Contests & Awards

The English Departments administers writing contests to recognize fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry works by English majors and non-major undergraduates.

Award Categories

Fiction:

The department offers two awards in the fiction category. The Anne Flexner Memorial Award for Creative Writing was established by the family and friends of Anne Flexner, who graduated from Duke in 1945. There are two prizes: one for fiction and one for poetry. The Reynolds Price Fiction Award was established in memory of the distinguished novelist, essayist, story-writer, poet and public intellectual, Reynolds Price, who was a graduate of Duke and taught in the English Department for over 50 years.

  • Contest is open to all Duke Undergraduates.
  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced; 5,000 word limit.
  • The English Department's Creative Writing Committee will judge the manuscripts.

Creative Nonfiction:

The Lucaci Award for Creative Nonfiction is funded by the Lucaci Endowment.  It was established to encourage creative nonfiction writing and to honor George P. Lucaci, a former Duke student, who has been an active supporter of undergraduate creative writing in the English Department for many years.  

  • Contest is open to all Duke Undergraduates.
  • Submissions should be double-spaced; 5,000 word limit.
  • This should NOT be a critical essay, but creative nonfiction: nonfiction prose designed primarily to provide an aesthetic, emotional, and/or intellectual experience for the reader rather than to convey information or advance an argument.
  • The English Department's Creative Writing Committee will judge the creative nonfiction submissions.

Poetry:

The departments offers three prizes to recognize a poem or group of poems: the Anne Flexner Memorial Award for Creative Writing (Poetry), the Academy of American Poets Prize, and the Terry Welby Jr. Award for Creative Writing. The Terry Welby Tyer, Jr. Award for Creative Writing: This award was established family of Terry Welby Tyler, Jr., who would have graduated with the class of 1997, to recognize and honor outstanding undergraduate poetry.

  • Contest is open to all Duke Undergraduates.
  • Poems may be single or double spaced; 200 line limit (may be one poem or a group of poems).
  • The English Department's Creative Writing Committee will judge poems the poem submissions.

Deadline: Friday, March 24, 2017


It is important that you submit your entry to the correct Creative Writing Contest email and that your SUBJECT LINE includes the title of your work.

Include the following on a cover page:

  • your name and class year
  • title of the entry (untitled entries will not be considered.) 
  • genre: either fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry
  • Submit your manuscript or poem(s) via the link above as a WORD document. The manuscript or poem(s) must contain a title (entries will be judged anonymously).

Please note:

  • Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Entries MUST be titled. (untitled entries will not be considered.)
  • Entries must be marked "fiction" OR "poetry" OR "creative nonfiction."  Students may submit entries for all three genres, but these must be entirely different entries.
  • The same work by the same author may not win multiple contests. However, different works by the same author are eligible to win different awards.
  • Submission of any entry grants the English Department permission to reprint and distribute that work (credited to you) in the event that it wins a prize.

The critical essay competition is open for essays written by any Duke undergraduate enrolled in an English department course.  Submissions must be critical nonfiction essays produced for the class (current academic year) in which the student is (was) enrolled.  Essays must be submitted by email at the link provided below and must include the title of the essay in the Subject Line of the email.

  • Students may submit more than one essay to the competition, but the same author may not win multiple places within this contest.
  • Essays should conform to the Modern Language Association documentation style; 5,000 word limit (about 20 pages)
  • Essays will be judged by the Director of Undergraduate Studies' Advisory Committee.

 Please note:

  • Submissions will not be accepted with incomplete information.
  • Submissions will not be accepted after the deadline.
  • Submissions without titles will not be considered.

Include the following on a cover page:

  • your name and year

  • the title of the entry (Submissions may not be untitled.) 
  • the course number and instructor for whom the essay was written,
  • the semester and year of the course.
  • Attach your manuscript document. The manuscript itself must have its title.

Deadline: Friday, March 24, 2017

 

Scholarships for Creative Writing Students

Awarded each spring semester by the Creative Writing Committee to undergraduate students for work done in one or more creative writing courses.  Nominations are made by English faculty.  Students must be eligible for financial aid to receive these scholarships.

  • William M. Blackburn Scholarship: Recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of creative writing.  Established in 1962 by students and friends of Professor William Blackburn (1899-1969) who first began teaching creative writing at Duke.
  • Francis Pemberton Scholarship: Awarded to a junior or senior pursuing the study of creative writing.  This scholarship was created by the Trustees of The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in memory and in honor of Francis Pemberton's service to the Biddle Foundation.
  • Margaret Rose Knight Sanford Scholarship: Awarded to a female student who demonstrates particular promise in creative writing.  This scholarship was established in recognition of the untiring efforts of Margaret Rose Knight Sanford on behalf of Duke University.

Awards for English Students

Awarded each spring semester by the English Department to undergraduate students for work done in one or more courses.  Nominations are made by English faculty.  For more information, contact Michelle Dove.

  • Stanley E. Fish Award for Outstanding Work in British Literature: This award recognizes outstanding work by an undergraduate enrolled in an English course in British Literature.
  • Barbara Herrnstein Smith Award for Outstanding Work in Literary Theory or Criticism:  This award recognizes outstanding work by an undergraduate enrolled in an English course in literary theory or criticism.
  • Louis J. Budd Award for Outstanding Work in American Literature: This award recognizes outstanding work by an undergraduate enrolled in an English course in American Literature.
  • Award for Most Original Honors Thesis: This award recognizes a senior student for writing the most original honors thesis.

Non-Departmental Awards

  • The Reynolds Price Award for Scriptwriting was created in 1991. This award is presented annually by the Department of Theater Studies to a Duke undergraduate for the best original script for stage, screen, or television.
  • The Edward H. Benenson Awards in the Arts (undergraduate projects in art, music, drama, dance, creative writing and film/video ) and the Dannenberg Awards (for undeclared students doing ongoing extracurricular research or other academic projects in collaboration with a faculty member), as well as other opportunities: see the Undergraduate Research Support Office