JASNA News article on the 2015 AGM

JASNA News article on the 2015 AGM

This post is a continuation, or adjunct, to my blog post today on Austen Authors. I am sharing the news that the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), scheduled for October 9-11 in Louisville, Kentucky, and hosted by the region I am a member of, will be open for registration on June 3. Just two weeks from now! There are many excellent reasons to consider attending, not the least of which is that I and several Austen Authors will be there!!

My post on Austen Authors:  Fancy a trip to Kentucky? The JASNA AGM is your chance!


Below is the article I wrote for the spring edition of JASNA News. For those who are not members of JASNA, I thought you might appreciate reading it, seeing the images (in color no less, as they aren’t in the B&W newsletter), and enjoying the DID YOU KNOW? “fun facts” that for space reasons did not make it into the newsletter.

AGM registration
click for AGM website


In 1771 American frontiersman Daniel Boone crossed into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap of the Appalachian Mountains, writing, “I surveyed the famous river Ohio that rolled in silent dignity, marking the western boundary of Kentucky with inconceivable grandeur.” Boone later declared, “I returned home to my family with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise.” Jane Austen never traveled to America, yet the lady who wrote, “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment,” surely would have concurred with Boone.

JASNA, Greater Louisville Region, is honored to host the 2015 AGM and share our heavenly slice of the world with Jane Austen devotees. Natural beauty is only one of the myriad refreshments available for visitors to experience while in Louisville — “Gateway to the South” — this October. Between outstanding speakers, breakout sessions, and special events focused on Living in Jane Austen’s World, and then the incredible local area tours, award-winning restaurants, and unique blend of Southern charm with cosmopolitan attitude that embodies Louisville, we believe this AGM may be the best ever!

As your hosts, our promise is to ensure your stay in Louisville is fulfilling and memorable. You may never want to leave!

Louisville is pronounced “Loo-uh-vulle” and the city’s symbol is the fleur-de-lis. Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark, (brother of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame) and named after King Louis XVI.

The Galt House Hotel in the Heart of Louisville

GALTHOUSE_SL copyHowever you arrive to our fair city, the Galt House will be your destination. The Galt House is a modern, 4-star, state-of-the-art convention hotel built upon the site of several previous incarnations since the 1835 original 60-room hotel and residence of Dr. Galt. The hotel’s roots are rich in history with presidents Lincoln, Grant, Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt notable guests, along with Charles Dickens, Stephen Douglas, P.T. Barnum, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, and Diamond Jim Brady, to name but a few. Then, and now, of prime importance is luxury with a capital L.

Attendees of the 2015 AGM will enjoy a downtown waterfront location (many rooms with a river view), suites with full amenities provided, six in-house restaurants and lounges, a fitness center, concierge service, an outdoor pool, UPS business center, secure parking with valet service, on-site city transportation and airport shuttle, and retail stores for shopping needs. The conference facilities are exceptional with over 50 meeting rooms, 2 ballrooms, and an exhibit hall, the combined space able to accommodate 3000 conference attendees.

Stepping beyond the front doors, the local area attractions within easy walking distance, or a short taxi ride, are far too numerous to list. Suffice to say, the question won’t be what to do in your free time or where to go for dinner, but rather why you didn’t plan to stay for a week or two!

Louisville landed on Travel and Leisure’s “Best Places to Travel in 2015” and their “Best American City for Fall Travel.” Forbes Magazine included Louisville in its round up of “Five Picture-Perfect Vacations for Photographers.” October weather in Louisville is typically warm with sunny days in the 60s and cool evenings around 50 degrees.

History is abundant in the Louisville region of our great country, roots dug deep from before our nation’s independence. Indeed, our task in planning tours for AGM attendees and companions is still underway due to the rigors in choosing what to eliminate! With the assistance of Destination Louisville and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the following local area tours are finalized. Additionally, Destination Louisville will be present at the Galt House, as well as the hotel concierge, to lend their expertise for independent adventures.

Organized Tours

1.  The Welcome to Louisville Tour is designed to introduce visitors to this vibrant city, providing a glimpse into both the historical heritage and contemporary life style of Derby City. The tour begins with the 30-minute KENTUCKYSHOW! before taking to the streets for a leisurely drive. Travel through downtown, the preserved 19th century warehouse area, eclectic NULU district, historic neighborhoods, Cave Hill Cemetery, Olmstead parks, the Ohio River, and many other landmarks of River City. 

2.  Is it logical to travel to Kentucky and not tour at least one horse farm? Our Pre-Convention Tour … And They’re Off! is an exciting day at Claiborne Farm—the world-renowned Kentucky Thoroughbred farm where Secretariat was bred—and Keeneland Racetrack, in the heart of the Bluegrass region, for the October stakes. Lunch overlooking the racetrack is included.

3.  In a joint outing to the Kentucky Derby Museum and Locust Grove, guests will begin at the museum dedicated to the “greatest two minutes in sports.” A short drive away is Locust Grove, a farm established in 1790 by William Croghan, brother-in-law and partner of George Rogers Clark. This is a tour replete with history encompassing Louisville, Kentucky, and America.

4.  In 1867, William S. Culbertson built a grand, three-story mansion in Historic New Albany. Located in Indiana minutes across the Ohio River, guests will tour the mansion and partake in the annual Harvest Homecoming street festival. After lunch visit the oldest surviving building in New Albany—Scribner House—built in 1814 by Joel Scribner, one of the city’s founders.

5. “The Bourbon Capitol of the World” is Historic Bardstown, founded in 1780. Begin with a pleasant drive over rolling hills of bluegrass to the second oldest town in Kentucky. Stop for an in-depth tour of Heaven Hill Distillery Bourbon Heritage Center, the building itself made of bourbon-making materials. Lastly, drive past My Old Kentucky Home at Federal Hill, a plantation frequently visited by Stephen Foster, who wrote the Kentucky State Song while there in 1852.

6. Louisville boasts the largest collection of Victorian Era homes in the US, and the Home and Garden Tour includes two of them. Farmington, an 1816 Federal-style home designed from a plan by Thomas Jefferson, is newly restored with paint colors, wallpaper, carpets, and Kentucky furniture and antiques from the period. Built in 1865, Whitehall was a modest red brick house transformed into a Classical Revival antebellum mansion in 1910. Both properties have extensive gardens maintained according to their original designs.

7. Our Post-Convention Tour on Monday is an excursion to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, a living tribute to a communal society established there in 1805. Although the Shakers no longer exist in Kentucky, for over 100 years their influence has been kept alive by those who live at Shaker Village. Come and learn what this place meant to them and what it can mean to you.

8.  Bats and Boats is our companion tour designed for the masculine gender accompanying their Austen-loving ladies. Begin this two-part tour with a step back in time to the Great Steamboat Era. Visit the Howard Steamboat Museum dedicated to this unique mode of transport and housed within the 1894 mansion built by master craftsmen from the shipyards of the past. Next up, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory where a 120-foot baseball bat marks the entrance to the building where the history of “America’s pastime” and the creation of wooden bats rule.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bon Appétit named Louisville one of the "Best Foodie Small Towns in America” and Fodor’s Travel ranked Louisville #25 on their 2015 Go List, writing, “A wallet-friendly weekend getaway for bourbon lovers and dedicated foodies.” These are 2 of 40 lists or awards granted to Louisville in general and specific restaurants or chefs since 2012 alone.

Culinary Scene

Best to forego the diet plans for this trip. Dubbed the Culinary Capitol of Bourbon Country, Louisville has over 2500 restaurants, a number with James Beard nominated chefs. Regional, traditional Southern foods—Derby Pie, Hot Brown, burgoo, mint julep, fried chicken, bourbon balls—are a food lover’s essential experience. Yet the dining possibilities cover a broad spectrum.   

New Southern Cuisine is one of the most popular current food movements, and Louisville is on the cutting edge. Local restaurants and innovative chefs blend Kentucky cooking with an eclectic mix of ethnic fare and regional influences, the results exciting and original. Whether you’re looking for a quiet café, an ethnic restaurant for an exotic change of pace, a casual eatery to relax, or a classic Bourbon Lounge for an Old Kentucky evening, Louisville has what your taste buds crave.

Top Rated near Galt House: Rivue. Proof on Main. The Oakroom. Harvest. Mayan Café. Decca. Saffron’s Persian. 610 Magnolia. Eiderdown. Eddie Merlot’s. Milkwood. Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse.

With the vast array of stellar Austen-centric activities to partake of, sightseeing and fine cuisine may well take second place. After all, Jane is the primary reason for traveling to lovely Louisville, correct?

Plenary Speakers

plenary speakers
L->R: Inger Brodey, Rachel Brownstein, Amanda Vickery


Amanda Vickery, prize-winning author of The Gentleman’s Daughter and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England, is our Carol Medine Moss Keynote Speaker. Ms. Vickery writes and presents history documentaries for television and radio, including “At Home with the Georgians.” In “No Happy Ending? At Home with Miss Bates in Georgian England” Professor Vickery will open the doors to female-only households in Austen’s world, particularly those of declining status and modest means. Were they unfortunate, joyless abodes? Or were women making a home without male inclusion nests of comfort and rich in emotional warmth?

Second in our impressive lineup is Dr. Inger Brodey, JASNA North American Scholar Lecturer, an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and the author of Ruined by Design: Shaping Novels and Gardens in the Culture of Sensibility. Dr. Brodey’s talk — “Making Sense of Sensibility in Jane Austen’s World” — explores the popular “culture of sensibility” that strongly shaped Austen’s novels, primarily in how she rejected the movement.

Our third plenary speaker is Rachel M. Brownstein, author of three critically acclaimed books, Tragic Muse: Rachel of the Comedie-Francaise, Becoming a Heroine: Reading about Women in Novels, and Why Jane Austen?  Ms. Brownstein will deliver an illustrated presentation on the popularity of caricature sketches and graphic satires, and how this particular art form aided in training Austen’s eye for satire.

The Kentucky Derby, begun in 1875, has run annually at Churchill Downs the first weekend in May ever since. It is the oldest, continuously held horse race in the US, and the first leg of the Triple Crown. 554 red roses are used for the winner’s garland. For 25 years Thunder Over Louisville has been the opening ceremony for the Kentucky Derby Festival. It is North America’s largest pyrotechnics display with 60 tons of fireworks released continuously for over 28 minutes.

The Regency Era, technically a mere nine years, truly encompassed the decades from 1790 to 1830. It was a period of transition between the Georgian and Victorian eras when art, literature, fashion, design, and architecture were characterized by distinctive styles of elegance, refinement, and culture. Society as a whole underwent a mini-Renaissance.

Fortunate for us, this translates to a wealth of fantastic topics befitting the 2015 AGM theme of Living in Jane Austen’s World.

Breakout Speakers

This year 42 exemplary sessions will be held over two days. Wow! Be prepared to make some tough choices amongst the diverse topics being offered. Culinary, medicine, fashion, George III, the Royal Navy, gardens and plants, farming, India, music, London Society, Beau Brummel, economics, politics, travel, fallen women, sports, sheep, Dolly Madison, crime, family matters… are a mere sliver of the whole.

Ah, the opportunities to improve one’s mind!

Special Interest Sessions

Discover the true job of a Doctor and Surgeon, and the perils of illness and injury, in “Royal Naval Surgeon in the Time of Jane Austen” by Albert Roberts. In a character from the Golden Age of Sail—Dr. Maturin from Master and Commander, perhaps—Mr. Robert’s will demonstrate period-appropriate medical procedures in an academic, bloodless manner.

It may be tough, ladies, but restrain your wolf-whistles when historical researcher Brian Cushing presents the fascinating evolution of men’s fashion in “Dressing Mr. Darcy”. Mr. Cushing, as Mr. Darcy, answers the questions of what to wear, how to wear it, and why…. in a most enticing visual demonstration.

Turn about is only fair, so we have historian and seamstress Maggie Roberts “Undressing the Historical Lady” layer by layer, giving an in-depth explanation of each garment. Laugh as you learn about a woman’s toilette in Jane Austen’s time —from the outside in!

Twenty year veteran re-enactor Gayle Simmons will have a Regency Fashion Display of reproduction clothing and accessories dating from 1797 thru 1819. The clothing is completely hand sewn with authentic materials and trims, all based on original garments.

Would you rather be a hero like Captain Wentworth, a scoundrel such as John Willoughby, or a dandy with the style of Beau Brummel? In “Hero, Scoundrel, or Dandy: How to step back into Regency England” Michael Ramsey will provide answers through a media presentation and discussion of what is available to the reenactment/living history community today. Reproduction garments and accessories will be available for viewing.

For a unique peek into the world and circumstances of Jane Austen, Dr. Glynis Ridley of the University of Louisville will share the contents of a notebook kept from 1824 to 1827 by a young woman named Thomasina Newcomen. “Thomasina’s Notebook and Thomas Lefroy’s House: The life of a young woman in Austen’s Dublin” reveals striking real-life reflections of Austen’s plots, and more about Thomas Lefroy, with whom Austen reportedly enjoyed a brief flirtation.

Reverend J. Frank Jarboe of Parson John Living History, Inc. will hold Sunday Church Service with period hymns and a sermon from Jane Austen’s favorite minister, the Rt. Rev Thomas Sherlock, Bishop of London (1678-1761). With Austen’s father a minister and brothers who took orders, this is a rare opportunity to glimpse the religious practices common to Jane and her contemporaries.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wooden baseball bats were first made in Louisville in 1884, and still are! A 120 foot tall bat—the world’s largest—stands before the Louisville Slugger Museum and plant.

Memorable Events

The Regency Styleshow and Luncheon on Thursday includes dining in elegance inside the Galt House Ballroom and a lecture by Betsy Bashore, noted authority on early 19th century dress. In “Elegance and Propriety: English Fashion in the Era of Jane Austen” Ms. Bashore discusses the differences in British and French values—modesty and simplicity versus provocative and ornate—enhanced with a fashion show and examination of proper clothing choices for common activities.

The Frazier History Museum Ice Breaker on Friday night is the primo event not to be missed! Located two blocks from the hotel, the museum showcases artifacts of American history from early settlement up through 1900. Guests are invited to mingle as they freely tour the exhibits, and while enjoying a delicious dessert and coffee bar. The highlight of the evening is “God and my Country” featuring Bryan Austin, veteran actor and historical interpreter at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, one of the greatest military leaders of recorded history. Performed three times throughout the evening, “God and my Country” is a unique blend of play and lecture, Mr. Austin presenting a new adventure that promises to be as educational as it is entertaining.

As always the talented writers who share their knowledge and devotion to Jane Austen in a published format, fiction and nonfiction, will be available to sign their books and meet readers during the Author Book Signing. Books will be available for purchase from the author or Jane Austen Books (www.janeaustenbooks.net) in the Emporium.

Don your Regency attire for the annual Regency Ball and Promenade. Ever striving to be unique, the 2015 AGM Promenade will be led by a female bagpiper! Route dependent upon weather conditions.

The Belle of Louisville Dinner Cruise on Sunday night is worth spending an additional day in Kentucky, trust us. Built in 1914, and originally a ferry and freight vessel, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. The two-hour dinner cruise along the Ohio River includes a delicious Southern-style buffet, and local historian Rick Bell sharing the history of the Belle and Louisville.

Bourbon whiskey originated in Kentucky, and today 95% of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky. Thanks to bourbon, baseball, and horse racing, GQ Magazine ranks Louisville the “Manliest Town in America.”


Workshops are perfect for those who delight in hands-on activities — or want to dance properly no matter how tolerable their partner! The Dance Workshops led by Don Corson, the Louisville English Country Dance master, will benefit both novice country dancers and those who need a refresher. A Reticule Workshop by JASNA Greater Louisville member Kathy Chopra is the answer to completing your ball ensemble. Basic sewing skills are necessary, but the kit will contain everything required for a gorgeous reticule. Fancy a Cup of Tea? Julia Matson of Bingley’s Teas, the original Jane Austen Tea Series creators, offers a workshop on tea creation, attendees mixing a tea blend uniquely their own. One or possibly two additional workshops are in the discussion phase, our hope for a nice variety for those crafty folks in our midst.

Hunter S. Thompson, cheeseburgers, Muhammad Ali, the “Happy Birthday to You” song, President Zachary Taylor, flavored chewing gum, Jennifer Lawrence, the famed Hot Brown sandwich, Diane Sawyer, Papa John’s Pizza, and author Sue Grafton all originated in Louisville.

That is the end of the article, other than the technical details on air travel and registration information. Obviously I had to be brief due to space, and some additions to the itinerary were made after I wrote the article, so be sure to check out the 2015 AGM website for more.

I hope to see YOU in October!

AGM registration
click for website


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephanie Bilodeau

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for such a great article about our city. It made me appreciate my hometown even more.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x