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Jan Rehner Prize for Writing

The Jan Rehner Prize for Writing was created in honour of Professor Jan Rehner, a long-time member of York University’s Writing Department. For many years, Professor Rehner has introduced and inspired students to the study of writing, teaching students at all year levels. A University-wide AND a National 3M award teaching winner, her careful, thoughtful feedback in tutorials and seminars has been greatly valued by her students for many years.

She teaches her students both to challenge dominant narratives, and to find their own voice as writers and persons, while encouraging them to become critically aware of their society, and of their own writing process. This award was established in recognition of her ceaseless efforts to empower and embolden students as writers and citizens, and with the gratitude of the many students, colleagues, and friends met during her years of contribution to the Writing Department and to the University.

Submission Criteria


  1. The Jan Rehner Prize for Writing is open to any paper composed in a Writing Department (WRIT or PRWR) course. Student submissions that are originally from courses offered by the Department of English and accepted for degree credit in Professional Writing are not eligible for this prize. Papers will come from courses offered in the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters.
  2. Entries permitting, a winner and a runner-up will be chosen for each year level (1000, 2000, 3000, 4000). The winner at each year level will be nominated for the LA&PS Writing Prize, if applicable. Judges may only award one prize, or no prizes in each category.
  3. Submissions in any style, using any form, or from any genre may be nominated so long as their content is primarily text-based. Life writing, film criticism, podcast transcripts, reports, formal essays, hyperlinked prose, blog entries, and other kinds of writing are welcome. Digital projects should be entered in the LA&PS Digital Composition Prize competition.
  4. Nominated papers must have received a final grade of an “A” or better (i.e., 80%+).
  5. Students may self-nominate their own papers. Teaching Assistants and Course Directors may also nominate papers. In ordinary circumstances, only one paper per student will be accepted.

If you have questions about these guidelines, please contact Jon Sufrin at jons@yorku.ca.

Papers and their corresponding assignment sheets must be submitted through the contest form linked below. Please fill out all the available fields.  

The contest is now open, and entries will be accepted until May 10, 2021

Submission Guidelines


  1. Prepare a clean, ungraded copy of the paper in Word format. Take care to include page numbers with your submission. You may incorporate further feedback from your instructors to the final version you upload. Make your paper the best it can be! 
  2. Papers must be submitted with all identifying information removed (this information will be included with the online submission form). Remove the course code and director, the tutorial number/leader and your name. Only the title of the paper should remain.
  3. Next, remove all digital identification from the submission. Do so by following this procedure in Word: 
    • Click on the “File” Tab.
    • Click on “Info” in the blue bar on the left (first entry).
    • Click on the “Inspect Document (Check for Issues)” option. After you click, you will have three further options—choose the first, also entitled “Inspect Document.”
    • Make sure all the boxes are checked, and then click “Inspect.”
    • If the program signals that identifying information is present in any category, click on “Remove All.” You may leave page numbers intact.
    • Recheck the document, using the same procedure, to ensure no information remains.
    • If you are using a program other than Word, follow the appropriate similar procedure for your software.
  4. Follow the same procedure for removing identifying information from the associated assignment prompt. Cut and paste the relevant information into a separate Word file or contact your instructor if necessary. Edit the document so the Instructor and course name does not appear, but assignment information is preserved.

Additional Notes


Each year level will be assessed by small teams of faculty paired with upper-year Professional Writing majors. Winners will be notified via email by the end of June 2021.

Competition finalists will receive a transcript notation, a gift card of their choice, and the opportunity to permanently publish their winning essay in the 2021 Edition of the Jan Rehner Prize for Writing online journal. To this end, finalists may be asked to incorporate further minor revisions to their work after being chosen.