Signet Essay Contest
Announcing the 22nd Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest
Read the winning essays from previous years »
With an unbeatable lineup of over 300 of the greatest literary works the world has ever known, Signet Classics is the publisher that students, education professionals and the public turn to more than any other. Now, we are proud to host our twenty-second annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest, in which five high school juniors or seniors can each win a $1,000 scholarship award to be used toward their higher education plus a Signet Classics library for their school! Essays must be submitted by a high school English teacher on behalf of students who write an essay on one of five topics for this year’s competition book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Select one of the following five topics:
- How is Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl still relevant more than two hundred years after slavery has been abolished? Be specific about how the treatment of oppressed people today reflects the treatment of slaves in the book and what can be learned from Harriet Jacobs’ story.
- Harriet Jacobs’ experiences suggest that slavery negatively impacts not only the slave, but also the slaveholder. In what ways are the masters and mistresses in the book corrupted by slavery? Why does this occur?
- Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a story of survival and even success in an almost impossible situation. What about Harriet Jacobs’ character accounts for her ability to overcome?
- What special circumstances did slaves face in motherhood? How do these women cope with or adapt to their situation? In what ways do they protect and preserve the next generation?
- What are the differences between the Christianity practiced by slaves and the Christianity practiced by slave owners? Is religion depicted more convincingly as a force for progressive change or as a way to preserve the status quo?
Official Rules for 22nd Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest
No purchase necessary. A purchase will not enhance your opportunity to win.
Open to 11th and 12th grade full-time matriculated students who are attending high schools located in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, or home-schooled students between the ages of 16-18 who are residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia.
How to Enter
- Matriculated students: Four (4) copies of the essay should be mailed by an English teacher on behalf of the student (each English teacher may submit only one junior and one senior essay). Each of the four (4) copies of the essay should include a cover letter on school letterhead and includes the following details:
- Student’s full name, grade, address, e-mail and home telephone number
- Name of high school
- Name, email and daytime telephone number of English teacher submitting essay (please include summer contact information if different from school year contact information)
- Name, e-mail and daytime telephone number of the school’s administration officer
- Topic selected (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5)
- Certification by teacher that the essay is the student’s original work
Essays submitted without a cover letter on school letterhead or cover letters that do not include the above details will be disqualified.
- Home-schooled students: Four (4) copies of the essay must be mailed by a parent or legal guardian on behalf of the student. Each of the four (4) copies of the essay should include a cover letter on the parent/legal guardian’s letterhead that certifies that the student is home-schooled and includes the following details:
- Student’s full name, address, e-mail and home telephone number
- Student’s equivalent grade
- Name and daytime telephone number and e-mail of the sponsoring parent/legal guardian
- Topic selected (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5)
- Certification by sponsoring parent/legal guardian of home-schooled student that the essay is the student’s original work
Essays submitted without a cover letter on parent/legal guardian’s letterhead or cover letters that do not include the above details will be disqualified.
- Essays must be at least two and no more than three double-spaced pages, computer or typewritten (please do not staple submissions). Please include four (4) copies (including four (4) cover letters) of each essay submitted. Entries must be mailed to Penguin Publishing Group, Academic Marketing Department, Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest #22, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014. To be eligible, all entries must be postmarked by April 14, 2018 and received on or by April 21, 2018. Submissions by fax, email or any other electronic means will not be considered.
- Entries will not be returned. By entering the Contest, contestants agree to abide by these rules, and represent and warrant that the entries are their own and original creations, and do not violate or infringe the rights, including, without limitation, copyrights, trademark rights or rights of publicity/privacy, of any third party.
- Entries are void if they are in whole or in part illegible, incomplete, damaged or handwritten. No responsibility is assumed for late, lost, damaged, incomplete, illegible, postage due or misdirected mail entries.
All eligible entries received will be judged by a qualified panel of judges chosen by Penguin Publishing Group and winners will be selected on or about June 15, 2018. Winning essays must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the themes and issues presented in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Submissions will be judged on style, content, grammar, and originality. Judges will look for clear, concise writing that is original, articulate, logically organized, and well supported. Winners will be notified by June 24th, 2018 via email, and will be announced online on or about July 1st, 2018.
There are five (5) prizes available to be won. Each prize includes a check in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) to be used toward winner’s tuition and/or expenses related to their higher education. Each prize also includes a Signet Classics Library for the winner’s school library, or public library in the case of a home-schooled winner (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) = $1,600.00). Total ARV per prize = $2,600.00.
In the event that there is an insufficient number of qualified entries or if the judges determine in their absolute discretion that no or too few entries meet the quality standards established to award the prizes, Sponsor reserves the right not to award the prizes.
- Open to 11th and 12th grade full-time matriculated students who are attending high schools located in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, or home-schooled students between the ages of 16-18 who are residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. Void where prohibited by law. All state and local restrictions apply.
- Employees of Sponsor and its parent company, subsidiaries, affiliates or other parties in any way involved in the development, production or distribution of this Contest, as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, children) and household members of each such employee are not eligible to participate in this Contest.
- No cash substitution, transfer or assignment of prizes allowed. In the event of the unavailability of a prize or prizes, Sponsor may substitute a prize or prizes of equal or greater value.
- All expenses, including taxes (if any), on receipt and use of prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.
- Winners may be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release. The affidavit must be returned within fourteen (14) days of notification or another winner will be selected. If a winner is under 18 years of age, their parent/legal guardian will also be required to sign the Affidavit. Because the ARV exceeds $600.00, winners shall be required to provide a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to Sponsor for issuance of a 1099 Form. The winner’s school library or public library in the case of a home-schooled winner that will receive a Signet Classics Library shall also be required to provide a Federal Tax Identification Number to Sponsor for issuance of a 1099 form, in connection with its receipt of this portion of the prize.
- By accepting a prize, the winners and their parents and/or legal guardians grant to Sponsor the right to edit, publish, copy, display and otherwise use their entries in connection with this Contest, and to further use their names, likenesses, and biographical information in advertising and promotional materials, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.
- LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. By competing in this Contest and/or accepting a prize, entrants release Sponsor, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies, or the agencies of any of them and the authors and/or editors of any books promoted hereby from any and all liability for any loss harm, injuries, damages, cost or expenses arising out of or relating to participation in this Contest or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize(s). UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL THE RELEASED PARTIES BE LIABLE FOR INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, ATTORNEYS’ FEES, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES.
- Any dispute arising from the contest will be determined according to the laws of the state of new york, without reference to its conflict of law principles, and by entering, the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in New York County and agree that such courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.
For a copyof the winners list,send a self-addressed, stamped envelope by December 15, 2018 to Penguin Publishing Group, Academic Marketing Department, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, Attention: Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest #22, or check online after July 1st, 2018.
Penguin Publishing Group
Academic Marketing Department
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
The title for the 23rd Annual Signet Classics Essay Contest will be Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Essay topics will be posted on our website after July 2018.
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Signet Classics Announces Winners of the 18th Annual Scholarship Essay Contest
New York, NY, July 2014—Signet Classics, the imprint of New American Library devoted for more than 40 years to publishing inexpensive paperback editions of more than 300 of the world’s greatest literary works, has announced the winners of the fifteenth annual Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest. The Grand Prize Winners, listed in alphabetical order, are:
- Eunice Kim
Eunice Nayoung Kim is in the 12th Grade at Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY
- Brighid Niccum
Brighid Niccum is in the 12th Grade at White Bear Lake Area High School, White Bear Lake, MN
- Jamison Murphy
Jamison Murphy is from Savannah Arts Academy, Savannah, GA
- Kathryn Ryan
Kathryn E. Ryan is in the 12th Grade at McDowell Senior High School, Eerie, PA
- Rachel Davy
- Rachel E. Davy is a homeschooled student from Hoffman Estates, IL
- Eunice Kim
Read the winning essays from previous years »
Essay Subject: Beowulftranslated by Burton Raffel
Topics for the essay contest:
- In the introduction to the Signet Classics edition of Beowulf, Burton Raffel writes: “Most attractive to us, of all the many-sided excellences of Beowulf, is the poet’s insight into people.” Cite examples of this.
- Why is boasting important in Beowulf? Are the listeners expected to consider these tales of personal achievement as factual truth? How else might this style of discourse serve to express the values of the society? How does this oratory style relate to the behavior we expect from contemporary public figures?
- We see Beowulf at both the beginning and the end of his life: first as a vital, physically imposing young warrior and later as a frail old man near death. What qualities does he display in each of these two, distinct life stages that reveal him as a great king and leader? Choose two or three incidents from the narrative to illustrate your point.
- What significance—literary, spiritual, social, psychological—do you subscribe to the popularity of monsters in literature and film? Why are we fascinated by stories about deformed, violent, or malevolent figures who wreak havoc on human life? In Beowulf, what makes Grendel and his mother particularly troubling and “monstrous” to the close-knit warrior society they attack?
- How do the three monsters—Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon—differ from one another? You may want to consider their physical characteristics and capabilities, where they live, their methods of attack, the nature of their battles with Beowulf, and their motives. Do you find one creature more abhorrent than the others? Why?
- Describe the ways in which the sea and its inhabitants are portrayed in Beowulf. What do these descriptions tell you about the role of the sea in the lives of the Anglo-Saxons? What do they suggest about the Anglo-Saxon view of the natural world and the universe in general?
The Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest was established in 1996 to encourage greater interest in reading among high school students by offering tangible assistance to the winning students and their schools. It is open to qualifying high school juniors and seniors in the United States. “We are proud to be involved in a unique scholarship program that encourages student appreciation for the great classics,” notes Craig Burke, Vice President and Executive Director of Publicity for New American Library.
Entrants are required to submit a 2-3 page double-spaced, typewritten essay, answering one of four questions relating to the designated competition book. Essays must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the themes in the book; clear, concise writing; and logical, well-supported arguments. Judges also consider style, content, grammar and originality. Five Grand Prize Winners are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a Signet Classics Library for their school (or local public library, in the case of home-schooled students), valued at $1,600.
The designated title for 2012-2013 was 1984 by George Orwell. The book selected for the 2014-2015 Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest isPygmalion and My Fair Lady, by George Bernard Shaw.
For more information on the 2014-2015 Signet Classics Essay Contest, click here.
Entry forms and full information about the contest will also be available in high school English departments, or by writing to:
Penguin Group (USA)
Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
New American Library is a division of Penguin Group (USA), part of Pearson Plc, the international media group, and includes the imprints Signet, Signet Classics, Onyx, Roc and NAL Trade Paperbacks.