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Dorothy Clark Hobson Essay Contest

The 2017 Dorothy Clark Hobson Essay Contest encourages students of The W to write a scholarly paper or personal essay related to the Common Reading Initiative. Winners of the Hobson Essay Contest receive a cash prize and are recognized in November.

The author of the first-place essay will receive $250.00; the second place winner $150.00, and the third place winner, $100.00. The contest winners, as special guests, will be recognized in November and their essays will be published on this web page.


Persepolis Essay Topics


In her introduction to Persepolis, Satrapi says that writing this graphic novel was a way to show that Iran, her native country, an “old and great civilization,” is not just a land filled with people who support religious “fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.” What are some of the personal situations she emphasizes to challenge many people’s current assumptions about the Iranian people? Are there any parallels to be drawn between “religious fundamentalism” in the United States and the “religious fundamentalism” which eventually gains control of the government after the Iranian revolution? Why or why not?


Discuss at least three of the female characters in Persepolis.  Compare their roles and attitudes about authority, family, and morality. Some possibilities could include Marji, (at any age) her grandmother and mother, her friends or neighbors, teachers in the schools, etc.  What are the culturally expected roles for these women? Do some of them succeed in rebelling against these roles?  Compare some of the Iranian expectations for women’s behavior with what you know about the expectations for women in the United States.  Are there similarities or only differences?


In her introduction to Persepolis, Satrapi warns her readers that “one can forgive, but one should never forget.” What does she mean by this statement in connection to the many different stories about people she tells in Persepolis? What does she show about the role of public (and government controlled) media in creating the “official stories” of Iran’s ancient, recent, and current history? What exactly is Satrapi suggesting that “one should never forget”? What does forgiving but never forgetting have to do with her memories as well as Iran’s history?

Judging Criteria

Essays will be judged on the following criteria by a faculty and staff committee:

  1. Adherence to contest requirements and essay topics
  2. Connection to Marjane Satrapi’s ideas and themes in Persepolis
  3. Clarity and organization
  4. Grammar and mechanics, and especially
  5. Specific details and thoughtfulness


Submission Guidelines

  1. Only one submission per currently enrolled full-time undergraduate MUW student will be accepted.
  2. All essays must be submitted electronically as Word documents to Bridget Smith Pieschel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) no later than midnight on October 24, 2017.
  3. Essays must be between 700-1250 words in length.
  4. The cover page of the essay must include the following information: first name, last name, e-mail address, telephone number, and the following statement: “I testify that this essay is my own original work, and I understand that if my essay is selected as one of the winning essays, my essay will be posted to the CRI website and published in other appropriate venues, if available, without any other remuneration other than the published prize.”
  5. No identifying information, such as the author’s name, should appear anywhere else other than on the cover page.