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English Awards

The English Department offers nine prizes and scholarships. Five of these were established in honour of former faculty members; one honours the Department's retired faculty; and one was established by a former Chancellor of York University as part of his dedication to Canadian Studies. In addition to these seven prizes and scholarships, the Department also recognizes outstanding essays written in courses offered at the 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 levels.

The winning essays are preserved in the English Undergraduate Essay Prizes Collection.

Essay Prizes and Scholarships

The application period for the 2023-2024 academic year is now open!

Submission deadline: June 30, 2024. Application Information Sheet (PDF)

The Avie Bennett Prize in Canadian Literature

Faculty members nominate students for this award.

Avie Bennett was Chancellor of York University from May 1998 to June 2004. Because of his lifelong interest in Canadian Studies, he has established a prize to be awarded annually to an undergraduate student studying in the Department of English in the Faculty of LA&PS, who has written the best essay in Canadian Literature.

The recipient will also receive a set of the New Canadian Library at the annual English Department awards reception.

2023 | Rosina Nicolazzo, "Julius Caesar and The Death of a Chief: The Deconstruction of Colonial Knowledge and Reclamation of Indigeneity Through Theatre"

2022 | Sebastian Fess

2021 | Karen Chiykowski

2020 | Ashlei Stewart

2019 | Muna Hussein

The Brian Hepworth Memorial Prize

Faculty members nominate students for this award.

This prize is awarded annually for the best essay on a subject drawn from English literature, 1660-1800, written by an undergraduate student and submitted as part of the requirements for an undergraduate course offered in the current year by the English department. The value of this award and the closing date for nominations vary from year to year. Contact the department office at 416-736-5166 for further details. The Department reserves the right not to award a prize in any given year.

2023 | Adelvida Lomibao; Joseph Sereney (HON. MENTION)

2022 | Adrian Grek

2021 | Emma Verrilli

2020 | Devin Stroink

2019 | Daminee Salahuddin

The Department of English Retirees' Scholarship

Application is not required.
All eligible students are automatically assessed.

Established by Professor Ruth Grogan in 2004, the fund that supports this award is a way of honouring faculty retiring from the English Department. It is intended to provide financial assistance to the top student (ranking based on cumulative grade point average), in the Department of English, Faculty of LA&PS, who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and a resident of Ontario, and who demonstrates financial need. Recipients must be enrolled in a major or minor program within the Department of English and have completed at least 21 credits in English (3.5 full courses) and will be continuing in the English Department with at least 12 credits remaining to graduate, 6 of which must be in English. Eligible students will be invited to complete a bursary application.

2023 | Suzanne Gregory; Javeria Rana

2022 | Jelem Cuary; Jordan Gionet

2021 | Caio Popovic

2020 | Nafisah Kotwal

2019 | Julia Swais; Christopher Su

The H.K. Girling Literature Prize

Submission-based award.
Faculty members may nominate students for this award.

Established in 2002 by friends and family in memory of Professor Harry K. Girling, a member of the York University English Department from 1962 to 1984. The prize is awarded annually, on the recommendation of the English department, to a student enrolled in a 2000- or 3000-level English course. Its basis is an outstanding essay written for that course by a student showing commitment to literature in both the classroom and in other ways.

Professor Girling always challenged his students to make connections between their studies and contemporary culture. It is hoped that the successful candidate is someone who can rise to that challenge. Students may either nominate themselves or be nominated by their instructors. In either case, a full submission will include both a clean copy of the essay and an accompanying letter detailing the student's commitment to literature and to connecting her/his studies to contemporary culture.

2023 | Cody Poisson

2022 | Tiger Thompson-Davidson

2021 | Madeleine Martin

2020 | Vanessa Spagnuolo

2016 | Hajer Mirwali

The Lucille Herbert Memorial Scholarship

Submission-based award.

This scholarship exists to assist any undergraduate student in English or Creative Writing (Faculty of LA&PS) who proposes to travel to Europe, especially France, and who has taken (including current enrolment), at least four courses in English. Travel might be specifically for study, perhaps at a summer school, but not restricted to formal courses.

An articulate letter of application, addressed to the English Department's Teaching Committee, should provide the following information: present level of study; English courses taken and grades obtained; present academic plans; object of travel. (No letters from referees.) Applicants may need to attend an informal interview. The value of this scholarship is typically one economy airfare. The deadline for application varies from year to year. Contact the department office at 416-736-5166 for specific information. The Department reserves the right not to award a prize in any given year.

2023 | Cody Poisson

2022 | Abbie Mauno; Kaila Gallacher

2021 | N/A

2020 | Raven Lovering; Thomas Worthington

2019 | Alessia Loduca

The Elizabeth Sabiston Prize

Faculty members nominate students for this award.

Given in honour of Professor Elizabeth Sabiston, a longtime member of the English Department, this prize is awarded annually to a student who writes an outstanding essay in a 3rd or 4th year English course in the field of Women in Literature (British, American, or Canadian, 18th to 20th centuries). Subjects could include characterization of the female by female or male authors, women novelists or poets, comparative studies.

2023 | Katura Gibb; Robert MacIsaac

2022 | Zoe Kavouris; Ashlei Stewart (HON. MENTION)

The June McMaster-Harrison Memorial Prize

Faculty members nominate students for this award.

Awarded to the Liberal Arts & Professional Studies student who, while enrolled in an English course, at the 3000- or 4000-level, produces the finest piece of written work in areas of studies with special interest to Professor McMaster-Harrison: literature of the Romantic period; literary theory; cross-disciplinary studies involving literature and other arts or sciences. It is awarded for courses completed in the previous fall/winter and summer session.This prize was established to honour Professor June McMaster-Harrison, former Chair of the Department of English in the former Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.

2023 | Emma Verrilli; Lubna Salama (HON. MENTION)

2022 | Robert Candoni

2021 | Thanushmiya Jude-Xavier; Gabrielle Poole-Fournier (HON. MENTION)

2020 | Tanya Kumar

2019 | Zena Kamocki

The Matthew Ahern Memorial Prize

Application is not required.
All eligible students are automatically assessed.

Awarded annually to the student with the highest academic achievement in one of the following courses: Shakespeare and his Contemporaries; Poetry and Prose of the Romantic Period; American Literature of the 19th Century; Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama. Decisions will be based on courses completed in the previous fall/winter and summer session. Established in honour of Dr. Ahern, who served as Chair of English and Associate Dean of Atkinson. He was a devoted, versatile teacher for over 25 years, with areas of expertise extending from Renaissance to 19th-century and Modern American Literature.

2023 | Jean-Louis Voyer

2022 | Caio Popovic

2021 | Kristopher Kassabian

2020 | Julia Swais

2019 | Muna Hussein

The Stephanie Stavro Scholarship in English

Application is not required.
All eligible students are automatically assessed.

The Stephanie Stavro Scholarship in English is awarded to a Black and/or Indigenous student majoring in an English program offered by the Faculty of LA&PS. Named after the York University Department of English alumna, the new scholarship will support a second-year student.

2023 | John Batista

2022 | John Batista

2020 | Samira Mursal

Departmental Essay Prizes

Faculty members may nominate students for this award.

The Department of English awards prizes for the best essay written in courses at each of the four year levels.

Past Winners

  • 1000-level Essay Prize - Tia Buckeridge; Sarah Paiva Spadafora (HON. MENTION)
  • 2000-level Essay Prize - Lisa Sterrett
  • 3000-level Essay Prize - Kirandeep Bhanot; Judith Nancekivell (HON. MENTION)
  • 4000-level Essay Prize - Vanessa Spagnuolo; Raven Lovering (HON. MENTION)
  • 1000-level Essay Prize - Donya Mahiny-Shahmohammady
  • 2000-level Essay Prize - Kaitlin Thornber; Caio Popovic (HON. MENTION)
  • 3000-level Essay Prize - Marlee John; Kimari Wright (HON. MENTION)
  • 4000-level Essay Prize - Dayna Densmore
  • 1000-level Essay Prize - Benjamin Beauchemin
  • 2000-level Essay Prize - Devin Stroink
  • 3000-level Essay Prize - Julia Swais
  • 4000-level Essay Prize - Julia Swais; Christina Calabretta (HON. MENTION)
  • 1000-level Essay Prize - Leah Perez
  • 2000-level Essay Prize - Daminee Salahuddin
  • 3000-level Essay Prize - Lee Murphy
  • 4000-level Essay Prize - Zena Kamocki; Jerome Paul

Looking for more?

The Faculty of LA&PS also provides a number of scholarships, awards and bursaries. Use the award search and fill our your student financial profile today.