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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Invitation to a small Austen-themed Zoom group during the COVID Era

[Updated June 28, 2020 to change the date of the first meeting]

As a hardcore Janeite for the past 26 years (I started late, at 42), and JASNA member since 2005, I'm always up for a lively, informed conversation about all things Jane Austen.
Since the COVID era began 3 months ago, I've enjoyed the luxury of having such conversations regularly, by phone and by Zoom, with a handful of close friends who share my Austen obsession.
I've also enjoyed the occasional regional JASNA Zoom event that has been opened up to various JASNA chapters; and I really look forward to the JASNA AGM, which, I recently learned, will be held virtually in some reduced format in early October 2020. Hurray!
Asynchronous conversation online via emails (I've been a member of the Janeites email group since 2000) is great, but it's not really the same as the spontaneous fun of speaking in voices and, via Zoom, actually seeing the faces of one's conversational partners.
Which is all prelude to saying that I would like to add one more regular Austen Zoom conversation to my schedule, to help get through the rest of 2020, and perhaps beyond.
So I extend this invitation to any serious and open-minded Janeites -- which I will now arbitrarily define as someone who meets all 5 of these criteria:
1. loves Austen's writing,
2. has actually read at least 4 of the 6 novels at least once,
3. has read at least 1 of the 6 novels at least twice,
4. has seen at least 1 film adaptation of any of the 6 novels you haven't read,
5. is NOT hostile to the idea that Jane Austen was a strong early feminist, whose writing can be read as subverting the oppressive patriarchy of her era.
As to #5, I don't mean that you have to agree with me that Austen was generally a subversive feminist, only that you are open to that possibility, and will not feel the need to argue otherwise.
I would like to find up to 8 of you to join me in participating (attending at least 50% of the sessions) in a regular Zoom that meets every OTHER week, beginning the weekend of July 4, 2020, and thereafter every other Saturday always running from 11:30 am to 1 pm Pacific Standard Time. i am setting the limit at 9 participants total, because with more than that, there wouldn't be time for everyone to really have a chance to speak enough.
My idea is for discussions and not lectures. Our topics for discussion will be selected on a fluid, rotating basis by everyone in the group, and ideally would be some particular passage or theme in one or more of the novels, that one of us thinks, and others agree, would make for a stimulating and mutually enjoyable group conversation for 60-90 minutes. This format has worked well the past 3 months in the existing group I started in March. I just want another one!
So, if you're interested, please email me at, briefly tell me why you think you'd be a good fit, and hopefully we can assemble a group in advance of the July 4 weekend!
Cheers, ARNIE