John T. Dukes Prize in Composition Studies

The John T. Dukes Memorial Essay Prize in Composition honors the memory of John T. Dukes, father of a faculty member in the Department of English. John T. Dukes was an Army sergeant and barber who had always longed for higher education but was unable to pursue it due to profound dyslexia.


First Prize - $200

Second Prize - $100

Who can enter:

This prize will be awarded each year to an outstanding essay in composition studies written by a graduate student and chosen by a committee of English Department faculty members, selected by the Chair of the Department of English. The committee will select an essay that it deems outstanding, the most insightful, most theoretically and/or methodologically sound, and best written—in short, an essay that makes a significant contribution to the field of composition studies.


  • Essay must have been written during the spring, summer, or fall semester of the preceding calendar year.
  • All submissions must be typed, double-spaced in 12-point font.
  • All referenced sources should conform to MLA style.
  • Only one submission allowed per person.
  • No paper submitted to this contest may be submitted to another Department of English contest, nor will a paper submitted to another contest be accepted by this one.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submit three, non-returnable copies with a cover letter to Dr. Svehla's office mailbox, or email him the essay and cover letter as an attachment State in the email for what course, during what semester, and for what professor the essay was written.
  • Submissions must not exceed 25 pages.
  • The paper could be from any of the department’s courses, so long as it contributes to the field of composition studies.
  • The committee’s decision will be final.