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Marco Institute Undergraduate Essay Prizes

$200 – Keith Taylor Essay Prize for First Place

$100 – Marco Essay Prize for Honorable Mention

The Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at UTK welcomes undergraduate essays on any topics pertaining to the period from 300 to 1700 C.E. for its annual undergraduate essay contest. The contest is open to any current UTK undergraduate student. Essays must derive from a course (including independent study) in a Marco affiliated department taken in Spring 2018 or during the 2018-2019 academic year. Marco affiliated departments include: Architecture, Art, Classics, English, History, Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies. Honors theses will not be accepted. Only one paper may be submitted in a given year.

Application Information:

DEADLINE: Friday, 12 April 2019

Submissions should be sent as email attachments (pdf or Word doc files) to Papers should be between 6-20 double-spaced pages, not including title page and endnotes/bibliography. Students will be responsible for including a title page that provides the following information in the order below. Essays without this title page and information will not be considered.

  • Name, major, and class standing (first-year, sophomore, etc.)
  • Title of paper
  • Title of course for which the paper was written and instructor
  • E-mail address
  • Preferred mailing address for Summer 2019
  • An honor statement with name typed next to it: “An essential feature of the University of Tennessee is a commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of intellectual integrity and academic honesty. As a student of the university, I pledge that I have not knowingly received any inappropriate assistance in preparing this paper, thus affirming my own personal commitment
    to honor and integrity.”

Papers will be evaluated based on the following criteria: scholarly significance, quality of research, clarity of argument, creativity and independence of thought, and effectiveness of writing style. Winners will be announced before the end of Spring semester classes.

Contact with questions.

Past Recipients:


  • McClayne Thomas (English Literature) received first place for his essay, “Hamlet: The Anti-Pro-Theatricalist”
  • Alanna Heatherly (Classics, History, MRST) received honorable mention for her essay, “Bellum Spirituale, Glorified War in Waltharius, and the Bloody Frankish Civil War”
  • Mia Otting (English Literature) received honorable mention for her essay, “The Effects of Love as a Wound in Margery Kempe’s Book of Margery Kempe, Marie de France’s “Guigemar,” and Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam


  • Courtney Whited (English) received first place for her essay “‘Whereat fair Proserpine began to smile’: Bel-Imperia as the Mortal Equivalent of Proserpine in The Spanish Tragedy,” written for English 398, “Hamlet 24/7,” with Professor Heather Hirschfeld.
  • Joseph McCluney (History) received honorable mention for his essay “The Creation of Early Christian Identity in the Catacombs of Rome,” written for History 499, “Christianity in Early Antiquity,” with Professor Jacob Latham.


Not offered


  • Allison Gose, a senior majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Religious Studies, won first prize for her essay “Spiritual Eroticism and the Nature of the Soul,” written for Religious Studies 423 with Professor Tina Shepardson.
  • Hannah Overton, a junior majoring in English, won second prize for her essay “Clothing vs. Genitalia: The Flux of Gender,” written for English 405 with Dr. Samantha Murphy.