The Latest from Devoney: Heads Up! Chawton House Lockdown Literary Festival This Weekend (5/15/-5/17)

Dear Jane-Friends:

I hope this finds you safe and healthy, with every promise of continuing so. I'm writing today, quickly, because I want to make sure you've heard about this weekend's upcoming, free, and sure-to-be-fun Chawton House Lockdown Literary Festival. It's scheduled for Friday 5/15 to Sunday 5/17, with YouTube video lectures to be made available across the weekend and scheduled, time-specific Q&A sessions on Twitter or Zoom.

I'm grateful to get to talk about "All the Janes: Austen, West, and Porter." My Q&A will be on Twitter on Saturday, 5/16, following the video, so at 18:20PM BST or 10:20AM Pacific. The roster of speakers is insane. The hashtag is #ChawtonLitFest. Nothing would make me happier than to connect or reconnect with you there.

Are you, like me, sometimes finding it hard to remember what day it is? I'm grateful to one of my favorite living playwrights, Kate Hamill, for sharing her brother's word for it: Blursday. You might know Kate f

or her wonderful stage adaptations of Austen's novels. I had a chance to write a short piece about how I'm coping (and not) in these difficult and strange times for The Rambling. If you need a break to think about Jane Austen, Swedish death cleaning (actually an uplifting system, if sparking joy is not working for you right now), saved papers from your student days, and small talk with Gloria Vanderbilt, then "Another B+ Coronavirus Essay" might be just the five-minute break you need.

Did I mention that I have no idea if I'm doing anything right, or usefully, or gratefully enough? If you've got some things figured out in all of this that others of us don't, please share them. I got a chance to offer a few thoughts on how to cope, and what to read while you're trying, in the inaugural episode for Penguin Classics Crash Courses, part of its new #BooksConn

ectUs video series. It's a 4-minute, recorded-at-home take on Sense and Sensibility, illness, and recovery.

I know that many of you must have already been touched in some way by COVID and are facing direct impacts from the social and economic fallout of the pandemic. I hope you are able to find ways forward in the long haul, as we lurch toward some new normal. I'm trying to be more patient, kind, and generous. It's tough with two teenagers in the house, alongside two adults with the great privilege to teach and write from home. The line from Austen's writings that might best apply in our household is from Love & Freindship: "Run mad as often as you chuse but do not faint." Or, maybe, "Roughhouse as often as you chuse, but do not give your father another black eye in the process, okay? Good lord."

If you are at a loss for things to do, here are a few ideas for a free moment:

If you're in a place to give a hand to others, here are a few worthy causes to consider:

If you have other ideas for me to add to these lists, I'd be happy to have them. In my best moments, I'm continuing to work on Sister Novelists: Jane and Anna Maria Porter, for a planned fall 2021 publication with Bloomsbury. With any luck, I'll get a chance to talk about that work in person with some of you at the Jane Austen Society of North America's meeting in Chicago in October 2021. (As you may have heard, the JASNA 2020 meeting slated for Cleveland has sadly been canceled.) It feels very good to have something to look forward to. I hope you have all you need in order to give you that opportunity now, too.


P. S. And, as ever, the usual stuff, if you, like me, are sometimes just going through the motions.

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15-17 October 2021: Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting, Chicago