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Until We Meet Again. . .

Meeting the challenges of a new location head-on, JASP 2023 lived up to the hype (we hope!), and set a high bar for next year's symposium. Here's a quick overview of some highlights from our four days together (pssst: Don't forget to complete the survey to help us make JASP 2024 even better). If you're combing the notes you took to track down new reads, remember that you can find titles mentioned in JASP discussions and by our speakers at Jane Austen Books, and have them delivered to you at home.

Thursday, June 15

Murphey Hall and the dormitory were both abuzz with people getting checked in and settled, checking out the silent auction and costume closet, maybe doing some book crafting with Lori Mulligan Davis, or taking advantage of the concurrent International Society of Literary Juvenilia panels going on before JASP started in earnest in the afternoon. Kimiyo Ogawa, our first plenary speaker, helped us think more charitably about Lady Susan, and then it was off to dance practice before dinner. Thursday evening festivities kicked off with another of Adam McCune's riotous theatrical adaptations of Austen's Teenage Writing (this year's pick was Evelyn), and then things got immersive with Regency Game Night, courtesy of Ruth and Franz Verbunt.

Friday, June 16

Friday kept up the pace with more fun and learning. After a context corner from Olivia Levin on novelistic conventions, we had our first Discussion Session, and everyone scurried off to their assigned rooms for the first of four opportunities to delve into the texts with a small group. Elevenses helped keep up our strength. The mid-day panel featuring Deborah Knuth Klenck, Lesley Peterson, and Breckyn Wood opened up Austen's juvenilia in terms of rhetorical sophistication, historical context, and editing practice. After lunch, Laurie Langbauer provided additional historical context, illuminating the youth movement that may have spurred Austen to beginning writing so young. A context corner from Madison Storrs about children's literature in Georgian England sent us into our discussion groups again, followed by Juliet McMaster's keynote on "Intimations of Maturity" in Austen's early work (and if you missed her story about Douglass the Mouse, I am very sorry.). Then off to a reception before our special screening of Love and Friendship, with discussion and Q&A with writer and director Whit Stillman, who turns out to be as big an Austen stan as the rest of us!

Saturday, June 17

It may be the weekend, but JASP slows for no one! A context corner on adolescence and education by Celeste Siefert kicked off our Saturday, followed by time with our discussion groups. Frantic final bids for the silent auction during Elevenses had to subside in time for Ann Wass's plenary on Children's Wear in the Regency. There were two different Undergraduate Poster Sessions featuring the work of students exploring the world of Austen. The afternoon book signing gave us all a chance to meet our wonderful authors: Whit Stillman, Maria Grace, Sayantani DasGupta, Juliet McMaster, and Adam McCune. Then Maria Grace took the podium to give us some insight into how she uses dragons in her Austen adaptations to get at big ideas. Afterwards, the dorm was buzzing as we all prepped and primped for the Ball, lead by Jack Maus, and featuring the lively tunes of the Syllabub Players, Julie Gorka, Mara Shea, and Walt Robinson. Special thanks to the dancers from Sun Assembly who lent us their support and guided our steps.

Sunday, June 18

While Austen may have given Sunday travel a bit of side-eye, surely she would have made an exception for Sunday discussions! Our final day began with a zoom presentation by Katie Childs from Chawton House library and grounds (it's a little surprising we didn't crash the UNC Wi-Fi surreptitiously checking airfare to Southampton!). Our final context corner, in which David Palko enlightened us about music, preceded our final discussion session. The final panel of the symposium was the Adaptation and Afterlives panel, with Sayantani DasGupta, Sarah Hurley, and Adam McCune reminding us all that central to Austen's longevity is her versatility. Make it Desi, add dragons, put it on stage, or make the fan the heroine; anyone can find a version that speaks to them of Austen's humor and wisdom, because Austen is for everyone.

Suitable for fainting? Nah - better run mad.

June, 2024

The great (one-sided) literary cage match between Jane Austen and the Brontës is not news, having spawned many discussions (including the podcast Bonnets at Dawn). What is news is that JASP will wade into the ring. Next year's topic is Austen v. Brontë: Round 1. Make sure you've signed up for our email newsletter, and watch this space as well as our social media platforms - we anticipate sharing news about next year's plans in September.

Feeling nostalgic? Check out the posts from the JASP PR team as well as your fellow attendees using our hashtag, #JASP2023. You'll find posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. Keep using the hashtag as you share your own photos so we can admire your snaps!

A Word of Thanks!

JASP is a monumental undertaking, funded by fourteen different Humanities and educational organizations. Beyond the vital support of funding, the hands-on labor by volunteers makes it all happen, from Directors Inger Brodey, Sarah Schaefer Walton, Jennifer Abella, and Eric Bontempo planning the curriculum and entertainment, to undergraduate interns tackling projects and shifting boxes. The weekend is a labor of love by droves of people, including those shown here, and many others (not least among them is Benjamin Brodey, source of the majority of the photos in this post!). Thank you, one and all, for welcoming everyone to UNC-Chapel Hill this year.

And I'm going to indulge in the privilege of authorship to thank the members of the PR team for all of their hard work this year. Pictured here with me are Victoria Wlosok, Meredith Ammons, and Robin Floyd. Delicia Johnson, Eden Iazeolla, Mila Mascenik, and Zeina Makky contributed from afar, and were sorely missed at the event.

See you in June, 2024!


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