An Assembly of Janeites

I’m not sure what the collective noun is for Janeites* (the term popularized by Rudyard Kipling in his short story by that name) to denote admirers of the Georgian-era British novelist Jane Austen, but assembly will do as well as anything! The recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), held in Williamsburg, VA was indeed an assembly of Janeites, and a fascinating one, attended by this UC Berkeley librarian (incidentally, a JASNA life member from long before the Colin Firth wet shirt scene).

JASNA has upwards of 6,000 members worldwide, and an impressive 850 attended this AGM (which filled up within five minutes of going live online), from every US state but 3 and every continent but Antarctica.  The AGM is an agreeable panoply of lectures (some popular, but mostly academic, including three excellent plenary addresses), special events such as tours and concerts, and a ball and promenade.  To say it’s a cross between a ComicCon-like event and a discipline-specific scholarly gathering doesn’t do it justice—there is some indefinable aspect added by the focus on the Georgian/Regency era and the passion for one ironic, wise, delectable, insightful, and compassionate author.  And the period-appropriate garb doesn’t hurt, especially when its background is Colonial Williamsburg, a veritable time capsule itself.

Two women at Jane Austen conference
Baronda Bradley (left) and Devoney Looser show two ways of expressing their connection to Jane Austen (used with permission)

Herewith some highlights of this year’s AGM, for you readers who are interested in a glimpse of this delightful conclave:

—Let’s begin with some academic cred!  Here are the lists of the conference’s breakout sessions and plenary addresses, complete with presenters’ bios.  Nothing if not majestic scholarship on show!

—Continuing with the academic theme, my favorite part of the entire conference (what can I say?  I’m a librarian!) was the tour and open house of Special Collections at the library of the College of William & Mary.  William & Mary is second only to Harvard University as the oldest higher education institution in the US, was founded in 1693, and is the only one founded by royal charter, from, you guessed it, co-regnants William and Mary.  For more detail on the tour, see this piece which appeared in William & Mary news.  Overall, it was just amazing to see the depth of the holdings, and those related to Jane Austen in particular.  Some of the most notable are thanks to an American Janeite, George Holbert Tucker, whose extensive and meticulously documented collection is now held at William & Mary.  At the same time, there were many other period treasures on display, among them this donation of a lock of Queen Mary’s hair.

Tucker's careful list of slides
Tucker’s list of slide titles, seen here, is a librarian’s dream
Lock of Queen Mary's hair
In the locket is a lock of Queen Mary’s hair (Both images used with permission)

—Of course, there were also tours of Colonial Williamsburg.  Of special interest was the home of George Wythe (the original structure still stands), with whom Thomas Jefferson lived and studied law for three years.  John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, also lived in Williamsburg and studied with Wythe; in addition, Marshall liked reading Jane Austen!  He wrote of her: “Her flights are not lofty, she does not soar on an eagle’s wings, but she is pleasing, interesting, equable, yet amusing.”

GW's House
George Wythe’s house

Also, being a librarian, I was very interested to see a demonstration of colonial-era typesetting and printing (unfortunately, the bookbinding demonstrations were not happening when I was there):

Typesetting
Colonial-era typesetting

—The promenade and ball are the hallmarks of any AGM.  After dinner, the entire assembly does a promenade, in their finery for the ball, around any location at which they happen to be meeting (when I attended an AGM in Washington DC, the promenade took place on the escalators connecting four levels of the hotel— quite a sight).  This time, we strolled at dusk to the Governor’s Palace, led by four torch bearers (with modern protective gear—those torches were huge!) where an actress told us period-appropriate ghost stories.  Then we gathered for the ball, to dance and drink and carouse.  The music was provided by a small string ensemble, and a caller with the calmest voice imaginable led the lines of dancers in the sometimes-intricate moves.  Luckily everyone was good-humored!

Ann in outfit
Yours truly in a comparatively humble outfit for the ball
Promenade
A ghostly promenade through the streets of Williamsburg

—The attention to dress is something that has always marked an assembly of Janeites (as it marked the interests of many of Jane Austen’s characters, at a time when distinctions in dress spoke more loudly than words).  At the conference, this could be seen in both modern expressions (as in this T-shirt with its reference to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s admonishment of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), and in scrupulous care with period detail in the many outfits worn by attendees, especially at the ball.  In Colonial Williamsburg, where the park interpreters are dressed in colonial era period-appropriate apparel (mostly from the second half of the 18th century), conference attendees in Georgian/Regency attire (from the late 18th to early 19th centuries) didn’t stand out as much to our modern eyes.  However, they would have stood out in the late 1700s, when wearing rich and patterned clothing identified one as a loyalist to the crown, and was positively unpatriotic (patriots wore homespun).

P&P t-shirt
Lizzie Bennet would love this!
Lady in green dress
A conference attendee in her finery strolls along Duke of Gloucester Street

—On the final afternoon, there was an 18th century cricket demonstration.  The rules were somewhat different then than in modern cricket! (the largely north American audience might not have been as aware of differences).  And in case you are wondering that the photo shows a woman playing, Austen tells us that Catherine Morland, heroine of Northanger Abbey (the novel on which this year’s conference focused) loved cricket as a girl and played it with her brothers!

Cricket demo
Janeite at bat

Intrigued?  If you haven’t read any Jane Austen, or if you tried as a teenager and couldn’t warm to it, maybe have another look… Here is a complete set, free and online, from the wonderful Project Gutenberg.  For introductions to her life and work, try Jane Austen (with an introduction by Harold Bloom), or The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen.  And for more reading on Jane Austen devotees, try Among the Janeites or The Making of Jane Austen.  For a video of a spirited debate comparing Jane Austen and Emily Brontë, check out this one from IntelligenceSquared.  And consider joining us at the JASNA 2020 AGM next year in Cleveland!

*The term Janeite is often not used as a compliment; see this decidedly non-neutral Wikipedia overview.  However, for the purposes of this article, the term is used affectionately!


Ana Hatherly Bibliography + Conference/Symposium + Talk

Poeta chama poeta I, 1989
Ana Hatherly, Poeta chama poeta I, 1989, Col. Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto.

In anticipation of  the conference/symposium on Portuguese visual artist/poet/scholar/filmmaker Ana Hatherly (1929-2015), we’ve assembled a bibliography of works authored by and about her in the Berkeley Library. Hatherly was one of the pioneers of the experimental poetry and literature movement in Portugal and already well-known in Europe before earning her PhD at Berkeley in 1986. Many of the books in the collection came to the Library through her dissertation advisor Arthur Askins who maintained close contact with her after she returned to Portugal. Other books were acquired more recently through the support of the Portuguese Studies Program in the Institute of European Studies (IES) and from donors such as retired Berkeley librarian AnneMarie Mitchell.

Between the lines: Tradition and Plasticity in Ana Hathery | Entrelinhas: tradição e plasticidade em Ana Hatherly, which will take place this Friday, March 22 in Stephens Hall, is the third conference/symposium since IES and the Camões Institute in Lisbon inaugurated the Catédra Ana Hatherly, or Chair, in Portuguese Studies in 2017. Tomorrow morning, Patrícia Lino who is currently a Camões lecturer at UC Santa Barbara will give a talk in English on the poetry of Ana Hatherly in Barrows Hall that is free and open to the public.

Ana Hatherly

https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/ana-hatherly


Great talks and fun at csv,conf,v3 and Carpentry Training

On May 2 – 5 2017, I (Yasmin AlNoamany) was thrilled to attend the csv,conf,v3 2017 conference and the Software/Data Carpentry instructor training in Portland, Oregon, USA. It was a unique experience to attend and speak with many people who are passionate about data and open science.

The csv,conf,v3

The csv,conf is for data makers from academia, industry, journalism, government, and open source. We had amazing four keynotes by Mike Rostock, the creator of the D3.js (JavaScript library for visualization data), Angela Bassa, the Director of Data Science at iRobot, Heather Joseph, the Executive Director of SPARC, and Laurie Allen, the lead Digital Scholarship Group at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. The conference had four parallel sessions and a series of workshops about data. Check out the full schedule from here.

I presented on the second day about generating stories from archived data, which entitled “Using Web Archives to Enrich the Live Web Experience Through Storytelling”. Check out the slides of my talk below.

 

I demonstrated the steps of the proposed framework, the Dark and Stormy Archives (DSA), in which, we identify, evaluate, and select candidate Web pages from archived collections that summarize the holdings of these collections, arrange them in chronological order, and then visualize these pages using tools that users already are familiar with, such as Storify. For more information about this work, check out this post.

The csv,conf deserved to won the conference of the year prize for bringing the CommaLlama. The Alpaca brought much joy and happiness to all conference attendees. It was fascinating to be in csv,conf 2017 to meet and hear from passionate people from everywhere about data.

After the conference, Max Odgen from the Dat Data Project gave us a great tour from the conference venue to South Portland. We had a great food from street food trucks at Portland, then we had a great time with adorable neighborhood cats!

Tha Carpentry Training

After the csv,conf, I spent two days with other 30 librarians and researchers from different backgrounds to learn how to instruct Data Carpentry, Software Carpentry, and Library Carpentry.  There were three CLIR fellows, John Borghi, Veronica Ikeshoji-Orlati, and myself, attended the training. Completing this training prepares attendees to teach Data Carpentry, Software Carpentry, and Library Carpentry lessons. The Carpentry training is a global movement for teaching scientists in different disciplines the computing skills they need to empower data-driven research and encourage open science.

The two days had a mix of lectures and hands-on exercises about learning philosophy and Carpentry teaching practices. It was a unique and fascinating experience to have. We had two energetic instructors, Tim Dennis and Belinda Weaver, who generated welcoming and collaborate environment for us. Check out the full schedule and lessons from here.

At the end, I would like to acknowledge the support I had from the California Digital Library and the committee of the csv,conf for giving me this amazing opportunity to attend and speak at the csv,conf and the Carpentry instructor training. I am looking forward to applying what I learned in upcoming Carpentry workshops at UC Berkeley.

–Yasmin


Boccaccio conference starts today

 Giovanni Boccaccio engraved by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen (1758-1833) after Vincenzo Gozzini.
A Boccaccian Renaissance – an interdisciplinary and international conference – will explore the figure and works of Giovanni Boccaccio from the point of view of their extraordinary, yet little remarked impact on early modernity. It will have a dual focus on Boccaccio’s own understanding of his cultural program and on the direct and indirect impact of his works on the vernacular and Latin culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy and throughout Europe (esp. England, Spain, and France).

 A  joint University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University Conference, October 24-26, 2013. With a generous contribution from the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco. For details, see: http://www.boccaccianrenaissance.com.