Oh to be in England next June at Cambridge

Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge will be hosting a Pride and Prejudice Conference June 21–23 in 2013. This information I have received courtesy of my friend Christopher Sandrawich, who is the Honorary Membership Secretary with Jane Austen Society Midlands. And it drives me mad to hear about the speakers, including P.D. James (Death Comes to Pemberley), and Janet Todd, general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, and Deirdre Le Faye, known to Janeites everywhere.

There will also be a Regency costume ball, giving lie to the impression that U.K. Janeites look down their long patrician noses at their bumptious American cousins and our fondness for dress up. There will also be a showing of Pride and Prejudice and a trip to Chawton House. Here’s a description of the conference, but you’re better served by visiting the website:

2013 marks the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, first published by Thomas Egerton in 1813. Pride and Prejudice was Jane Austen’s second novel; described by the author as her ‘own darling child’, it remains one of the best-loved English novels of all time. The book’s popularity with readers is reflected in the extensive attention it has received from literary scholars, the numerous screen and stage adaptations of the novel that have been produced over the past decades, and the frequency with which it has inspired literary spin-offs. From P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, to the famous BBC television adaptation starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice has had a rich and varied afterlife in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At the same time academic interest in Jane Austen’s eighteenth-century novel remains equally strong, as recent developments in criticism generate fresh insights into the psychological complexity of Jane Austen’s characters, a clearer understanding of Austen’s place within the literary marketplace, and a newly-charged appreciation of the socio-economic context in whichPride and Prejudice was first written and read.

This conference celebrates two hundred years of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by uniting the past with the present, considering Austen’s best-loved novel in both its original contemporary context and through the lens of the numerous screen adaptations and literary spin-offs the book has inspired. Exploring the original historical context and modern afterlives of Pride and Prejudice, the conference will feature a series of talks by well-known Austen academics, readings from Pride and Prejudice by popular modern authors and media figures, and screenings of classic Jane Austen film and television adaptations, as well as a Regency ball and a day trip to Austen’s home village of Chawton.

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