There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love the writing of Jane Austen and those who do not. I personally love her and enjoy reading her books except, honestly, for Mansfield Park.
Although I fully expect you to know who Jane Austen is, I guess there’s a chance you don’t, in which case I disown you. If you want to be written back into my will, you should read on to find out more about this magical author from 200 years ago. To be fair, it can be baffling to imagine anyone loving novels written in the early 1800s, especially ones filled with a lot of attention to social status, manners, and long walks in the countryside. Or maybe it isn’t so hard to understand in the complex world of 2018.
Event asks: Why is Jane Austen so beloved?
This Saturday, you can find out why Jane Austen is still so popular thanks to the Central California branch of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a group for fans and interested parties to explore all things Jane Austen.
At the Woodward Park Library at 1 p.m., JASNA will hold a free event to help answer the question, “Why is Jane Austen so beloved today?” The event will feature a Q&A and discussion with Dr. Devoney Looser, author of The Making of Jane Austen. The meeting will discuss Dr. Looser’s award-winning book and include a 45-minute Skype chat with the author.
Dr. Looser is also known as “Stone Cold Jane Austen” in the roller derby world. On the surface, Regency England and roller derby might not seem compatible, but if you stop to think about it, it’s a physical manifestation of the feminist themes of many of Jane Austen’s books… I’m just, you know, guessing. If you really want to find out more, you should go to this event and not listen to me. I do not have a doctorate in anything and I am terrible on roller skates!
By contrast, Dr. Looser has written Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850 (2008) and British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820 (2000), is the co-editor of Generations: Academic Feminists in Dialogue (1997), and is editor of Jane Austen and Discourses of Feminism (1995). She also is a Professor of English at Arizona State University and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow.
“Public conversations with avid readers are one the great pleasures of being a Jane Austen scholar. I especially love talking to JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) members and Janeites,” says Dr. Looser. “We get to have all of the fun of a classroom discussion with none of the stress, assignments, or grading. Janeites are some of the best clever, well-informed people, and so welcoming to newcomers. I very much look forward to talking with JASNA Central California.”
Jane Austen Society in Fresno welcomes newcomers
Whether you’re into all things Jane Austen, or even if you just watch BBC versions of Pride and Prejudice when you’re sick, you might be interested in joining the local JASNA.
Regional coordinator Heather Parish explained to me how she got involved in the society, “I was an English major in college and love classic literature and history. I’ve been involved with historical re-enactment and costuming, and I’m also involved with local theater. I’ve directed several plays based on classic novels. So, when the opportunity arose to be involved with a region of the Jane Austen Society here in Fresno, it was a natural match!
“We’re a diverse group of people who love literature, history, and discussing the ideas found there. We began a new region in January of 2018 and have planned six meetings and events for this year, including book discussions, picnics, and other events. Future events include bringing in prominent lecturers and hosting an English country dance similar to those Austen would have attended.”
If country dances and literary discussions sound like your cup of tea, Heather suggests, “Come to a meeting! After the July 28 meeting, we have another book discussion and meeting on Northanger Abbey in October. Or you can visit our website (jasnacencal.org) to find out about membership and future events. A lot of our events are free to the public, so you can visit a few times before deciding if joining is right for you. It is a great way to meet some new people with similar interests.”
Saturday, July 28, event details
WHAT: Jane Austen Society author Q&A and discussion on The Making of Jane Austen by Dr. Devoney Looser
WHEN: Saturday, July 28, from 1-4 p.m.
WHERE: Woodward Park Regional Library Meeting Room, Fresno
COST: Free and open to the public
CONTACT: Heather Parish, JASNA regional coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org / http://jasnacencal.org