Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan
The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Ted Scheinman spent his childhood summers eating Yorkshire pudding, singing in an Anglican choir, and watching Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Determined to leave his mother's world behind, he nonetheless found himself in grad school organizing the first ever UNC-Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Camp, a weekend-long event that sits somewhere between an academic conference and superfan extravaganza. While the long tradition of Austen devotees includes the likes of Henry James and E. M. Forster, it is at the conferences and reenactments where Janeism truly lives. In Camp Austen, Scheinman tells the story of his indoctrination into this enthusiastic world and his struggle to shake his mother's influence while navigating hasty theatrical adaptations, undaunted scholars in cravats, and unseemly petticoat fittings. In a haze of morning crumpets and restrictive tights, Scheinman delivers a hilarious and poignant survey of one of the most enduring and passionate literary coteries in history. Combining clandestine journalism with frank memoir, academic savvy with insider knowledge, Camp Austen is perhaps the most comprehensive study of Austen that can also be read in a single sitting. Brimming with stockings, culinary etiquette, and scandalous dance partners, this is summer camp like you've never seen it before.
"Sly, witty, and often humorous . . . A pleasing divertissement for Austen fans everywhere." --Kirkus"Ted Scheinman plays a good Mr. Darcy in this funny and insightful look into the work of Jane Austen and the strange world of her most obsessive fans. Camp Austen explores how deeply meaningful and personal the oeuvre of an author can be, and how it stitches us together. Scheinman has delivered a heartfelt and entertaining glimpse into Austen's work and literary fandom that will resonate whether you spend your free time wearing Regency-era clothes and rereading Sense and Sensibility or not." --Jason Diamond, author of Searching for John Hughes"It's so lovely to read a book about the delights, the perils, the peculiarities of fandom, and of the small, joyful enthusiasms therein, that treats its subject both critically and generously. Self-examining without being self-conscious, compact without feeling cramped, funny but never at a distant remove--I am not an academic, and I have never worn a cravat, but Camp Austen never made me feel like I needed either of those things in order to participate fully. It's a delight and an invitation." --Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts from Jane Eyre and The Merry Spinster"I'll admit it: I have never read a word of Austen. But that doesn't matter! I still really enjoyed this book. Ted Scheinman is a dexterous guide through a world that I previously found inscrutable, deploying his scholarly chops along with a journalist's eye for the absurd. I may not be an Austen fanboy, but I have felt an embarrassing level of devotion to an author. And I think a lot about the ways fiction percolates throughout the 'real world.' That's what Ted documents here, with wit, and thoughtfulness, and memorable characters--all of which has lit a flame under my behind to finally get around to reading one of the most influential authors in the English language." --Brian Reed, host of S-Town
Ted Scheinman is a writer and scholar based in Southern California, where he works as a senior editor at Pacific Standard magazine. He has taught courses on journalism, satire, and poetry at the University of North Carolina and has written for The New York Times, the Oxford American, Playboy, Slate, and many others.