Austen Eats – Again

Previously, I mentioned my unorthodox idea about teaching late 18th/early 19th century Euro-American history via a Jane Austen-themed event.  I even posted a link for late 18th/early 19th century foodstuff.  Well, here’s another – the blog that accompanies those films.  Full disclosure: I’ve shopped with Jas. Townsend for years, and have yet to have had a bad experience.  In fact, if I had anything critical to say about them (and let me emphasize the word “if“), it would be their lack of early 18th (and even 17th) century goods.  I did contact them on this once, and surprisingly, received a quick and honest answer.  Apparently, there’s just not enough interest to support them expanding their catalogue.  Can’t argue with that – if no one’s willing to buy your wares, then there’s no point in offering them.

(My one real regret is that I did not buy a set of trumpet glasses when they offered them a few years ago.  It was one of those situations where I said that I’d buy them “tomorrow,” and of course, that day never came.  They’re not carrying those anymore, either, so I’ll have to do without.)

That said, I think it would be amazing to recreate this era (within reason and budget) for students to see and/or experience first hand.  Historic Williamsburg is nice, but it’s essentially a theme park where interaction is limited.  And it’s expensive.  I’m talking about going a step further here – letting students become more active in the environment by showing and teaching how those before us lived.

I know that this type of immersion event has been successfully conducted in the past.  Years ago, there was a school in the south-east that staged an immersion event as a part of a class on the Vietnam War.  Students were given a mini-basic training course before being put through a mock engagement.  In that case, the sole participants (aside from outside military men and ATF agents) were members of the class.  (I saw photos of this event, and have to say that it was quite impressive.)

In my case, I’m looking to recreate an evening social event.  The furthest I would go with “deliberate violence” would be with the staging of a mock duel, and even then, only to show what would take place.  In fact, I would open it up – either cross-discipline or to the campus community at large.  Perhaps I’m thinking on too grand a scale, but I think the more people who can benefit from the event, the easier it would be to justify the event itself.

Still, just the idea of this whole project has got me seriously considering that I should take the time and map out a full program for the sake of seeing how it would unfold.  If – again with the “if” – I can do so in a manner that satisfies all parties, I will presented to the Powers that Be to see if there’s interest.  If not, then it was a decent attempt and I’ll put it away for reconsideration in the future.

I am, however, curious if anyone out there has staged such an event (regardless of era).  I’d love to hear how it worked out for you.

 

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