Essay Contest

Sarah Schuetze Essay Contest
Society of Early Americanists: Annual Essay Competition, 2022-2023, in Memory of Sarah Schuetze (d. 2021)
  • a check for $100
  • a certificate
  • immortality
Why choose?

The Society of Early Americanists is pleased to announce our Twenty-third Annual Essay Competition. For 2022-2024, the SEA Essay Contest is named in Memory of Sarah Schuetze. The prize for the Sarah Schuetze Award has been donated in honor of Marion Rust’s editorship at Early American Literature.

If you have presented a paper on an early Americanist topic, broadly conceived, in the past year (2022-2023) at the Biennial Conference of the Society for Early Americanists (Maryland and Washington D.C., June 8-11, 2023) or with any of our affiliated organizations, such as the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS), American Literature Association (ALA), Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), Early Caribbean Society (ECS), Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW), we invite you to submit your work for consideration.

Note that we accept/encourage revised papers. Our panel of judges will see each entry through a simple system of blind reviewing; your name goes only on a separate cover sheet, and we recommend that you rework any self-citation, either in the body or in notes, to the third person.


Papers should be double-spaced, 6,000 words maximum, with the following information appearing only on the cover sheet: your name; institutional mailing address and e-mail address; panel title; chair’s name; date of presentation; and name of conference.

Please send your essay as an email attachment to Professor Jillian Sayre at:

Deadline: Monday, October 2, 2023

Thank you for your submissions!

Dr. Jillian Sayre
Society of Early Americanists Essay Contest Committee Chair, 2021-2023
Department of English, Rutgers University-Camden


SEA Essay Awards to date:
Twenty-second Annual Essay Prize, presented April 2022:

Don James McLaughlin
University of Tulsa
Charity and Sylvia’s Adult Cradle: A Crip Queer Method for Early American Studies

Twenty-first Annual Essay Prize, presented in 2020:

Shelby Johnson
Florida Atlantic University
“The fate of St. Domingo awaits you”: Robert Wedderburn’s Unfinished Revolution

Honorable mention: 

Nan Goodman
University of Colorado at Boulder
The Jewish Apostate and the American Expatriate: Leave-Taking in the Early American Republic

Twentieth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2019, at the SEA 11th Biennial Conference in Eugene, Oregon:

Alex Mazzaferro
American Philosophical Society
Compasses and Christians: Richard Ligon’s Political Theology of Slavery

Honorable mentions:

Mary Caton Lingold
Virginia Commonwealth University
Digital Performance and the Musical Archive of Slavery: ‘Like Running Home’

Zach Hutchins
Colorado State University
Sewall’s Secret: The Selling of More than Two Dozen Africans

Nineteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2018, at the SEA Special Topics Conference, “Religion and Politics in Early America,” in St. Louis, Missouri:

Caroline Wigginton
University of Mississippi
The Indigenous Terrain of Early American Book History in the Upper Mississippi Valley

Eighteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2017, at the SEA 10th Biennial Conference in Tulsa:

Mairin Odle
University of Alabama
‘Pownced, Pricked, or Paynted’: Tattoos and Indigenous Literacies

Seventeenth Annual Essay Prize, presented 2016:

Jillian Sayre
Rutgers University-Camden
Significant Otherness: Companionability in American Frontier Narratives

Sixteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented 2015:

Steven W. Thomas
Wagner College
The Circum-Atlantic Surrogation of Ethiopia in the London Public Sphere

Fifteenth Annual Essay Prize, awarded 2014, presented June 2015, at the SEA 9th Biennial Conference in Chicago:

Sari Altschuler
University of South Florida
Ain’t One Limb Enough? Historicizing Disability in the American Novel

Fourteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented February 2013, at the SEA 8th Biennial Conference in Savannah:

Glenda Goodman
New York University
The Economy of Accomplishment: Aesthetics and Labor in Women’s Musical Lives

Thirteenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2012, at the ASECS Conference in San Antonio:

Jennifer Heil
Emory University
Imperial Pedagogy: Susanna Rowson’s Columbus for Young Ladies

Twelfth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2011, at the SEA 7th Biennial Conference in Philadelphia:

Kelly Wisecup
University of North Texas
Invisible Bullets and the Literary Forms of Colonial Promotion

Eleventh Annual Essay Prize, presented March 19, 2010, at the ASECS Conference in Albuquerque:

Duncan Faherty
Queens College & the CUNY Graduate Center
‘Daily and nightly disgorged upon our shores’: Revolution, Rumor, & Serial Unrest in the Early Republic

Tenth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 5, 2009, at the SEA 6th Biennial Conference in Bermuda:

Cristobal Silva
Florida State University
Appropriating Epidemiology: Tisquantum and the Etiology of Buried Plague

Ninth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 2008, at the ASECS Conference in Portland:

Bryan Waterman
New York University
Elizabeth Whitman’s Disappearance and Disappointment

Eighth Annual Essay Prize, presented June 7, 2007, at the SEA 5th Biennial Conference in Williamsburg:

Martin Brückner
University of Delaware
The Public Life of Maps in Eighteenth-Century British America

Seventh Annual Essay Prize, presented April 1, 2006, at the Montréal ASECS:

Anna Mae Duane
University of Connecticut
Pregnancy and the New Birth in Charlotte Temple and The Coquette

Sixth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 31, 2005, at the SEA 4th Biennial Conference in Alexandria:

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon
Yale University
Republican Theatricality and Transatlantic Empire

Fifth Annual Essay Prize, presented March 27, 2004, at the Boston ASECS:

Brycchan Carey
Kingston University
‘Accounts of Savage Nations’: The Spectator and the Americas

Fourth Annual Essay Prize, presented April 10, 2003, at the SEA 3rd Biennial Conference in Providence:

Vincent Carretta
University of Maryland
Who Was Francis Williams?

Third Annual Essay Prize, presented April 5, 2002, at the Colorado Springs ASECS:

Laura M. Stevens
University of Tulsa
The Anglican Quest for Compassion: American Indians and English Deists in the Sermons of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

Second Annual Essay Prize, presented April 20, 2001, at the New Orleans ASECS:

Michael Zuckerman
University of Pennsylvania
Some Asiatic Prince: Pride, Patriarchy, and the Problem of Generational Succession
in the Early South

First Annual Essay Prize, presented April 14, 2000, at the Philadelphia ASECS:

Eric Slauter
Stanford University
Manners and Taste in the Making of the Constitution


Image Credit: Phillis Wheatley (ca. 1753-1784), Scipio Moorhead, “Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston,” Frontispiece engraving to Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: Printed for A. Bell, 1773). American Treasures of the Library of Congress

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