Contests and Grants

Oldenburg Writing Contest

E. William Oldenburg, Ph.D., University of Michigan.  Bill was chair of the English Department, a scholar in American literature, a published poet and author of a novel for children about the Indian heritage of Ottawa County.  Bill was an avid actor, participating in many theatrical productions.  Bill died in an auto accident on his way to school in 1974.

In conjunction with the Departments of Classics and Writing, the GVSU English Department is pleased to announce its annual Oldenburg Writing Contest (PDF). Named in honor of former department member E. William Oldenburg, the contest offers GVSU students first-place cash prizes of $100 and second-place prizes of $75 and third-place prizes of $50 in each of the following categories.  Apply online now.


  • Personal, analytical, or persuasive essay written by a first-year student.
  • Personal essay written by a sophomore, junior, or senior.
  • Analytical or persuasive essay written by a sophomore, junior, or senior.
  • Poetry written by any GVSU undergraduate student. A small portfolio of three to five poems would be an appropriate entry. A single poem normally would not be considered.
  • Fiction written by any GVSU undergraduate student. One short story per entrant.
  • Drama written by any GVSU undergraduate student. One short play per entrant.
  • Essay, poetry, fiction, or drama written by a GVSU graduate student.

Entries must have been written while the enrolled at GVSU. One entry max per category. Writing entered in a prior year may not be resubmitted. Entries should be typed, double-spaced (photocopies are acceptable) and submitted with a detachable cover-sheet indicating:

  • Title of the work
  • Category entered
  • Contestant's name and student ID
  • Address, phone number, and e-mail

Place contestant's name on the cover-sheet only, not on the manuscript. An example cover sheet can be found here.

The entry deadline is Friday, March 12, 2021. Winners will be notified by letter. The awards will be made at the English Department Awards Ceremony on April 2021.  Contact Rebecca Casler for more information.

The 2020 Oldenburg Writing Contest Winners

It is our pleasure to announce this year’s winners of the English Department’s Oldenburg Writing Contest!  Congratulations to all who won, and thank you to all who entered!  A heartfelt thank you, as well, goes out to all our faculty judges who made these difficult decisions.   

Fiction written by an GVSU undergraduate student

First Place - "Two Feet" by Amanda Pszczolkowski
Second Place - "Déjà vu" by Sidra Elvey
Third Place - "The Gods of Summer" by Chavala Ymker
Honorable Mention - "Blinking Twice" by Robert Hyma
Honorable Mention - "Meant for More" by Alaina Taylor

Essay, poetry, fiction, or drama written by a GVSU graduate student

First Place - "Do you think a bunch of little angels is what's needed here?': A Posthumanist Reading of Rita Indiana's Tentacle" by Nicholas Langenberg
Second Place - "He was a Man!": Interest Convergence in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man by Josh Aldrich
Third Place - A Personal Character Reflection From The Short Story "The Thing Around Your Neck" by Britteany Duffus

Personal essay written by a sophomore, junior, or senior

First Place - "Romerstrabe" by Chelsea Sheneman
Second Place - "The Tillerwomen" by Hannah Lee Kelly
Third Place - "On Loneliness, Grief, and Guinea Pigs" by Leah Erben
Honorable Mention - "On 1993 Slaughterhouse" by Tasman Mattox

Poetry written by any GVSU undergraduate student (small portfolio of 3-5 poems)

First Place - "To Be Grown" by  Meghan Claire O'Neill
Second Place - "Butterscotch" by Brooke Fugate
Third Place - "Cliffs of Moher" by Megan Markel
Honorable Mention - "I Swear I Heard an Owl" by Sidra Elvey
Honorable Mention - "Water Skiing" by Leah Erben
Honorable Mention - "A List of My Ex-Lovers" by Abigail Hasse

Analytical or persuasive essay written by a sophomore,  junior,  or senior

First Place - "Choosing Silence: An Exploration of Measure for Measure" by Sidra Elvey
Second Place - "Hidden Reality" by Eleanor Zimmermann
Third Place - "Globalization as Compassion" by Haley Tanis

Shakespeare Student Competition

Sponsored by the English Department, the English MA program, and the Theater Department, the Student Shakespeare Competition offers awards for creative, critical, historical, or scholarly projects relating to Shakespeare, his times, and the Renaissance (1350-1650 A.D.) First prize is $100; second prize $75; and third prize $50.


  • Performing Arts
  • Performance of Elizabethan period music, drama, or dance.
  • Modern work composed specifically as a response to Shakespeare's plays or motion pictures of his work.
  • Piece not to exceed five minutes.
  • Must be prepared to present work on Friday, Oct. 25, 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the Recital Hall (PAC).
  • Critical Writing
  • Essays dealing with literary, philosophical, biographical, historical, or scientific subjects relevant to the Renaissance period.
  • Graduate Student Writing
  • Essays on Renaissance topics written by GVSU graduate students.
  • Visual Arts
  • Painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramic, photography, etc.
  • Film or video work inspired by Shakespeare or his contemporaries.
  • An artists statement must accompany all work describing the artworks relation to Shakespeare or the Renaissance period.

All entry forms, writing submissions, and artwork must be received by October. Entries may be dropped off in LHH 126 Monday-Friday 10-4 or emailed to Performing Arts entrants must submit their entry forms by October and will perform in October in the Recital Hall in the PAC.

Submission Guidelines

  • All submissions must include an Entry Form (available in LHH 126 or by emailing
  • All submissions should have only students G number. Students name should be on the entry form only.
  • Winners should attend the Awards Ceremony (Saturday, November 2, at 1 p.m.) and present their work in order to receive their prizes. For exceptions contact the coordinator.
  • Students cast in Bard to Go or Much Ado about Nothing may not use material they are performing in those productions.
  • All GVSU students are eligible.

Student Grants

The English Department current offers the following student grants: