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English Department Awards and Honors

We believe strongly in recognizing high achievement and honors-level work. Learn more about how we recognize the scholarly accomplishments of students in the English department.
One morning a week the English department holds a coffee hour in their Melinda and Jeff Fager '77 Student Lounge, here with Professor Jane Pinchin, Visiting O'Connor Professor Brian Hall (center), Professor Sarah Wider (third from right), and English majors. The lounge is always humming.

Earning Honors and High Honors

Students pursuing honors in English literature or English with an emphasis in creative writing take a course in the fall of their senior year and complete their honors projects as independent studies in the following spring term.  A degree with honors or high honors is granted on the basis of the quality of the completed project to students with a grade-point average of at least 3.5 over all courses taken in the department.  The privilege to work toward honors is granted at the discretion of individual faculty and typically involves a multi-step process.

To pursue honors in literature

  • enroll in ENGL 489, a one-quarter credit course in the fall of your senior year
  • select a topic; often the topic emerges from a paper written in a 300- or 400-level course
  • in the course of ENGL 489, write a formal prospectus and compile a preliminary reading list
  • with the help of the director of honors, secure the endorsement of the prospectus and the preliminary reading list by two members of the department’s faculty, who will guide your further research and supervise the writing of your honors essay
  • complete the writing of the essay as a full-credit independent study course in the spring of your senior year
  • present your completed work at an oral presentation scheduled during finals week

To pursue honors in English with an emphasis in creative writing

  • speak with a creative writing professor (Ames, Balakian, or Brice) in the spring of your junior year
  • in the fall of your senior year, enroll in ENGL 477 and, if you have not already done so, complete the required workshops for an emphasis in creative writing
  • in the spring of your senior year, refine some piece of work undertaken in ENGL 477 as a full-credit independent study course
  • present your completed work at an oral presentation scheduled during finals week

English Department Awards

The Allen Prizes in English Composition: Established by the Rev. Dr. George K. Allen, a member of the class of 1870, in memory of his wife, Hattie Boyd Allen — two prizes in English composition.

The Phillip K. Dorn Memorial Prize: Established in memory of Phillip K. Dorn by Norstar Trust Company. The award is given to a graduating senior English major who is distinguished in the study of English and who plans, on graduation, to pursue further professional training or begin a career in medicine, business, finance, or law. When possible, the award is given to a student with an interest in poetry.

The Jonathan H. Kistler Memorial Curricular Innovation Fund in English: Established in 1996 by Harry F. Lee ’57 to support and nurture new curricular and pedagogical ideas within the English department.

The Lasher Prize: Established as an award to a member of the junior class in recognition of outstanding talent.

The Lasher Prize for Distinction in English Composition: Established by the Rev. Dr. George W. Lasher, a member of the Class of 1857, and awarded for distinction in the various types of writing.

The Howard W. and Anne T. Pike Memorial Prize
: Established in 1993 by William R. and Gloria Pike in memory of Howard W. and Anne T. Pike. Awarded annually to a graduating senior for outstanding achievement and contribution to the University Theater Program.

The Scott Saunders Prize for Excellence in Literature: Established in memory of Scott Saunders ’89, and awarded annually to a senior major in English who participated in the Colgate English department study group to London, in recognition of work done in London which is distinguished in its own right or which contributed to the completion of a distinguished project.

Withdrawing from Honors

If you choose to withdraw from your pursuit of the honors and high honors designations, or if your written honors work is deemed insufficient for such a designation, then your enrollment in the ENGL 490 seminar is converted to ENGL 491, Independent Study, and you will receive a grade for the course from your thesis supervisor.