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Elaine BanderWell, what a great weekend we’ve just had here in Halifax, with Elaine Bander, President of JASNA Canada, in town. She gave a wonderful talk on Friday afternoon in the Dalhousie University Department of English Seminar Series. Members of JASNA Nova Scotia gathered with faculty and students from Dal and other local universities, along with members of the general public, to hear Elaine speak on “Jane Austen’s Fanny Price and Lord Nelson: Rethinking the National Hero(ine).”

Elaine discussed passages in Jane Austen’s letters that suggest she was thinking about “models of principled resistance” in several books, including Thomas Clarkson’s History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1808), while she was writing Mansfield Park. Austen’s characterization of Fanny Price may have been influenced by her readings of masculine Mansfield Parkheroism. Fanny looks like a frail heroine, but her principled and steady resistance to her family’s attempts to persuade her to marry Henry Crawford shows that she is far more powerful than she appears. Elaine drew our attention to yet another model of heroism that may have influenced Austen, Robert Southey’s Life of Lord Nelson (1813). Without claiming that Southey’s book was a direct influence, Elaine suggested that the idea of Nelson’s heroism may have prompted Austen to explore what happens when a timid young woman decides to be courageous. I like the idea of Fanny saying to herself, as Nelson did, “Well then, … I will be a hero.” Elaine pointed out that the “scale of her endeavor” is different, “but not her courage.”

The talk was followed by a wine and cheese reception, courtesy of the Dal English Department. Here’s a photo of Elaine in conversation with Sheila Johnson Kindred, a JASNA NS member who teaches Philosophy at Saint Mary’s University, and John Baxter, Professor of English at Dalhousie, who introduced Elaine’s talk. Sara Malton, who teaches 19th Century literature at Saint Mary’s, and David Monaghan, who is retired from the English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University, interrupted their conversation to smile for the camera.

Reception at Dalhousie

Sara Malton, Elaine Bander, Sheila Johnson Kindred, John Baxter, David Monaghan

JASNA Nova Scotia members enjoyed talking with Elaine over a dinner hosted by Anita Campbell on Friday night, and on Saturday, several members met again to take the ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth for lunch with Elaine at a favourite local restaurant with a fabulous view of Halifax harbour, The Wooden Monkey.

Ferry to Dartmouth

Sheila Kindred, Elaine Bander, Lou Harrington, Anne Thompson, Carole Thompson

Dartmouth, from the ferry

Dartmouth, from the ferry

It was another glorious October day in Nova Scotia – the perfect day for a trip across the water – and we enjoyed hearing Elaine’s description of her plans for the 2014 JASNA AGM: Mansfield Park in Montréal: Contexts, Conventions & Controversies.” Members of our Region are looking forward to attending the AGM and offered support for the event.

It’s sure to be a great weekend: the combination of Mansfield Park and Montréal is irresistible. The museums! The cafés and restaurants! The bicycles! The controversial and brilliant Mansfield Park! And what a line-up of plenary speakers: Robert Miles (University of Victoria) on “Mansfield Park and Moral Luck,” Lynn Festa (Rutgers University) on “Mansfield Park and Noise,” and Patrick Stokes (former chairman of the Jane Austen Society, UK – and a direct descendant of Jane Austen’s brother Charles) on “‘Rears and Vices’: The Georgian Royal Navy.” And, of course, there will be many breakout sessions, workshops, and other activities (I’m really hoping for a Sunday morning run, as I loved the one we did at the Philadelphia AGM) – and a Regency Ball. October 10-12, 2014 at Le Centre Sheraton Montréal Hotel. Book your hotel room now, join JASNA if you aren’t already a member, and register for the conference next May.

Many thanks, once again, to Elaine for coming to Halifax, and to JASNA Canada, the Department of English at Dalhousie University, especially Len Diepeveen, David Evans, Mary Beth MacIsaac, and John Baxter, and the members of JASNA Nova Scotia, especially Anita Campbell, Carole Thompson, Sheila and Hugh Kindred, and our Regional Coordinator Anne Thompson, for making this weekend possible.