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More campus fun and games (and dressing up)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an academic registrar in possession of an interest in board games, must be in want of a game based around the world of Jane Austen. Paul Greatrix dress up like Mr Darcy and emerges from the lake.
This article is more than 6 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

A while ago I wrote about a record breaking campus game of Monopoly and all of the (smaller) versions of the game that universities had issued to appeal to alumni and presumably raise money.

But I recently learned about this exciting new game which is designed to “bring all your favourite Jane Austen characters to life.” Developed by a staff member and a student from two Australian universities, they are looking for Kickstarter funding to make it real.

So, what makes this the ultimate game for literary nerds?

players compete to collect guests to complete their ultimate dinner party table. From Elizabeth Bennet to Emma Woodhouse, every Janeite can now welcome their much-loved heroines, heroes, unwanted suiters and overbearing relatives to their dining table using societal assets – wit, wealth, heart and beauty.
The better the seat at the table, the more likely the character will generate assets each turn. The first player to complete their dining table wins. Each of the cards has a unique quote from one of Jane Austen’s full-length novels – Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility – or from Jane’s personal letters. Polite Society is a board game for lovers of literature and simply lovers of games.

Well, what’s not to like about this. Though I was a bit disappointed to note that no knowledge of Austen’s works is required in order to play.

And on a rather more committed note there is also this impressive example of Austen cosplay as recently reported in the Chronicle

Dressing as Mr. Darcy at a Jane Austen symposium is like playing Mickey Mouse at Disney World. Between presenting scholarly papers and researching a book on the world of Austen fandom, I have spent time at several major Austen conferences, wearing a modified version of a Darcy costume at each, and each time the effect was mortifyingly electric.

I must admit I had never heard of Austenworld or the impact it appears to have on one part of academia:

As Donald Gray wrote in 1993, Pride and Prejudice, like Austen’s other novels, “is a story about people who learn, or fail to learn, how to be, do, and recognize good in the ordinary passages of lives that would be unremarkable if Austen had not made it clear that a kind of moral salvation depends on what Elizabeth and Darcy make of themselves by learning about one another.” Austenworld offers salvation for the academy in the reminder that a similar kind of moral salvation depends on what the scholar and the nonacademic reader make of themselves by finally spending time eye-to-eye. The pretentious-looking outfits then emerge as perversely egalitarian: It’s hard to feel superior when we’re all wearing the same silly clothes.

The influence of Austen on higher ed clearly remains quite profound.

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