Prizes and Deadlines

Department Prizes

General Instructions and Requirements
Deadlines and Submission Information
Categories of Submission
Other Prizes
Prize Submission Form (please edit and then print)

General Instructions and Requirements

Deadlines and Submission Information

The deadline for all categories except H-2 and H-3 is NOON on Thursday, April 18, 2019

The deadline for category C-3 is NOON on Friday, April 19, 2019.

Because the English department main office will be closed when category C-3 entries are due, we ask that you email your entry—for this category only—as an attachment to by noon on Friday, April 19, 2019. The filename should be the title of the piece you are submitting; see also the Pseudonym and Title Page instructions below. Be sure to bring a hard copy of the Prize Submission Form to Jane in LC 107 no later than noon on Monday, April 22; you will not be awarded a prize unless this form is on file.

The deadline for categories H-2 and H-3 is NOON on Thursday, April 25, 2019.

Submission Instructions

All submissions should be delivered in person to Jane Bordiere in LC 107 by the deadlines noted above. In addition, a pdf of each submission should be emailed as an attachment to by the same deadlines. You may attach multiple category submissions to one email. Do not include the Prize Submission Form, but be sure to bring a hard copy of it to Jane in LC 107 by the deadline; do follow the Pseudonym and Title Page instructions below. Contact Ms. Bordiere if you have any questions.

Length and Number of Submissions

You may submit up to six pages of poetry, one piece of prose fiction, one piece of literary criticism, and one piece of nonfiction (journalism or expository writing other than literary criticism). Juniors and seniors may submit “a body” of published journalism (3-6 pieces) for the Hersey prize, and seniors may submit one additional piece of longer nonfiction to C-3. Seniors in English 490 may submit one essay for H-1 or H-2 in addition to their senior essay. Each student is otherwise allowed one submission per genre unless a faculty member nominates an additional piece of work (see “Nominations” below).


Any instructor in the English Department may nominate one student essay or short story for prize competition for each course taught. (It is thus theoretically possible for a student to receive several faculty nominations and to have several submissions in the same genre.) Faculty should give a note nominating the piece to the student, who will forward it via email to Since faculty-nominated pieces must enter the general competition without prejudgment in their favor, a faculty nomination should not be written on the essay itself, but the nomination should be indicated on the prize submission form. Such a nomination is only for the purpose of permitting the student to submit more than one entry per category. 

Pseudonym and Title Page

Your name must not appear on the entry. Instead, choose a unique pseudonym containing more than one word to avoid possible duplication, and put the letters ps (for “pseudonym”) in parentheses after it. A new pseudonym should be chosen from year to year.

On the title page of your entry, provide your pseudonym (followed by ps), Yale class or graduate status, title of the piece, and the course for which it was written, if it was written for a course. In the upper-left corner of the title page, write the appropriate category (A through H, as below), not the names of prizes. Please take responsibility yourself for entering your work in the appropriate category. For example:

Eli Whitney (ps)
BK ’11
“A Reading of To the Lighthouse
English 411

Prize Submission Form

Please complete the Prize Submission Form online, print it, and submit one copy with all of your work.  Only one form is required, even if you submit to more than one category. The form requires your permanent home street address so that checks can be drawn and letters can be sent to winners.
(If you would like to be notified of an award at a P.O. Box, indicate that also, but a street address is still required.)

Submission Quality

Submit clean, legible photocopies or print-outs unmarked by instructors comments. Students are encouraged to revise course work for competition. Submit one copy of each piece of work unless otherwise noted below. Entries will not be returned.

Senior Submissions

Seniors graduating in 3 1/2 years will be considered for senior prizes the April following their last semester of coursework. An essay by such a student from the penultimate semester should be considered junior work to allow for a second submission in competition with other seniors the following April. The exception would be H3, a senior essay as such written during the student’s sixth semester, which should be held over for competition the following year. Students graduating in 4 1/2 years should submit in the senior category the April of the actual spring term work or the April following work written in the fall.

Questions Should be Directed to Professor>">David Kastan.

Categories of Submission

The Prizes Committee of the English Department administers eighteen prizes for written work, as well as prizes based on the faculty’s assessment of overall academic performance. The following are the categories in which writing is considered for prizes. 

Category A: Poetry
Submit poetry entries in triplicate.

All registered students, graduate and undergraduate, may compete for the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Albert Stanburrough Cook Prize, and the Gordon Barber Memorial Prize.  Submit a packet of poems containing no fewer than four pages and no more than six pages; if your poems are many but short, you are welcome to print more than one poem per page.  With the exception of submissions to A-1, these packets should not give the student’s status or college year on the title page.

Poems submitted must be unpublished or they may have been published in a university magazine.  Poems written in imitation of the style of canonical poets will be considered.  A student who has won a prize for poetry may not, in a later year, submit the same poems for our poetry competition.  A student who has previously competed but who has not won a prize should limit resubmission to one of the poems from the earlier packet; the rest should be new.

A-1: First Years
A-2: all others

Category B: Fiction
Submit fiction entries in duplicate.

Undergraduates may submit one work of fiction. Entries should be of reasonable length—in most cases a single short story, although the committee will consider a unified cycle of short stories or even a novel. Students in the Writing Concentration who have written a novel or novella should consider submitting one chapter and accompanying it with a brief explanation of how the selection fits in the larger context. If you choose to submit a whole novel or cycle of stories, the Prizes Committee needs to be able to compare submissions of similar sizes. You must therefore attach a note specifying which story of the cycle or which 20-or-so page piece of the novel you choose for such consideration. Failure to so specify will not eliminate your submission from consideration, but it may significantly decrease your chances because judges will be making an arbitrary choice of the fragment to read.  

PLAYS: Apart from the Marina Keegan Award (see below, other prizes) there are no prizes designated specifically for plays. If the Committee receives a play that it wishes to honor, it will find a way. Submit under category B.

B-1: First Years
B-2: Upperclassmen

Category C: Journalism and Nonfiction Other than Literary Criticism

C-1: Undergraduates may submit one piece of general nonfiction in competition for the Wright Memorial prize (for the “best descriptive, imaginative, or journalistic article, 2500 to 5000 words”).

C-2: Juniors and seniors may compete for the John Hersey Prize “for a body of journalistic work” reflecting the spirit and ideals of John Hersey: engagement with moral and social issues, responsible reportage, and craftsmanship. Submit three to six articles, at least the majority of which have been published. Students entering this competition should state which pieces have been published and where.

Students who have written op-ed pieces for the Yale Daily News or reviews or feature stories, published or unpublished, sometimes ask whether they should compete for the Hersey or single out their best piece for the Wright. If you submit a packet of journalism for the Hersey competition, you may also submit a single piece for the Wright; that piece may be, but does not need to be, something submitted for the Hersey. Since a student cannot win both these prizes the same year, underclassmen may wish to submit only for the Wright and to wait till they have accumulated more of a body of work to compete for the Hersey.

C-3: Students who have written pieces of non-fiction too long for the Wright should submit their work in C-3. Because the English department main office will be closed when category C-3 entries are due, we ask that you email your entry—for this category only—as an attachment to by noon on Friday, April 19, 2019. The filename should be the title of the piece you are submitting; see also the Pseudonym and Title Page instructions above. Be sure to bring a hard copy of the Prize Submission Form to Jane in LC 107 no later than noon on Monday, April 22; you will not be awarded a prize unless this form is on file.

C-4: essays by sophomores and juniors of fewer than 2500 words written for 120/121, or general expository or creative non-fiction essays of fewer than 2500 words written by sophomores and juniors for other courses or no course. 

Category D: Essays by First Years

Four separate competitions are held for work by First Years.  Prizes awarded are the Bloch, the McLaughlin Memorial, the Lloyd Mifflin, and the Winston T. Townsend.  Each student may submit one essay to categories D1 or D2 and one essay to categories D3, and D4.  Additional essays may be submitted if selected by the instructor and accompanied by a note to that effect.  Please be sure the course number, as well as your pseudonym and year, is on the title page.  Upperclassmen enrolled in 100-level courses submit their essays in categories C, E, F, G, and H, not D.

D-1, essays written for 114 by first years
D-2, essays written for 120/121 by first years, first year journalism, and general expository or creative nonfiction essays written by first years for other courses or no course
D-3, essays written for 125, 126, 127, and 128 by first years
D-4, essays written for 115, 129, 130, DS literature, first-year seminars, or literary criticism written for other courses by first years

Categories E-H: Essays on Literature

Each student may submit only one, unless additional entries are selected by the instructor and accompanied by a note to that effect.  In all categories, course work may be revised by the student for this competition.  Pieces of descriptive or journalistic writing or other nonfiction should be submitted under Category C.

Category E: Essays by Sophomores

The prizes awarded are named for C. Wyllys Betts and John Hubbard Curtis.

Category F: Essays by Juniors

Submit under F work not eligible for G.  Essays on Nabokov or others who might be considered American authors should be submitted under G.  The prize awarded is the John Hubbard Curtis.

Category G: Essays on American Literature or American Themes

Juniors and seniors may compete for the Schoenberg prize, “for the best essay on some American poet or some phase of American poetry,” and for the Strong prize, “for the best essay on a phase of American literature or the best story on an incident in the lives of American people.” But if you have a short story that qualifies, please submit it under category B rather than G. A senior with a short essay that could be submitted under category G should submit it here rather than H1; pieces of sixteen or more pages should be submitted under H2, even if they are on American literature.

Category H: Essays by Seniors
Submit H-1 and H-2 entries in duplicate.

Prizes for individual essays and for general excellence in the major are awarded; the Ralph Paine Memorial, the Lloyd Mifflin, and the John Hubbard Curtis are the prizes given for essays.  A student may submit an essay to H-1 or H-2 even if her or his senior essay is also being considered under H-3.

H-1, shorter essays by seniors (up to 18 pages)
H-2, longer essays including essays written for senior seminars
H-3, essays written for ENGL 490a or b, independent senior essays: all essays that receive a grade of A are considered; students do not submit their work.

Other Prizes

The Marina Keegan Award for Excellence in Playwriting

This award honors the memory of Marina Keegan ’12, a gifted playwright. Graduating seniors in English and Theater Studies, as well as seniors in other departments who have studied playwriting at Yale, are invited to submit a portfolio of dramatic writing for consideration – two plays, at least one of them full-length.  

The deadline for Marina Keegan Award is NOON on Monday, April 15, 2019.  Please deliver two hard copies of your portfolio to Jane Bordiere in LC 107. On the title page, include your name, your residential college, your Yale class (you must be a senior), your email address, and your phone number. The award is jointly sponsored by the English and Theater Studies departments.

The McLaughlin and Herson Scholarships and the Tinker Prize

On the basis of faculty nomination, rather than submitted essays, the Prizes Committee recommends to the Department a candidate or candidates for the Edward Thompkins McLaughlin Scholarship for excellence in composition and the study of English literature during the first three years. The award is made in the January of the student’s senior year. The Sholom and Marcia Herson Scholarship, for outstanding work in English, is awarded to a senior who intends to do graduate work in English, preferably at Yale and preferably in American Literature. The Chauncey Brewster Tinker Prize is designated for the outstanding senior in English.

The Noah Webster Prize

The Noah Webster Prize (for the best essay on some aspect of the history of the English language) is open to graduate students. Consult the DGS for a definition of categories and deadline.

The Field, Porter, and Wallace Prizes

Besides prizes administered by the English Department, the Secretary of the College supervises competition for the Field Prize (for a work in poetry, literature, or religion) and the Porter prize (for a work of scholarship “of general human interest”). Submit at the Secretary’s Office, Woodbridge Hall. (The deadline is usually by the beginning of April). Information and applications will be available in LC 106. The Yale Daily News administers the Wallace Prize in creative writing. Check at the Yale Daily News building, 202 York Street, for the deadline date (usually end of March).

The Wrexham Prize and The Steere Prize

The Wrexham Prize (“for the best senior essay in the field of the humanities”) is one for which the Prizes Committee makes nomination after reading entries in category H. The Steere Prize, for the senior essay that best exemplifies the advance in scholarship gained by focusing on women or gender or by employing feminist theory, and the GALA prize, for the best senior essay on a topic relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, are administered by the WGSS office (315 WLH). Check the WGSS website for more information.