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The 2016 Jane Austen Society of North America's Annual General Meeting (technically "JASNA AGM," for which read "Austaramacon") started off with a bang last night.

Technically the main speaker was the always entertaining Ken Ludwig, who did have some very interesting things to say about how Austen was not known to have access to many comic novels (as opposed to novels she laughed at, like, say, the entire gothic genre) but had a wealth of great Shakespearean and Restoration comedies to draw on to develop her own humorous style. You could feel the Mansfield Park fans snap to attention when he pointed out that two of the great Shakespearean actresses she would have known about were Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Yeats.

But The! Most! Entertaining! people, possibly of the entire weekend, were the Dr.s Janine Barchas and Kristina Straub, the two curators of Will and Jane: The Culture of Celebrity at the Folger. What could have been a dry and shy discussion of the artifacts was instead a rollicking rip through history, culture, and opinion. "We thought because there were so many of the gilt Hotspurs that they were important. No, the Folgers just collected EVERYTHING to do with Shakespeare" and "If it looks like a tacky duck and it flies like a tacky duck... it's tacky" and (my favorite) "We call them the vaginal Richards."

The exhibit had been planned from the moment the DC AGM was announced, with the specific intent of bringing JASNA's 879 members over to the Folger. There is a free bus - excuse me, a "pink double-decker barouche" being provided all day Friday (on which the Folger both opens early and closes late).

The schtick of the show is both to draw on the growing celebrity of both Shakespeare and Austen and to point out how the fandom over the years has thrown up many of the same objects of reverence, souvenir, parody, and fan fiction. ("Clueless" and "10 Things I Hate About You" being dropped into the latter two categories.) The reason Jane was "allowed to tag onto the most important year in the Folger's entire existence" was because she was writing just as Shakespeare hit his 200s, allowing them to compare where he was then to where he was now and how Austen's fame is similarly being handled 2 centuries in.

But hardly, hardly a dry exhibit! They have some notable wonders - Emma Thompson's typescript of Sense & Sensibility and The Shirt Colin Firth Wore for example. There was much discussion of that shirt - "We thought about putting a grocery store vegetable mister in the case, but presenting it wet was deemed 'curatorally unsound'." "We encourage selfies and shirties - that's where you stand behind the shirt as if you're wearing it. Here's a photo of Sir Derek Jacobi doing that." "Ladies... please, no lipstick marks." (After the talk, I told them of the similar issues faced by the Museum of London and Sherlock's Belstaff, and told them that the Museum of London had been advised by a fan to put up automatic windshield wipers.)

They've put a lot of effort into putting parallel things together - plays with plays, action figures with action figures, books owned by famous people with books owned by famous people, to the point of getting special permission to make a grave rubbing of Austen's tombstone to go with the one the Folgers had of Shakespeare.

There will be photos on my Facebook on Friday.

But now... I made a promise to explain that phrase. So, apparently throughout the centuries, all of the Richard III prints/paintings/statues/souvenirs came in "The two poses." One is him leading the charge, sword raised. They showed 3 Royal Dalton (I think?) statuettes spanning a century of different actors in the exact same "Chaaaaarrrrrrge!" pose (presumably the same mold as well).

The other pose was Richard in the tent, starting back in horror after the ghosts have whispered to him. The etching was very lifelike, but the little figurines of that... well, those were also made more or less to the same mold. Pointed tent top. Tent flaps pulled back in a curving arc downwards, and in the center, Richard rearing back "his outspread hand more of a prom queen wave." The outspread hand is also over his head, not far below the pointed top of the tent and damn, once Janine and Kristina had egged each other on to confess their name for them (neither one wanted to say it on a hot mic) that's a mental image you will NEVER unsee!

Date: 2016-10-20 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds like a grand time!

(one of these days, I promise, I WILL read a Jane Austin novel -- as in written BY Jane, not about her!)


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