Undergraduate Essay Prize

One prize of $200 is awarded in April of each year for the best essay submitted for credit within the current academic year by an undergraduate student registered in an English, Writing, Film, Theatre or Medieval Studies course at the 2100 level and above within the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University.

Warmest congratulations to Andrew Fullerton (Faculty of Arts & Humanities) who has been awarded the 2022 Undergraduate Essay Prize for their submission written for Professor McMurran's English 4340G, “’Seas of Air’: Phyllis Wheatley’s Narrative of the Disembodied Soul”. Andrew’s paper discusses the synthesis of Christian and Senegambian beliefs in the work of the 18th century Black poet Phyllis Wheatley. In contrast to previous readings in which Wheatley’s incorporation of Senegambian religious motifs in her devotional poetry is seen as a subversion or covert rebellion, Andrew shows that her project is rather a syncretic one, in which Senegambian concepts of the soul and the afterlife answer questions that are not addressed by Calvinist orthodoxy. This is a beautifully written and argued paper, outstanding for its integration of critical and biographical sources with close reading of Wheatley’s poetry.

An Honourable Mention was also awarded to Liam Waterman (Faculty of Arts & Humanities) for their submission written for Professor Faflak's English 3351F, “’Fancy should go Forth’: Conversations between Subject and World in “Mont Blanc” and Beachy Head” whose paper is a generous and careful meditation on two big, difficult Romantic poems from the standpoint of ecocriticism. The paper is remarkable for the way it sets the poems and their authors (Percy Shelley and Charlotte Smith) in an ongoing conversation that ultimately bears on our present ecological crisis and on the power of imagination to uphold our relation to the natural world in which we live. It’s a paper that makes a powerful case for the continuing relevance of Romantic poetry.

We wish them all the best with their studies in the future!

Thank you to Professor Matthew Rowlinson who adjudicated the award this year.

Contest opens December 8, 2022

  1. Entries for Fall term half courses, Winter term half courses, and Full year courses must be submitted by Monday, April 17, 2023.
  2. Entries will be adjudicated based on the quality of their research and academic writing.
  3. Eligible essays should receive a mark of at least 85%.
  4. One entry per student.
  5. Entries must be work submitted to a course offered through English and Writing in a course numbered 2100-4990 (including Writing, Film, Theatre and Medieval Studies).
  6. The submission must be the graded paper, with instructor comments (photocopy is fine).
  7. Submissions may not have been hitherto published or won an award in any other competition.
  8. Previous winners are not eligible.
  9. Entries must be submitted to Shelli Hunter at the Department of English and Writing Studies, Undergraduate Studies Office, University College, 2401B, or by email in PDF format to uenglish@uwo.ca.
  10. The winner will be notified by email by April of 2023.
  11. The results will be posted on the Department of English and Writing Studies website and social media channels.


Shelli Hunter | uenglish@uwo.ca


Year Name Adjudicators
2021 Emily Moyer Professors Madeline Bassnett and Manina Jones
2020 Lily Wilde Professor Madeline Bassnett
2019 Jiali (Betty) Wang Professors Mary Helen McMurran and Anne Schuurman
2018 Gillian Nangreave Professor Richard Moll