Department of English

English Department grad student Joanna Thaler wins Jane Austen Society of North America essay contest

Tue, September 7, 2010

Congratulations to English Department graduate student Joanna Thaler, whose essay on Northanger Abbey won first place in the graduate division of the Jane Austen Society of North America’s annual essay contest.

In her essay, "'Oh! D--it': The Mayhem of John Thorpe, and the Villain Template," Joanna examines the potential of Northanger Abbey’s John Thorpe—wild, Oxford classmate of Catherine Morland's brother—as a Gothic, Montoni-esque villain, and experiments with the concept of Thorpe as Jane Austen's "template" for her later villains. Citing both particular similarities and discrepancies between Thorpe and the infamous George Wickham and William Collins, Joanna considers the complexity behind Austen's foundation and development of her antagonists, keeping in mind Austen's later revisions of Northanger Abbey. Amidst the horrors of stone castles and gargoyles, terror, and an aspiring Gothic heroine, Joanna's essay tries to make sense of Thorpe's role in the novel, and what subsequent characters (if any) he may have inspired. Joanna's faculty supervisor for this project was Professor Lance Bertelsen. Read Joanna's essay here.

Joanna will travel to Portland, Oregon in October to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and will receive complimentary registration and hotel fare for the conference. Her essay will be published in early September on the JASNA website. Joanna will also receive one of Austen's novels, along with a one-year free membership in JASNA.

Joanna Thaler is a first-year graduate student in the Ph.D. English program. She focuses primarily on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature.

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