The AGM wasn't all dancing and feasting. In between, we were treated to a number of lectures and breakout sessions offering further insight on the world of Sense & Sensibility.
Maureen Kelly came all the way from Scotland to introduce us to some of the songs Marianne Dashwood might have sung. Scotland (aka Caledonia) had become something of a national craze in Jane Austen's time, with its romantic, melancholy landscape and the dashing figure of the highlander. Tartans became a fashion statement, and folk songs became the entertainment of choice for young ladies following the cult of sensibility, like the character Marianne. Actually, we know that Jane Austen herself liked the songs, since there are among her possessions several songbooks and some sheet music that she hand-copied--songbooks were expensive! Maureen has a fantastic voice. My favorite Scots song? The Lowlands of Holland, best sung in my humble opinion by Four Pints Shy-- check 'em out!
Dr. Sheryl Craig giving a presentation about the economics of Sense & Sensibility, called "Wealth Has Much to Do with It." (Excerpt: "In the waning years of the 18th century, incredibly wealthy characters living the lifestyles of the rich and famous (preferably in haunted castles) sold books. No-one was publishing novels about ordinary people who lived in a cottage down the lane. In retrospect, it seems a risky thing to have done, but Jane Austen was about to break the mold with heroines whose modest income would determine the course the story would take.")
Art historian Jeffrey Nigro expounding on "The Iconography of Sensibility," i.e., the artwork and literature that shaped the cult of sensibility in Jane Austen's lifetime. That sensibility cult would later evolve into full-blown Romanticism. Much of their influence can be observed in Marianne's postures, actions, and words throughout the novel.
Elaine Bander, Juliet McMaster, and Peter Sabor hailed from Canada to give a panel discussion on "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Sense and Sensibility." They spoke about the judgments characters make of one another, the duel, and the novel's many letters.