Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Mia Barzilay Freund

2022–23 Undergraduate Fellow, Concentrator in English
Project “A Recovered Canon: Tracing a Lineage of Women's Literary Invention from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen”
Last updated June 20, 2023, based on June 2022 biographical sketch


Mia Barzilay Freund ’23 graduated from Brown with honors in English.

Her research interests include early modern women’s writing, epistolary fiction, the 18th- and 19th-century novel, and Victorian poetry. A writer and poet herself, she approaches her study of the humanities with a focus on modes of storytelling. Her thesis, tentatively titled “A Recovered Canon: Tracing a Lineage of Women's Literary Invention from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen,” examines how a literary template of real and fictional letter-writing laid the groundwork for more integrated and seemingly intuitive forms of narrative. Her work pays attention to the ways in which writers like Austen extracted plot from an epistolary frame to cultivate new senses of literary intimacy and authenticity. She turns to an often overlooked canon of women writers informing Austen and explores the influence of Regency-era circulating libraries, which popularized supposedly “low-brow” epistolary novels among a female reading public. Freund’s interests across the humanities concern themes of gender, narrative, politics, material culture, and the body. She works extensively in the religious studies and political science departments and enjoys learning new physical disciplines in her work as a certified personal trainer.

She received the Preston Gurney Literary Prize in Poetry from the Department of English for her work in literary criticism and came in second place for the Ratcliffe Hicks Premium in English.

Meet the Fellows talk: “Corresponding Fictions: Austen and the Novel in Letters”