OK, so I promised you a post about Antwerp museums, but that will have to wait for another week I suppose… because today I want to tell you about an outing I had last Saturday! I went to Utrecht for an entire day of lectures about Jane Austen…
Are you as much of a Jane Austen fan as I am? Read on I’d say 🙂
Some of you might remember me going to Dordrecht in September 2016, to go to a lecture about travelling in Jane Austen’s time (this post).
The lecture was given by Karin Quint, the author of ‘Het Engeland van Jane Austen’, a Dutch book about Jane Austen, the places she visited and the places she lived in, but also the houses and towns which were used in the many films and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s books. It really is a very good, complete read! On a sidenote I want to tell you that this book is being translated in English as we speak!! At the moment it will only be available for those who pre-ordered a copy, but hopefully an English/American publisher picks up this beauty to publish!! Read more about it here!
We got to meet up with Karin Quint during the fabulous high tea which followed the lecture and she told us that in 2017 there would be several Jane Austen events, because it would be 200 years after her death. One of these events would be a day filled with lectures at the Utrecht University. Now that was music to my ears as well as my daughter’s!
And so it happened that last Saturday, Charlotte and I drove off to Utrecht… my first time following lectures at a university… let me tell you more about our day!
We were welcomed at about 10 am with coffee and tea and at 10.30 sharp, the lectures could begin, attended by approximitaly 150 ladies… and a handful of men 🙂
1.Guus Luijters ‘Declaration of love to Jane Austen’
The first lecture was given by Guus Luijters. He is a writer and a poet and back in 1976 he founded the Jane Austen Society in Holland.
During this opening lecture, mr Luijters declared his love to Jane and told us a bit more about the Jane Austen Society. With this society he wanted to reach as much Jane Austen fans as possible and make lots of new Austen fans.
2.Suzan Van Dijk ‘The apparently slow start of Austen’s fame’
The second lecture was given by Suzan Van Dijk, who is specialised in 18th and 19th century literature.
Her lecture was about the slow start of Austen’s fame, because it took many decades to reach the heart of the Dutch readers… or not?
The first Dutch translation of a Jane Austen novel, was only published about 105 years after Austen’s death. But recent research shows that there are signs of Dutch people reading and appreciating Austen’s work just years after her death.
Mrs Van Dijk also talked about the several translations and the effect a translation has on the story that is being told… because let’s be honest… a translation of an Austen novel without her infamous irony and wit, wouldn’t do Austen any justice!
3. Chris Louttit “Pop Goes the Regency: Popular Culture’s Jane Austen”
This lecture was given by Chris Louttit, who teaches 19th and 20th century British literature at the Nijmegen University.
This lecture was all about the recent popularity of all things Austen. He took us through the most recent cinema and television adaptions, but also talked about Jane Austen blogs, internetshows etc.
A lot of the people attending the symposium, first saw a cinema or televsion adaptation before reading the books… like me for instance! I am such a fan of the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice but I must be honest… I haven’t read the book yet!! I have all her books in English and I have started reading them several times before… but I just couldn’t get through the first 40 pages or so. I have now bought a Dutch version of ‘Emma’, and this time I am succeeding! I have nearly finished it and I have bought the Dutch version of Pride and Prejudice to read during my holidays. I do hope to read all of her books in Dutch and then I can call myself a real Janeite 🙂
Anyway, I think there’s nothing wrong about liking the television adaptations first and then start reading the books… do you?
After Chris Louttit’s lecture it was time for lunch. This was served in a beautiful hall of the University library. The lunch was well catered for and we were offered several kinds of sandwiches and wraps and also some sweets and fresh fruit salads. We could talk about the past lectures and about the lectures still to come… And of course there were all sorts of books, dvd’s and souvenirs we could buy… tempting 🙂 And then it was time for the afternoon lectures…
4. Penelope Townsend “Pride and Prejudice – The enduring appeal of Jane Austen’s darling child”
This fourth lecture was given by the very enthusiastic Penelope Townsend, author of Jane Austen Stepping Westwards and member of the British Jane Austen Society.
Elizabeth Bennet was Jane Austen’s ‘darling child’ and actually I like to believe that Jane Austen was a bit like Lizzie Bennet…
Mrs Townsend took us through the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice” in a very vivid and humoristic way, reflecting on all important characters of the story.
5. Barnita Bagchi ” Austen’s subversive young heroines”
Barnita Bagchi is a lecturer at the university of Utrecht. She teaches literature and the lecture she gave last Saturday definitely was my favourite!
Based on the very first works of Jane Austen (Catherine, or the Bower and Northanger Abby), Mrs Bagchi talked about the criticism Jane Austen seems to have about the education of females. Her young heroines stand opposed to what was acceptable those days and they spoke in favor of the thought-out choices they made in their own lives.
6. Paul Franssen “Jane wil fix it: Pride and Prejudice and the male gaze”
Paul Franssen was the last lecturer of the day. He teaches English literature at the Utrecht University.
He talked about the fact how important ‘the gaze’ is in Jane Austen’s work and in that period. Not only the gaze between males and females, but also those between mother and daughter, man and wife, sisters,…
This completed a very interesting day. My daughter and I enjoyed every single minute of the symposium and this calls out for more! We hope that in the future, we can attend more of these kinds of lectures and symposiums to broaden our minds and keep our intelligence on point 🙂
If you are interested in Jane Austen and the Jane Austen society, I give you a couple of links below: