A Day of Persuasion

Just about a month ago I was able to spend the entire day with other Janeites at an event hosted by the eastern Pennsylvania chapter of JASNA. The theme for this day was “The Power of Persuasion,” and it was of course dedicated to Jane Austen’s final work. I thought you might like seeing pictures of the event and hearing what the day was like.

We started off the day with a presentation by Lynn Festa, an English professor at Rutgers University, who discussed the recurring theme of comfort in Austen’s last and perhaps most poignant novel. It was only a few minutes before I sincerely regretted not having any way to take notes! Lynn showed how many ways comfort is demonstrated in the story, and how these instances of comfort illustrate a character’s true personality. By the end of her presentation I was ready to run home and tear into my copy of Persuasion all over again—and it was only 11AM!

Our next session was a conversation between Whit Stillman and Juliette Wells. Juliette is an author and authority on Austen’s works and Whit is the screenwriter who wrote the movie adaptation of Lady Susan (Love and Friendship). Yes, that movie!!! They discussed the challenges of adapting the epistolary novelette to the big screen and White talked about the choices he had to make in casting, dialogue, and even accents!

A little later in the session we watched selected scenes from the 1995 and 2004 movie versions of Persuasion. We had a spirited discussion with the speakers and audience members about the merits of the actors and actresses in each film. From there we segued into an open question and answer session about Jane Austen movies in general. Probably nobody changed their mind about their favorite cast or adaptation, but the discussion was certainly lively!

For our final session we were honored to hear from Susannah Fullerton, who is the president of the Jane Austen Society of Australia (among many other credits!). The title of her speech was, “Sir Walter Elliott: The Constant Reader.”  I wasn’t sure how anything with Sir Walter could possibly be interesting, but I was wrong! Sir Walter’s avid interest in the Baronetage was the basis of a delightful discussion of reading in Persuasion. Again, I could hardly wait to read Persuasion with new eyes, and with a new appreciation for the brilliance of Jane Austen.

What a list of speakers! What a day!

In between sessions we had wonderful food, door prizes, and fascinating conversation with other Jane Austen fans all around us. There was an emporium full of Jane Austen books, calendars, clothing, jewelry, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And always there was the excitement of being with others whose love for Jane Austen is as passionate as my own! At the end of the day I went home with a new Jane Austen hat and t-shirt, a new set of friends, and many ideas for further research into Jane Austen!

Here are just a few pictures from the day:

Sarah Rose Kearns and one of the prettiest Jane Austen outfits I’ve ever seen!

See any names you recognize?

A small sampling from the emporium. The hat came home with me!


A good time was had by all!



14 Responses to A Day of Persuasion

  1. Elaine, loved your post! Great summary. I was there too. I also enjoyed all the talks. I have a few notes if there are any in particular you would like to see. Most interesting comment, I think, was Lynn Festa’s one that Fanny was angry. Gives a totally different take on the MP.

    • Collins, you were there too? How wonderful! If you ever come back this way please do let me know!

      Yes, I think the room let out a collective gasp of surprise at Lynn Festa’s comment about Fanny. I personally did not agree with her conclusion, but it certainly sparked some discussion!

  2. Loved the photos and what fascinating guest speakers you had! I hope you were able to remember all you wanted to when you did eventually make it home to write down those points!

  3. We have a JASNA group that meets in Chicago, but I’ve only been free to attend one meeting. That particular meeting was spectacular, however, since Ceri James was the guest speaker. Thanks for sharing.

    • I would definitely encourage everyone to consider joining their local JASNA chapter. Where else are you going to find a meeting of such agreeable people? 🙂

  4. That sounds awesome! What lovely pics and I did see some familiar authors in the book picture!

  5. Oh what a delightful post. Personal note… I always have a notebook handy in case i need to take notes. Your segments sounded delightful. I know you will remember this for a long time. Thanks for sharing your trip with us and those lovely pictures.

  6. Sounds like a fantastic day! What could be better than meeting like minded in discussion about all things Austen!

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