s “passion for taking likenesses”: Portraits of the Prince Regent in Emma.Persuasions 29 (2007): 132-144.
Austen embedded portraits of the Prince Regent in the characters of Emma and Frank. Austen’s disingenuous self-presentation as an “uninformed Female” ensured that Emma would be read as just a novel and not as the subtle analysis of the Prince, which it really was.

E2 Cheryl A. Wilson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
Emma and the Lady Patronesses
During the early 19th century, the exclusive dance club Almack’s and its governing body, the Lady Patronesses, occupied a significant place in the literature and culture of the period. Wilson introduces Almack’s and considers how the Lady Patroness figure functions in Emma

E3 Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
“Sweet to the Eye and the Mind”: How English was Regency Architectural Culture?
Jane Austen, a perceptive commentator on the built environment, is seen as a quintessentially “English” writer in an age of gathering “British” consciousness. Yet the Regency architectural culture was in many respects an appropriation of alien ancient and exotic archetypes.

E4 Ivan Sayers, Costume Historian, Vancouver, BC
Men’s Clothing in Jane Austen’s Time

Men wore interesting clothes too!
This noted costume historian will take a look at social history, relating his knowledge of Regency dress to the architecture, literature and politics of the period. (Please see also D4.)

E5 Palma Bjarnason, Dancer/Choreographer, Vancouver, BC
“Worth Looking At”: Performative Prowess in Emma’s Scenes of Dance
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “‘Worth Looking At’: Performance Prowess in Emma’s Scenes of Dance.” Persuasions 29 (2007): 145-154.
Emma Woodhouse thrives in a performative setting - a trait that is nowhere more apparent than at dances. Jane Austen’s presentation of this financially independent young woman is one of the author’s most vivid portraits of female prowess. In addition, we are provided with a fascinating example of Austen’s use of balls and ballrooms as symbolic of their larger communal context.

E6 Alice Marie Villaseñor, Los Angeles, CA
The Knight Collection and Reading Habits in Emma
Published in Persuasions 29 (2007). “Edward Austen Knight’s Godmersham Library and Jane Austen’s Emma.” Persuasions 29 (2007): 79-88.
Villaseñor conducted research on the Knight family’s reading habits while at the Chawton House Library for the 2006 JASNA International Visitor Program. Her talk explains some of the textual references in Emma from the 1818 Godmersham library catalog when Jane’s brother Edward owned the estate. 

Return to list of AGMS

Return to Home Page