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Lyn BennettFriday, May 9th is the big day for the launch of my series of guest posts celebrating 200 years of Mansfield Park. I am absolutely delighted that Lyn Bennett is going to kick things off that day by writing about the opening paragraph of the novel. Lyn teaches in the Department of English at Dalhousie University and she’s the author of Women Writing of Divinest Things: Rhetoric and the Poetry of Pembroke, Wroth, and Lanyer (2004).

And I am very happy to tell you about all the wonderful people who’ve agreed to write for the series. In January I wrote about the first few contributors, and I’ve talked to several people since then. Here’s the full list (so far) of contributors: Elaine Bander, Deborah Barnum, Elizabeth Baxter, John Baxter, Lyn Bennett, Diana Birchall, Lorrie Clark, Jennie Duke, Natasha Duquette, Lynn Festa, Susan Allen Ford, Margaret Horwitz, Syrie James, Theresa Kenney, Ryder Kessler, Hugh Kindred, Sheila Johnson Kindred, Cheryl Kinney, Elisabeth Lenckos, Sara Malton, Juliet McMaster, Robert Miles, David Monaghan, Laurel Ann Nattress, Amy Patterson, Mary C.M. Phillips, Mary Lu Redden, Sarah M. Seltzer, Lynn Shepherd, Julie Strong, Margaret C. Sullivan, Judith Thompson, Deborah Yaffe, Juliette Wells, and Sarah Woodberry.

Mansfield ParkHere’s my plan for how things will unfold after Lyn’s first post: we’ll have one post per week until the end of the year, probably on Fridays, with extra posts around the time of Jane Austen’s birthday on December 16th. The posts will run in chronological order, and we’ll cover quite a bit of the novel, but I haven’t made any particular effort to make sure we talk about every single chapter.

I have a question for all of you, readers and guest post contributors: what should we call the series? A party, a celebration, a book club or reading group? My goal is to host a conversation that focuses on what Jane Austen wrote, as a way of honouring Mansfield Park in its anniversary year. Do we need a snazzy title, or should I just call it something straightforward, like “200 Years of Mansfield Park”? Suggestions welcome! I’m calling on your creativity and cleverness to help me out as I organize this party/event/celebration/conversation. Remember what I did last year? Pride and Prejudice at 200” and The Custom of the Country at 100.” Informative, yes; dazzling, no. If you leave it with me, I’m sure to come up with a third thing that’s very dull indeed.

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