Department of English

Charlotte Mark and Alisa Holahan win Undergraduate Research Journal Awards

Wed, May 25, 2011
Charlotte Mark and Alisa Holahan win Undergraduate Research Journal Awards
Left to right: Charlotte Mark, Alisa Holahan

The Department of English would like to congratulate recent graduates Charlotte Mark and Alisa Holahan for both winning an Undergraduate Research Award. 

Charlotte Mark, an English Honors student and recent graduate supervised by Professor Liz Scala, has won first place for her article, which will be published in the upcoming Undergraduate Research Journal. The title of her article is “The Bower and the Garden: Feminine Landscapes in Chaucer and Shakespeare.”

Many critics have acknowledged that Shakespeare uses Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” to frame his play, Charlotte looks deeper into the connections between these works. Here, she examines the relation between these two texts, including the yoking of love and war, the Amazonian “problem,” and, most importantly, the spatial significance of setting and architecture. The Knight hushes discussion of feminine desire by caging his heroine, Emily, within architectural structures. Shakespeare inverts the Knight’s scene of feminine oppression to create Titania’s bower, where the fairy Queen displays the spatial and sexual freedom that Emily explicitly lacks. In using natural, as opposed to architectural terrain, Shakespeare allows physically and sexually suppressed feminine figures, like Emily, to pursue and satisfy their desires. By calling attention to Shakespeare’s revision of Chaucer’s text, Charlotte aims to ultimately show their crucial connection: the use of space to discuss feminine desire.

Charlotte currently works for a start up marketing company called Unique Influence. After graduating this May, Charlotte plans on traveling to Europe to climb the Swiss Alps, shop in Paris, explore London and return to Valencia.

Alisa Holahan, who is also a recent graduate, was supervised by Professor Carol MacKay and received second place for her article titled Charlotte Brontë’s Villette: The Challenge of Autobiography for Victorian Women.

Alisa focuses on Charlotte Brontë’s 1853 novel Villette, where protagonist and narrator Lucy Snowe describes her experiences as a teacher in a fictionalized Belgium. To many characters in the novel, Lucy is a mystery. In contrast, the reader learns a great deal about Lucy’s thoughts and feelings. However, although Lucy is more honest with the reader than she is with the novel’s characters, a closer look at the narrative suggests that Lucy in fact conceals a great deal from the reader. Throughout the novel she betrays her awareness of the reader’s presence and of the fact that the reader, like many of the novel’s characters, will try to judge her. Lucy’s narrative stance toward the reader can be seen to reflect a complex amalgam of both self-revelation and concealment that mirrors Victorian women autobiographers’ desire to connect with their readers without foregoing a deep need for privacy. Thus, Alisa shows that the idiosyncratic relationship between the narrator and reader in Villette can be perceived as a reflection of and commentary on Victorian women’s autobiography.


The URJ is a student edited, multidisciplinary journal of Undergraduate research here at the University of Texas at Austin. The journal is published each long semester and circulated primarily through campus. Selection criteria are based upon composition, originality, importance, and whether or not the article is comprehensible to all undergraduates. To read more about the URJ award go here.   

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