Endowed by retired WOU faculty members Richard Meyer and Lotte Larsen, The Meyer Prize for Excellence in Literature is awarded yearly for an outstanding essay written in an upper-division course on literature. Students need not be English majors. The papers are evaluated in a blind-review process by members of the literature faculty.
The award for the Meyer Prize is $500. Second and Third place papers receive $150 and $50 respectively. The winning student, a guest, and their professor are also invited to a celebration dinner with the Meyers.
Click here for: List of Recipients & Runners-up (below) | Award Criteria | Profile of Previous Winning Essays
Annual Recipients & Runners-up
- Winner: Paige O'Rourke, "A Beautiful Disaster: The Paradoxes of Self-Deception and Freedom within The Great Gatsby and American Beauty"
- First Runner-up: Venessa Cutz, "The Wolf in America—Bringing Back A Little Fear"
- Second Runner-up: Ben Hynes-Stone, "A Curvature of Time: Identity in the Bildungsroman"
- Winner: Paige O'Rourke, "Disorderly Conduct: The Trickster Spirit and the Maturation of the Human Psyche"
- First Runner-up: Ben Hynes-Stone, "Encapsulated Everlasting Radiance: Winter Interiors"
- Second Runner-up: Justin Rush, "'Everything Changes': Broken Homes and the Sacrifice of Individuality"
- Winner: Jon Bernard, "Variations on a Theme: Faith, Doubt, and Reason as Explored by Hopkins and Tennyson"
- First Runner-up: Jennifer Carmichael, "Storytelling in Midnight's Children: Self-Construction through Remembering and the Vulnerability of Forgetting"
- Second Runner-up: Bryan Beck, "Absurd Realism: The Inaccurate Criticism of Gao Zingjian's 'The Bus Stop'"
- Winner: Jennifer Carmichael, "From Brigand to Bookworm: How Reading Shapes Interiority"
- Runners-up (tie):
Shauna Anderson, "Center of Instability as the Abyss of Paranoia" and Amanda Miles, "Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: From Freud to Erikson"
- Co-Winners: Shobana Breeden, “The Conflict Between Patriarchy and Unwedded Pregnancy” and Amanda Hughes, “Enabling or Discouraging Change: God’s Bits of Wood versus Nervous Conditions.”
- Second Runner-up: Brooke Snelling, “Nigeria: A Tragic Hero.”
- Winner: Shelley Stonebrook, “Seeking Progress and Truth in a Cyclical, Magical Past: Representations of History in the Post-Colonial Novel.”
- First Runner-up: Stephanie W. Hampton, “Marriage in Toni Morrison’s Work: The Legacy of Slavery in Family Relations Through Generations.”
- Second Runners-up (tie): Janelle Davis, “Heroic Effort Required” and Lucas Howard, “Language and the Fallibility of History.”
- Winner: Susanne Dora, “All that We Can’t Leave Behind: The Inescapable Influence of History on Perspective.”
- Runners-up (tie):
Kyle Baker, “Tides of Thought in Moby Dick: Deconstructing the Doubloon” and Bethany Lamb “Time for The Body Artist”
- Winner: Celeste Barker, untitled essay on Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- The paper must have literature as its central focus. Creative writing submissions are ineligible.
- Any paper written in (or translated into) English and that was originally submitted for an upper-division (300 & 400 level) class at WOU is eligible.
- Students may submit no more than 1 essay. A professor may nominate up to 3 essays, but only if they were written for his/her class. No student can have more than 2 essays entered in the competition.
- One copy of the paper should be submitted in its original format (with instructor commentary and grades). A second copy of the paper (without revision or instructor comment) should be emailed to Gavin Keulks (firstname.lastname@example.org). Ideally, these two copies (one marked, one clean) would be submitted on the same day, but they can be submitted on separate days if necessary.
- Papers should be submitted to the organizer of the competition (Gavin Keulks), who will strip them of all identification, comments, and grades to ensure a "blind" competition.
- Papers need to have been written during the preceding spring, summer, fall, and winter terms. For example: for the 2011-2012 competition, papers should have been written during spring 2011, summer 2011, fall 2011, and winter 2012.
- Papers can be submitted at any time. The deadline for submission is April 25, with winners announced in mid-May. The winning student (and possibly runners-up) may be asked to summarize their essay at our annual awards ceremony in late-May.
- In the unlikely event of a questionable submission (ie. a revised essay or an essay whose primary focus is not literature but, say, the literary industry), the steering committee (Gavin Keulks, Curt Yehnert, Tom Rand) will make the final decision regarding eligibility.
- If more than 15 essays are received, the steering committee will winnow the initial submissions down to 10.
- A student can win only one award in any year's competition. A student may enter the competition in multiple years, however, regardless of prior results.
- In the event of a tie for first place, the co-winning essays will receive $300 each. In the event of ties for second or third place, those essays will split $100 or $50 respectively.
Profile of Previous Winning Essays
This profile of past winning essays is intended to help you consider whether to submit an essay -- or decide which of your papers to submit:
Students are strongly encouraged to read past essays to deduce the quality of work that typically is selected for awards.
- winning essays have always been longer than 7 pages
- winning essays have always incorporated external sources
- winning essays have always received an original grade of "A"