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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Jane Austen in the age of Zoom

A year ago, I was looking forward to my upcoming appearance at Jane Austen Day, a biannual event sponsored by the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. The talk was planned for Philadelphia in early April.

Needless to say, it didn’t happen, but organizers decided to reschedule for spring 2021. Because surely by then we’d be able to meet in person, right?

Well, no. But rather than again pushing its event into the uncertain future, the Philly JASNA chapter has decided to make a virtue out of virtuality: Jane Austen Day will occur via Zoom, but now it will take place over two weekends, instead of one, with an enhanced speaker lineup and no attendance fee. The theme of this year’s Jane Austen Day(s) will be Jane Austen in the Modern Age.

My talk -- “Which Jane Austen? Fans, Fandom, and Fanfiction in the Age of Austen-Appreciation” – kicks things off at 1 pm on March 13, immediately followed by a pair of English professors named Emily (Emily C. Friedman of Auburn University and Emily M.N. Kugler of Howard University) discussing Austen-inspired video games.

The next weekend, March 20, features two more talks: psychotherapist Wendy Jones, author of Jane on the Brain, discussing Austen’s characters in light of Isabel Wilkerson’s work on racism and caste; and costume curator Alden O’Brien talking about costume choices in Regency period drama.

Although all the talks, and the live Q&As that follow them, are free, you have to register to get the links. I hope to see you there!

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