Despite late night hours, research and writer’s block, the time and effort poured into class papers and assignments is not always in vain.
The University Writing Program’s 20th annual Prized Writing Student Authors Event will present three winners from its 2007-2008 competition. The free event will be held today in 126 Voorhies at 4:30 p.m.
The event is also sponsored by local bestselling author John Lescroart and the UC Davis Bookstore. Winners – junior ethics and economics major Natalie Yahr, UCD alumnus James Keith and senior K.C. Cody – will lead a discussion and read selections from their essays, and a question-and-answer period is also planned for each author.
The Prized Writing competition is held every year, with three different deadlines in January, April and June. Though no specific subject is required, submissions must originate from class assignments.
“We get submissions from all over campus,” said Pamela Demory, a UWP lecturer who edited the competition. “People submit papers from history classes and anthropology classes, NPB classes, avian science classes … “
Twenty-three winners were selected from roughly 330 submissions, according to Demory. The winning pieces are each published in a collection sold at the UC Davis bookstore, and the authors are each awarded with a certificate and $200.
Judges primarily consisted of faculty members, many from the UWP department.
“When we’re reading this, the judges are trying to look at each one and think about how effective the paper is at what it’s trying to do,” Demory said. “Each piece should be a really excellent example of the genre.“
Yahr is one of the three winners that will present today. Her piece, entitled “My Beauty’s More Real Than Yours,” looks into the effects of Dove’s “Real Women” advertisement campaign. Yahr originally wrote her piece for a final assignment in a Feminist Cultural Studies class (AMS/WMS 139).
“I’ve observed that women who feel excluded from the ‘beautiful‘ group often dismiss the bodies of models and actresses as ‘not real,‘” Yahr said in an e-mail interview. “I thought that such an attitude increased animosity between women, and I wondered whether it was possible to consider these marginalized bodies real without considering the ‘perfect‘ bodies fake.”
Keith, who graduated in June 2008 with a major in classical civilization, profiled Davis Fencing Academy head coach Simon Pitfield.
“The sport itself is usually enough of an inspiration, but having a great Fencing Club at UCD definitely helped in giving me fertile ground,” Keith said.
UC Davis creative writing graduate student David Owen helped to organize the event. He and Demory hope that professors will use the collection of winning essays in future classes to provide “look at what good undergraduate writing looks like.“
“We want to encourage people to be creative with the kinds of questions they’re asking and [to] take risks, as far as delving into topics that aren’t necessarily the easy route to getting the paper done,” Owen said. “When you talk to the students who published, the thing they also have in common is that they were really taken with the subject matter of their [essays] and are really interested in it.“
JUSTIN T. HO can be reached at email@example.com.