Members Meeting - March 16 2013
A history of travel and weather in England in the 1700s
How is one to survive a grey, blustery mid-March Saturday in Calgary?
By attending a lively Jane Austen Society gathering at the cozy Sunalta Centre of course!
With several newcomers in attendance, we were treated to a talk by Amber Adams titled "Only 11 Guineas for the Tables" - a fascinating history of travel and weather in England in the 1700s.
Adams began by revealing that Austen's writing is filled with references to these topics. Like Emma's Mr. Woodhouse was fond of telling his friends and relations, travel at this time was dangerous. The Reverend Samuel White recorded the flora, fauna and unpredictable weather of the 1700s, revealing blizzards, frosts, wind and rain.
Mix in the transportation of the time which consisted of walking, horseback riding and carriages along bumpy, muddy roads and you can see why Mr. Woodhouse preferred to stay at home.
A refreshing tea was served and we were invited to inspect the newly released Jane Austen stamps, peruse the library offerings and catch up with one another.
After this, Michelle Agopsowicz gave her talk "One Half of the World Cannot Understand The Personality of the Other". Inspired by the book Quiet, Agopsowicz decided to investigate the personalities involved in Austen's beloved novels. She discovered that introversion was more highly valued during the Georgian times where a conduct manual advised "the coolest reserve" was preferred to "undue familiarity". At a time when the word "personality" did not yet exist, people who displayed extroverted tendencies were not considered trustworthy.
Agopsowicz compared this with our current culture where personality has become more important than character. Today's ideal self is gregarious, individual and talkative. In fact, extroverted people are considered better looking, smarter and more interesting than their introverted counterparts. She explained that this is a result of industrialization, which put the individual above the collective. She then had her audience conduct the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator tests for various Austen characters. Captain Wentworth was proven to be Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging while Elizabeth Bennet was controversially revealed as Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving. In conclusion, Agopsowicz noted that Jane Austen herself has been categorized as Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging - a combination shared only with her famous character, Mr. Darcy - and described as The Mastermind.