Graduate Student Essay Awards

Nomination Form

The awards are comprised of both a Ph.D. level award and a separate master’s level award. Award winners receive a $250 prize, a certificate, and a complimentary year’s membership to the Association. Recipients are also offered the opportunity to present their winning essays during a session at the annual ChLA conference and to receive their awards during the awards banquet. If the winner attends the conference, a complimentary banquet ticket is also awarded, and conference registration is waived. A student may only win the Ph.D. level award or the Master's level award one time. 

Nomination Requirements
Nominations should be submitted by a faculty member on behalf of the graduate student author. Graduate students may not nominate themselves or other graduate students. A cover letter must accompany the submission and provide an endorsement of the paper and explain the faculty member’s familiarity with the student’s work. Submissions should demonstrate familiarity with previous scholarship and should contain original, distinctive ideas. They should be at least 3,000 words in length and should not exceed 7,500 words, including notes and works cited. They should conform to MLA style.

Please include both the faculty member’s and the student’s e-mail and street addresses and indicate if the student is a Ph.D. or Master’s level student in the cover letter only. Submissions will be forwarded from the ChLA office to the members of the ChLA Graduate Student Essay Awards Committee and read blind (without the accompanying cover letter).

Only two, whether MA or Ph.D., submissions per ChLA member will be accepted. The deadline for submissions is February 1, annually, for a paper written during the previous year.

For further information, contact the ChLA Coordinator, by email at or by phone at (630) 571-4520.


2016 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. level winner: Krystal Howard for “The Verse Novel for Young Readers: Collage, Confession, and Crisis in Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming,” sponsored by Gwen Athene Tarbox (Western Michigan University).

Ph.D. level honor award: Mary Stephens for “Judy Blume’s Big Fat Problem: Bullying, Femininity, and Weight in Blubber,” sponsored by Eric Tribunella (University of Southern Mississippi).

Master’s level winner: Rebecca Leigh Rowe for “’But Mother, I’m a Man Now’: Adapting Childhood in the Musical and Film Versions of Into the Woods,” sponsored by Anne Phillips (Kansas State University).

Master’s level honor award: Sierra Hale for “Soldering Together Young Adult Science Fiction: Implicit and Explicit Racial Spaces in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles,” sponsored by Joe Sutliff Sanders (Kansas State University).

2015 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. level award: Clare Echterling for "Individualism, Environmentalism, and the Pastoral in the Children's Biographies of Wangari Maathai," sponsored by Giselle Anatol (The University of Kansas)

Master's level award: Meghan Radosevic for "Blood Money: The Commodification of Menstrual Education through American Girl's The Care and Keeping of You Series," sponsored by Ramona Caponegro (Eastern Michigan University)

Master's level honor award: Holly Batty for "Picturing Animality in Emily Hughes' Wild," sponsored by Jackie Stallcup (California State University, Northridge)

2014 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. level award: Tyler Sasser for “The Snowy Day in the Civil Rights Era: Peter’s Political Innocence and Unpublished Letters from Langston Hughes, Ellen Tarry, Grace Nail Johnson, and Charlemae Hill Rollins,” sponsored by Jameela Lares, (University of Southern Mississippi)

Master’s level award: Rachel Rickard for “Are You An Artist Like Me?!: Critical Reading and Reader Interaction within the Worlds of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries,” sponsored by Ramona Caponegro (Eastern Michigan University)

Master’s level honor award: Chelsea Bromley for “New Picture Book, Old Cinema: The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” sponsored by Annette Wannamaker (Eastern Michigan University)

2013 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners

Ph.D. level award: Marilyn Bloss Koester for "Pygmalion Revisited: Aesthetics and Agency in Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl." Sponsored by Lorinda B. Cohoon (Memphis University)

Ph.D. level honor award: Paige Gray for "The 'Not Unmusical Cries' of a 'Peculiar Class' in America: The 'Evolution' of Horatio Alger, Jr.’s Newsboys and Print Journalism in the Late Nineteenth Century." Sponsored by Eric Tribunella (University of Southern Mississippi)

Master’s level award: Rachel Rickard for "Some Writer, Some Friend: Charlotte and The Elements of Style." Sponsored by Annette Wannamaker (Eastern Michigan University)

2012 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. level award: Amanda Phillips Chapman for "The Riddle of Peter Pan’s Existence: An Unselfconscious Stage Child." Sponsored by Marah Gubar (University of Pittsburgh)

Master’s level award: Jill Coste for "Coping with Compulsion Through Fantasy in Harriet the Spy, Dangerous Angels, and Wintergirls." Sponsored by June Cummins (San Diego State University)

2011 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. level award: Pamela Swanigan for ""Much the Same on the Other Side"": The Boondocks and the Symbolic Frontier." Sponsored by Kate Capshaw Smith (University of Connecticut)

Master's level award: Sandra Beals for "Look Who's Talking: Ideology and Narrative in S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders." Sponsored by Annette Wannamaker (Eastern Michigan University)

Master's level honor essay: Jennifer Taylor for "Christian Tropes in Bridge to Terabithia." Sponsored by Amanda Cockrell (Hollins University)

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