English Department Awards and Honors

The James Applegate Award
Established in honor of Dr. James Applegate, Dean Emeritus and Emeritus Professor of English, this prize is awarded to a student or students with an interest or appreciation of drama and theater. This award is decided upon by vote of the English department faculty.

The Joanne Harrison Hopkins Prize
Endowed by classmates and friends of the late Joanne Hopkins of the Class of 1957, this prize is given for the finest piece of imaginative literature in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative non-fiction produced during the academic year. This is a contest judged by the members of the English faculty. In the spring semester, notification will be sent out to all students eligible for the prize asking for submissions that will include all relevant directions on how to apply for the prize.

The William and Ivy Saylor Prize
Endowed by Raymond W. Britcher and established through the Academy of American Poets, The William and Ivy Saylor Prize supports young poets through a program established by the Academy of American Poets at colleges nationwide. Winners receive a cash prize as well as a one-year membership in the Academy.

The Mary Beers Sheppard Prize
Established by Benjamin M. Sheppard in memory of his sister of the class of 1895, this prize is awarded to the member of the senior class who, in the judgment of the English faculty, has shown the keenest understanding and appreciation of literature. This award is decided upon by vote of the English department faculty.

Sigma Tau Delta
Wilson is a member of the National English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta. Any student completing a major or minor in English may be considered for acceptance into the Sigma Tau Delta chapter upon achieving junior status. Wilson College also proudly sponsors a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. See Dr. Woolley to determine how you can become eligible for the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society.

College Honors

Both English and Communications majors may be invited by faculty to complete Honors in the major and to compete for the campus-wide Margaret Criswell Disert ('20) Honors Scholarship. Many Wilson English and Communications majors are invited to complete these to earn Honors in the Major. Below are just a sampling of titles of recent theses completed in the department.

·    Tom Waits: A Revolutionary Poet in the Tradition of William Wordsworth Rachel Coldsmith, 2014

·    A Creative Exploration of New Wave Fabulism (Disert Award Winner) Casey Beidel, 2013

·    The Internet as a Contemporary Public Sphere: Democracy and Communication Laura Hans, 2013

·    “No Improper Vehicle:” Charlotte Smith and the Eighteenth Century Sonnet Revival Jess Domanico, 2011.

·    Chaucer’s Interruptions and Their Social Implications Meg Oldman, 2008

·    Dreaming with a Purpose:  Three Examinations of the Medieval Dream-Vision (Disert Award Winner) Elizabeth Clever, 2007

To learn more about College Honors, please visit the Department Chair.



What were the benefits of doing thesis work in the field?

Planning and writing a senior research project—my thesis—in the English department gave me the opportunity to experience scholarship beyond the classroom. Encouraged by the department’s faculty, I organized a long-term project on a literary period and genre of my choosing. Initially interested in the revival of the sonnet form in the late eighteenth century, I chose to narrow my interest and focus on Charlotte Turner Smith, a marginalized woman writer. Smith’s contributions to the sonnet revival influenced several canonical poets of the Romantic period, poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth. My project raised questions of gender, influence, and canonicity—all prevalent questions in today’s literary scholarship. From there I learned how to compile the necessary research, think critically about current scholarship and respond to it, overcome my own writing obstacles, and produce a significant body of work that would prepare me for graduate study in English. In the process, I discovered how exciting scholarship can be.

–Jess Domanico, BA ‘11