Please join us at Bird in Hand for the first in an ongoing series of workshops in the public humanities, sponsored by the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute. On the last Monday of each month, Baltimore-based professors and students will share new work oriented toward broader public audiences, speaking and reflecting in an intimate setting meant to encourage public feedback and critical dialogue.
This month's installment will feature Juliette Wells, Professor of English at Goucher College. Just over a century after Jane Austen's death in 1817, devoted readers sought out her letters and personal possessions, as well as first and rare editions of her novels. Alberta Hirshheimer Burke, Goucher College class of 1928, built the most extensive collection in the U.S. of Austen manuscripts, editions, translations, and ephemera--plus one famous relic, a lock of Jane Austen's hair, which made international news when Mrs. Burke donated it to the Jane Austen House in Chawton, England. Second only to Mrs. Burke's was the collection formed by Charles Beecher Hogan, Yale class of 1928, which included the topaz cross necklace owned by Austen. Drawing on new research in the two collectors' personal archives, this presentation establishes the importance to Austen reception history of their pursuit of items that held great personal importance to them.