Graduate Student Essay Awards

(Submission Period: December 15 - February 1)


The awards comprise 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.  They should not have been published at time of submission.

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 [email protected] or by phone at (630) 571-4520.

2019 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. Winner: Adam Szetela for “An (Anti)Neoliberal Christmas”, sponsored by Angela E. Hubler (Kansas State University)

Ph.D. Honor: Minjin Park for "The Passage to Body in Story: A Cognitive Approach to the Formal Aspects of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book", sponsored by Claudia Nelson (Texas A&M University)

Ph.D. Honor: Corinne Matthews for “Contraception, Consent, and Community in Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Trilogy”, sponsored by Kenneth B. Kidd (University of Florida)

MA Winner: Gema Ludisaca for "Bumps in the Night and The Dark: How Fear can Promote Agency in Children’s Picture Books", sponsored by Jackie Stallcup (California State University)

MA Honor: Molly Burt for "“Perfectly Normal, Thank You Very Much”: An Examination of Dichotomous Hybridity as a Tool in Harry Potter", sponsored by Karin Westman (Kansas State University)

MA Honor: Kathryn Hampshire for “The Spaces Between Us: Magic, Myth, and Memory in Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap”, sponsored by Megan Musgrave (IUPUI)

2018 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. Winner: Elsa Hardy for “"Illustrating Incarceration: Visual Representations of the State in Children’s Literature on Familial Incarceration", sponsored by Robin Bernstein (Harvard University)

Ph.D. Honor award: Lettycia Terrones for “"Pedagogies of the Home in the Art and Narrative of Chicanx Picturebooks", sponsored by Elizabeth M. Hoiem (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

MA Winner: Mandy Moore for “Her Dark Materials: Milton, Pullman, Fanfiction, and the Anxiety of Author(ity)”, sponsored by Naomi J. Wood (Kansas State University) 

MA Honor award: Sophia Martinez for “Cosmopolitan Masculinity and Empire as Child’s Play in Treasure Island”, sponsored by Claudia Nelson (Texas A&M University) 

2017 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. Winner: Amanda Greenwell for “Jessie Willcox Smith's Critique of Teleological Girlhood in The Seven Ages of Childhood," sponsored by Victoria Ford Smith (University of Connecticut).

Ph.D. Honor award: James Joshua Coleman for “From Penguin Parents to Sissy Ducklings: Challenging the Homonormative Future of 21st Century LGBT-themed Picture Books,” sponsored by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (University of Pennsylvania).

MA Winner: Jessica Followell for “Miracle Cures and Moral Lessons: Victorian Legacies in Contemporary Representations of Children with Disabilities," sponsored by Elizabeth Hoiem (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

2016 Graduate Student Essay Award Winners
Ph.D. 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. 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).

MA 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).

MA 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. Winner: Clare Echterling for "Individualism, Environmentalism, and the Pastoral in the Children's Biographies of Wangari Maathai," sponsored by Giselle Anatol (The University of Kansas).

MA Winner: 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).

MA 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. Winner: 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).

MA Winner: 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).

MA Winner: 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. Winner: 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. Winner: 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).

MA Winner: 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. Winner: Amanda Phillips Chapman for "The Riddle of Peter Pan’s Existence: An Unselfconscious Stage Child," sponsored by Marah Gubar (University of Pittsburgh).

MA Winner: 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. Winner: Pamela Swanigan for ""Much the Same on the Other Side"": The Boondocks and the Symbolic Frontier," sponsored by Kate Capshaw Smith (University of Connecticut).

MA Winner: Sandra Beals for "Look Who's Talking: Ideology and Narrative in S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders," sponsored by Annette Wannamaker (Eastern Michigan University).

MA Honor award: Jennifer Taylor for "Christian Tropes in Bridge to Terabithia," sponsored by Amanda Cockrell (Hollins University).