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William Patrick Day Essay Contest

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At Collation every year, a $300 award (sometimes split into two awards of $150 each) is given to an outstanding essay by an English graduate student. Essays are judged by graduate students who have been nominated by the GEA. Any English graduate student who hasn't won the award in the past is eligible to enter.  Any essay that has been written in the past academic year for a course, or any work produced as part of a dissertation, is eligible. The prize is named in honor of Patrick Day, formerly a teacher and (both formerly and currently) a friend of Penn graduate students.

All submissions must be 25 pages or fewer (notes, works cited, and other appendices excluded). Your name should appear nowhere on the essay itself; instead, submit a separate cover sheet with your name and your essay title. 

Submit two hard copies of your essay to the GEA President by July 31. Results will be announced at Collation at the beginning of the fall semester.

William Patrick Day Essay Contest Recipients


Ajay Kumar Batra (recipient)

“Wrongful Convictions: Abraham Johnstone and the Poetics of the Dead End”

Devin William Daniels (recipient)

“Kill the Body and the Head Will Die: Realism, Capitalism, and the Financier"


Travis Chi Wing Lau (recipient)

“Defoe Before Immunity: A Prophylactic Journal of the Plague Year

Joan Lubin (recipient)

“‘Tired of Cruising? Try Numbers!’: Pulp Sexology and the Literature of Quantity”


Clare Mullaney (recipient)

“Not to Discover Weakness is The Artifice of Strength: Emily Dickinson, Limitation, and the Literary.”


Kelly Mee Rich (recipient)

"Nowhere's Safe: Ruinous Reconstruction in Muriel Spark's The Girls of Slender Means"

Monika Bhagat-Kennedy (honorable mention)

"Sarath Kumar Ghosh as Scheherazade: Hindu Heroism in Indian Nights' Entertainment: The Trials of Narayan Lal"


Don James McLaughlin (recipient)

"Color-Phobia: Rabies, Race, Prejudice, and the Mad Cry of Analogy in U.S. Antislavery Print Culture"


Vaclav Paris (recipient)

"Beyond the Tree: Gertude Stein's The Making of Americans and the Modern Epic"


Laura Soderberg (recipient)


Jessica Hurley (recipient)


Bronwyn V. Wallace (recipient)


Kara Gaston (co-recipient)
Greg Steirer (co-recipient)


Jennifer Jahner (co-recipient)
Adrian Khactu (co-recipient)


Megan Cook (co-recipient)
Emily Ogden (co-recipient)


Jane Malcolm (co-recipient)
Jill Shashaty (co-recipient)


Rosemary O’Neill (recipient)


Joseph Drury (co-recipient)
Denise Tanyol (co-recipient)


Hannah Wells (co-recipient)


Miriam Jacobson (recipient)