A contest open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in colleges and universities worldwide
To foster and recognize scholarship about Thomas Wolfe by undergraduate and graduate students as well as foster participation in the Thomas Wolfe Society’s annual confernces.
Students must be currently enrolled at an institution of higher learning or have graduated in the past year. Essays must be the original work of the students submitting.
Rules and Procedures
Students must submit an abstract of at least 300 words, along with a brief biographical statement, CV, OR list of relevant academic awards or coursework. The abstract is submitted in anticipation of an original paper presentation at the Thomas Wolfe Conference in May. This presentation will be between 15 and 20 minutes long, focusing on Wolfe’s writing, life, literary influence, legacy, and/or concern for issues of his time. In order to receive the grant, students must deliver the presentation at the Thomas Wolfe Society’s annual conference held in May.
Judges are members of the Thomas Wolfe Society appointed by its president. Abstracts will be judged on the promise they show for the development of an original presentation that contributes to the knowledge or understanding of Thomas Wolfe. Preference will be given to students who demonstrate in the abstract a serious engagement of Wolfe’s writing and of relevant scholarship.
Following the conference presentation, the author may submit the winning essay for publication without restriction.
The Thomas Wolfe Society
Monetary prize of $300, awarded at the Conference Banquet following the successful delivery of the paper, along with one-year membership in the Thomas Wolfe Society. Up to three prizes may be awarded annually. Judges reserve the right not to award the prize.
Deadline for Submission
Announcement of Winner
Before March 15
Send submissions to
Vice President, Thomas Wolfe Society (2013-George Hovis)
PAST Recipients of the Previous Thomas Wolfe Society’s Richard S. Kennedy Student Essay Prize
1988 Daphne O’Brien, for “The Banquet of Life: Hunger and Plenty in Look Homeward, Angel.”
1989 Terry Roberts, for “Narrative Distance in Look Homeward, Angel.”
1990 Elizabeth M. Lamont, for “The Exile’s Story: Similarities of Theme in Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel and James Agee’s A Death in the Family.”
1991 Patricia Gantt, for “Weaving Discourse in Thomas Wolfe’s ‘The Child by Tiger.’ ”
1992 Stephen Douglas Fraser, for “The Filters of Fiction: Wolfe, Bernstein, and the Writing of The Good Child’s River.”
1993 Matthew Webb Levering, for “Around the Park with Aline Bernstein and Thomas Wolfe.”
1994 Heather O’Neill, for “‘Of Wandering Forever and the Earth Again’: Mythology in Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and the River.”
1995 Stephen K. Simmerman, for “H. L. Mencken and Thomas Wolfe: Divergent Styles and Shared Ideologies.”
1996 Shawn P. Holliday, for “ ‘The Pity, Terror, Strangeness, and Magnificence of It All’: Landscape and Discourse in Thomas Wolfe’s A Western Journal.”
1997 Nicholas Graham, for “Looking at Wolfe through Many-Colored Glasses: Two Versions of The Party at Jack’s.”
1998 Robert T. Ensign, for “The Romantic Eco-Vision of Thomas Wolfe.”
1999 Thomas Austin Graham, for “Wolfe, Wordsworth, and the Buried Life.”
2000 Swarnalatha Rangarajan, for “Through Imagination’s Third Eye: The Creative Seer in Thomas Wolfe’s Passage to England.”
2001 Erin Sullivan, for “Recovering the Past: Models of Time in Thomas Wolfe’s The Lost Boy.”
2002 Lisa Kerr, for “Lost Gods: Pan, Milton, and the Pastoral Tradition in Thomas Wolfe’s O Lost.”
2003 Carlton N. Morse, for “Thomas Wolfe’s The Lost Boy: A Bildungsroman for the Modern Reader.”
2004 Armistead Lemon, for “‘His College Education Has Ruined Him’: Education’s Ambivalent Role in the South of Wolfe’s O Lost.”
2005 Bond Dillard Thompson, for “Home as Metaphor in Thomas Wolfe’s O Lost.”
2006 Wiley Cash, for “‘The Dark Was Hived with Flesh and Mystery’: Thomas Wolfe, the American Adam, and the Polemical Persona of Race.”
2007 Allison Kerns, for “‘It Was Like a Dream of Hell’: Gantian Dreams Deferred.”
2008 Chris Prewitt, for “Paper Doll Matinee: Thomas Wolfe’s Theatre.”
2010 Patrick Chambers, for “The Fruit of Forty Thousand Years.”