2022 Deadline: March 21 @ Noon. View submission requirements here.

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Prizes Open to All Students

Essays on specific subjects

19th-CENTURY ENGLISH NOVEL PRIZE, for the best student essay on the nineteenth-century English novel. 

Established by Alan P. Levenstein ’56 and Stephen Kirschenbaum ’55 to commemorate their appreciation of such novelists as Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and Charles Dickens, the prize is intended to encourage students to read and write about nineteenth-century English novels intelligently, critically, and with a heightened sense of pleasure. 

To enter, students must submit an essay that addresses in substantial detail some aspect of one or more nineteenth-century English novels. The competition is open to all students in any major. Essays submitted must be original work, but may be expanded or revised versions of papers written initially as coursework.

THE ALIKI PERROTI AND SETH FRANK 1955 PRIZE is awarded annually to one or more students who produce works of analysis, criticism, and original academic writing about poets who are graduates of Amherst College or who otherwise have a significant identity and affiliation with the Amherst College community. Some of the poets within that category include Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Rolfe Humphries 1915, Richard Wilbur 1942, James Merrill 1947, and Robert Bagg 1957.

Personal or Open Topic Essays

THE CORBIN PRIZE is awarded for an outstanding original composition in the form of poetry or an informal essay.

Poetry

Submissions for the poetry prizes should contain from one to five poems, the total not to exceed three pages.

THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS PRIZE is awarded annually for the best poem or group of poems, preferably on nature, submitted by an undergraduate.

THE COLLIN ARMSTRONG POETRY PRIZE, established in part by Mrs. Elizabeth H. Armstrong, is awarded to the undergraduate author of the best original poem or group of poems.

THE CORBIN PRIZE is awarded for an outstanding original composition in the form of poetry or an informal essay.

Fiction

THE PETER BURNETT HOWE PRIZE for excellence in prose fiction, was established by a gift of Robert B. Howe of the class of 1930 in memory of his son Peter Burnett Howe, 1960. Submissions for the Howe Prize must be limited to a maximum of 25 pages, comprised of any combination of prose fiction pieces, including excerpts from novels.

Prizes Restricted to First-Year Students

Essays on specific subjects

THE ARMSTRONG PRIZE, which was established by Collin Armstrong of the class of 1877 in memory of his mother, Miriam Collin Armstrong, is awarded to members of the Freshman class who excel in composition. 

Prizes Restricted to Sophomores

Personal or Open Topic Essays

THE HARRY RICHMOND HUNTER, JR. PRIZE, established in memory of Harry Richmond Hunter, Jr., of the class of 1929, by his parents, is awarded for the best essay written by a sophomore as part of the work of any English course.

Travel

*The terms of these prizes may vary due to the pandemic. Students will receive more information in the spring.

THE MacARTHUR-LEITHAUSER TRAVEL AWARD, drawn from the income of a gift by the MacArthur Foundation to the College in 1985 at the request of Brad LeithauserMacArthur Fellow and Visiting Writer at the College for 1984–85 (learn more about Brad Leithauser here), is a fellowship given annually by the English Department to a Sophomore or Junior of creative promise who might most benefit from exposure to a foreign landscape, for the purpose of enabling the student to travel outside the continental United States. 

While “creative promise” will be interpreted loosely, preference will be given to those students who have displayed some talent in writing poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Financial need and limited previous travel are also considerations. This prize is meant to encourage talented students to invent occasions for self-directed creative work in foreign environments, and cannot be used to pay educational expenses for courses taken abroad.

Candidates for this award should submit a preliminary budget, a sample of creative work and a cover letter.* In this letter, please outline your travel plans, and also offer some insight into how these plans are expected to contribute to your growth as a writer. This letter should give the prize committee a sense of who you are and of the hows and whys of what you hope to accomplish with this award. The finalists will be interviewed by members of the Department. A sample budget can be found here.

* If your project involves international travel, you must upload a copy of your signed International Travel Waiver of Liability, found at this link. If you are under 18 years old, both you and your parents must sign the waiver. This page describes the AIG/Travel Guard program in further detail. Please visit the Study Abroad website for information on Health and Emergency Medical Assistance.

Prizes Restricted to Juniors

Essays on specific subjects

THE G. ARMOUR CRAIG AWARD FOR PROSE COMPOSITION is awarded to that junior or senior who writes the best autobiographical essay on an experience of intellectual discovery.

Poetry

Submissions for poetry prizes should contain from one to five poems, the total not to exceed three pages.

THE LAURA AYRES SNYDER PRIZE, endowed by Jeffrey F. Snyder, class of 1960, in honor of his daughter Laura Ayres Snyder, class of 1989, is given annually to subsidize a student-poet during the summer between their junior and senior years. The prize is awarded to a Junior for a manuscript of poetry which should be no fewer than three pages and no more than ten pages.

Research, including travel and residency

*The terms of these prizes may vary due to the pandemic. Students will receive more information in the spring.

THE JAMES CHARLTON KNOX PRIZES are intended to support a summer of independent literary research and are awarded to majors whose records through the junior year demonstrate the greatest integration of scholarship, interest and creativity in the study of English. Recipients will be awarded this prize at the end of the junior year.

The Department's evaluation of the candidates will mainly focus on their submitted proposals, which should outline their plans for a summer project that focuses on reading and thinking critically about literature—on literary research and/or criticism. 

Candidates for this award should submit a project proposal, a preliminary budget, and a short cover letter.* The cover letter should offer a narrative rationale for the summer's research plans, be they to travel abroad to visit a site, to interview a figure important to your research, or even only to stay on campus for a summer of reading and writing.

Travel

*The terms of these prizes may vary due to the pandemic. Students will receive more information in the spring.

THE MacARTHUR-LEITHAUSER TRAVEL AWARD, drawn from the income of a gift by the MacArthur Foundation to the College in 1985 at the request of Brad LeithauserMacArthur Fellow and Visiting Writer at the College for 1984–85 (learn more about Brad Leithauser here), is a fellowship given annually by the English Department to a Sophomore or Junior of creative promise who might most benefit from exposure to a foreign landscape, for the purpose of enabling the student to travel outside the continental United States. 

While “creative promise” will be interpreted loosely, preference will be given to those students who have displayed some talent in writing poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Financial need and limited previous travel are also considerations. This prize is meant to encourage talented students to invent occasions for self-directed creative work in foreign environments, and cannot be used to pay educational expenses for courses taken abroad.

Candidates for this award should submit a preliminary budget, a sample of creative work and a cover letter.* In this letter, please outline your travel plans, and also offer some insight into how these plans are expected to contribute to your growth as a writer. This letter should give the prize committee a sense of who you are and of the hows and whys of what you hope to accomplish with this award. The finalists will be interviewed by members of the Department. A sample budget can be found here.

* If your project involves international travel, you must upload a copy of your signed International Travel Waiver of Liability, found at this link. If you are under 18 years old, both you and your parents must sign the waiver. This page describes the AIG/Travel Guard program in further detail. Please visit the Study Abroad website for information on Health and Emergency Medical Assistance.

Prizes Restricted to Seniors

Poetry

THE ROLFE HUMPHRIES POETRY PRIZE is presented to that Senior who has achieved the greatest sense of poetic form in their undergraduate writing.

The award shall be made on the basis of three submissions to the English Department in the applicant's senior year, and may include writing produced during the undergraduate years.

Personal or Open Topic Essays

THE G. ARMOUR CRAIG AWARD FOR PROSE COMPOSITION is awarded to that Junior or Senior who writes the best autobiographical essay on an experience of intellectual discovery.

Nominated Senior Prizes

There are no entry rules for these prizes. The Department awards the following prizes to seniors nominated by members of the department. 

THE ELIZABETH BRUSS PRIZE is presented to that Senior English major who in the judgment of the English Department best represents those qualities of breadth and imagination exemplified by Elizabeth Bruss.

THE STEPHEN E. WHICHER PRIZE, established in memory of Stephen E. Whicher, class of 1936, for the best essay by a senior in the interpretation of American literature. [Awarded by the Department of English in even-numbered years and the Department of American Studies in odd-numbered years.]

THE RALPH WALDO RICE PRIZE, established by Mrs. Mary Rice Jenkins in memory of her brother, Ralph Waldo Rice, of the class of 1910, is awarded for the best essay on “The Liberal College and Christian Citizenship” or any subject named by the Faculty. The prize is traditionally awarded by the English Department and is given to the author of the best thesis submitted to the department in candidacy for honors.


The two fellowships below carry different deadlines from the other prizes.More information on the Alpha Delta Phi Fund and the David P. Patchel Fund is available here. The deadlines for these applications are November 8th and February 7th.  

Research, Including Travel

*The terms of these prizes may vary due to the pandemic. Students will receive more information in the spring.

The Alpha Delta Phi Fund is designed to support senior essay writing, special topics, and other comparable independent projects. All seniors in the humanities and social sciences may apply, but first priority is reserved for English majors and others working in literary studies, creative writing, theater and dance, or film. Monies from the David P. Patchel Memorial Fund can be used for senior projects having to do with the moving image specifically, whether essays, theses, or production projects.

Awards are intended for seniors who are working on projects that are integral to their coursework or are part of independent study for credit that is supervised and evaluated by a faculty member.

Film and Media

Monies from the David P. Patchel Memorial Fund can be used for senior projects having to do with the moving image specifically, whether essays, theses, or production projects.

Awards are intended for seniors who are working on projects that are integral to their coursework or are part of independent study for credit that is supervised and evaluated by a faculty member.