The Department of English sponsors four writing contests annually and presents the following awards each year to graduating seniors:

Annual Awards

The Barry Bauska Award is given each year to the outstanding senior English major with an emphasis in creative writing. Professor Bauska taught in the English department for over forty years from 1971 to 2005. He developed the first poetry and playwriting classes at Puget Sound. Profess or Bauska is a published poet and scholar, and he has written creative nonfiction and drama as well. In addition, he served as Chair of the English Department.

The Kathryn Irene Rodgers Memorial Scholarship was established by Dr. J. Bruce Rodgers, who was Professor of Music at the university and who served as Director of the School of Music.  The award was established in memory of his wife.  Kathryn Irene Rodgers was a student in the first Writing Institute class taught by Professor Rosemary Van Arsdel at the university in 1970.  Mrs. Rodgers was a member of the Business and Professional Women's Organization and the Association of Professional Writers and Editors, serving as president of the latter organization in 1978-79.  The Rodgers Scholarship is given to an outstanding senior English major or minor who intends to pursue a career in professional writing. 

The Peter Greenfield Award is given each year to a graduating senior whose leadership has enhanced the intellectual life of our department through creative opportunities for conversation and discovery among students and faculty, who fosters connections across diverse perspectives, and who bridges the gap between the classroom and the “outside world.” The award is named after Professor Peter Greenfield, who taught in the English department from 1983 to 2011, serving as department chair for six of those years. A specialist in medieval drama, Professor Greenfield taught a wide range of plays (from Aeschylus to Shakespeare to Anna Devere Smith) as well as a course on the history of the English Language.  The award is given to the student who best exemplifies Peter’s leadership qualities, intellectual engagement, and innovative spirit.

The Philip Hager Award is given each year to the outstanding senior English major with an emphasis in literature.  The late Professor Hager was a veteran of World War II.  He taught at the university for over thirty years from 1957 to 1983, specializing in British drama.  Over the years, Professor Hager also photographed cathedral-gargoyles.  With Desmond Taylor, Phil wrote three important reference works: a bibliography of World War I novels; a bibliography of World War II novels; and a bibliography of the philosophical novel.  He edited (with Harold Simonson) J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye: Clamor and Criticism (1963).


Writing Contests

The Nixeon Civille Handy Poetry Contest
The Handy award was established in 1982 by the late Nixeon Civille Handy, who was the Dean of Women at Wenatchee Valley College. Upon her retirement, she studied poetry at the University of Washington with some of the Northwest’s leading poets. She was a member of the Pacific Writers’ Conference, published her poetry in numerous literary journals, and has two volumes of poetry, Earth House (1978) and River as Metaphor: Poems (1991). Mrs. Handy established the prize in memory of her son, Bruce, who was an alumnus of the university.

The Sandler Critical Essay Contest
The Sandler award recognizes the best analytical paper written for an upper-level English course. The award is named after Professor Florence Sandler who taught in the department from 1970 until her retirement in 2011. She is a scholar of the British Renaissance and taught classes on Milton and Shakespeare, and, more recently, post- colonial literatures. The award itself was established by Professor Ralph Corkrum, who taught American literature and advanced composition from the 1960s-1980s. Professor Corkrum specialized in the works of William Faulkner.

The Esther Wagner Fiction Contest
The Wagner award was established in honor of the late Esther B. Wagner, who taught English at Puget Sound from the 1960s to 1983.  In Spring 1976, Professor Wagner offered Puget Sound’s first prose fiction class, and afterwards worked with Professor Barry Bauska to establish the creative writing program in our department. A native of Chicago, and graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Professor Wagner was a published writer and scholar, fluent in French, and widely traveled. Her residence in Tacoma served as a kind of literary and intellectual salon, even after her retirement. T.S. Eliot was a friend of the family when she was growing up, and Professor Wagner knew the detective writer Erle Stanley Gardner well.  The Gift of Rome, a novel co-written by Professor Wagner and her husband, John Wagner, was published by Little, Brown in 1961.

The Rosemary VanArsdel Nonfiction Contest
The VanArsdel Award is named after Distinguished Professor of English Rosemary VanArsdel, who taught at Puget Sound from 1966 to 1990. During her 24 years here, Professor VanArsdel served as department chair and also as founding director of the English Program for the University's School of Law. Trained as a scholar of nineteenth-century British literature, she taught classes on George Eliot, Tennyson, Dickens, and the Brownings. Her work on nineteenth-century periodicals is her legacy: in 1967, she was the one of the founders (and later president) of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, a scholarly society that continues to thrive. Well after her retirement, Professor VanArsdel pursued her work on journalism and periodicals, striving to make them accessible to scholars and students throughout the world.