Writing Contests and Department Awards

Each year the Department of English makes the following awards:

  • James Robinson Award for Outstanding Senior English Major

$100 is awarded to the outstanding senior English major. The English faculty nominates candidates and we ask that each faculty member only nominate one student.  The English department selects from a short list of students with GPAs of 3.8 or higher.

  • Outstanding Student in Pre-1700 Literature

$100 is awarded to the graduating senior who has excelled in the study of literature from the era before 1700.

  • Outstanding Creative Writing Student

$100 is awarded to the graduating senior who has excelled in creative writing.

  • Billy Maich Academy of American Poets Prize for the best group of poems by an undergraduate or graduate student.

$100 is awarded to the Notre Dame student, graduate or undergraduate, who submits the best group of poems.  Students may enter no more than five poems and are encouraged to limit their entries to 250 lines.

  • Eleanor Meehan Award For Literary Excellence for the best critical essay written by an English major for an English course.

This prize consists of a $100 award and recognizes the best critical essay written by an English major for an English course.  The essay should be of substantial length (at least 10 pages) and should address a literary work or works.

  • Richard T. Sullivan Award For Fiction Writing recognizing the undergraduate who submits the best fiction manuscript.

$100 is awarded to the Notre Dame undergraduate for the best fiction manuscript.  Entries may be a short story or a chapter from a novel.  Only one submission per student.

  • Ernest Sandeen Poetry Award recognizing the undergraduate who submits the best group of poems.

$100 is awarded to the Notre Dame undergraduate who submits the best group of poems.  Students may enter no more than five poems and are encourages to limit their entries to 250 lines.

  • Most Outstanding Honors Thesis Award recognizing the best thesis in literary criticism written by a senior in the English Honors Concentration.

The prize consists of a $200 award which recognizes the best thesis in literary criticism written by a senior in the English Honors Concentration. Candidates must be nominated by their advisors, who may nominate only one thesis per year. Entries should be emailed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, along with a short paragraph describing the particular strengths of the thesis.

  • Tom Brennan Prize for Excellence in Writing recognizing the best essay written for the Introduction to Literary Studies. Use the links at the left to see the award-winning essays.

Students enrolled in Introduction to Literary Studies during the preceding calendar year (spring and fall semesters) are eligible for the prize.  Professors teaching Introduction to Literary Studies in either the spring or fall semester may submit one essay for consideration.  The Chair of the English Department (or his or her designee) will select a judge each year to determine the winner, and will remind the faculty to identify likely nominees throughout the semester.  Essays will be judged for analytic acuity, stylistic clarity, and rhetorical force.  The prize will be awarded each spring during the department’s Senior Honor Thesis reading.  The winner will receive $1000, and will have the option of applying it toward the following year’s tuition or receiving a check. The winning essay will be posted and featured on the department’s website, and the winner’s name will be added to a plaque that will be prominently displayed in the main office of the English Department.