The Department of English sponsors a number of awards each year.  For details about submitting work, see the English Essay Prizes webpage and the Creative Writing Awards webpage.

The Villanova English Department’s Core English Honor Roll recognizes students for excellent academic performance in Core English courses.  This honor is for the one or two students in each Core English course who demonstrated the most aptitude in scholarly writing about literature.

Click here for the fall 2018 Honor Roll list.

The Edward McGrath Medallion, the English Department’s Medallion of Excellence, is awarded to a graduating senior each year. The 2018 Medallion of Excellence winner is Elizabeth Eby.

Previous Winners:  

2017 -
Stephen J. Purcell
2016 -
Emma Pettit
- John Szot
2014 - Christine V. Tergis
2013 - Alexa I Pastor
2012 - Theresa Donohoe and Nicole Battisti
2011 - Molly Schreiber
2010 - Max Stendahl
2009 - Joe R. Gonzalez
- Angela S. Allen
2007 -
Emily M. Trovato
2006 - Thomas Emerson
2005 -
Kathryn M. Rutigliano
- John Durnin
2003 - Mari Grace Crosby
2002 - Michael Foley
2001 - Kristin Suga
2000 - Christine Anderson
1999 - Thomas McKinley
1998 - John Giordano and Megan Norcia
1997 - Lisa Tomaszewski
1996 - Mark Spoonauer
1995 - Kelly Beissel

The Jerome J. Fischer Memorial Award is given annually to the most distinguished undergraduate essay written in a Villanova English course. The Fischer Award honors Jerome J. Fischer, who taught nineteenth-century British literature courses, as well as a variety of other courses, at Villanova from 1947 until his retirement in 1983. He died in 1984.  (For details about the essay competition, click here.)

Caroline Stagliano, from Atlanta, GA, is a junior English & French double major with a GWS minor. She has a passion for language and francophone studies. After graduation, she hopes to take a service year to teach English in America or abroad.

She wrote her essay, "When Spheres Collide: An Examination of Peter Ekeh’s Two Publics at Work in Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People" for  Dr. Akọma and Dr. Owolabi's African & Caribbean Politics & Literature course.

Previous Winners:  
2017 - Blaire Bernstein
2016 - Kevin Madden
- John Szot
2014 - Megan Plevy
2013 - Shanon Welch
2012 - Theresa Donohoe
2011 - Molly Schreiber
2010 - Max Stendahl
2009 - Jamie Kapalko
- Daniel E. Trucil
2007 -
Emily Trovato
- Stephen Cornell
- Kristy Wessman
2004 - Mark Napolitano
2003 - Valerie Kate Fernandez    

2002 - Rebecca Corcoran
2001 -
Michael Foley
- Corinne Welsh
1999 - Jennifer Joyce
1998 - Cara LaColla
1997 - Chris Eagle
1996 - Wendy Anne Tucker
1995 - [not given out]
1994 - Michael DiRuggiero
1993 - Rosemary Scalo
1992 - Mary Kovalchick
1991 - Peter Naccarato
1990 - Sarah Pines
1989 - Anne Marie Ryan
1988 - Jon Lemole
1987 - Jill Stevens

The Margaret Powell Esmonde Memorial Award is given annually to the most distinguished graduate essay written in a Villanova English course. The Esmonde Award honors Margaret Powell Esmonde, who taught at Villanova from 1974 until her death in 1983. She was a specialist in Renaissance literature who also taught courses in science fiction and children’s literature.  (For details about the essay competition, click here.)

Nicholas Manai is a first year graduate student in the English department whose research focuses on 20th and 21st century American novels. He is interested in the politics of canon formation and the ways a Buddhist understanding of subjectivity intersects with contemporary representations of the individual and affect theory in narrative fiction. He received a B.A. in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA where he minored in creative writing and played baseball. At Villanova he works in the CASA office, spending most of his time as a college counselor at the Academy at Palumbo in South Philadelphia where he gets back more than he gives. He would like to thank Dr. Yumi Lee for timely recommendations and guidance on this essay. Nick trusts the process.

He wrote his essay, "Back from the Dead: Rediscovering Value in John Okada's No-No Boy and John Williams's Stoner," for Dr. Yumi Lee's “Reading the Ethnic Canon” course.

Previous Winners:  
2017 - Laura Tscherry
2016 -
AJ DeBonis
2015 -
Eric Doyle
2014 - Theodora Hermes
2013 - Rebecca Hepp
           Cara Saraco
2012 - Alexandra Edwards
2011 - Benjamin Raymond
2010 - James McAdams
2009 - Don James McLaughlin    
- John Breedlove
- Rebecca Steffy
2007 -
Rebecca Burnett
- Karen Y. Lee
- Marc Napolitano
2004 - Victor Sensenig
2003 - Deborah Gross
2002 -
Brian Sweeney
- Patricia Crouch
2000 - Laura Giuliani
1999 - Sharon Cournoyer
1998 - Marc Schuster
1997 - Mary Ann Quigley
1996 - Robert Duggan, Jr.
1995 - Gale White
1994 - Gale White
1993 - Daniel Hipp
1992 - Helen Goff
1991 - Sr. Elaine Marie Glanz, I.H.M.
1990 - Katrien Conlan
1989 - Janet Wallin
1988 - Anne Gallagher
1987 - Gregory Sullivan
1986 - Ellen Wilmot

The George D. Murphy Award in Creative Writing honors a longtime faculty member in the English department (see below).  The winner is chosen each year by a panel of Villanova faculty and Philadelphia area.

The award for 2018 goes to Kamakshi Ranjan. Kamakshi Ranjan is a Junior double majoring in English and Biology.


“By the time I had moved past the shore, many people, including children were dragged along with me,” the Wave started again.  

You thought about the little boys, barely six or seven years old, the same age as your brother, who would walk the streets throughout the day shouting  “ஒரு ரூபாய் மசாலா சுண்டல் ! Koṇṭaikkaṭalai Sundal!” On one hand they would carry steel containers of warm, stir-fried chickpeas, mixed in shredded coconut and chili, and the other they would use to beat on the containers to create a clanging noise to accompany their clamorous shouting. Under their armpits they would tuck in sheets of clean newspaper that they would eventually roll into tightly wound cones to serve the sundal in. Unlike the older vendors, the younger boys would dress neatly in khaki shorts and white t-shirts, washed and ironed to perfection by their mothers who banked on their youth to attract more customers. Before they left home, their mothers would drag vibhuti with their thumb, in a single upward stroke across their son’s foreheads. It was a Hindu ritual meant to mark a person’s honor and devotion to the Gods. The boy’s mothers hoped that it would mask the look of mischief that was so indigenous to children of that age. You imagined how easily the white ash of the vibhuti must have come of their faces when the Wave consumed them that day, unjustly branding them dishonorable in death.  

Then there were the older vendors, who would sell fresh, hot vada and spicy murkku that your parents bought every time we visited the beach. And there were also the old men who would sell sweet puffy clouds of pink panjai mittai that you would wish your parents bought every time instead. They would hang the bags of cotton candy on a long wooden stick in a tree like arrangement that could be spotted by children even a mile away. Next to them, old ladies would set up on a thin mat on the ground, a bucket of

white jasmine flowers to their side. They would deftly wind small flowers into strings made of banana fiber. The jasmine flower’s heavenly fragrance would attract girls to purchase a string of their own. The girls would weave the flowers into bands that held together their dark hair so that they carried the scent with them all day. Other women, who were blessed with a third-eye, were fortunetellers. They were a group of plainly dressed women who carried caged parrots in one hand and a deck of cards for the parrot to pick out in the other. They would idly feed their birds and shuffle their cards until a young couple would pass by, unaware of the fate of their relationship. No matter what card the bird picked, the tellers would always provide their customers with a happy ending assuring them that their jōtiṭam revealed an impending marriage. But that day, for the first time, the fortunetellers and their birds were wrong. The Wave made sure that no one had a happy ending.


George D. Murphy received his B.A. (1949) and M.A. (1951) in English from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. He joined Villanova’s English Department in 1954 and retired in 2000 after 46 years of service. His scholarly publications focused on American writers of the 20th Century. While at Villanova, he was known for his exquisite sense of humor and a singular gift for recalling and recounting a host of humorous tales. While an undergraduate at Notre Dame, he was on the editorial board of its literary magazine—The Juggler of Notre Dame—and contributed a number of poems, short stories, and critical essays. He returned to creative writing at the end of his life as a way of coping with grief over his wife’s death and produced many first-rate poems.

The winner of the English & Honors Award in Creative Writingr is chosen each year by a panel of Villanova faculty and Philadelphia area.

The award for 2018 goes to Marianne Donley. Marianne Donley is a senior English and Chemistry double major from Pittsburgh, PA. She spent much of the past four years writing poetry and English papers in a chemistry lab in Mendel Hall, where she also performed research under the direction of Dr. Deanna Zubris. During her senior year she had the opportunity to combine her knowledge of science with her love of poetry in a project for Dr. Lisa Sewell’s senior seminar. Her poetic sequence Et al explores the lives of four women whose contributions to life-changing scientific research have been underrepresented. In her time on campus she was also a member of the Villanova Band and a student director of the Pep Band. She has traveled around the country with the band for service tours and basketball games (including a few trips to the state of Texas). She would like to thank Cathy Staples, Lisa Sewell, Daisy Fried, and Alan Drew for their mentorship and friendship, her research lab for their support of all of her academic projects, and her family for giving her the opportunity to follow her passions at Villanova. After graduation, Marianne will be working as a chemist back in Pittsburgh, where she hopes to continue writing poetry, playing music, and cheering on the Wildcats to more National Championships.

(Alice Augusta Ball, American Chemist, 1892-1916)

Both times when I sat for my yearbook portrait
I thought of my grandfather in his darkroom
Making albumen prints with cotton fiber
Paper and egg whites. He’d coat the paper
With the egg like a frying pan, leave it
To dry in the heat for a day. Once it dried
To a shine he lay the paper down in a bath
Of silver nitrate—these were the magic words.

He left the paper to dry again, and then he took
A light and let it beam through the glass
Negative – family portraits, images of stately
Men and women. (He photographed the queen,
Once, and gave my aunt the middle name
“Victoria.”) I watched as, little by little,
Dark spots grew into a face on paper—
the outline of a person—two—now three.
The magic brought forth a people, made visible
As silver turned to black. They lived eternally,
Crisp images, no inkblots, saved on paper,
Beautiful in the growing dark.

My whole family made magic. We had
A good life in Seattle, mama and papa
And auntie telling me about the silver
In the paper. I bent to find the gleam
But all I saw was brown and white
And black. I leaned in closer.

The Core Literature and Writing Seminar Essay Award is given each semester to the best papers written for English 1975.

The Fall 2016 winner is Bella Burda.
Bella's essay, "Shades of Pastoral Blue" (Virgil, Wordsworth, Rick Bass), was written for Prof. Catherine Staples.

The Spring 2016 winner is Katie Vaughn.
Katie's essay, "Don't Fence Me In: Gender Roles in August Wilson's Fences," was written for Prof. Ellen Bonds.

Previous winners:  
Fall 2015 - Frank Fazio and Ciara Earrey
Fall 2014
- Sean Campbell and Kevin Madden    
Fall 2013 - Patrick Ciapciak 

Fall 2012 -
Paige Kennedy and Danielle Sekerak
Spring 2014
- Nicole Conway
Spring 2013 - Roderic Hutton

The Literary Experience Essay Award is given each semester to the best papers written for English 1050.

The Spring 2012 winner is Nicholas Cho.
Nicholas's essay, "The Excavation and Expulsion of Exploitation in Latin America" was written for Prof. Ellen Bonds.

The Fall 2012 winner is Alissa Foti.
Alissa's essay, "Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Metaphysical Poetry" was written for Prof. Cecilia Ready.

Previous winners:  
Fall 2012 - Alissa Foti
Fall 2011 - Monica Solis
Fall 2010 - Lien Trieu
Fall 2009 - Ellie Garbade
Fall 2008 - Greg Cappa
Fall 2007 - C J Hodukavich
Fall 2006 - Jennifer Latz
Fall 2005 - Stephanie Cody
Fall 2004 - John Zurbach
Fall 2003 - Nadia Nauss
Fall 2002 - Adrienne Sanetrik  
Fall 2001 - Matt Nespoli
Fall 2000 - Michael Knerr and Ryan Zitnay  
Fall 1999 - Kate Schramm
Fall 1998 - Megan Knecht
Spring 2012 - Nicholas Cho
Spring 2011 - [not awarded]
Spring 2010 - Anne Stohlquist
Spring 2009 - Michael Tomae, Nakoya Wilson
Spring 2008 - Kailee Fowler
Spring 2007 - Marissa Zator
Spring 2006 - Christina Park
Spring 2005 - Christian Skonier
Spring 2004 - Emily Trovato and Kerri White
Spring 2003 - Monica Borgone
Spring 2002 - Elizabeth Micklow
Spring 2001 - Matt Varga
Spring 2000 - Andrea Flood
Spring 1999 - Jocelyn Trufant

The English Honor Society is composed of senior English majors with high GPAs both overall and in English courses.  Members are selected in the spring of their senior year.  (They do not have to apply.)

  Estefania Acquaviva
Blaire Bernstein
Christian Cappillo-Monzon    
Julia Rose Clarke
Alyssalee Curcio
Rebecca Davis
Caitlyn Dittmeier
Marianne Donley
Ryanne Duffy
Elizabeth Eby
Megan Galioto
Abigail Harris
Morgan Hazel
Donald Holton
Dyala Kasim
Kyra Kruger
Monica Krup
Maria Lovina
Deanna Mackalavage
Caitlin McGorry
Kaitlyn Mitchell
Meghan Murphy
Amy Naslonski
Jocelin Rocha
Brittany Schrader
Samantha Sontag
Gabrielle Watson
Maria McGeary
Maria McGeary, winner of the first-ever George D. Murphy award in Creative Writing