In October 2011, two UCF English undergraduates, Faith Dickens and Hillary Casavant, were honored at the 2011 Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) conference in Fort Worth, Texas, for their award-winning essays in the undergraduate division of the JASNA annual essay contest.
The two Austen devotees attended scholarly presentations and keynote lectures on Jane Austen, and, as honorees, they were introduced to the keynote speakers, Juliet McMaster, world-renowned literary scholar, and Jane Austen screenwriter, Andrew Davies. On the final night of the conference, Hillary and Faith enjoyed a Regency ball, where participants, dressed in Regency-style fashions, learned English country dancing—tutored by a dance master—and then danced the night away to the music of a string quartet.
For Faith, “the most exciting part of the conference . . . was being able to meet so many like-minded Austen enthusiasts.” Hillary particularly enjoyed Andrew Davies’s “delightful talk on his film adaptations of Jane Austen novels. He also provided insight and hilarious behind-the-scenes details of the films.” As for the dancing? As Hillary notes, “I enjoyed learning the dances with Faith, though we did butcher the steps a bit.” As parting gifts, Faith and Hillary each received a complete set of Austen novels, presented to them by JASNA.
Faith won First Prize in the Undergraduate Division for her essay entitled “Whims of the Wealthy: Marriage and Desire for Sense and Sensibility’s Miss Grey.” Hillary won Second Prize for “Romance and Riches: The Necessity of Wealth in Sense and Sensibility.” The essays were written for a Spring 2011 class on Jane Austen, taught by Dr. Kathleen M. Oliver. The essays of Faith and Hillary were chosen from a field of more than 70 essays from undergraduates across the United States and Canada.
Travel funding was provided by UCF’s Student Government Association, UCF’s Burnett Honors College, the UCF Department of English, the UCF College of Arts and Humanities, and the Jane Austen Society of North America.