Program director and UNC English professor Suzanna Geiser said the event intends to immerse attendees in the culture of this time period.
“We aren’t just touching lightly on things, we are really getting into historical issues and literary topics,” Geiser said.
Geiser said many people have read “Pride and Prejudice,” but there is more to Austen than her most famous book. The late author left a legacy behind which directors and authors have expanded upon time and time again.
“There are many things that people do not know about Jane Austen,” said James Thompson, a co-director of the program and English professor. “That is why we meet every summer and discuss these issues.”
2016 marks the fourth year of the program.
This sold-out event features scholar-led panels, small group discussions and even a pub crawl.
Guests also have the opportunity to take dance lessons for the Regency Ball, held on Saturday, June 18 in UNC’s Gerrard Hall.
This year, the event features a rare book emporium, where attendees have the opportunity to read antique copies of Austen’s novels from the 1930s and 1940s.
“As far as I know, there is nothing quite like it in the Triangle,” Geiser said. “It offers a really in-depth look at a novel, a novelist and a historical period.”
Abella said graduate students and academic scholars will lead panels and discussion groups about various aspects of “Mansfield Park,” including everything from lap dogs to playing cards.
These groups will also discuss more controversial topics, such as slavery and women’s rights in England’s history, which both make appearances in Austen’s book.
“This is not just an academic audience. We want people who are interested in just chatting about Austen,” said Geiser.
“Even if they don’t know how much they love her yet, I think they would still find this conference fun and thought-provoking.”