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Essay Contest

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.

The 2017 Essay Contest is closed. The winners will be announced here in late summer.

Please return to this contest page in late October for information about the 2018 contest.

2017 Contest Topic

Essay Contest 2017 image of Jane AustenCoordinating with the theme of our upcoming conference, “Jane Austen in Paradise: Intimations of Immortality,” JASNA is looking for essays that address the following topic.

Imagine that you are adapting an Austen novel for stage or film.  What elements might you be tempted to change — especially for a modern audience — that should not be tampered with if the integrity of the work is to be preserved?  These elements could be scenes, characters, dialogue or something else.  Explain why they are so crucial to the novel.  How does what can and cannot be changed shed light on Austen’s popularity and influence?

Teachers and Mentors:  Please download the 2017 contest poster/flyer to display in your classroom or distribute to interested students.


The deadline for 2017 Essay Contest submissions was May 21, 2017.  JASNA will begin accepting submissions for the 2018 contest in November, when the new essay topic and the latest contest rules are posted.

  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 essay-contest@jasna.org.   You must use “JASNA Essay Contest” in your subject line.


Submission Guidelines ›

Learn about Essay Contest rules and formatting requirements.

Winning Essays ›

Read the insightful essays that placed first, second, and third in past Essay Contests.

Essay Contest FAQs ›

Get answers to frequently asked questions about the contest.

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