The Department of Humanities’ annual undergraduate writing contest showcases the writing talents of current students from across the university. First, second, and third place awards are given in the categories of freshman essay, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Contest winners receive framed certificates and cash prizes, and are recognized during an awards ceremony and luncheon each spring. A book of the contest's winning entries is published by the department each fall.
Contest participation instructions and submission deadlines are posted to this site early each spring semester. Check back for more details.
Henry and Myrna Knepler Freshman Essay Prize
The prize for freshman essays honors the late Henry and Myrna Knepler, both former professors of English at Illinois Tech. Henry Knepler served as chair of the Department of Humanities for 16 years. Myrna Knepler was an alumna of Illinois Tech who received her doctorate in linguistics. The prize is funded by an endowment made by the Kneplers, both of whom were very committed to English as a Second Language instruction and to writing instruction.
Edwin H. Lewis Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction
The prizes for fiction and nonfiction are named for Edwin H. Lewis, an English Professor at Lewis Institute, one of the forerunners of Illinois Tech, from 1895 until 1936. Among other classes, Lewis taught Shakespeare, and apparently looked somewhat like him, too. It is said that students would come to campus just for his lectures, often without even being enrolled.
Mollie S. Cohen Prize for Poetry
The poetry prize was established in 1965 by Illinois Tech English professor Mollie S. Cohen as she was retiring. Cohen was a native Chicagoan and attended Lewis Institute before doing graduate work at the University of Chicago and at Sorbonne in Paris. During her time as a professor at Illinois Tech, she worked closely with women students and international students.