Shakespeare essay contest

The movie "Anonymous" can inspire students to critical thinking and writing

Students in Los Angeles recently made the news by protesting the movie “Anonymous” and its premise that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by another man.

Students from every state, and country, are invited to participate in a Shakespeare authorship essay contest being presented by the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society. Arizona students, take note.

Presenters say the contest, held annually since 2002, is designed to “involve students in the creative and analytical synthesis of knowledge about Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Canon, and the Shakespeare Authorship Question.” 

Contest organizers hope that “teachers the world over will find that this essay contest is a useful resource for stimulating thinking, discussion and the development of analytic and critical thinking skills.”

Essays for the 2012 contest must be submitted electronically by Dec. 17, 2012. Contestants must be between the ages of 14 – 19 and/or enrolled in high school grades 9 – 12, in public or private schools in the year 2012. Homeschoolers are welcome. College freshmen may enter if they were graduating seniors in the spring of 2012.

Students must write about one of four topics noted by contest presenters. Two address authorship-related issues. One considers the role of women in Shakespearean literature. And another deals specifically with the movie “Anonymous.”

All essays must be typed, double-spaced in written in English. Expository essays should conform to the APA or MLA style sheets specified by contest presenters. Essays must run between 750 and 3000 words, and each contestant can enter only one piece. Sponsors expect to award a total of $3,000 in prize money.

Essays will be judged on originality of thought, insight into Shakespearean interpretation (most especially as it relates to the authorship question), effective and logical development of thesis, consideration of contrary evidence, effective use of resources and elegance of style. All essays must be the original work of the entrant.

Interested teachers, students and parents can click here to learn more about the contest, and to find related resources such as recommended readings and websites. Although the deadline is more than a year away, presenters note that submissions are welcome before the deadline. I suspect that reading submissions over time is a great deal more enjoyable than facing a huge pile of last-minute entries.

I was surprised when I won an essay contest early in my college career, but glad I had followed my mother’s advice by submitting an entry. So few people ever enter such things, she told me, and your chances of winning are much greater than you might imagine.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about education programs offered by Arizona’s own Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa.

Coming up: What’s your border?

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