JASNA conducts an annual student Essay Contest to foster the study and appreciation of Jane Austen's work. Several hundred students compete for scholarship awards each year.
The contest is open to students world-wide in three divisions:
High School: students and home-schooled students enrolled at the high school level during the contest year
College/University: students enrolled in at least six credit hours of course work at a junior college, college, or university during the contest year
- Graduate School: students enrolled during the contest year in at least three credit hours of graduate course work at a college or university leading to an advanced degree
Membership in JASNA is not required to enter the contest.
2018 Contest Topic
Jane Austen's Persuasion was first published in 1818, and to commemorate the anniversary JASNA is inviting essays that address the following:
The trio of faith, hope and charity all feature in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. Discuss how possessing or lacking these qualities affects a character's behavior and drives the plot. You may focus on one quality or examine the interplay of two or all three. You may include more than one character in your discussion.
Teachers and Mentors: Please download the 2018 contest poster/flyer to display in your classroom or distribute to interested students.
The deadline for 2018 Essay Contest submissions is May 20, 2018.
Visit our Submissions page for important rules about formatting and submitting an essay.
Essay Contest Awards
JASNA awards scholarships to winners in each of the three divisions:
- First Place: $1,000 scholarship and free registration and two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s upcoming Annual General Meeting (Transportation to the conference is not provided.)
- Second Place: $500 scholarship
- Third Place: $250 scholarship
Winners and their mentors each receive a one-year JASNA membership. In addition, each winner receives a set of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen's novels. The winning essays are published on this website.
Please review the Essay Contest FAQs. If you still have questions, contact Meg Levin at email@example.com. You must use “JASNA Essay Contest” in your subject line.
Thank you for your interest in the JASNA Essay Contest.
Our judges value original insights and clear, correct writing. Essays should be directed to a well-informed general audience, not a strictly academic one, and should be based primarily on the student's own observations, with adequate support from the Jane Austen work under discussion. You may assume that the reader is familiar with Jane Austen’s works; plot summaries are unnecessary.
An essay written for coursework may be submitted, but it must be submitted by the student author and in the required format. If research is used as support, students should rely on no more than five sources and should avoid academic terminology unless terms are clearly defined in the body of the essay.
Reading previous winning essays will give you a very good idea of the sort of essay JASNA is seeking. Answers to frequently-asked questions are also available.
Contest Rules and Submission Website
- Entries must be submitted by the student through the official Essay Contest Submission website. (The link is posted here.) Duplicate entries are not allowed. Each submission will be confirmed by e-mail using the address supplied.
- The student must complete the official online entry form, which includes a stipulation that the essay is the student’s original work and has not been published elsewhere.
- Entries may include a statement about the student’s mentor; however, a mentor statement is not required.
- Entries must be submitted before midnight PDT on the published deadline date.
- Contest judging is conducted anonymously. Personal information about the student, school, and mentor must appear ONLY on the entry form and not in the essay. Make sure your software does not automatically put your name on each page.
- Your essay and the entry form must be uploaded to the Essay Contest Submission site. If you have difficulties, please contact Meg Levin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entries that do not conform to the following requirements or arrive after the deadline will be disqualified.
- The essay must be written in English.
- The title of the essay should appear at the top of page one; further pages should be numbered on the top right; the student’s name must not appear on the essay.
- The essay must be in MLA format (double-spaced and in 12-point type throughout, with one-inch margins on all sides of each page).
- The essay must be 6-8 pages in length, not including the Works Cited page.
- The essay must use MLA documentation, including a Works Cited page and parenthetical citations in the body of the text. Use end notes only for substantive notes. Source material that is directly quoted, paraphrased, or summarized must be cited. Quotations from the Jane Austen work under discussion should be cited as well.
Please review the Essay Contest FAQs. If you still have questions, contact Meg Levin at email@example.com. You must include “JASNA Essay Contest” in the subject line.