All posts by Jennifer Abella

About Jennifer Abella

Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow her on Twitter: @nextjen.

Exhibit sneak peek: “Lost in Context: The Rise of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in the Popular Imagination”

By Garland Rieman

Our rare-book exhibit at Wilson Library on Thursday, titled “Lost in Context: The Rise of Pride and Prejudice in the Popular Imagination,” aims to tell the story of “Pride and Prejudice” from a uniquely archival perspective. UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student Elizabeth Shand tackled the project at length by curating a number of firsthand sources that fill in what life was truly like during the Regency period and its reception in subsequent eras in England.

“I looked at sources that typify what we think of when we think of Austen – the dancing, the manners, the English countryside, etc.,” Shand says of her methodology. “And a number of original archival materials – such as a dancing booklet, a letter-writing manual, and a recipe book – showcase the aesthetics that are typically preserved in successive adaptations and editions.”

Shand’s collection of sources are key in showing the true nature of the gentry at the time Austen’s works were published. Shand was also able to compare the materials she found with “historical” interpretations of “Pride and Prejudice” in various adaptations over the years to see how well those adaptations stayed true to the period.

But Shand didn’t stop there; she took her research a step further, diving deep into the archives to look for any additional information about the time period that may have been overlooked in previous scholarship.

“I also wanted to look beyond the typical aesthetics of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to remember the context that is often lost or forgotten,” Shand says. Eschewing the recycled context surrounding Austen’s novels, Shand’s collection aims to bring fresh perspectives and highlight fun new information to help bring Austen’s novel to life.

“Excitingly, we have a number of manuscript materials used by individuals from the 19th century,” Shand adds, ‘and even a doctor’s kit similar to the one that would have been used to attend to Jane Bennet when she fell ill at Netherfield!”

Items like these offer an immersive way to get a feel for the culture Austen highlights in her novels. In discussing the exhibit, Shand also notes how “Pride and Prejudice” in particular was received by the public in the years after Austen’s death, from the succeeding Victorian era to today.

“Austen’s legacy was inalterably changed in the 19th century to emphasize a sense of traditional domesticity,” Shand explains. “However, in my research, I also realized that what is typically left out of Austen’s popular image is her sardonic tone. Therefore, I included many items that are in conversation with her satirical edge.”

To fully color in how Austen’s works were received, Shand noted that several editions of “Pride and Prejudice” on display – including a first edition and a mid-20th-century edition designed for classroom use – help demonstrate how Austen’s cultural legacy has changed over 200 years.

“This year, we also purchased an item particular[ly] for the exhibit,” Shand says. “On display will be the first edition of ‘A Memoir of Jane Austen,’ published in 1870 by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. This work is crucial, as the biography is typically seen as launching the modern fascination with Austen!”

Below, Shand gives us a sneak peek at a few of the items on display, along with her insight on the items she’s curated.

Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice.” Boston: Printed for the members of the Limited Editions Club at Merrymount Press, 1940. Rolan McClamroch Collection, The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“This illustration from a 1940 edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ depicts a scene from Lydia’s imagination: multiple officers simultaneously flirting with her. I love this edition because of the odd choice in illustrations. Rather than depicting popular and well-known scenes, only passing allusions or obscure references are pictured.”

 James Beresford, The miseries of human life; or The groans of Samuel Sensitive, and Timothy Testy; with a few supplementary sighs from Mrs. Testy. In twelve dialogues; as overheard by James Beresford. London: Printed for William Miller, by J. Ballantyne, 1807. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

James Beresford, “The miseries of human life; or The groans of Samuel Sensitive, and Timothy Testy; with a few supplementary sighs from Mrs. Testy. In twelve dialogues; as overheard by James Beresford.” London: Printed for William Miller, by J. Ballantyne, 1807. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Some past attendees may remember this item from JASP 2017 when penmanship expert Benjamin Bartgis used this hilarious work to contextualize the common annoyances of 18th-century letter writing. This year’s exhibit uses ‘The miseries of human life’ to contextualize some of the common annoyances of living in the country.”

Catherine Wood, née Hodson. “Gedge’s town and country ladies own memorandum book, or, Fashionable companion for the year 1794.” Bury St. Edmund’s: Printed by and for P. Gedge, [1793]. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“UNC has over 30 years of day-books with meticulous records kept by a woman named Catherine Wood. The woman lived during the same period as Austen and her heroines, and her day-books offer an incredible account of the daily life of a woman from youth through marriage and childbirth. Two of her day-books will be on display: one from her youth, concerned with tea, walks, and even a dance; and one from her adulthood that tracks the travels of her husband.”

EXHIBIT INFO: “Lost in Context: The Rise of Pride and Prejudice in the Popular Imagination” is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Louis Round Wilson Library on the UNC campus. Find shuttle information here.

Garland Rieman is an intern with the Jane Austen Summer Program.


  1. If you still need to purchase any extras (workshops, T-shirts, etc.), you may do so on-site when you check in.
  2. If you are unable to go out for lunch on Friday or Saturday, or are in a workshop (like the shoe reticule workshop), you can purchase a boxed lunch. Click here to preorder — or you can order when you check in on-site next week.

Prepping for the JASP ball: Regency hairstyling

By Garland Rieman

PrintThe Jane Austen Summer Program is partnering with Chapel Hill’s Citrine Salon for a JASP first: a Regency hair workshop. Voted Chapel Hill Magazine’s Best of Chapel Hill salon four years in a row, Citrine aims to provide excellent service and sophisticated style no matter what look you’re going for — even if it’s one from the 1800s.

During our workshop, registered participants can have their hair styled in Regency Era fashion to wear to the ball later that evening. So what defines a hairstyle as from the Regency era? What even is that period, anyway?

The Regency era of England is a unique cultural timeframe between 1811 and 1820, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule due to illness and his son, the Prince Regent, was allowed to rule by proxy through several parliamentary acts until he eventually succeeded to the crown as King George IV.

The era was a fascinating albeit brief period in British history, and it can be seen even in the way women dressed and wore their hair. Taking place after the French Revolution and during the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo (1815), the era saw a distinct desire to avoid excessive ornamentation that could be reminiscent of the French aristocracy. As a result, thick powdered wigs, teased heights and a host of complex curls were deliberately left in the past. Instead, fashion houses looked to the simple sophistication of the Greek, Roman and Egyptian time periods for their inspiration.

Regency-portraitsHair was often worn in a full bun, which could be placed anywhere on the head as desired by the model, and could incorporate delicate braids, a bit of ribbon, or a small flower depending on the occasion. Longer hair could also be worn swept off the neck in a chic chignon, or even loosely curled over the shoulder, and kept in place with a modest silver hair comb for even more variety. A few tight ringlets placed on either side of the face were an almost guaranteed feature of any look, as they provided was an extra framing effect and a stronger association with the sought-after Greek goddess image.

regency curlers
Regency curlers

Curling hair during this time period could be somewhat of a misadventure — “curling tongs”, the antique equivalent to the modern curling iron, were in heavy use — although there was always the risk of a slight burn here and there. Curling papers were also used as an alternative, by which wet hair was coated in a gel or pomade, wrapped around paper strips, tied and secured close to the scalp until dry.

Fortunately, our stylists, while staying true to period styles, will be using modern methods throughout to achieve the perfect Regency hair.

Speaking of Citrine’s stylists, JASP is pleased to introduce Christy Combs, one of the Citrine stylists appearing during the workshop.

Christy (2)Christy is one of two junior stylists who just recently graduated from Citrine’s apprenticeship program. A huge fan of the dynamic energy that surrounds the hair industry, Christy is always looking for new ways to improve her style and technique. “I really like that the industry is constantly changing,” she notes, “and it’s nearly impossible to stay uninspired and stagnant as a stylist!” Christy is also a huge fan of literature and always has the best book recommendations, especially for summer. “I love to read,” she says, “and try to make time to relax with a book every day.”

More information about the salon can be found on its website, and photos of stylists’ work are posted to the salon’s Instagram page daily.

The hair workshop on Saturday, June 22, is FULL; join the waitlist here. For more about our ball — including DIY costumes for the ball, costume rentals and this year’s shoe policyclick here.

FAQ: What to expect at JASP

With Garland Rieman and Ashley Oldham

We’re a little less than a month out from the Jane Austen Summer Program, and we know you’ve probably got some questions on your mind — especially if this is your first time with us. We got together with our interns, Garland Rieman and Ashley Oldham, who have never been to JASP, to answer some of their queries about what to expect in June. NOTE: Attendees new and returning will want to read our notice about shoes for the ball; scroll down to the red type or visit the ball page for info.My Post (2)

Garland: For starters, when and where does the event “kick off”? I know we have a schedule with dates and times for different events, but I’m curious where the official beginning of it is.

Do people only attend parts or do they attend the whole thing? Is there an initial gathering of attendees to start?

Jennifer: Thursday morning/early afternoon is at your own pace since some people will be coming from out of town. For some attendees, there’ll be the writing workshop. For others there’s the rare-book exhibit at Wilson Library. There will also be shopping; the emporium opens in the morning and features Jane Austen Books, selling gifts and books, and Timely Tresses, which offers bonnets and, this year, hair pieces for the ball. We also have a teachers’ forum as well as a Dance 101 session (more on Dance 101 below). Then in the late afternoon there’ll be a welcome session to call the event to order.

[Find our schedule here (subject to change).]

Garland: Okay, I’m assuming every guest works out their own transportation and housing?

Jennifer: Yup. People either stay at the hotel, or elsewhere and drive in for it. We get free parking in the garage — you just have to check in at the front desk for a pass, or we’ll have one available for print on the website in the coming weeks. There is optional transportation to many of the off-site events, but you need to sign up for it in advance.

Garland: Which garage?

Jennifer: There’s a garage next to the hotel, so it’s super easy to park and get to the conference, plus you’re in walking distance to a lot of Carrboro’s restaurants and shops.

Ashley: Is the event centrally based out of the Hampton Inn? Is that our main meeting point?

Jennifer: Everything except for the rare-book exhibit, the pub crawl, the ball and the afternoon tea is at the hotel.

Ashley: What are our lunch options? Are we eating at the hotel or on our own?

Jennifer: Lunch is on your own (teacher scholars have a luncheon on Friday). There are lots of options outside the hotel; stay tuned in the coming weeks for info on a few nearby spots. However if you want to watch the screenings we’ll be holding, we do have box lunches available. Click here to order. That way you’ll have lunch waiting for you at the hotel, so you can settle in and watch the “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations we’ll be screening. And! Breakfast is free at the hotel — for all registrants, even if you’re not staying at the hotel. If you’re not staying at the hotel, you’ll just need to get vouchers when you first check in at the JASP desk. AND we’ll have “Elevenses” — a midday snack — each day. Like hobbits with their second breakfasts. Hee.

Garland: And the JASP desk is in the lobby of the hotel, right?

Jennifer: Yup, it’ll be toward the back of the hotel on the first floor. There’ll be signs pointing the way.

Ashley: Can you tell us more about what happens before the ball? Does everyone get ready together, or do we show up in our costumes?

Jennifer: This year we have the hair arrangement workshop, so that should be a LOT of fun! Some people will getting ready there. Sorry, it’s full; join the waitlist. Otherwise we’ll break about 4:30 after the last dance lesson, and people will rush off to get ready. Be sure to eat something. The time between dance lessons and the ball will go by fast!  Then there’ll be shuttles for the ball. Sign up for them early! There should also be parking available at the ball.

Ashley: Do you know how people find their dresses and costumes? What do people usually wear, and do we have any options on where to find things?

Jennifer: We have a collection of dresses that people can rent for the ball in a variety of sizes so that’s pretty cool, especially if you’re new and don’t want to invest in a dress. It’s a suggested donation of $25 total (not per item; for example, you could get a gown, hat and gloves all for $25), plus a $10 cleaning fee. Regency wear is not required for the ball, although each year a few more people show up in Regency clothes. However, a number of attendees wear summer dresses and such (or, for men, khakis and polos and the like). Whatever it is, MAKE SURE YOU’RE COMFORTABLE! If you plan to dance, you will be moving a lot!

Ashley: On that note, do you have any recommendations on what shoes to wear?

Jennifer: Excellent question! Listen up, JASP-ers new and old: This year we’re planning to hold the ball in a new venue — the John Lindsay Morehead II Lounge in the James H. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence in Graham Memorial Building on the UNC campus. NOTE: High-heel pumps or any shoe with separate heels are prohibited in the space to prevent damaging the floors. Please wear flats, wedges or ballet slippers and such. If you want to decorate your ballet slippers or flats to match your dress or reticule, you can sign up for the shoe roses workshop or purchase shoe roses at JASP.

Ashley: How much dance experience do we need to have? Are the dance lessons provided enough to help us participate?

Jennifer: You don’t need any dance experience at all! I didn’t have any when I came to my first JASP, and I definitely need the lessons each year. We’ll have three dance lessons that aim to cover all the dances on the lineup at the ball. AND this year we’re holding “Dance 101” sessions to cover the basics before you even take one lesson. One thing to note about the dance lessons: These are a great way to meet people. You have to switch partners each dance. And because men can be in short supply, women dance with women. So sometimes you learn the men’s parts, sometimes the women’s parts.

Garland: Equality, we love it.

Ashley: Awesome! Do we need to register for the dance lessons, or can we just show up? Will the lessons be held back to back, and will they be in the same room as the ball?

Jennifer: No registration is necessary for the dances. Each session goes over different dances, and all the dances will happen at the ball. You’re free to go to as many of ’em as you want. They’re usually in the main conference room where we’ll have our panel discussions (so there’ll be a short break while they clear away chairs, etc.) and then we go back in to dance. There’s one lesson each afternoon/evening.  (A heads up that Thursday’s schedule starts in the afternoon and goes pretty late. The dance lesson ends at 10.)

Garland: Is there gonna be live music for the ball? If so, who by?

Jennifer: There WILL be live music at the ball by the Syllabub Players, which helps give it a nice historical feel.

[For more information about the ball, click here.  Click here for the dance steps and videos of the 2019 Jane Austen Summer Program dances.]

Garland: If you’re not well versed in literature or academia, would you have trouble fitting in at the events?

Jennifer: NOT AT ALL. The best thing, IMHO, about this program is the mix of scholars and non-academics. We’re all just there to celebrate Jane Austen and explore her world.

Ashley: Are the group activities designed to help shy folks socialize and speak to people they might not have known before?

Jennifer: At the start of the program for dinner, we have a mixer where you’ll be able to meet people. There’s usually a fun icebreaker that will help “sort” you into tables for dinner. PLUS one of my favorite things about the program are the small-group discussions after presentations. They’re actually more like book clubs, so you have great informal talks and hopefully get to know your group throughout the whole weekend.

AND we have the popular pub crawl. That gets people in the mood to socialize, for sure!

You never run out of stuff to talk about with fellow JASP-ers. You can always break the ice talking about your favorite Jane Austen book. Or — hahaha — say something controversial like: Emma is THE WORST. That would get a discussion going! 😀

Ashley: That sounds great! Could you tell us more about the pub crawl?

The menu from 2018’s Northanger Abbey/Frankenstein pub crawl

Jennifer: Sure. We take participants to three preselected local bars (it’s a college town, so there are lots to pick from). At each one there’ll be a specially themed cocktail included in the price of the crawl. You can order other drinks on your own. It’s a fun time, getting to know people outside of the conference hotel in a relaxed environment. And the drinks are always great.

Garland: Is there any discount for the drinks the same way there are discounts/vouchers the same way there is for, say, parking?

Jennifer: It’s $15 for one bar, $20 for two or $40 for three bars. It’s nice you don’t have to worry about paying for the themed drinks at the bars. They’re taken care of. Register here.

Garland: How is the tea?

Jennifer: The Sunday afternoon tea is such a lovely way to cap the program. It’s in the Old Well Room at the historic Carolina Inn, which is beautiful. It’s a traditional English tea so lots of food and drink. Register here.

Garland: How involved are the authors and the keynote speakers in the creative writing workshops? Do participants receive feedback on their work?

Jennifer: We’re so happy to have Soniah Kamal (the author of “Unmarriageable”) helping to facilitate our writing workshop — our first such program. She’ll be working with Professor Randall Kenan of the UNC Creative Writing Program and Eleanor Griggs. The goal will be helping participants craft their own short adaptations of a section of “Pride and Prejudice.” Join the waitlist here.

Ashley: Could you tell us more about the theatrical?

Jennifer: Adam McCune is back with another of his adaptations of Jane Austen’s juvenilia. He and the graduate students always put on such a fun show. This year it’s a production of “Love and Friendship” — featuring a bold heroine who pursues a love match. Expect, Adam tells me, a few “ludicrous tragedies.” Hee.

Got a question? Let us know in the comments!