The Outstanding Freshman Essay contest is annual, and students in ENGL 1004, ENGL 1033 or FS 1963 are encouraged to submit an essay from course work from the fall or spring semester. The contest is judged by a faculty member, typically in the English department, according to a rubric provided by the Writing Program.
Students or peer instructors may submit nominations for the Outstanding Writing Program Instructor and Writing Center Consultant of the Year awards based on a form provided in all Writing Program Student Guides. Nominees submit a copy of their teaching or consulting portfolio for review and administrators from the College of Arts and Sciences serve as judges of this award.
Freshman Essay Contest Winner
Judge: Assistant Professor Don James McLaughlin
Winner: Wilson Ray, for “Absurdist Humor in The Duchess of Malfi,” composed for Dr. Dayne Riley
Judge’s remarks: “Absurdist Humor in The Duchess of Malfi” is a testament to the power of literary criticism to take readers on a fun and rewarding journey. The author opens up a new way of understanding the entertainment value of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi by piecing together an airtight case that the revenge tragedy relies as much on forms of comedy to captivate its audience. But the author doesn’t stop here. Through beautifully crafted moments of close reading, the author makes the precise argument that alongside the more obvious comedic uses of satire and stereotype, Webster descends at key moments into absurdism and surrealism. The author’s sophisticated exploration of humor as a space of shifting proximity to cleverness and the preposterous illuminates an important dimension of Webster’s style. This essay reminds us that even those genres known for the extreme emotions they evoke (like tragedy) depend upon intricate webs of feeling to draw readers into spheres of experience that strike a chord of authenticity.
Honorable mention: Emilee Elmore, “Adding Voices to a Movement: The Loud Hands Anthology and Disability Oppression,” composed for Dr. Sara Beam
Judge’s remarks: This exemplary research essay sets out to elaborate the meaning of disability activism’s familiar mantra: “Nothing about us without us.” In a sophisticated exploration of the stakes of this expression, the author demonstrates well how important it is to honor the right of people with disabilities to articulate their own needs and to advocate on their own behalf.
Outstanding Writing Center Consultant of the Year
Nominees: Emma Willibey and Sydney Rubin
Judge: Dean Karen Petersen
Winner: Sydney Rubin
Judge’s remarks: Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process. First, please extend my gratitude to both nominees for their work. After reviewing the materials and the rubric, I believe Sydney Rubin achieved thoughtfulness, professionalism, and dedication to her craft far beyond her level of experience. It is clear that she is an effective resource for students, but that is true for both nominees. What Sydney has achieved is a remarkable level of self-awareness, brought on by her own encounters with our education system. I am confident that she will enrich our profession and change lives as a result of her work. As Sydney so poignantly states, “no word can bear to be the final word.” For all of us, I am glad the negative words Sydney endured were not the final words and that she is the author of a much different life story!
Outstanding Writing Program Instructor of the Year
Nominees: Layne Farmen and Lily McCully
Judge: Associate Dean Kirsten Olds
Winner: Layne Farmen
Judge’s remarks: Thank you for hosting the Outstanding TA Instructor Award each year and for the opportunity to review the nominees’ materials. TU is fortunate to have such dedicated, enthusiastic and professional writing instructors, and the decision was a difficult one! The candidates scored equally well on those metrics and quality of instruction. It was in terms of originality that Layne Farmen distinguished himself. His multimodal, interdisciplinary pedagogy and assignments demonstrate Layne’s creativity in engaging students and prompting them to produce their best thinking and work in a variety of ways. The collaboration with MADE for ENGL 3003 made visible the benefits of teaming up with other units on campus and writing for a public audience, and course evaluations reflected students’ appreciation for what they learned in the course.