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1 10Victorian Review Victorian Worlds of Work: The 18th Annual meeting of the Midwest Victorian Studies Association will be held April 8-9, 1994, at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. This interdisciplinary conference will explore the many worlds of Victorian work. What did work mean to the Victorians? How did new jobs or professions develop during this period? How did others decline or become modified with the onset of industrialization, empire, and an administrative and governmental bureaucracy? How and in what numbers did women, odd or otherwise, enter the work force? What of the work of the virtually voiceless working classes? How do authors of the period define work or portray their characters at work? For registration information please contact D.J. Trela, Executive Secretary, MVSA, Box 288, Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605-1394. CONFERENCE REPORT Conference of the Jane Austen Society of North America Lake Louise, Alberta, October 7-10, 1993 In the sublime scenery of Lake Louise, Alberta, in the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness," Jane Austen enthusiasts from around the world gathered to celebrate her novel Persuasion. This was the fifteenth annual conference of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and certainly the most successful one in terms of numbers and representation, with 585 delegates attending not only from North America but from the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand. Juliet McMaster, of the University of Alberta and co-convenor of the conference, commented on the success of the weekend at Lake Louise simply by saying, "With these people and this scenery, how can one fail?" Bruce Stovel, also of the University of Alberta and the other co-convenor, attributed the success of the meeting partly to the choice of Persuasion as the novel for discussion: "I sense that it's every Jane Austen lover's secret favorite." Despite their modesty, Juliet McMaster and Bruce Stovel deserve full credit for organizing such a wellattended and well-run conference. Although Jane Austen herself would probably have been ironic about the praise and laud given her work, she would no doubt have been pleased at the appeal the conference obviously had to such a broad audience, academic and non-academic alike. The weekend began on an upbeat note with the performance of An Accident at Lyme, the musical version of Persuasion, directed by Stephen Heatley and written by Paula Schwartz and Neil Moyer. Jan Fergus (Lehigh University) presented one of the most praised papers at the conference, '"My sore throats, you know, are always worse than anybody's': Conference Report111 Mary Musgrove and Jane Austen's Art of Whining." In keeping with the sociable and "cheerful" mood of the weekend, Fergus's paper was talked rather than read, and examined why we laugh at a character like Mary Musgrove. Fergus's intention was to reveal the Mary Musgrove "in all of us," as well as to offer a taxonomy of her whines. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Mary's whines is their "capacity to infuse blame into nearly every utterance," a characteristic which Fergus classified as part of the "primitive and manipulative" category of whining. Mary's character exactly suits the purpose of Persuasion, a novel which is "to some extent about the ways that people cope with the sense of ill-usage as well as with loss and grief." Aside from an examination of the nature of Mary's complaints, Fergus asked whether there may be a certain amount of legitimacy to her whining. She went on to note the contrast between Mary's and Anne's expression of female suffering and the way characters respond to the sisters. Mary whines and is punished for her mode of expressing unhappiness by being ostracized or ignored; Anne suppresses her unhappiness and is rewarded with the company of those who avoid Mary. Moreover, Fergus argued that this contrast is part of the general tendency of Austen's contemporaries to legitimize male suffering, while making female suffering "excessive or comical or otherwise illegitimate." "Nonetheless," she concluded, "Mary's unhappy whines remain richly comical, despite the suggestions of Austen's part of a cultural critique of the conditions that make us laugh at...


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