All posts by Ashley Oldham

Lessons learned as a first-time JASP attendee

JASP First Time Attendee LessonsThinking about attending the Jane Austen Summer Program for the first time? Read on to check out all of the lessons I learned as a first-time attendee and intern in 2019 to see why JASP might be just right for you.

  1. Everyone loves a good cardboard cutout of Colin Firth.

And I mean everyone. You won’t go a day without seeing someone (or everyone) cheesing for a picture beside the standee of many people’s beloved Mr. Darcy.

  1. New to dancing? That’s okay!

If you thought you couldn’t dance (like I did), then get ready to move, because JASP has a thing — or fifty — to teach you about many Regency-era dances that you probably never thought you could attempt on your own. JASP offers three main dance classes, plus introductory sessions if you’re entirely new dancing.

  1. Thought you knew “Pride and Prejudice” inside out? Think again.

Okay, so this lesson applies to last year’s convention in particular, but it carries over to  any JASP. I thought I had a good bit of knowledge surrounding Austen’s novel, but let me tell you: I left with way more insights into “Pride and Prejudice” than I would have ever gained on my own. In 2019, speakers included three authors discussing their diverse modern retellings of “Pride and Prejudice.” This year JASP has Janine Barchas (“The Lost Books of Jane Austen”), Mary Robinette Kowal (the “Glamourist Histories” series) and Robert Morrison (“The Regency Years”).

[Read more about our 2020 guests here.]

  1. In fact, there is so much more to learn about Jane Austen.

JASP explores Austen’s world beyond her texts: There’s the social context to all of her novels, there’s the information about her life, there’s the historical events and traditions that were prevalent in her time. The list is ENDLESS.

  1. There’s so much more to JASP than words on websites and emails can describe.

You can put a lot into emails and website headlines, but you really just can’t convey all of the heart in this program. The friendships, memories, fun moments, interesting speakers and more all work together to make JASP a blast.

  1. There’s no reason to be nervous about speaking up and talking to others.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a little shy. However, last year’s JASP gave me the courage to speak up and interact with people in ways that I might never normally. The small-group discussions feel a lot like a book club than a formal meeting, which allows people to open up and talk to one another.

  1. You’re going to want to go to EVERY TALK and hear EVERY SPEAKER.

And I do mean EVERY. They’re all so good, and your JASP experience really wouldn’t be complete without them all. 

[See our schedule here.]

  1. Part of what makes JASP so appealing is the diverse group of attendees.

There are so many people from so many places, of so many ages, and with so many different backgrounds and so many different experiences with Austen’s novels — and it really is beneficial to your JASP experience to interact with everyone. You can learn just as much from your fellow attendees as you would from those at the lectern.

  1. Go to the ball, and have fun (you won’t regret it)!

The ball is SO MUCH FUN, and if you feel like it, you can go all-out. It really amplified the experience to get dolled up (in a Regency gown or modern dress). You won’t regret it.

  1. The opportunities you’ll have are even greater than you might imagine.

You’ll have the chance to speak to best-selling novelists, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, and Austen lovers from all over. You get to engage in all sorts of activities. Your love of Austen is really taken to the next level.

  1. By the time JASP is over, you’re going to be ready to register for next year ASAP.

Those were my exact thoughts when I left last year’s convention, and they’re just as true today as they were then.

  1. Interning with JASP was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

I really do mean that. I’ve had lots of great experiences since coming to UNC, but no college experience has been as academically and personally challenging and rewarding as the Jane Austen Summer Program. I learned so much in just a few months, and I’ll carry those lessons with me forever.

We’ve got a preview of the JASP pub crawl, plus updates and a handy packing list

The Jane Austen Summer Program is bringing back its popular pub crawl for the fourth year in a row. It’s a great way for attendees to unwind, relax, and meet other Austen fans outside of the usual conference activities!

Attendees receive a set of wine charms.

According to organizer Anne Fertig, the pub crawl allows JASP-ers to “see the best bars that Chapel Hill and Carrboro have to offer, all guided by our graduate student volunteers.” Fertig adds: “It’s even become a bit of a tradition for us to visit the local taco truck after the last bar.”

This year’s crawl features three stops: B-Side Lounge, Belltree, and Dead Mule Club. Each pub will offer one or two Austen-themed cocktails just for JASP-ers.

If you want to join the pub crawl, just ask to sign up at the JASP registration desk when you check in on Thursday. You can join us for one bar ($15), two bars ($20) or all three stops ($40).

Need more enticement? Just take a look at the menu:


  • Registration will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday. Follow signs to the JASP registration desk toward the back of the hotel on the ground floor.
  • If there are any extras you want to purchase (T-shirts, the pub crawl, etc.), you can do so on-site when you check in Thursday.


If you’re getting ready to pack, here’s a list of things to bring!

If you're getting ready to pack, here's a list of things to bring: "Pride and Prejudice; proper shoes for the ball; books by our visiting authors; batteries/chargers; parking pass; extra room in your suitcase; an open heart and an inquisitive mind.

New restaurants on Franklin Street for you to check out during JASP (and a few bonus Carolina gems too!)

With the Jane Austen Summer Program just within our sights, there’s no better time to start thinking about what you plan on eating while you’re here — and Franklin Street in Chapel Hill has become home to many new restaurants in the past year.

That being said, if you’re in the mood to try out some new food options while attending JASP, we’ve got you covered. Here are six new dining locations that you can find right down the road from all of JASP’s main activities (and a few bonus Franklin Street favorites, too)!

New Restaurants

Lula’s: Lula’s slogan is “simple food, made the hard way.” With lovely Southern cuisine, you’re sure to keep coming back for the fried chicken, biscuits, and freshly cooked vegetables. 101 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.

Lotsa:  If you want a tasty, quick, and customizable personal pizza, give Lotsa a try. In just 150 seconds, you can have you own stone-fired pizza. 100 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.

Hops Burger Bar: Hops sells some of the best burgers in town, and with tons of interesting toppings and combinations, you might find yourself coming back to try them all. 140 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.

B.Good: B.Good serves quality healthy food “with roots.” If you’re in the mood for a burger and fries, you’ll definitely want to check them out. 133 W. Franklin St., Building A-115, Chapel Hill.

The Pizza Press: Pizza Press serves “1920s American Newspaper Themed Pizzas.” With all of the pizzas named after different newspapers, any avid reader will be sure to adore it. 133 W. Franklin St., Suite 120, Chapel Hill.

Frutta Bowl: This new addition to Franklin Street serves delicious fruit bowls, smoothies, and more. Head here if you’re looking for good healthy meal options. 140 W. Franklin St., Suite 120, Chapel Hill.

Franklin Favorites

Top of the Hill: TOPO is a true Carolina classic. In addition to a wide menu of food and beverages, this restaurant and bar offers the best view of Franklin Street. You have to go at least once! 100 E. Franklin St., No. 300, Chapel Hill.

Mediterranean Deli: Medi Deli is home to the best Mediterranean food in town. It has so many food options, you might find it difficult to pick just a few. 410 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.

Sup Dogs: This restaurant is home to great sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, tots, and a classic college-town environment. 107 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.

Carolina Coffee Shop: Coffee, sandwiches, and a classy Carolina environment? Sounds like a perfect meal for any JASP attendee to me. 138 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.

If you want to pick places to eat based off your mood, check out this post from last year’s JASP. If you want to know where to eat right around the hotel, click here — and get ready for some good eats at this year’s JASP!