Essay Awards

keep calm.

General Guidelines for All Caucus Essay Awards

  • Essays should be between 6,000 and 9,000 words (there is a 10,000-word limit, notes and works cited included). All essays are to be revised and expanded from original papers presented at previous NeMLA convention(s).
  • Submissions should be written in or translated into English.  
  • Each Caucus Essay Award winner will be awarded a $100 prize that will be handed out at the membership brunch, and their essays will automatically be considered for publication by Modern Language Studies. All essays are subject to MLS's double-blind review. 

Specific Guidelines for Each Caucus Award


CAITY Essay Award

NeMLA awards an annual prize for the best essay developed from a paper presented by contingent faculty, adjunct instructors, independent scholars, and two-year college faculty members. The competition is limited to papers presented by CAITY members at a session during the NeMLA convention earlier in the year.

Email submissions to as two separate Microsoft Word document by January 14:
(1) a cover sheet with the title, author's name, address and academic affiliation
(2) the essay with the title “NeMLA CAITY Essay Award Submission” in the subject line

Past Winners:

  • 2022: Rebecca Arbele, Tufts University, "How Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass Teaches through Storytelling, Science, and Metaphor"
  • 2021: Luis Medina Cordova, King's College, London, "An Ecuadorian World Novel? Considering Gabriela Alemán's Humo as World Literature"
  • 2020: Dr. Aoise Stratford, "Abortion, Infanticide, Sterilization and the Monstrous Maternal in Suzan-Lori Parks's Red Letter Plays"
  • 2019: Robert Wilson, SUNY Binghamton, "Strike Again that Sounding String: James M. Whitfield and Contrapuntal Dissonance" and Rachel Paparone, Ithaca College, "A(r)cadie heureuse? Space, Place, and Engaged Pastoral in Zachary Richard’s Feu"
  • 2018: Melissa J. Strong, Community College of Philadelphia, "Found Time: Kairos in A Visit from the Goon Squad"
  • 2017: Michele Martinez, Harvard University, "Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Picture-and-Frame Designs as Victorian Comics"
  • 2016: Dale Tracy, Royal Military College of Canada, "Observing Heroes and Shifting Stories in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas"
  • 2015: Alex Miller, Independent Scholar, "Beyond Postmodernism: Satire and Compassion in the ‘Degraded Cosmos’ of George Saunders’s America"
  • 2014: Colin Carman, Colorado Mountain College, "Godwin’s Fleetwood, Shame, and the Sexuality of Feeling"
  • 2013: Marisa Palacios Knox, University of California, Berkeley, "Literary Nunneries: Women’s Education, Sterility and Detachment"
  • 2012: Patrick Maley, The College of New Jersey
  • 2011: Hunter Vaughan, Washington University in St. Louis
  • 2010: Fran Lassiter, Montgomery County Community College, "Journey to Equality: From Maria W. Stewart to Barack Obama"
  • 2008: Aaron Ritzenberg, Yale University, "Holding on to the Sentimental in Winesburg, Ohio"
  • 2006: Katsura Sako, University of Warwick, "A. S. Byatt’s ‘Half-Resurrection’ in Possession: A Romance"

Graduate Student Caucus Essay Award

NeMLA awards an annual prize to the best graduate student paper presented at any of the sessions of the previous three conventions.
Email submissions as two separate Microsoft Word document files to by January 15 with:
(1) a cover sheet with the title, author's name, address and academic affiliation
(2) the essay and "NeMLA GSC Essay Submission" in the subject line

Past Winners:

  • 2022: Lorenzo Bartolucci, Stanford University, "Landscape in the Shadow: The Self in 1974"
  • 2021: Lucas Wilson, Florida Atlantic University, " 'Remember, my house it’s also your house too': Postmemorial Structures in Art Spiegelman's Maus"
  • 2020: W. Danielle Jones, University of Chicago,"Kindred, Literacy, and the Body as Text"
  • 2019: Miles Osgood, Harvard University, "Revising Character, Revisionist History: Clarissa, Marlow, Stephen, Quentin, Bilbo"
  • 2018: Bethany Doane, Penn State, "Planetary Ecohorror and Sublime Annihilation"
  • 2017: Amanda R. Waugh Lagji, University of Massachusetts Amherst, "'Now' is Here: Disillusionment and Urgency in Anita Desai's Cry, the Peacock"
  • 2016: Jeremy Colangelo, University of Western Ontario, "For the Progress of ‘Faustus and Helen’: Crane, Whitman, and the Metropolitan Progress Poem"
  • 2015: Krista A. Murchison, University of Ottawa, "‘Understand from that Single Word Many’: Thirteenth-Century Women’s Vernacular Literacy and the Style of Ancrene Wisse"
  • 2014: Casey Hayman, University of Massachusetts Amherst, "Hypervisible Man: Techno-Performativity and Televisual Blackness in Percival Everett’s I Am Not Sidney Poitier"
  • 2013: Nick Henry and Juliane Schicker, Pennsylvania State University, “Heimatsehnsucht: Rammstein and the Search for Cultural Identity"
  • 2012: Yvonne Franke, University of Pittsburgh
    Ann M. Mazur, University of Virginia, Runner up
  • 2011: Kristen Proehl, College of William and Mary
    Arielle Zibrak, Boston University, Runner-up
  • 2010: Sarah Birge, Pennsylvania State University, "Non-cognitive Continuity: Bodily Memory, Amnesia, and Alzheimer’s Disease"
    Honorable Mention: Perin Gurel, Yale University, "Sing, O Djinn!: Memory, History, and Folklore in The Bastard of Istanbul"
  • 2009: Christopher Schmidt, The Graduate Center, CUNY, "Warhol’s Leftovers: Waste, Recycling, and the Female Writing Machine"
  • 2007: Robert Azzarello, "Unnatural Predators: Queer Theory Meets Environmental Studies in Bram Stoker’s Dracula"
  • 2006: Jen Cadwallader, University of North Carolina, "Spirit Photography and the Victorian Culture of Mourning"
  • 2005: Lisa Perdigao, "Dismembered Muse: Seamus Heaney’s ‘The Golden Bough,’ ‘The Cure At Troy,’ and ‘Mycenae Lookout’"

Postcolonial Studies Essay Award

The Northeast Modern Language Association is proud to sponsor a special essay prize for a revised paper in Postcolonial Studies presented at one of the previous two NeMLA Conventions.

Please email submissions as two separate Microsoft Word document files to by December 15 with
(1) a cover sheet with the title, author's name, address and academic affiliation
(2) the essay with "NeMLA Postcolonial Essay Award" in the subject line

Past Winners:

  • 2022: Shanaaz Mohammed, Davidson College, "Coralization: Coral Materiality in Khal Torabully's Poetry"
  • 2021: Rituparna Mitra, Emerson College, "Precarious Duniyas in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Life, Death and Repair in ‘Ruin-Worlds.'" Honorable Mention: Mary Cook, Lake Tahoe Community College, "On Reading Transformative Transnational Memoirs: A Study of Personal and Political Histories in Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I’m Dying"
  • 2020: Ngwaba Ijeoma Ann, Federal University of Oye Ekiti, "Re-writing the Nation: History and Re-Historicisation in Chinua Achebe’s There Was a Country and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun"
  • 2019: Kate Perillo, University of Massachusetts Amherst, "A Room Not One's Own: CLR James, Jean Rhys, and Anticolonial Imagination in the London Lodging House"
  • 2018: Ayendy Bonifacio, Ohio State University, "¿A’ca’o Qué, Comadre?”: Border Languages, Xicanisma, and Ciudadanía in Ana Castillo’s So Far from God"
  • 2017: Kate Perillo, University of Massachusetts Amherst, "The Speculative Caribbean: Technological Futurity in Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber and Beyond"
  • 2016: Stanka Radovic, University of Toronto, Mississauga, "'A Rose by Any Other Name’: Naming and Location in Caribbean Literature"
  • 2015: Suzi Cater, New York University, "Don’t Trust the Author: Suspect Texts in Édouard Glissant’s Tout-monde"
  • 2014: Laurie Lambert, University of California, Davis, "Romancing the Revolution: Black Radicalism and the Immigrant Writer in the Work of Dionne Brand"

Women's and Gender Studies Essay Award

The NeMLA Women’s and Gender Studies Caucus invites submissions for the “Best Essay in Women’s and Gender Studies Award” given for a paper presented at the previous two sessions of the NeMLA Convention using women and/or gender-centered approaches. This essay may not be submitted to another contest for the duration of the award’s deliberation. Essays must be submitted in English.

  • Send entries to the President of the NeMLA Women’s and Gender Studies Caucus as two separate Microsoft Word document files at by January 15 with:

          (1) a cover sheet with the title, author's name, address and academic affiliation
          (2) the essay with “NeMLA WGSC Essay Award Submission” in the subject line
  • Decisions will be communicated in winter.
Past Winners:
  • 2022: Samadrita Kuiti, University of Connecticut-Storrs, "Anticipating the Afrotopia: Queer Monsters and Utopian Futurities in Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon"
    Honorable Mention: Dolores Batten, University of Central Florida, "The Problematics of the Postcolonial? Identity: Embracing Linguistics, Culture, and Pre-Feminism in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God"
  • 2021: Stephanie Papa, Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, “Crafting Somatic Communication: The Kinetics of Motherhood in Layli Long Soldier’s Poetry”
  • 2020: Nancy Vera, University of Maryland College Park, “Witches & Tricksters: Feminine Forms of Resistance in Afro-Mexican Folklore”
  • 2019: Nancy Kang, University of Manitoba, "Sin Sexo: Auto-Historiography and Reproduction in Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s Sor Juana’s Second Dream
  • 2018: Molly Ferguson, Ball State University, "The First Five Minutes: Teaching with Twitter in the Feminist Classroom"
  • 2017: Jessica MacEachern, Université de Montréal, "Warped Visions of Time and Place: H.D. Re-Visions Sensory History"
  • 2016: Nicole Gervasio, Columbia University, "The Power of the Weak Signifier: Wordsworth Lucy in J.M. Coetzee's and Kincaid’s Decolonizing Fictions"
  • 2015: Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, Independent Scholar, "‘Laughing and Crying Behind Her Mask’: Code-Switching and Sentimental Strategy in Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall"
  • 2014: Victoria Muñoz, Ohio State University, "Female Translators and Their Detractors: Theories of Early Modern Translation in Development"
    Honorable Mention: Kara Johnson, Northwestern University, "‘A pure young voice’: Textual Performance in the Journals of Frances & Mary Willard”
  • 2013: Marisa Palacios Knox, University of California, Berkeley, "Literary Nunneries: Women’s Education, Sterility and Detachment"
  • 2012: Melissa A. Schaub, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  • 2011: Christopher Byrne, McGill University
  • 2010: Daniel Moore, Queen’s College, "Mourning the Mourners: Gender Politics of Commemoration in the First World War"
  • 2009: Zachary Hutchins, University of North Carolina, "The Wisdom of Anne Bradstreet: Exchanging Eve’s Legacy for Elizabeth’s"
  • 2009 GLBTQ Caucus Essay Award: Bryan Conn, Johns Hopkins University, "The Terror of Love: Race and Sex in James Baldwin’s Another Country"
  • 2008: Catherine Keyser, University of South Carolina, "Keeping Ironic Company: Mary McCarthy and the Smart Woman in Politics"
  • 2008 GLBTQ Caucus Essay Award: Wendy Pawlak, "The Lonely View from the Closet: Lesbianism in The Bostonians and the Inevitable Doom of Olive Chandler"
  • 2007:Shari Evans, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, "Fortress, Haven, Home: Programmed Space, Themed Space, and the Ethics of Home in Toni Morrison’s Paradise"
    Honorable Mention: Lynn Johnson, Dickinson College, "Traversing the Oceanic: The Garret as a Vehicle of Transport in Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)"
  • 2006: Stephanie Harzewski, University of Pennsylvania, "A New Bildungsroman: Chick Lit Authors and Their Characters"
  • 2006 GLBTQ Caucus Essay Award: David Jarroway, "George Cukor and Filmic Collaboration: Subjective Displacement in America’s Postwar Years”
  • 2005: Beth Capo, "Can This Marriage Be Saved? Birth Control and Marriage in Modern American Literature"
    Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Abele, Nassau Community College, "The Open Range: Jane Smiley Reclaims the Feminine Western Tradition"

Earlier WGSC Essay Award Winners

  • Ruth Bienstock Anolik, Haverford College, “The Missing Mother: Negotiations of Motherhood in the Gothic Mode”
  • Catherine Golden, Skidmore College, "Late-Twentieth-Century Readers in Search of a Dickensian Heroine: Angels, Fallen Sisters, and Eccentric Women"
  • Michael R. Schiavi, New York Institute of Technology, "Gay and Lesbian Caucus Essay Prize for “Teaching The Boys: Mart Crowley in the Millennial Classroom"
  • Elizabeth Fekete, Northwestern University, "Graduate Student Caucus Essay Prize for “Imagined Revolution: The Female Reader and The Wide, Wide World"
  • Ruth Bienstock Anolik, Haverford College, "Appropriating the Golem, Possessing the Dybbuk: Stories of Power and Creation by Jewish-American Women"
  • Honorable Mention: Diane M. Garno, Wayne State University, "Elevating His Mistress to a Utopian Wife: Cabt and Denise in Icaria"