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Burke Prize in Rhetoric

The annual Kenneth Burke Prize in Rhetoric, awarded to the best essay written by a graduate student in one of Penn State’s liberal arts disciplines on the subject of rhetoric in its many forms—as historical, critical, or theoretical discourse.

Papers might address pedagogical methods or issues; offer textual criticism (“rhetorical analysis”) of significant documents; offer theoretical or historical insights on items in the rhetorical tradition; discuss rhetoric as an organizing principle for English, Communication Studies, the liberal arts or the contemporary university; or consider rhetoric in relation to African-American studies, cultural materialist critiques, feminism, post-colonial criticism, science and technology, etc. Papers written for seminars or conferences, or composed specifically for the Burke Prize, are all welcome.

The essays, which should have been composed for the most part during the calendar year, will be judged on the basis of their scholarship, significance, and rhetorical artistry. A $500 prize will be awarded to the winning graduate student.

Application Process

Please do not submit essays previously submitted for the prize. Submissions should consist entirely of unpublished work.

Submissions should consist of two separate electronic files: a title page with theauthor’s name and contact information and a manuscript free of identifying author information.

Graduate students should submit their essays electronically to David Randolph, Administrative Assistant for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy:

Past Recipients

2018: Emily N. Smith, Department of English, "'One Shot' Harris and the Pittsburgh Courier: Photojournalism and Community Historiography."

2017: Gregory Coles, Department of English, "The Exorcism of Language: Reclaimed Derogatory Terms and Their Limits."

2016: Dominic Manthey, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, "Remembering Indigenous Education: The 'Save Old Main' Movement"

2015: Jeremy Cox, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, "'They Died the Spartan’s Death': Historical Allusion, The Alamo, and Tropes of Public Memory"

2014: William O. Saas, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, "Money as Corporate Speech: Re-ReadingCitizens United through Heterodox Money Theory"

2013: Laura Michael Brown, Department of English, "Silent Protest: Bennett College Women and the 1960 Greensboro Student Sit-ins"

2012: Sarah Kornfield, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, "The E-man-ci-pation of Jeannie: Feminist Doppelgangers on the U.S. Television"

2011: Devon Brackbill, Department of English

2010: Jason Maxwell, Department of English, "Kenneth Burke and Fredric Jameson at the Limits of Pluralism"

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