Department of English

English Department students win Jane Austen Society of North America essay prizes

Tue, September 1, 2009

Congratulations to Joanna Thaler and Amanda Payne, English Department undergraduates who have won first and second place prizes respectively in the College level essay competition sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America!




Joanna Thaler, "Re-Discovering the Gardiners"

Joanna Thaler's essay “Re-Discovering the Gardiners,” mentored by Professor Lance Bertelsen, won first place in the JASNA College level essay competition.  Her prize includes registration and two nights at the JASNA Annual meeting to be held in Philadelphia October 9-12, introduction at the meeting, and publication of the essay on the JASNA website.  Both Joanna and her mentor will receive one year memberships in JASNA.

In a highly original essay, Joanna explores the Gardiner family that existed prior to the well-bred Cheapside merchants of whom Elizabeth Bennet is so proud in the latter parts of Pride and Prejudice.  The earlier Gardiners comprise Miss Gardiner (i.e. Mrs. Bennet), the younger Miss Gardiner (i.e. Mrs. Phillips) and the young Mr. Gardiner, who rather than taking over his father’s practice as country attorney in Meryton leaves to try his fortune in the London business world.  What were the family dynamics of this disparate group?  How are they re-visited in the Bennet family?  What effect might they have had on the respective fates of Elizabeth and Lydia?  These and other questions are explored with intelligence and wit in Joanna’s prize winning essay.


Amanda Payne, "Jane Austen and Emily Brontë: An Unlikely Literary Sistership"

Amanda Payne's essay, "Jane Austen and Emily Brontë: An Unlikely Literary Sistership," mentored by Professor Janine Barchas, won second place in the JASNA College level essay competition. This essay for JASNA's national contest was an extract of Amanda Payne's Senior Honors Thesis in the English Department's Honors Program.  She graduated last May.  Both Amanda and her mentor will receive one year memberships in JASNA.

Amanda's essay explores the possible connections between Charlotte Brontë's and Jane Austen's works.  Though Charlotte Brontë’s notoriously severe opinion of Jane Austen's style confirms her familiarity with the Austen canon, her publicized contempt of Pride and Prejudice has checked most critics from examining her works and those of her sisters for any Austen-inspired influences. Contrary to the assumed non-influence of Austen on the Brontë sisters, this essay entertains the possibility that Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847) may be a conscious adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814). Thematic overlaps as well as shared structural and stylistic features in Mansfield Park and Wuthering Heights are the foci of this lively and erudite essay. 

Congratulations to Joanna and Amanda on their accomplishments!

Bookmark and Share