Best Student Essays

All English majors learn to write great essays but only a few will win the English Department's Annual “Arksey Essay Contest.” This event honors the late A. Leon Arksey, Associate Professor of English, Emeritus — a long-time, respected professor who loved great student writing.

This year, could the winner be you? You can choose to enter one of two categories:

  • Best critical essay: Academic, interpretive essays on particular writers, works of literature, and issues in literary theory will be considered in this category.
  • Best creative essay: Creative nonfiction of all kinds (memoirs, travel writing, literary journalism, etc.) will be considered in this category.

The Basics

Who’s eligible?

All admitted English majors and minors who have been enrolled during the current academic year are eligible.

How do I submit?

Each submission should have a detachable cover sheet that includes the title of the essay as well as the author’s name, mailing address, and email address. Only the title should appear on the first page of the essay itself. The author's name should not appear on the essay, as submissions will be judged blind.

Submissions should follow the MLA Style Manual.

Limit: one submission per category.

Papers originally written for classes are welcome in both categories, provided that a clean copy is submitted.

What’s the deadline?

All submissions are due in the Humanities Office by May 1.


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Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Arksey Prize for Best Student Essays of the Year

Critical Essay: Acacia Protsman, “'Watched--Observed--Reflected': Anne's Character Development in Persuasion

Creative Nonfiction Essay: Savannah Hadley, "Home Made"

Previous Arksey Prize winners »

Senior English Class

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