Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jane Austen Reprise

I'm delighted to report that I have been asked to teach an Honors Seminar, The World of Jane Austen, in the fall. This class will involve less history and more literature than the one last year did.

The class last spring, Jane Austen's England, was intended to be the history of England during the time that Jane Austen was writing. This time, the emphasis will be on Jane Austen's books, since that was what the students in last year's class wanted.

I think it is difficult to appreciate Jane Austen's books (or any author's books) without knowing what was happening in the world at the time, so the class will involve some history. But the history will set the scene and serve as background, not dominate.

In honor of the occasion, I'm giving you a fashion plate to admire. This is from April 1809, although I neglected to indicate in the filename the fashion journal in which this plate was found. The gentleman on the left is wearing "full dress"---full evening attire, from knee breeches, white waistcoat, and dancing pumps to a bicorne hat. He could enter Almack's or any ballroom and be welcomed by his hostess. The gentlemen in the middle is wearing "half dress"---pantaloons, waistcoat, coat, boots, and a top hat; he could attend the opera or the theatre, but the Patronesses of Almack's would not allow him entrance. The lady is wearing an evening gown (notice the demi-train), over which she wears a long pelisse. To me, her bonnet and hairstyle seem very plain for this elegant ensemble.

What do you think? Do the lady's bonnet and hairstyle suit her attire, or do they seem a bit dowdy?



  1. Lovely! Wish I could attend your class. Good luck and keep us informed.

  2. Laurel Ann, I wish you could attend the class, too!