Mindy Sansoucie, a 2013 graduate of Webster University and member of The Missourian staff, recently received honorable mention in the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) national essay contest.
The essay is one she had written as part of the course work for a class, Seminar in a Single Author, taught by Sheila Hwang, associate professor of English in Webster’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Sansoucie, Villa Ridge, registered for the class in spring 2013 because of the opportunity to study Jane Austen.
“She is my original favorite author,” said Sansoucie. “I’ve had many favorites since, and the number continues to grow, but Austen was my first. I fell in love with literature through her love stories and came to admire her even more as I realized the depths to which her novels reach.
“She stirs the pot just a little, with the raise of an eyebrow or the turning of a cheek. Austen is a subtle writer. She counts on a careful reader.”
For the final research essay of the class, students were able to write on an independent topic or they could write on the topic provided by the JASNA essay contest. Sansoucie and two others in the class decided to take the assignment one step further and submit their work to the JASNA essay contest.
“To participate in JASNA’s contest, the essay topic had to include the theme of time in Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ” said Sansoucie. “I noticed that the movements of the female characters were directly related to those of the male characters; they can’t move without a male moving first.
“We watch the plot through Austen’s female characters and, therefore, notice time from the female perspective. Austen’s women are always waiting or rushing to the whims of the men. What I discovered in my research and endeavored to prove in my essay, is that time in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is prejudice. Austen focuses a female gender lens on time to highlight the lack of autonomous movement a woman really had in the 19th century.”
Hwang noted that, “Mindy’s essay is an outstanding example of research and literary analysis. She not only engages the scholarly community, but moves beyond what others have written in the past to come to her own conclusions about Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice.’
“I am thrilled that the Jane Austen Society of North America recognized Mindy’s exceptional work.”
Sansoucie said she is grateful for the help that faculty provided her throughout the essay.
“Sheila was an invaluable resource while completing my essay. She led classroom discussions that opened up additional avenues of research and helped me to realize the many interpretations readers pull from Austen,” said Sansoucie.
“Webster has an outstanding English department that supports their students, cares about them personally, and believes in their capabilities. They pushed me, and I’m very grateful that they did.”
Sansoucie graduated from Webster in May with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a minor in psychology. She currently is working in The Missourian’s classified advertising department and hopes to continue to work in the publishing industry.