Saturday, 31 August 2013

Austen Course for Adults at UCD

Jane Austen: Her Novels, Times and Legacy

Here is something that I think many of you will be very interested in. A course on Jane Austen for those autumnal Monday nights. 

Course Description

What do zombies, game theory and Colin Firth have in common? All have benefited greatly from being associated with the novels of Jane Austen. 2013 marked the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, so why not take the opportunity to become acquainted or reacquainted with the novels, times and legacy of this much loved author. Whether you’re a newcomer or you know each novel by heart, this course will offer something challenging and new as we place the novels in their historical and literary context and look at the lasting effect they have had on our culture.

By accessing the novels through thematic areas such as social and literary context, as well as examining film adaptations and the threat of invasion which seemed to loom large in nearly every Austen novel, we will gain a far more nuanced and detailed understanding of Austen and her world. From the social swirl of Bath to the perfection of Pemberley, we’ll take in dancing, fashion, marriage, the Prince Regent, politics, war and explore just exactly why Pride and Prejudice is still selling an estimated 50,000 copies a year in the UK alone.

Tutor: Lori Comerford
Course Start Date: 23/09/2013
Course End Date: 02/12/2013
No. of Sessions: 10
Start Time: 19.30
Duration (Hours): 2.00
Location: Belfield Campus
Fee: €190

Course Schedule
10 Mondays 7.30pm-9.30pm
Sept 23, 30, Oct 7, 14, 21, Nov 4, 11, 18, 25, Dec 2
(No class bank holiday Mon, Oct 28)

This course is for people with an interest in literature, especially those who have a love of Austen and the Regency Period and would like to gain a more critical appreciation of Austen’s works. This course is also for those who wish to widen their knowledge of our literary landscape by examining Austen’s ability to be both a popular novelist while also being part of the traditional idea of a literary canon.

For more details click here.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

September Reflections on The Jane Austen Festival in Bath

As September approaches, those of us who love Jane Austen begin to look towards Bath and the annual Jane Austen Festival.   Luckily for us, one member of the Jane Austen Society of Ireland, Samantha, has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on and experiences of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  But reader beware!  After reading this you will be more determined than ever to go along too...


I've been a massive Jane Austen Fan for the last 31 years and was delighted to discover the Jane Austen Festival in Bath back in 2008 and haven't missed a festival since!
The festival takes place the 2nd/3rd week in Sept each year for nine days in Bath (this year it starts on the 13th Sept).
A core group attend the festival every year from the UK, US, Australia and all over Europe and it's great to meet everyone, admire each others costumes and generally catch up!

The week allows Janites to attend theatricals, balls, soirees (I cleaned up at Loo on the card tables last visit!), it also gives the opportunity to learn new skills such as, how to create the perfect hair style and make turbans in the Regency style.

There have been some interesting talks from the likes of Amanda Vickery and this year's speaker will be John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London and author of "What Matters in Jane Austen?". Events such as Rummaging through the Reticule and Undressing Mr. Darcy means there is something for everyone at this festival.

One of the highlights is The Grand Regency Costumed Promenade through the city of Bath, which has approx 600 attendees (last year the streets were cordoned off; it was on par with a St Patrick's Day Parade in Bath!) and finishes up with music and dancing at Parade Gardens.   It's a magical nine days for any Janeite, I wouldn't miss it for the world!


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bronte Passion in Jane Austen

Something that I cannot understand is why the Bronte sisters did not like Jane Austen, Emily especially. She felt that Austen lacked passion and her female characters lacked spirit. But a close reading of Austen's novels reveal how many of her female characters are fighting against the norms of the day and are trying to find a balance between living within society and being accepted as a lady in that world, and being true to their own desires and passions. 
Lizzy, in Pride and Prejudice, is nothing if not passionate when she reels against Lady Catherine de Burgh's admonishments. When she tells her that she has nothing more to say to her and must beg to return to the house, it is tantamount to social suicide. 
In fact it is just what a young Catherine Earnshaw would have done in Wuthering Heights. Similarly Lizzy's refusal of both Mr Collins and Mr Darcy showed that Elizabeth Bennet was equally willful, refusing to bend to her mother's will.

And then we have the Dashwood girls, Marianne and Eleanor, in Sense and Sensibility who resemble something like the two sides of the same coin, one being wildly passionate and carefree, the other being more sensible and cautious in all things. 

Here, with these two characters  Austen openly debates how difficult it was for women of her day to deal with emotions of passion, and yet display the decorum that society insisted upon. And here we have a crucial point. The careless passion displayed by both Cathy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, for example, or indeed by Rochester and to an extent Jane in Jane Eyre, was only possible because they were living in secluded rural communities in the middle of nowhere. Austen's heroine's on the other hand have to contend with life altering passions and emotions in the midst of society, be it in London, or in Lambton. 

Jane Bennet does not run off to the nearest cave to reveal her true feelings to Mr Bingley as Cathy does with Heathcliff.  No.  Here's is a much more difficult plight, for she must restrain herself, and disguise her deep feelings, even at times, to her sister Elizabeth. The fact that she cares deeply for Bingley and suffers a great deal when he spurns her cannot be, for a moment doubted. 

A similar situation arises for Marianne Dashwood, who must suffer the consequences of exposing her emotions too freely. She actually comes close to death, her spirits having been brought so low by her uncontrolled passion for the inconstant Willoughby. So it could, in fact, be argued that the heroines in Austen's novels are just as passionate as those in the Bronte novels, suffering equally for their passion. Just because Austen's characters must display decorum, it does not mean that they do not or are not capable of, feeling passion. 
As Austen sees it, you may feel the passion, but must learn to control it. We know this because of Austen's depiction of Marianne Dashwood , who lives to regret her unbridled display of love for Willoughby.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Bring the Ring Home ~ Just when you thought it was all over...

As interest in the current status of the turquoise ring once owned by Jane Austen continues, the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton has begun a fundraising campaign to raise enough money to purchase the ring from Kelly Clarkson, who bought the ring at a public auction last year.
News that the American singer has agreed to sell the ring for the price paid for it, has been welcomed by many Jane Austen fans around the world and fundraising has begun in earnest.  Excitement grew to fever-pitch with the announcement that an anonymous donor donated £100,000 to the fund, which must reach £154,000 by December.  As yet, there is no facility to donate online, but organizers say that it is just a matter of time before Austen fans around the world can use the internet to do so.

We at the Jane Austen Society of Ireland are particularly delighted that the Jane Austen House Museum are using a catchphrase of our own invention, for the campaign - Bring the Ring Home.  As Jane Austen most probably owned the ring when she was living at Chawton House, it seems only fitting that the ring be returned to its home place, where the only other two pieces of Jane Austen's jewelry can be found:  the turquoise bracelet and the famous amber cross.  Better there than any other place, we think.

So, should you like to donate to bring the ring home, you can ring, or email, as this Facebook message from the Jane Austen House Museum explains:

Jane Austen's House Museum is pleased to announce the launch of it's fundraising campaign 'To Bring the Ring Home'. If you would like to make a donation towards our 'Give Us a Ring' campaign to purchase the turquoise ring that belonged to Jane Austen please call the museum on 01420 83262 or email We hope to have a Just Giving link on our website by the end of next week. Fingers crossed we will be able to have the ring on display in the museum by early next year!

Any Twitter users can receive updates on the fundraising campaign by following @JaneAustenHouse and by using ‪#‎BringtheRingHome‬.

Update:  You can now donate to the Bring the ring home campaign online.

The Jane Austen House Museum 'JustGiving' page is finally online! You can now donate to raise money to help buy back the Jane Austen Turquoise ring online. Click here:   #BringtheRingHome 

Politics Beyond the Political...

The Social Conscience of Jane Austen

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Jane Austen Society of Ireland Presents 'An Evening Celebrating Jane Austen at Farmleigh'

October 3rd, 2013. Jane Austen comes to Farmleigh

Image by Harold Strong
To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, the OPW, in connection with The Jane Austen Society of Ireland, presents, An Evening with Jane Austen at Farmleigh.

Farmleigh, an estate of 78 acres situated to the north-west of Dublin's Phoenix Park, was originally a small Georgian house built in the late 18th century, so it is a fitting place to launch The Jane Austen Society of Ireland and with it our first major event: a lecture by Dr Sophia Hillan on Jane Austen and her connection with Ireland, based on her acclaimed book, 'May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland'.

 Did you know that three of Jane Austen's nieces came to live in County Donegal and are buried there? Their stories are fascinating and many of their life-events mirror, unexpectedly, the lives of the characters that dwell in their famous aunt's novels.

Her extensive research on Jane Austen's life and family connections makes Dr Hillan a leading expert on our favourite writer and we are delighted that she can take time out of her busy schedule to share her knowledge with us. Her lecture, entitled, 'Life Imitating Art', will prove interesting to all those who have an interest in the author who once delightedly declared, 'I am read and admired in Ireland too!'.

The evening promises to be enjoyable for all, featuring contemporary Regency music, a wine reception and readings from some of Austen's best loved books. There will also be an question and answers session after the lecture and for those who want to purchase Dr Hillan's book, she will be signing copies in the beautiful oval room at the evening's end. Tickets are free but limited (there will be seating for 175 people) and are chosen by random lottery. Anyone interested in applying for tickets can do so on the Farmleigh website, now. They will email you two weeks before the event to notify you if you have been lucky enough to secure tickets. Remember, you can apply many time, using different email addresses. Ask your friends and relations to email on your behalf, in increase the likelihood of being successful.
We wish you all every success in winning tickets!

For those interested to learn more about Sophia Hillan's book, click here to read a review that featured on the JASI website earlier in the year.