Prize Competitions

Recognizing Exceptional Writers

The Department of Literatures in English is host to many gifted student writers, both from the undergraduate and the graduate programs. Thanks to the generosity of more than a few Cornell alumni, annual prizes are awarded for outstanding work in poetry, fiction and critical writing. Please visit the 2020-21 Awardees List, to view names of previous winners.

Application Instructions

  • Applicant must be a currently registered Cornell student (in the case of the Guilford Prize current or former Cornell graduate students are eligible to apply, see below for details)
  • Submissions will be accepted in electronic form only
  • Manuscript lengths must adhere to the specifications described for each prize below.
    Creative Writing Prizes: Only one submission required. Submission will be considered for all available creative writing prizes. Multiple stories OR poems permitted per manuscript.
    Essay Prizes: One submission permitted per competition. You must submit a separate essay for each prize you wish to be considered for. One essay permitted per manuscript.
  • Applicant’s name SHOULD NOT APPEAR anywhere on the manuscript (committee review is anonymous)
  • Email the following information along with your manuscript to Chair’s Assistant Vicky Brevetti (vlb3@cornell.edu):
    -Name of prize(s) to which applicant is applying
    -Applicant’s full name
    -Applicant’s Cornell NetID 
    -Applicant’s student status (graduate or undergraduate)
    -Applicant’s year (e.g.: sophmore, junior, 2nd year PhD, etc.)
    -Applicant’s expected graduation date
    -Applicant’s college
    -Applicant’s major
    -Title of manuscript

Creative Writing Prizes

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 5 p.m., March 25

Corson-Browning Poetry Prize

  • Established 1902 by Cornell Professor Hiram Corson, professor of Anglo-Saxon literature and theorist of Robert Browning
  • Open to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Maximum length of entries:  10 pages

Robert Chasen Memorial Poetry Prize

  • Established in 1980 by Margaret Rosenzweig ’32, in his memory
  • Open to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Maximum length of entries: 10 pages

Dorothy Sugarman Poetry Prize

  • Established in 1978 by Hyman Yudewitz ’28
  • Open to undergraduate students
  • Maximum length of entries: 10

Arthur Lynn Andrews Award for Fiction

  • Established in 1965 by the late Harriet Cousens Andrews, in his memory
  • Open to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Awarded to the top entry from each group
  • Maximum length of entries: 10,000 words

The George Harmon Coxe Award in Creative Writing
(not available in 2022)

  • Established in 1951 by Mr. and Mrs. George H. Coxe in memory of their son who was a student at Cornell University
  • Awarded in odd years for the best entry in creative writing by a sophomore, junior, or senior. 
  • Maximum length of entries: Poetry: 10 pages/ Fiction: 10,000 words.

Essay Prizes

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 5 p.m., April 15

The Guilford Essay Prize

  • Established in 1988 in memory of J. P. Guilford ’21
  • Given to a doctoral student in any field whose thesis is judged to display the highest excellence in English prose
  • Students are encouraged to submit their own dissertations, and faculty members are invited to draw this opportunity to their attention.
  • Dissertations submitted for degrees during the calendar year in which the prize is awarded will be accepted as entries, as well as dissertations submitted for degrees conferred during the previous calendar year.
  • The copy submitted for this prize need not conform to Graduate School filing standards, but may instead follow the normal standards for term papers.
  • Maximum length of entries: none

The Moses Coit Tyler Essay Prize

  • Established in 1936 by William Austen in his honor
  • Awarded for the best essay by a graduate or undergraduate student in the field of American history, literature, or folklore
  • Maximum length of entries: 30-40 pages

The Barnes Shakespeare Essay Prize

  • Established in 1887 by Mrs. Alfred Smith Barnes in memory of Alfred Smith Barnes, founder of Barnes Hall
  • Awarded each year for the best essay on Shakespeare written by an undergraduate
  • Previous winners are not eligible and students may submit no more than one essay in any year
  • Maximum length of entries: 8,000 words

The George Harmon Coxe Award in American Literature

  • Established in 1951 by Mr. and Mrs. George H. Coxe in memory of their son who was a student at Cornell University.
  • Awarded in even years for the best entry in the study of American Literature by a sophomore, junior, or senior
  • Two prizes will be awarded
  • Maximum length of entries: none
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