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Essay Contest

JASNA conducts an annual student Essay Contest to encourage the study and appreciation of Jane Austen's works in new generations of readers.

Students world-wide are invited to compete for scholarship awards 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 2024 Essay Contest is closed, and the winning entries will be posted in August

The 2025 contest topic and rules will be available here in November 2024, and
we will begin accepting submissions in February 2025.

2024 Contest Topic

2024 Essay Contest Graphic Home2The 2024 topic was inspired by the concept of a formal debate in which both sides of a “resolution” are presented. In their essays, students were asked to debate both sides of the following statement:

Resolved: That Jane Austen’s novels are still relevant and speak to us after 200 years .

In the first part of the essay, students were instructed to attack this claim; in the second part defend it, backing up each position with quotations and examples from Austen’s works. High school students had to cite at least one novel; undergraduate and graduate students were expected to cite at least two. Citing Austen’s unfinished works was also permitted.


The deadline for submissions was June 1, 2024. Come back this fall for the 2025 Essay Contest topic and rules; we will begin accepting submissions in February 2025.

Essay Contest Awards

Essay Contest Medal webJASNA awards scholarships to winners in each of the three divisions: 

  • First Place:  $1,000 scholarship, plus 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 also receive one year of membership in JASNA, publication of their essays on this website, and a set of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen's novels. 


Please review the Essay Contest FAQs. If you still have questions, please contact Meg Levin at essay-contest@jasna.org. Use “JASNA Essay Contest” in your subject line.


Submission Guidelines ›

Learn about Essay Contest rules and formatting requirements.

Essay Contest FAQs ›

Get answers to frequently asked questions about the contest.

Winning Essays ›

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

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”