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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.

2024 Contest Topic

2024 Essay Contest Graphic Home2If you have ever attended a formal debate you know that both sides of a “resolution” are presented, giving everyone an intellectual workout. Here’s yours.

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

In the first part of the essay you should attack this claim; in the second part defend it. You will be expected to back up each position with quotations and examples from Austen’s works. High school students must cite at least one novel; undergraduate and graduate students will be expected to cite at least two. Citing Austen’s unfinished works is also permitted.

Teachers and Mentors
Please help us spread the word about the Essay Contest. Download the 2024 contest flyer to display in your classroom and distribute to interested students.


The deadline for submissions is Saturday, June 1, 2024. We will begin accepting entries online in February 2024. In the meantime, it is essential that you visit the Submissions page to learn about the contest rules and eligibility requirements before entering.

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 will 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.

“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.”

Mansfield Park