Mary Kathleen Reilly, a University of Delaware senior majoring in English with a literary studies concentration, has won the ninth annual Evelyn Waugh Undergraduate Essay contest for her analysis of the 1934 novel A Handful of Dust.
Her essay, "Place and Space in Waugh's A Handful of Dust," will be published in the Evelyn Waugh Society's journal, Evelyn Waugh Studies, this fall.
Reilly, who wrote the essay for her honors senior capstone course with Prof. Martin Brückner, was selected for the prize from a pool of applicants that included students from Princeton University, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the Australian National University.
Reilly described Waugh's novel as "a dark satire about the lifestyles of the British upper class during the 1930s." It's a "bizarre story," she said, that focuses on a conservative English aristocrat who is destroyed by the modern world and the people closest to him.
Her essay ties the novel's characters to the places where they live, pointing out that those places "both reflect and affect character development and trace what Waugh perceived to be the devolution of British society," Reilly said.
After graduation, she plans to begin teaching or pursue graduate studies in education.
Article originally published March 19, 2014 in UDaily.