Two Department of English students have won first and third place in the graduate division of the annual Jane Austen Society of North America essay contest.
Amanda Styron (M.A. English) won first place for her essay titled “Silence Speaks: Refracted Subversion in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.” Jenny Howard (MFA English) won third place for her essay “‘…easy manners, excellent spirits, a large acquaintance, and a great deal to say’: Eloquence, Artfulness, and Actors in Mansfield Park.”
The women were in the Jane Austen course taught last spring by Lynda Hall, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of English, who’s had several winning students in the contest. This year’s essay theme asked participants to respond to the question: What do we learn from the silences of Mansfield Park? It was a challenging topic to apply to one of Austen’s most complex novels, Hall says.
“Lionel Trilling famously wrote, ‘Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park.’ Fanny Price is quiet, meek and nothing like the beloved Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice,” Hall says. “But Austen tackles many controversial issues such as slavery, adultery and female commodification in the marriage market. It is a good example of a novel that goes beyond the stereotype of the quiet lady novelist who only wrote about pretty dresses and love and marriage.”
In addition to having their essays published on the Jane Austen Society of North America site, Styron and Howard receive $1,000 and $250 scholarships, respectively, and free attendance and hotel accommodations at the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Montreal.
This is the second year in a row that Chapman students have won top awards in this contest.