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“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”
Fernando Pessoa

The Artist and the Child: An exploration of perspective in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time

Isaac Hoke

St. John's College, 2020

In my essay I attempted to explore the relationship between childhood and its accompanying perceptual sensitivity and the activity of the artist, specifically in the context of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. In what way is the true artist childlike and what does a sincere exploration of our own childhoods lend to our interior lives as adults?

Method of Dreams: A Hermeneutical Approach to Dreams in Dante’s Purgatorio

Francisco Contreras Moran

St. John's College, 2018

I take a hermeneutical approach to the three dreams in Dante's Purgatorio. My analysis argues that, within the narrative of the Comedy, the dreams serve to give the reader an interpretive method with which to read the entire poem.

On Memory and the Self in Hamlet

Ellie Gold Laabs

St. John's College, 2020

An exploration of the objects of memory in Shakespeare's Hamlet and how these various literal and metaphorical "skulls" influence our notion of self.

A Portrait of a Lioness

Annie Brong

St. John's College, 2017

An exploration of Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath, which poses female experience against male authority. The lengthy prologue and the following tale display feminine logic in relation to man’s own. Though the Wife often contradicts herself and seems, sometimes, an offensive caricature of womankind, we eventually understand why she knowingly presents herself as such. Woman must mount a defense against long-established male authority. She has no moral, ethical, historical text of her own to guide her. Her attack is, necessarily, reactionary, even impromptu. But this proves to be her best asset, for her tactics, her allegiances, and her reasoning may shift and sway with the tides.

A Study of the Art of Enchantment in Don Quixote

Zihan Mei

St. John's College, 2019

This essay is an investigation into the art of enchantment in Cervantes' Don Quixote. It also considers the role of enchantment as a literary device in breaking down the walls between authors, characters, and readers.

Κλέος at the End of Tragedy:
​Antigone Between Agony and the Impossible

Joseph Richard

St. John's College, 2019

This essay is an attempt to re-contextualize Antigone as a play situated 'at the end of tragedy'. The centerpiece of this re-contextualization is the idea of desolation--that is to say, the desolation of a character left behind in the aftermath of tragic experience. Reflecting on a few key passages in the play, I consider the 'why' of Antigone's behavior hid behind her exoteric statements of intent, the irrationalism--in the truest sense of that word--inherent in her project, and the ultimate nullification of her character in the act of preaching.

If Ye Love me (Not):
Love in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Will van Engen

St. John's College, 2018

An essay about how Milton characterizes love in its many varieties in Paradise Lost.

Two Brief Meditations on King Lear

Francisco Contreras Moran

St. John's College, 2018

These short reflections examine two remarkable moments in Shakespeare's King Lear, using prosodic and linguistic methods.

Unexpected Electricity

Elisabeth Morell

St. John's College, 2019

In George Eliot’s Middlemarch, there is a current of change happening in the world. A railroad is built through the town; there is talk of bringing electricity into farming; a radical young doctor arrives fresh from studying Galvanism in Paris. Scientific exploration permeates the movement of this novel, and at the forefront of that motion is electricity. But the electricity Eliot is concerned with will not be found in a laboratory. In Middlemarch, “shocks” and “currents” are events that occur within individuals as they experience moments of change, worry, and despair. This subtle metaphor begs the question: can science help us understand the inner lives of individuals?

Morality and Humor in Pride and Prejudice

Rachael Langston

St. John's College, 2018

Junior Essay Prize

An essay about the relationship between humor and morality which follows Lizzie Bennet's development in both areas, in order to demonstrate how each can strengthen and mature the other.

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