The JASNA 2012 AGM in Brooklyn ~ Part I: My Jane Austen Book Stash

I have not gone missing, though it may seem that indeed I have fallen off the planet – not quite so dramatic though it does almost feel like that – we have sold our house and amidst the joys of house packing, packing up my book business – all gone to storage as we do not have a place to call home – concerns about my son’s surgery, a September 23rd JASNA-Vermont event of grandiose proportions [three speakers, a fabulous afternoon!], and then off to the JASNA AGM in Brooklyn – a lovely respite into the late 18th century from which I am still fighting re-entry!  I was hoping to post about the AGM right away and fear I am slowly forgetting about all the fabulous events of Jane Austen Land in Brooklyn – but I shall start today with a booklist of new purchases – the Emporium filled with goodies as usual – and though the lack of a home and the memory of packing all those books forced me into more conservative behavior at the book stalls, I confess that book buying is my only true vice and I could not completely resist, so here are the latest additions to my Jane Austen library:!

Maggie Lane. Understanding Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels. London: Robert Hale, 2012.  ISBN: 978-0-7090-9078-6

Lane has written a number of Austen-related texts and this book will be a most welcome addition to my collection of her other works. Her essays in Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine are always insightful, often just focusing on a single term and how Austen employs it [for example in the Mar / April 2011 issue, she takes on Austen’s concept of “home”] – in this book, Lane delineates Austen’s 18th century language, clarifying for the reader the meanings of such words as “elegance” and “openness” to “candour” and “gentility” and “mind” and “spirit” – a lively entry into Austen’s world that adds to our understanding and appreciation of what she was really saying to her readers…

Devoney Looser. British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000. ISBN: 0-8018-6448-8

Ashamed to say I do not have this in my collection – so happy to remedy that with this discussion of Lady Hutchinson, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Charlotte Lennox, Catharine Macaulay, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Jane Austen and their historically-informed writings… perfect winter reading…

James Fordyce. Sermons to Young Women. Introduction by Susan Allen Ford. Chawton: Chawton House Press, 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-907254-07-9

One of the best-selling conduct books of Jane Austen’s day, Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women we mostly know as the reading material of the odious Mr. Collins, the words of which Lydia Bennet patently ignored… This is a paperback facsimile of the 10th edition from the Chawton House Library collection, and necessary reading material if one is to understand the world that Jane Austen was writing in – we might laugh at some of the directives for female behavior now and think we indeed have “come a long way baby” – but read it we must to truly “get” Austen… purchase supports the Chawton House Library, and as Susan Allen Ford, JASNA’s intrepid Persuasions editor, has written the introduction, one should just add this to their shelves without further ado…


Janine Barchas. Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012.  ISBN: 978-1-4214-0640-4

“Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen’s novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates…the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen’s fiction by taking full advantage of the explosion of archival materials now available online.” [from the jacket]

I had the pleasure of introducing Professor Barchas at her AGM presentation on “Jane Austen Between the Covers: A Brief History of Book Cover Art.” She took us through the last 200 years of marketing Jane Austen through the physical aspect of the book, a long-term project she is working on to create a visual bibliography of Austen’s works.  Barchas has given a number of breakout sessions at the past AGMs, always incorporating the graphic and visual aspects of Austen’s world and tying them to her fiction.  I am most anxious to read her newest work, and can heartily recommend it…

Claudia L. Johnson. Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures Chicago: U Chicago P, 2012.  ISBN: 978-0-226-40203-1

Also another must-have for your Austen collection… Johnson “shows us how Jane Austen became ‘Jane Austen,’ an exalted yet seemingly ordinary figure… [by passing] through the four critical phases of Austen’s reception: the Victorian era, the First and Second World Wars, and the establishment of the Austen House and Museum in 1949…” [from the jacket]

Elizabeth Aldrich. From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth-Century Dance Evanston: Northwester UP, 1991.  ISBN: 0-8101-0913-1

This book went into a second printing in 2000, so very happy to pick it up. It offers up “a collection of over 100 little-known excerpts from dance, etiquette, beauty , and fashion manuals from roughly 1800-1890, to include step-by-step instructions for performing the various dances, as well as musical scores, costume patterns,  and the proper way to hold one’s posture, fork, gloves, and fan…”

Hazel Jones and Maggie Lane. Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Darling Child.  Bath: Lansdown Media, 2012.  ISBN: 978-0-9573570-0-6

A compact, illustration-filled tribute to P&P, as Jones and Lane “investigate the reasons for its popularity and describe the extraordinary history, reception and afterlife of the phenomenon that is Pride and Prejudice.” [from the back cover].  I was fortunate enough to be purchasing this from publisher Tim Bullamore just as Maggie Lane was at the Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine table – so having it signed by both authors is an additional treat! – and Colin Firth graces the cover, so who could resist!

Sarah Emsley, ed. Jane Austen and the North Atlantic: Essays from the 2005 Jane Austen Society Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Jane Austen Society, 2006. ISBN: 0-9538174-7-4

I had wanted to go to this conference but was alas! unable to, so happy to pick up this collection of four essays – have meant to since 2006 when it was first published…

The Jane Austen Companion to Love. Naperville: Sourcebooks, 2009.  ISBN:  978-1-4022-4016-4

This was a lovely gift from Sourcebooks in our AGM bag of goodies…. Filled with quotes from the novels and illustrations by the two Brock brothers – a perfect bedside book…and gift for your favorite Austen-loving friend.


Several books highlighted at the AGM I already have, so shall give them a mention here as well:

Ava Farmer, a.k.a. Sandy Lerner. Second Impressions.  Chawton House Press, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-61364-750-9

Ms. Lerner was at the AGM as a plenary speaker – her talk “Money Now and Then: Has Anything Changed?” – was an interesting analysis of whether Jane Austen was knowledgeable about the issue of money in her novels – will write more about this in another post – but want to mention her book here – she will be coming to Vermont in December to speak at our annual birthday Tea! – and her book will be available for sale, all profits to support Chawton House Library. You can visit the book’s website here:

Susannah Fullerton. A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and her Characters went to the Ball.  London: Frances Lincoln, 2012.  ISBN:  978-0-7112-3245-7

A delight to meet and chat with Susannah, the president of JASA, and author also of Jane Austen and Crime, one of my favorite books on Austen.  Here Susannah takes on the Regency ballroom, filled with beautiful contemporary illustrations, and everything you wanted to know about Dance!

Juliette Wells. Everybody’s Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination New York: Continuum, 2011.  ISBN:  9781441145543

Nearly done with this one – and another must-have for your Austen library: “An investigation of Jane Austen’s popular significance today – why Austen matters to readers, how they make use of her novels, what they gain from visiting places associated with her, and why they create works of fiction and nonfiction inspired by her novels and life.” [from the back cover]

William Deresiewicz. A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter.  New York: Penguin, 2011.

Deresiewicz spoke the evening of the Ball on “Becoming a Hero: Being a Man in Austen’s World” – his book is a delightful journey through the six novels and how his reading of them made him a better man…


Used Books? – my real downfall, but I only bought two items from the used bookseller Traveler’s Tales, where I usually drop a bit more blunt – I didn’t get to the booth until a few days after the Emporium opened and most items of interest were already gone… but I did find this:

John Gloag. Georgian Grace: A Social History of Design from 1600 to 1830. London: Spring Books, 1967, c1956. – a must have for anyone interested in the architecture and decorative arts of the period – who can resist a book with chapters such as “‘A Dish of Tea’” and “Pray be seated” and “‘The toilet stands dispay’d’” and the like!

And this, a Rowlandson print – you must visit the Jane Austen’s World blog where Vic [my delightful roommate!] shares her purchase of FOUR of these Rowlandson prints!

Here is my one and only: “The Harvest Home” by Thomas Rowlandson (1821)


…and last but not least, my favorite annual purchase at the AGMs is the Wisconsin Region’s “A Year with Jane Austen” Calender, this for 2013 a celebration of Pride and Prejudice: you can order your own copy here: [I purchased a number to sell at our JASNA-Vermont Austen Boutique…]


More to come about the AGM so stay tuned!

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen News for Today [that could not wait…]

Two things of interest to Jane Austen fans:

See this Publishers Weekly blog and their list of their “Top 10 Favorite Book Covers for 2011” – A Jane Austen Education comes in at number 8:

8. A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz (Penguin Press)


“The formality of Austen’s novels is contrasted by the cartoonish style and informality of an outfit (and personality) being simply applied adhesively.”


The photograph of the month at the National Portrait Gallery [UK] is Colin Firth – and on exhibit through December:

Colin Firth by Jillian Edelstein from the NPG Website.

He still looks like Mr. Darcy, doesn’t he?!

@2011 Jane Austen in Vermont

Part I: Rachel Brownstein on Why Jane Austen? ~ An Interview and Book Giveaway!

Why Jane Austen? indeed! We might all ask that of ourselves, the question of why she is still avidly read these 200 years later; why the movies; why the many continuations, the fan fiction and the mash-ups; why all the Austen-related blogs and social networking sites; and why the continuing scholarly interest in finding and discussing yet another approach, another meaning.  A few years ago we had Jane’s Fame by Claire Harman (Cannongate, 2009) and Jane Austen’s Textual Lives by Kathryn Sutherland (Oxford, 2005), both brilliant analyses of the past two centuries of Jane Austen studies and cultural popularity.  Now in the bicentennial year of Austen’s first published work, Rachel Brownstein has given us an engaging treasure-filled meditation on Jane Austen as writer, woman, social commentator, and 21st-century icon.  Don’t miss reading this book…

I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Brownstein speak to the JASNA-Massachusetts region this past May.  Brownstein has been one of my very own heroines ever since the publication of her Becoming a Heroine: Reading about Women in Novels (Viking, 1982), where she weaves her own personal narrative into an analysis of the various feminist literary critical approaches to late 18th and 19th century literature.  Heroine is notable also for its loving critique of Austen’s six novels – it is a must read.  [She further discusses Richardson’s Clarissa, Bronte’s Villette, George Meredith’s The Egoist, Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.] 

But what I love most about this book was her own story, her hiding in the bathroom at fifteen, behind a locked door, discovering literature, and “feeling transformed into someone older, more beautiful and graceful, moving among people who understood delicate and complex webs of feeling, patterned perceptions altogether foreign to my crude ‘real’ life … [all the while hugging] the secret knowledge that [her parents] were harboring a viper in their bathroom.” [p. 5] – didn’t we future English majors all find ourselves in that bathroom?

So what does an early feminist critic make of Jane Austen’s continuing popularity? And how as an English professor does Brownstein  make Jane Austen relevant to a college student in the 21st century, most all baffled by and suspicious of Austen’s world where “virgins are bent on finding rich husbands and no one works”, where everything is really about love and money, but we are shown nothing of the sex or the working [quoting Brownstein, May, 2011].

At this May talk, Dr. Brownstein read from her first chapter, surely making each of us wishing to be transported into one of her classrooms, to have her question our complacent assumptions, to dare to strip the works of all the critical analysis and take each sentence, each word back to the writer who wrote them – she dares us to be better readers, closer readers, understanding more with each re-read.  What does Jane Austen say to us and why does she continue to speak to us 200 hundred years later? 

I read this book on the heels of William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter (Penguin, 2011) – also a meditation of sorts, a very engaging personal one on how reading each of the novels changed the author’s life, each chapter a probing essay on how he saw way too much of himself in the least–liked of Austen’s characters.  Deresiewicz’s is an easy read, a well-written journey of discovery and we willingly and happily go along for the ride, having countless ah!-ha! moments as we nod in agreement at his insights.  But while Brownstein’s Why Jane Austen? is similar in its personal aspects, it is a far more scholarly text, with extensive notes, referencing previous criticism, biographies and popular culture run amok [what she calls “Jane-o-mania”, deliberately following the term “Byromania’ [p. 6]] with such a slight-of-hand, so jam-packed, that just like an Austen novel, a re-read is absolutely required!

Deresiewicz, incidentally, offers a lovely tribute on the cover of Why Jane Austen? – it is worth sharing:

Why Jane Austen? Is a warm-hearted, personal, and humane meditation on Austen and Austenolatry.  It is also in the tradition of Becoming a Heroine, smart, witty, eloquent and joyfully wide-ranging, a mixture of anecdote, cultural criticism, biography, literary history, and close reading.  By bringing serious literary thought to a wider audience – the book is accessible to anyone acquainted with Austen’s novels – it performs one of the most important services of humanistic scholarship.

I cannot say it better myself! In this book where the emphasis in on truth, the truth that fiction affords us, Brownstein shows us by beginning her work with an epigraph of Katherine Mansfield’s famous comment on Austen:

The truth is that every true admirer of the novels cherishes the happy thought that he alone – reading between the lines – has become the secret friend of their author.

– she shows us that we who read and re-read Austen indeed become sure and fast friends, illusive though she be.  Brownstein just brings us closer, and it is a lovely journey.


Book Giveaway!!

Dr. Brownstein has been most gracious in doing an interview here at Jane Austen in Vermont [as well as coming to speak to our JASNA-Vermont region in June 2012! – we cannot wait!]  Please join me tomorrow when I post the interview, and hear directly from Prof. Brownstein as to “why Jane Austen?” –  any comments and questions will be forwarded to Dr. Brownstein for her response – you indeed might like to address “Why Jane Austen? in your own life!

 You will be entered into the Book giveaway contest for a copy of Why Jane Austen? by leaving a comment on either this post or on tomorrow’s interview – the deadline is midnight next Wednesday night August 10, 2011 – Winner will be announced on Thursday August 11, 2011  [worldwide eligibility].


Further reading:

**Note the following upcoming event: Reading at Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH. Thursday, August 25 at 7 p.m. – come in costume! see the flyer here: Why Jane Austen




Becoming a Heroine: Reading about Women in Novels. New York: Viking, 1982 [reprinted Columbia UP, 1994 with a new postscript]

“ChosenWomen.” Out of the Garden: Women Writing on the Bible.  Ed. Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Ballantine, 1994.

“Endless Imitation: Austen’s and Byron’s Juvenilia.”  The Child Writer from Austen to Woolf.  Ed. Christine Alexander and Juliet McMaster. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. 122-37. [reviewed in JASNA News ]

“England’s Emma. Persuasions 21 (1999): 224-41.

“The Importance of Aunts.” Fay Weldon’s Wicked Fictions. Ed. Regina Barreca. Lebanon, NH: UP of New England, 1994.  [pp.]

“Interrupted Reading: Personal Criticism in the Present Time.”  Confessions of the Critics. Ed. H. Aram Veeser. New York: Routledge, 1996. 29-39.

Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice.” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 32-57.

“Out of the Drawing Room, Onto the Lawn.”  Jane Austen in Hollywood. Ed. Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield. Lexington, KY: UP Kentucky, 1998. 13-21.

 “Personal Experience Paper.” Personal Effects: The Social Character of Scholarly Writing. Ed. Deborah H. Holdstein and David Bleich. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2001. 220-31. 

“Rachel, au Coeur des lettres.” Rachel, Une Vie Pour le Théâtre, 1821-1858. Paris: Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judäisme, 2004.  41-55.

“Romanticism, a Romance: Jane Austen and Lord Byron, 1813-1815.”  Persuasions 16 (1994): 175-84.     

Tragic Muse: Rachel of the Comedie-Francaise. New York: Knopf, 1993. 

Book Reviews:

Rev. of Jane Austen, by Deirdre Le Faye.

“Tenderized.” Rev. of The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett.  Commonweal 135, 10 May 2008.

Rev. of Our Kind: A Novel in Stories, by Kate Walbert. WSQ: Gender and Cutlure in the 1950s. 33. 3-4 (2005): 365-68.

“What Becomes A Legend.”  Rev. of Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates, and Seeing Mary Plain, by Frances Kiernan. The American Prospect, August 28, 2000.

Rev. of Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette, by Judith Thurman.  Boston Sunday Globe, October 31, 1999.

Rev. of God’s Funeral, by A.N. Wilson.  Boston Sunday Globe, June 20, 1999.

Rev. of I Married a Communist, by Philip Roth. Commonweal, January 15, 1999.

Rev. of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom. Boston Sunday Globe, November 1, 1998.

Recent web articles and links:

A radio interview with Mark Lynch of “Inquiry” on WICN (90.5 FM), on NPR:

Rachel Brownstein’s response to the Kathryn Sutherland kerfuffle last November on the Language Log blog:

The Daily Beast – her response to V. S. Naipaul on Jane Austen

The Huffington Post:  Jane Austen books you may not have discovered yet – Professor Brownstein offers up 11 lesser known works:

The Page 99 Test blog:

An essay by Professor Brownstein at Austenprose:

An essay at the Montreal Review

Reviews of Why Jane Austen?:

At the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Gina Barreca:

At The New York Times:  “Lessons from Jane Austen” by Miranda Seymour:

at Simple Pleasures Books blog:

at Bluestalking Blog

this just added: “A Pleasure, but not a guilty one” at –

 Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

Your Austen Library ~ ‘A Jane Austen Education’


In A Jane Austen Education, Austen scholar William Deresiewicz turns to the author’s novels to reveal the remarkable life lessons hidden within. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his own experiences to demonstrate the enduring power of Austen’s teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature student to a happily married man, Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education is the story of one man’s discovery of the world outside himself.

A self-styled intellectual rebel dedicated to writers such as James Joyce and Joseph Conrad, Deresiewicz never thought Austen’s novels would have anything to offer him. But when he was assigned to read Emma as a graduate student at Columbia, something extraordinary happened. Austen’s devotion to the everyday, and her belief in the value of ordinary lives, ignited something in Deresiewicz. He began viewing the world through Austen’s eyes and treating those around him as generously as Austen treated her characters. Along the way, Deresiewicz was amazed to discover that the people in his life developed the depth and richness of literary characters-that his own life had suddenly acquired all the fascination of a novel. His real education had finally begun.

Weaving his own story-and Austen’s-around the ones her novels tell, Deresiewicz shows how her books are both about education and themselves an education. Her heroines learn about friendship and feeling, staying young and being good, and, of course, love. As they grow up, they learn lessons that are imparted to Austen’s reader, who learns and grows by their sides.

A Jane Austen Education is a testament to the transformative power of literature, a celebration of Austen’s mastery, and a joy to read. Whether for a newcomer to Austen or a lifelong devotee, Deresiewicz brings fresh insights to the novelist and her beloved works. Ultimately, Austen’s world becomes indelibly entwined with our own, showing the relevance of her message and the triumph of her vision.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

ISBN 9781594202889
272 pages
Release date: 28 Apr 2011
The Penguin Press:  available in hardover for $25.95;  ebook / adobe reader for $12.99

About the author:   

William Deresiewicz was an associate professor of English at Yale University until 2008 and is a widely published literary critic who writes for a popular audience. His reviews and criticism regularly appear in The New Republic, The Nation, The American Scholar, the London Review of Books, and The New York Times. In 2008 he was nominated for a National Magazine Award for reviews and criticism.

Text From the  publisher’s website:  Penguin Press

Deresiewicz also authored Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets  (Columbia UP, 2005)

He will be conducting a blog tour as follows:  info from TLC Book Tours]

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont