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Artsworx Access – A Day with Jane Austen

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by Rachel Timmins (subscribe)
I am a chief writer for Weekend Notes, a copywriter, published poet and Editor of poetry magazine ‘Fruit Salad’ (on hold). I also write children's fiction and inspirational pieces.
Be swept into the life of 'Emma'
If you love the novels of Jane Austen, you would have enjoyed 'A Day with Jane Austen' hosted by Arts Worx. Held in the University of Southern Queensland, the event's main focus was on the novel 'Emma', her society, character defence, screen adaptations and fun activities such as play-acting.

Day with Jane Austen University of Southern Queensland
A Day with Jane Austen for those who love to read her books.
Lecturer Dr Jessica Gildersleeve presented the event. We were informed that fans of Jane Austen are known as 'Janeites', a term coined by literary scholar George Saintsbury. During WWI, Austen's novels were read by some of the soldiers in the trenches, who were consequently ribbed by having this term applied to them.

Directed at readers more than writers, those attending the event held deep discussions on cultural behaviour, character motivation and brain-storming around an 'Emma' trivia quiz. A well known local author won the prize of a leather bound journal.

The opening paragraph of 'Emma' was dissected. An initial impression of contentment in Emma's life is betrayed further into the text, as various facts come to light.

In-depth discussion on the relationships including subjective speculations, were entered into with enthusiasm.

Presenter Dr Gildersleeve mentioned that readers often compare 'Emma' to Austen's other works and invited attendees to discuss why that might be.

It was stated that Jane Austen hated her four years residency in Bath, though others have said that she found Bath lively and full of potential for writing. Perhaps both ideas can be true.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) completed her novel 'Sense and Sensibility' when only 21 years of age. At 24 she completed 'Pride and Prejudice' earning £250 for the two works combined. Jane called this latter work her 'own darling child'. She believed the character Elizabeth Bennett was the 'most delightful character ever in print'.

Austen's motives for writing included encouraging people to be better readers and to aspire to a higher morality.

Romance in Jane's day was serious business since marriage into an 'inappropriate' level of society could jeopardise the financial security of the family. However, the focus on relationships in the novels is seen by some as superficial.

There are a significant number of letters in Austen's novels and several of those in 'Emma' were read aloud. The culture of the day meant that a letter was rarely private as all the characters passed the letter to one another to discuss its merits from every angle.

Members of the Jane Austen Society attended and co-presented. One presentation delved into the digital adaptations available online, such as 'Emma Approved', a satirical effort aimed at a younger audience. To view these humorous adaptations see Pemberley Digital.

The play-acting of the 'Box Hill' scene from Emma seemed to be of great enjoyment to everyone and allowed the majority of delegates to participate.
Day with Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice Adaptation Stage
This stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice promises to be a wonderful experience.

From 27 to 30 August 2015 Arts Worx will present a stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. See website for details and bookings.

Next year Arts Worx will host a similar event around the works of Charles Dickens, one of the Victorian era's greatest novelists.

Finishing off the day around 3pm you may wish to visit to the Japanese Garden for a tet-a-tet with another Janeite.

Morning tea and lunch were included in the fee. You can find the University of Southern Queensland on West Street, Darling Heights.
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Why? Love of Austen
Phone: 07 4631 1111
Where: University of Southern Queensland
Cost: $99.00
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