Jacob Burgoyne-King, English 135, Best Essay 2017-2018
Exploration and creativity: these are the guiding lights for Jacob Burgoyne-King, a second year student at V.I.U. whose award-winning English essay provides an incisive and nuanced analysis of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis.
As Jacob puts it, "I am very passionate about the arts and literature. I spend a lot of my spare time reading, writing, writing poetry, drawing, painting, and exploring new avenues of expression."
Given these interdisciplinary pursuits, Professor Paul Watkins' first year English course had an immediate appeal for him: "I love reading graphic novels. When I saw that this course offered the possibility to dive into them and engage with them at a higher level, I was very excited."
And dive into them he did, with an essay that reveals the ways in which Satrapi's self-reflective memoir of her life in Iran provides a vehicle for readers to examine the narrative of their own livesas an complex weave of experience, perceptions, and memory.
For Jacob, too, Persepolis deserves to be celebrated for the way it challenges stereotypes. "This is very important to me," he writes, because "people continue to be dehumanized due to their different ethnicities, and the results can be devastating."
Other equally strong influences for Jacob include Paulo Coelho's novel The Alchemist, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald's Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People, and the sci-fi/rom comEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindby screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry.
His advice for fellow classmates: "Never be afraid of furthering your potential. Learn. Grow. If you find yourself struggling, surround yourself with passionate people and you will soon find that you have passion yourself."