Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan
“It can be a pleasure to meet one’s wife as a stranger.”
When friends and colleagues heard that I was reporting on the eccentric world of Jane Austen superfans, one question was uppermost: Do people hook up at Jane Austen camp? At first, I grew irritated at these inquiries, which seemed to assume that Austen cosplay is somehow centrally about sex. (It’s not, really; it’s mainly about books, and only a little about sex.) Still, as I spent more and more time in the world of the Janeites, I came to meet quite a few older couples for whom the Jane Austen summer camp doubled as a romantic getaway—a chance to rediscover the pleasures of flirting with one’s spouse.
Some, in the tradition of R.W. Chapman and Katharine Metcalfe, had fallen in love with each other in part through discovering a mutual love for Austen, and there are various academic power couples across the world whose unions owe their beginning to an indiscreet moment at an Austen conference; as Kipling’s narrator says in his 1924 short story “The Janeites,” Austen remains a “bit of a match-maker” even in death, and at the larger conferences I occasionally met a child conceived (the parents told me) with the aid of Austen’s prose as aphrodisiac.
Read the rest of this excerpt on Slate, and buy Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan from your local independent bookstore, or from Amazon.
Don’t miss this year’s Jane Austen Summer Program: held on UNC’s campus June 12-15, 2014.
This four-day summer program takes a closer look at Sense and Sensibility. Learning experiences include lecture formats and discussion groups daily. Discussions will focus on Sense and Sensibility in its historical context as well as its many afterlives in fiction and film. Additional events include a Regency ball and the chance to partake in an English tea.
The Austen Summer Program is designed to appeal to established scholars, high school teachers, graduate students, and undergraduate students: anyone with a passion for all things Austen is welcome to attend!
Learn more and register at http://janeaustensummer.org/
Flyer for JASP 2014
The military contrast, print from 1773. Source: ECF Tumblr
Jacqueline Langille, Managing Editor of the journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction, offers a weekly post on the ECF Tumblr that features a thematic collection of articles from the journal’s archives. The links she posts take you to abstracts of the articles, and from there you can freely download the articles in full. As many journals charge hefty fees both to institutions and individual subscribers, Eighteenth-Century Fiction must be commended for allowing open access to its articles. If you are an enthusiast of eighteenth-century studies, you should follow the ECF Tumblr! This week’s ECF Tumblr post features the entire Special Issue of the journal from 2006 on War/La Guerre, including an essay that is a recurring favorite of my students: Christopher Loar’s “How to Say Things With Guns: Military Technology and the Politics of Robinson Crusoe.”
Susan Celia Greenfield, Associate Professor of English at Fordham University, has been writing a series of blog posts for the Huffington Post this fall called The Jane Austen Weekly. She makes provocative and convincing connections between Jane Austen and contemporary events, demonstrating the continuing importance of the (long) eighteenth century, which is very much our goal at The 18th-Century Common as well. This week she reminds us that we learn from Austen’s (in)famous narrative reticence to be suspicious of an unironic desire for narrative control such as we heard expressed repeatedly by both sides in the U.S. presidential campaign.
The Jane Austen Society of North America just released its Call for Papers for its Annual Meeting in Montreal in October 2014. JASNA is famously open to academics and nonacademics alike, and as such is a real-life model for the kind of meeting of minds that we hope to achieve at The 18th-Century Common. For all you know, we may even be administering The 18th-Century Common in Regency costumes…