Members Meeting - May 9 2015

Updates and News

JASNA Calgary members were treated to new and exciting perspectives on the life and work of Jane Austen. Deirdre shared some new additions to the library including Young Jane Austen by Lisa Pliscou and Expectations, Suspiciously Reserved and Banff Springs Abbey by Samantha Adkins. We also learned that one of our long-time members, Judith Umbach, has had a library named after her. Congratulations Judith! They couldn't have chosen a more deserving person.


Dr. Leah Branneh, a fitness instructor for over twenty years, shed new light on the role of physicality and physical exercise in Jane Austen's novels. While many readers have noticed Austen's focus on the spiritual, social and emotional, Branneh explained that all of her novels reference the physical in some regard. In most of her novels, physicality is used to demonstrate character. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne overdoes her walking and becomes gravely ill. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is a superior dancer while Mr. Collins dances awkwardly. Jane Fairfax uses walking to escape her confined existence in Emma. In Persuasion, exercise improves Anne Elliot's bloom. Branneh noted that the Regency era corset may be credited with women's ability to enjoy some exercise during this time. Branneh recommended the work of Oliver Pritchett and Mirabile Dictu for interesting reading on exercising like Jane.


After tea and good conversation, Shannon Campbell shared part of her paper to be presented at the upcoming JASNA AGM Louisville, Kentucky. Campbell's talk entitled Meet The Beast That Made Britain Strong was a fascinating look into the role of agriculture in Britain in Austen's time. Campbell, explained that Austen's father, Reverend George Austen, was descended from The Grey Coats of Kent, a family of clothiers whose family fortune was built on wool. Unfortunately for George, the fortune was mostly gone by the time he arrived.

In 1798, Jane Austen writes of her father selling sheep. Campbell's research revealed that these were Leicestershire sheep, which were a new breed which produced more meat than other sheep at the time. This demonstrates Rev. Austen's knowledge and interest in farming. Jane Austen mentions Leicestershire sheep in Emma. Robert Martin has a fine flock of this breed of sheep. Campbell also traced the importance of sheep and wool throughout history in England leading up to the Industrial Revolution.