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Eagle Award for First-Year Writers

The Emory Writing Program awards one winner a $400 Prize and a runner up a $100 Prize for the best work in an Emory First-Year Writing course! The judges' panel is comprised of Faculty on both Atlanta and Oxford campuses. Up to four runners-up will also be selected and recognized with smaller cash awards. All awardees will be introduced at the English and Creative Writing Departments’ annual Awards Night.

Any major project composed in ENG 101, CPLT 101, or OX 185 and OX 186 is eligible. EWP and Oxford instructors may enter two projects per section taught. Eagle-recognized projects are posted here and we hope they will be featured for use as exemplary compositions in Atlanta and Oxford classrooms.

Submissions open in December, and the deadline for entries is early January.

Contact Eagle Award coordinator Daniel Bosch ( for further information. Happy reading and better writing!

2021 Eagle Awards

  • Eagle Co-Winners: Lexy Campbell (Atlanta campus) for the essay and multimodal remix of: “Camouflage.”
    • Professor Melissa Yang on Lexy Campbell’s “Camouflage”:


      For her final paper in my “Composing Natural Wonders” course, Lexy was asked to compose an essay about the multiple meanings of an environmental keyword, and then to remix the essay into multimodal form. Lexy’s “Camouflage” project surpassed the expectations of the assignment.

      Lexy writes about camouflage as concealment on several levels: from peppered moths evolving pigmented specks to blend into a sooty post-industrial environment—to its definition of “misleading someone or disguising from the truth” (OED). She comments here on fake news and on politicians disguising the harm of climate catastrophe to create a false sense of security. Her remix is a collaged moth, alluding both to the moths in her paper and in our course materials, where we studied essays on the deaths of moths from Annie Dillard and Virginia Woolf, juxtaposed with Stan Brakhage’s “Mothlight” film.

      Lexy asks us to: “Please take time to examine the detail within the moth: the symbols present, the colors, the word[s] and statements...," and examining the recycled newsprint, collaged leaves, sources, and definitions, you'll find an impressive project demonstrating a journey of learning and making compelling connections between a chosen keyword and the larger world.

  • Eagle Co-Winners: Muriel Statman (Atlanta campus), for the essay "Disparate Dignities: Images of the Dead."
    • Professor Daniel Bosch on Muriel Statman's essay:

      In undergraduate writing, it is often the case that the strong presence any single virtue mitigates the strength of second or a third. But in Muriel Statman’s essay, you will find writing that is lucid, or thorough, and brave, all at once. She has seen the visual evidence and she possesses the vocabulary and syntactical sophistication to describe it well. She has fully digested what her elders have argued and understood where she stands in that discourse. And though she grants the power of some uses of images of the dead, including the famously praised audacity and political savvy of Mamie Till, she cleaves to a guiding datum—the pervasive translocal and transhistorical inequities fostered by images of dead black and brown bodies—in order to argue that such images should be banned. Muriel’s position may be disagreed with, but it may not be disregarded.
  • Honorable Mention:Benjamin Archer (Oxford campus), for the autoethnography "Real Men Wear Pink: An Autoethnography of a Gay Athlete."
    • Professor Gwendolynne Reid on Benjamin Archer's autoethnography:

      In his autoethnography “Real Men Wear Pink,” Ben examines the relationships between sexual orientation, gender identity, and athletic development, focusing on the conflicts and struggles young gay athletes face related to identity formation and coming out. Specifically, Ben focuses on the institutionalized homophobia and toxic masculinity common to many male sports and how these interact with a young male athlete’s developing sense of self and sexuality. Ben’s autoethnography is brave and honest. His narrative passages are evocative and feel integral to his inquiry and the insights he develops. Ben shows an excellent ability to synthesize research and draws on theoretical concepts he learned in other classes to deepen the work he does here. For fellow students, Ben’s piece is an excellent model of a writer who uses his writing to integrate his experiences and knowledge across multiple learning contexts in a way that is personal meaningful as well as deeply moving to readers. 
  • Honorable Mention: Anji Ni (Oxford campus), for the autoethnography "Personality Changes of Bilinguals in a Second Language."
    • Professor Gwendolynne Reid on Anji Ni's autoethnography:

      In his autoethnography, Anji draws on his experiences with bilingualism to examine the question of how language may impact personality and behavior, exploring the common experience among bilinguals that they have different personalities in each language. Anji shows rhetorical versatility in weaving together narrative thick description of experiences that took place in Mandarin, in English, and in both languages with social science research on language and personality focusing on themes around the emotional force of languages, the cognitive pathways we develop for our languages, and the sociocultural norms associated with language learning. Anji’s autoethnography demonstrates sophisticated rhetorical awareness, integrating Mandarin words and phrases in a way that is meaningful for both English-speaking and bilingual Chinese-English readers. He also shows sophistication in his thinking about autoethnography as both a method and genre, using it to generate insightful contributions to the research conversation on this question.  

2020 Eagle Awards

  • Eagle Winner: Trinity Tunstall (Atlanta campus) for the autoethnography in comic form: "Learning Language: Literacy Narrative."

  • Runner Up: Kelly Martinez (Atlanta campus), for the Op-Ed article "Why Elite Public High Schools Fail: Words From Outside Stuyvesant."
    • Instructor Kelly Duquette on Kelly Martinez's writing:

      Kelly’s op-ed contributes a necessary perspective to ongoing conversations about elite institutions and how they can better support high-performing students from underrepresented communities.  Her prose strikes a perfect balance between personal narrative and journalistic style, and the essay’s attention to detail and interdisciplinary research illustrates her unique insight.  Kelly’s op-ed answers the call to action, “nothing about us without us,” and readers interested in educational equality and serving the “whole student” can learn a great deal from this essay.
  • Runner Up: Faith Ford (Oxford campus), for the autoethnography "Cultural Imposter Syndrome"
    • Professor Gwendolynne Reid on Faith Ford’s autoethnography:

      Faith’s authoethography engages deeply with her personal experience as a Haitian American, moving seamlessly between evocative narrative thick description of her personal experiences and analytical passages that engage with the social science literature on imposter syndrome. By weaving these together, Faith not only deepens insight into her experiences, but also engages critically with the relationships between identity, language, culture, and family. Her account is moving and thought provoking, leaving readers with a deeper understanding of the challenges of being bicultural. As a writer, Faith demonstrates a clear and nuanced understanding of her genre and uses a range of linguistic resources to achieve her purpose. As a student, Faith models the ability to take ownership of a writing assignment to make the experience personally meaningful while engaging with a research purpose. 

  • Honorable Mention: Aayra Aamer (Atlanta campus), for the critical lens essay "Documenting the Truth: History Through a Lens."

  • Honorable Mention: Katie Balderson (Oxford campus), for the comparison essay "The Rhetoric of Glacial Melting: Scientific Literature Versus Popular Science."
    • Professor Gwendolynne Reid on Katie Balderson’s rhetorical analysis:

      Katie's rhetorical analysis of the science documentary Greenland Melting (360⁰) pays special attention to how the film engages the public with climate science, using Jeanne Fahnestock’s "Accommodating Science: The Rhetorical Life of Scientific Facts" to lend specificity to her analysis and situate it in a research conversation. While Fahnestock’s analysis focused on print-based popularizations of science in newspapers and magazines, Katie was able to connect her analysis of typical moves used in such popularizations to a multimodal text: a documentary. Katie integrates and analyzes evidence from the documentary with care and insight, building on Fahnestock’s findings to show that, at least on the subject of climate science, contemporary popular science documentaries do not restrict themselves to epideictic rhetoric, but also incorporate elements of forensic and deliberative rhetoric. While Katie’s analysis is thought-provoking and well-supported, I was most impressed by her nuanced rhetorical insights and how she deployed the rhetorical vocabulary from the course. 

2019 Eagle Awards

  • Eagle Winner: Kate Appel (2022), for the essay: "Defining Patti Smith as Punk

    • Instructor Joseph Fritsch on Kate Appel’s Eagle Award Winning essay:

      In her photo essay, “Defining Patti Smith as Punk,” Kate Appel uses a series of provocative photos to investigate the significance of cultural icon, Patti Smith. From the beginning, her essay establishes its tone by relating the historical circumstances behind an iconic album cover before it introduces a quotation from Smith. The ability to shift gracefully between narrative, analysis, and argumentation stands as a hallmark of this essay’s accomplishment.

      The essay does not shy away from punk’s discursive elusiveness. Rather than flattening the term’s complexity, it emphasizes the viewer’s active responsibility in determining a photograph’s significance—even if this means directly contradicting Patti Smith’s own words. This bold self-assurance aids the author equally in her treatment of fashion as well as in her thoughtful remarks about gender representation. The sources and materials that she uses in her essay showcase her ability to plan carefully and compose an essay that makes the most of its media.

      “Defining Patti Smith as Punk” is an informative and entertaining read. It draws out compelling details from its source materials and effectively argues their importance. Whether or not the reader cares for punk fashion or Patti Smith, this essay coaxes its reader into a deeper engagement with its subject matter, raising awareness and appreciation in the process.        

  • Runner Up: Will Johnson (2022), for the essay: "Coping With Reality in Never Let Me Go: Narrative, Memory, and Art." 

    • Instructor Patrick Herald on Will Johnson’s essay:

      Will's essay is a sophisticated interpretation of the role of art in Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go.  In it, he deploys ideas from multiple fields: literary criticism focused on the novel, an advisory text aimed at medical practitioners, and--most prominently--theoretical writing from Walter Benjamin, which serves as a lens through which Will reads the novel. Throughout, Will artfully integrates quotations into his sentences, just as he integrates and synthesizes the work of disparate thinkers to inform his textual analysis. I am ecstatic to see Will's impressive writing recognized.

  • Runner Up: Ann Sinsuan (2022), for the multimodal literacy narrative: "A Key Experience: I think I have a story to tell." 

    • Instructor David Morgen on Ann Sinsuan’s multimodal literacy narrative:

      Ann Sinsuan’s comics literacy narrative is beautiful and playful. Ann incorporated methods from Scott McCloud and from other comics texts we read throughout the semester to tell her own story, substantially re-imagining a text-only first draft of her literacy narrative. In the process, she came to understand that she is an extremely visual learner and explored a creative side of her history that she had allowed to fall away.

  • Runner Up: Sarah Swiderski (2022), for the multimodal literacy narrative: "The Utilization of Comics to Establish Fluidity in Emotional Development." 

    • Instructor David Morgen on Sarah Swiderski’s multimodal composition:

      Sarah’s essay is a comparison of two primary texts, David Small’s Stitches and Tillie Walden’s Spinning, through a complex lens text by Hillary Chute -- which is a fairly dense academic essay on the genre that did not address the two primary texts under consideration here. She shows a sophisticated understanding of the primary texts and effectively employs them to question some of Chute's claims.