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Jane Austen Conference Coming to SUNY Plattsburgh March 23-25

What’s a nice 18th century gal like Jane Austen doing in a 21st-century place like SUNY Plattsburgh?

The enduringly popular author, pianist, dancer and fashionista will be the topic of a three-day conference, “Jane Austen and the Arts,” March 23-25. 

“Two hundred years after her death, Jane Austen is more popular than ever,” said conference co-organizer and admitted Austen-phile Dr. Anna Battigelli, professor of English at the college. “This conference will bring some of the best Austen scholars from around the world to share their knowledge of and passion for Jane Austen.

Day for Students

Thursday, March 23 will be marked as a day for graduate students and advanced undergraduates who will present papers on Austen, with topics such as “The Art of Letter Writing in ‘Pride and Prejudice,’” “The Influence of Male Letters in ‘Pride and Prejudice,’” “Mediation, Control and Access to Sympathetic Feeling in ‘Mansfield Park,’” and “Music as Cultural Capital and Social Positioning in ‘Emma,’” among others.

A president’s reception will be held Thursday afternoon at 4:30 in the Winkel Sculpture Court, Myers Fine Arts Building.

Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the Alumni Conference Room, Peter Sabor, Canada research chair of 18th-century studies at McGill University, will give the keynote address on portraiture in Austen’s novels and early writings.

English Country Dance

That night, an English country dance and pre-dance workshop with live period music will be held in the Warren Ballrooms, Angell College Center, beginning at 7 p.m. Tours of the Kent-Delord House Museum will be available to participants Saturday, March 25 at 2 and 3 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 518-561-1035.

“Jane Austen has become a cult figure,” Battigelli said. “She appeals to readers across the spectrum, from general readers to academics.” Battigelli said Austen is the perfect novelist for a conference designed to appeal to everyone. “It’s amazing how deeply people feel about her.”

Importance of the Arts

The idea of a conference on Austen came to Battigelli a year ago while on sabbatical and writing a paper on her.

“I was thinking of the bicentennial of her death and thought it would be a good idea to mark the occasion with a conference here,” she said. “And it was a good way to remind people of the importance and sometimes ironic use of the arts in a major novelist’s career Peter Sabor’s keynote address is sure to be brilliant and entertaining. The English country dance will include many dancers in period costumes; and the many papers by top Austen scholars will make for good discussion. Anyone interested in Jane Austen is sure to walk away feeling enriched.

“Great art can serve as a unifying force,” she said. “That’s something we could use today.”

“Jane Austen and the Arts” is open to the public. Advance registration is required. The fee for the entire weekend is $75 with the exception of the country dance, which is $5 at the door. For more information on the program call Battigelli at 518-564-2429 or email [email protected].

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