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Jane Austen class 2012

Students giving a reading from one of Austen's novels during Jane Austen Night 2012.

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Pacific celebrates Jane Austen

Cara RappuhnNov 6, 2015

Anyone who has wished for a Jane Austen action figure should mark the calendar for Wednesday, Nov. 18, when University of the Pacific will host its seventh Jane Austen Night. The event is free and open to the public.

The evening will also feature readings, games and student performances. The event will take place at the Alex and Jeri Vereschagin Alumni House on campus. Sponsored by students in Professor Amy Elizabeth Smith's Jane Austen class, this year's event will include a raffle with Austen-themed prizes, including temporary tattoos, an Austen action figure and a complete illustrated hardcover set of Austen's novels. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Stockton Public Library.

Austen, an English novelist who was born in 1775, remains one of the most widely read authors in English literature. Her best-known books include "Pride and Prejudice," "Sense and Sensibility" and "Emma."

Smith, a self-proclaimed "Janeite," taught her first Jane Austen course at Pacific in 2000. She is the author of the 2012 book, "All Roads Lead to Austen." A travel memoir, the book centers on her year-long journey through Latin America, during which she organized Jane Austen reading groups in six countries. Students in her Jane Austen class inspired the trip.

"The first time I taught my Jane Austen course, I was so thrilled by the students' wonderful course projects that I decided the Pacific community and local community should have a chance to enjoy their work," Smith said. "They've done hilarious modernized adaptations of Austen's plots, including an ABBA/Austen tribute musical, a Family Feud: Austen Style game show and some short films."

Jane Austen students 2012

Smith said the event has seen such growth in popularity that they changed venue this year. "The last time I taught the course, in 2012, the event took place in the Presidents Room. So many people came that we were bursting at the seams! That's why this year we've relocated to the Vereschagin Alumni House to accommodate a larger crowd."

Festivities will include a reception with appetizers, drinks, live music performed by a Conservatory of Music string quartet, poster boards detailing lessons that students will teach in Stockton elementary schools this year and a screening of a short student film, titled "Clueless Austen," a murder mystery based on the classic board game and movie, "Clue."

"My project is a modern-day rewrite of Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey,'" said Cara Rappuhn '17, an English major in Smith's class. "It's written in partial epistolary form as a short story with an added twist of murder mystery."

Students will also read from "Lady Susan," a short novel by Austen that was never published during the author's lifetime.

"It was too scandalous," Rappuhn said. "It's similar in style to the novel and movie 'Dangerous Liaisons.' Most people have no idea she ever wrote something like this."

For more details, visit the event's Facebook page or contact Professor Amy Smith at

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