Spectator Essay Competition

Society of Early Americanists: Annual Essay Competition, 2016-2017
  • a check for $100
  • a certificate
  • immortality
Why choose?

The Society of Early Americanists is pleased to announce our Nineteenth Annual Essay Competition.

If you have presented a paper on an Americanist topic, broadly conceived, during the academic year 2016-2017 at the Society of Early Americanists tenth biennial Conference, Tulsa, March 2-4, 2017; or at an American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conference 2016-2017, including the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Minneapolis, March 30-April 2, 2017, or that of any ASECS affiliate conferences, we invite you to enter.

By Americanist topic, broadly conceived we mean that the competition is open to papers that address America in terms of both the long and the wide (i.e., circum-Atlantic) eighteenth century. Our panel of judges will see each entry through a simple system of blind reviewing; your name goes only on a separate cover sheet, and we recommend that you rework any self-citation, either in the body or in notes, to the third person. Note that we accept revised papers and that the maximum length for an entry is 6,000 words.


Papers should be double-spaced, 6,000 words maximum, with the following information appearing only on the cover sheet: your name; institutional mailing address and e-mail address; panel title; chair’s name; date of presentation; and name of conference.

Please send your essay as an email attachment to Professor Steven Thomas at: SEAEssayContest@gmail.com

Deadline: Friday, October 6, 2017 (this deadline has passed)

Please let me know if there are any questions. Thank you for your submissions!

Dr. Steven W. Thomas, Associate Professor
Society of Early Americanists Essay Contest Committee Chair, 2016-2018
Department of English, Wagner College


SEA Essay Awards to date:
Nineteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2018, at the SEA Special Topics Conference, “Religion and Politics in Early America,” in St. Louis, Missouri:

Caroline Wigginton
University of Mississippi
The Indigenous Terrain of Early American Book History in the Upper Mississippi Valley

Eighteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2017, at the SEA 10th Biennial Conference in Tulsa:

Mairin Odle
University of Alabama
‘Pownced, Pricked, or Paynted’: Tattoos and Indigenous Literacies

Seventeenth Annual Essay Prize, presented 2016:

Jillian Sayre
Rutgers University-Camden
Significant Otherness: Companionability in American Frontier Narratives

Sixteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented 2015:

Steven W. Thomas
Wagner College
The Circum-Atlantic Surrogation of Ethiopia in the London Public Sphere

Fifteenth Annual Essay Prize, awarded 2014, presented June 2015, at the SEA 9th Biennial Conference in Chicago:

Sari Altschuler
University of South Florida
Ain’t One Limb Enough? Historicizing Disability in the American Novel

Fourteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented February 2013, at the SEA 8th Biennial Conference in Savannah:

Glenda Goodman
New York University
The Economy of Accomplishment: Aesthetics and Labor in Women’s Musical Lives

Thirteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2012, at the ASECS Conference in San Antonio:

Jennifer Heil
Emory University
Imperial Pedagogy: Susanna Rowson’s Columbus for Young Ladies

Twelfth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2011, at the SEA 7th Biennial Conference in Philadelphia:

Kelly Wisecup
University of North Texas
Invisible Bullets and the Literary Forms of Colonial Promotion

Eleventh Annual Essay Prize, presented March 19, 2010, at the ASECS Conference in Albuquerque:

Duncan Faherty
Queens College & the CUNY Graduate Center
‘Daily and nightly disgorged upon our shores’: Revolution, Rumor, & Serial Unrest in the Early Republic

Tenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 5, 2009, at the SEA 6th Biennial Conference in Bermuda:

Cristobal Silva
Florida State University
Appropriating Epidemiology: Tisquantum and the Etiology of Buried Plague

Ninth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2008, at the ASECS Conference in Portland:

Bryan Waterman
New York University
Elizabeth Whitman’s Disappearance and Disappointment

Eighth Annual Essay Prize, presented June 7, 2007, at the SEA 5th Biennial Conference in Williamsburg:

Martin Brückner
University of Delaware
The Public Life of Maps in Eighteenth-Century British America

Seventh Annual Essay Prize, presented April 1, 2006, at the Montréal ASECS:

Anna Mae Duane
University of Connecticut
Pregnancy and the New Birth in Charlotte Temple and The Coquette

Sixth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 31, 2005, at the SEA 4th Biennial Conference in Alexandria:

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon
Yale University
Republican Theatricality and Transatlantic Empire

Fifth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 27, 2004, at the Boston ASECS:

Brycchan Carey
Kingston University
‘Accounts of Savage Nations’: The Spectator and the Americas

Fourth Annual Essay Prize, presented April 10, 2003, at the SEA 3rd Biennial Conference in Providence:

Vincent Carretta
University of Maryland
Who Was Francis Williams?

Third Annual Essay Prize, presented April 5, 2002, at the Colorado Springs ASECS:

Laura M. Stevens
University of Tulsa
The Anglican Quest for Compassion: American Indians and English Deists in the Sermons of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

Second Annual Essay Prize, presented April 20, 2001, at the New Orleans ASECS:

Michael Zuckerman
University of Pennsylvania
Some Asiatic Prince: Pride, Patriarchy, and the Problem of Generational Succession
in the Early South

First Annual Essay Prize, presented April 14, 2000, at the Philadelphia ASECS:

Eric Slauter
Stanford University
Manners and Taste in the Making of the Constitution


Image Credit: Phillis Wheatley (ca. 1753-1784), Scipio Moorhead, “Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston,” Frontispiece engraving to Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: Printed for A. Bell, 1773). American Treasures of the Library of Congress

Terms and Conditions for The John Murray Prize

Those interested in entering should visit the main page here.

  1. The prize for this competition is an opportunity to have a book published by John Murray Press (“JMP”), an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton Limited (“Hodder”) with an advance of £20,000. The Winner will also receive at least two hours of mentoring and the Winner’s essay will be published in The Spectator.
  2. Entrants to the competition are required to submit: (1) a previously unpublished non-fiction essay of no more than 4000 words on the theme of origin and; (2) a separate outline of no more than 1000 words on how this essay could become a full length book. The essay and outline must be in English and must be double spaced.
  3. The entries will be judged on originality of the idea, how well it fits the theme, the quality of the writing and the potential to be worked into a full length work.
  4. A shortlist of up to ten essays (the “Shortlisted Essays”) will be chosen from entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. The entrants who submitted the Shortlisted Essays (the “Shortlisted Entrants”) will each: (1) have their essay published by JMP as part of an anthology (with a flat fee of £100 for each essay to be paid, subject to agreement of terms and signature of the publishing contract); (2) have extracts from their entries and their names included in JMP’s social media campaigns in October 2018; and (3) receive a selection of four books published by JMP. In the event that the terms for publication of any Shortlisted Essay are not agreed, a replacement essay may be selected to be published in the anthology.
  5. The winning essay will be chosen from the Shortlisted Essays by a panel of five judges comprising Andrea Wulf (author of The Invention of Nature), Sumit Paul-Choudury (editor in chief of New Scientist), Amanda Vickery (professor of history at Queen Mary), Sam Leith (literary editor of The Spectator) and Stig Abell (editor of the Times Literary Supplement) (together the “Judges”). The Judges’ decision is final.
  6. The winning essay will be published in The Spectator online and in print on a date to be confirmed.
  7. The entrant who submitted the winning essay (the “Winner”) will, once they sign the contract referred to in Paragraph 8 below: (1) receive two hours of mentoring with Georgina Laycock, Non-Fiction Publisher at JMP (or a suitable alternative at JMP) to take place within twelve months of the Winner being announced and (2) receive an invitation to JMP’s birthday party. The times and dates of the mentoring to be agreed. The prize does not include any travel or other expenses in connection with the mentoring or birthday party and there is no cash alternative if the Winner is unable to take up the opportunity of mentoring or attending the party or does not sign the contract referred to in Paragraph 8.
  8. The Winner will be offered a publishing contract, such contract to be agreed between the Winner and Hodder. The contract will set out the terms and conditions relating to publication of the book including but not limited to the advance of £20,000 to be paid against royalties, the royalty percentages, details of the rights to be granted and other provisions relating to delivery and production of the book. The Winner will be required to grant all rights in all languages throughout the world.   In the event that no agreement is reached between the Winner and Hodder, Hodder will be at liberty to consider and select another of the Shortlisted Essays for publication as a book and if the entrant of that Shortlisted Essay reaches agreement on the contract, then they will be entitled to the mentoring referred to in Paragraph 7 above. The original winner may not in such a case refer to themselves as the winner of this competition.
  9. Hodder reserves the right to not select any Winner from the Shortlisted Essays if a suitable entry that meets all the criteria and accords with these Terms and Conditions cannot be found.
  10. By entering this competition the entrant undertakes and warrants that the Essay has not been previously published, is their own original work and will not infringe the intellectual property rights of anyone. If a third party’s material is used, such as lyrics of a song, the entrant will secure the necessary permission and will provide it to Hodder on request. The entrant further warrants that the work will not contain any material which is defamatory, private or confidential or which is unlawful in any way. Any entry in breach of this clause will be disqualified from being considered for the shortlist or by the Judges
  11. Entries must be submitted by email to jmprize@johnmurrays.co.uk. Entries may only be submitted between 12:01am GMT on 2nd January 2018 and 11.59pm BST on 1st May 2018. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates and any entries that do not meet the requirements of these Terms and Conditions will not be eligible for entry to the competition.
  12. The names of the Winner and the Shortlisted Entrants will be announced by 31st October 2018. They will be informed via email. Their names may also be publicised on websites, in other media and on social media sites.
  13. Entrants must be aged 18 or over and must not have had any full length book published previously in any format (except for self-published works). The competition is not open to employees of John Murray Press, Hachette UK Limited or The Spectator Limited, their families, or to anyone professionally connected to the competition or to the Judges either themselves or through their families.
  14. An entrant may only submit one entry. Further entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
  15. Hodder is not responsible for contacting or responding to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries that are lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
  16. Hodder reserves the right to cancel the competition and to alter the details of the prizes or judging panels without notice.   No cash alternative or other alternatives to the prize will be provided.
  17. The names and email addresses of entrants will be collected by Hodder and will be used in accordance with its privacy policy which can be found here

https://www.hodder.co.uk/information/privacy.page and here


The Shortlisted Entrants will be asked to provide their postal addresses in order that they may be sent the books referred to above. Their names and addresses will be shared with Hodder’s distributor so that their prize may be sent to them and will be deleted after the later of posting the books or once the Winner or another Shortlisted Entrant signs the contract referred to above or once it is determined that there will not be a Winner.

  1. No purchase is necessary to enter the competition.
  2. By entering the competition, each entrant agrees to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
  3. These Terms and Conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these Terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.
  4. This competition is being organised by Hodder & Stoughton Limited, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DZ.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *