The students in Dr. Alexis Haynes’s English 450 Senior Seminar presented some of the results of their research April 30 at the Senior Seminar Conference.
The event was well attended by faculty and students, and the presenters were also supported by friends and family who had come to the campus to help them celebrate this capstone experience of the English program.
This year, the theme of the conference was New Perspectives on Jane Austen, and all of the papers focused on some aspect of Austen’s work. The students offered a wide range of perspectives on Austen, examining topics such as her status as an author, her views on family and friendship, and her relationship to other literary genres.
According to Haynes, the conference was a great success.
“The students have all worked very hard,” he said, “and their papers made significant and original contributions to the critical discussions of Jane Austen.”
He said the students did an excellent job of updating Austen for the 21st century.
“The Austen that emerged from the papers today was bawdier and more politically engaged than the prim and proper ‘Aunt Jane’ we all know so well,” he said.
Each year, the English faculty awards a certificate of merit to the student who gave the strongest presentation. This year, the certificate was presented to Lauren Huggler for her paper Jane Austen and Modern Film: A Cultural View of “Emma,” which considered how filmmakers have interpreted Austen’s Emma over the last few decades.
“It was a tough choice,” said Dr. Anne Weed, chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, “but Lauren’s paper was both innovative and thoroughly grounded in critical theory.”
The presenters included Huggler, Kristan DeGeorgio, Robert Gunn, Emily Miller, Sara Rodgers, Meghan Russell, and Lindsey Staples.