Call for Papers

“At last, however, by touching a secret spring, an inner compartment will open—a roll of paper appears—you seize it—it contains many sheets of manuscript —you hasten with the precious treasure into your own chamber, but scarcely have you been able to decipher ‘Oh! Thou—whomsoever thou mayst be, into whose hands these memoirs of the wretched Matilda may fall’—when your lamp suddenly expires in the socket, and leaves you in total darkness.”
                                                                                               —Northanger Abbey, Chapter 20

Despite being one of the earliest of her novels to reach completion, Northanger Abbey remained unpublished in Jane Austen’s lifetime. “’Miss Catherine’ is put upon the shelf for the present,” Austen declared in a letter to Fanny Knight in 1816, “and I do not know that she will ever come out.” Thus, the work as it was eventually printed in 1818 leaves us with many tantalizing questions. To what degree was Jane Austen satisfied with it? What did it look like in its earlier form, the manuscript called Susan that had been sold to a publisher in 1803? How much of the story, besides the heroine’s name, had Austen changed by the time of her death? What other revisions might she have made to it had she lived? Of course, we think it is a perfectly delightful work as it is, offering biting commentary on everything from popular culture, to politics, to the ideal of the picturesque. Exploring all its nuances can be a frustrating, but also a rewarding experience, helping us to better appreciate the very real world in which our fictional friends moved. We are now seeking parties to join in this adventure!

The Southeastern Virginia Region eagerly invites proposals for breakout sessions related to our theme, “200 Years of Northanger Abbey: ‘Real, Solemn History.’”

We encourage both traditional lecture formats and more unusual ones such as debates or multi-media presentations. AGM attendees will appreciate hearing your insights in clear, lively language and relatable, participatory delivery styles.

Among the widely-varied topics we hope to see are the following:

Please visit our “Theme” page for additional inspiration! Breakout sessions should be approximately 40 minutes in length, allowing for a question and answer period afterwards.

Submission Materials
  1. A cover letter including your name, JASNA region, any college or university affiliation you may have, your mailing and e-mail addresses, phone number(s), and a brief biography (100 words max.). Also, please let us know if you have been a speaker at a previous AGM.
  2. A one-page abstract of your breakout session. Describe your presentation both in content and in format, noting what about it will be new or different to a JASNA audience. Specify AV equipment if your presentation will require it.

The submission deadline is October 8, 2018.

Electronic submissions are preferred and may be sent to our committee at

Or, in physical form, they may be mailed to:

Dr. Amy C. Stallings
Lyon G. Tyler Department of History
College of William & Mary
PO Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Selections will be announced in early 2019. Please note that breakout speakers will be required to send a written version of their presentations for potential publication in Persuasions or Persuasions On-Line. (Do not submit full papers now; selected speakers will be sent more information about this requirement.)