Even in today’s society, classic novels like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudiceare still capturing the hearts of readers. For MU English major Grace McNamee, the British author is also her topic of research.
Spending the 2013-14 academic year studying at Oxford University, McNamee has known since the age of 12 that English was her passion.
“It really comes down to how much I love to read,” McNamee says. “Books explain people and their motives and the way they’ve changed throughout time. There’s never been a time in my life when I wasn’t curious about that.”
McNamee’s research focuses on the popular central character Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice and how his image differs in recent reinventions.
As a part of her research, McNamee learned there are more than 500 books that imitate the novel, expand on the characters afterlives or retell the story from a different perspective.
“I’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t change over time,” McNamee says. “The recent imitation characters bear little resemblance.”
Her research perfectly correlates with the subject matter of her coursework. McNamee is enrolled in two classes, one related to Austen and the other regarding ancient Greek History. Each class is taught in a one-on-one tutorial format and requires extensive prior reading and a written 2,000 to 4,000-word essay.
Despite the intense workload McNamee finds time to enjoy all that Europe has to offer. She likes hearing from guest speakers, hanging out with friends and trying new activities such as spelunking.
Along with her adventures in England, McNamee visited Seville, Spain to reunite with her MU roommate who is also studying abroad.
“It was a wonderful break as, unlike England, it was sunny and warm and we spent much of our time relaxing at outdoor cafes,” McNamee says.
She plans to travel to the Netherlands and Belgium over winter break.
Once back in the States, McNamee, who is from Bethesda, Md., will finish her senior year at MU and apply for graduate programs.