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Dorothy Clark Hobson Essay Contest

The 2018 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.


The World's Largest Man Essay Topics


An important theme in this book is how difficult it often is for fathers and sons to understand each other (or themselves).  Explain what you think are the most significant differences between Key and his father, and whether you believe they are ever actually resolved.  Then add a personal anecdote about significant differences between you and a parent (women choose mothers and men choose fathers; you may also choose mother or father “figures,” not necessarily biological parents). Explain if you believe that those differences have been or ever will be completely resolved. 


While the characters of Key’s mother and wife are not the focus of this book, analyze and discuss what he suggests are the important influences they both have on his younger and older self.  They do not loom as “LARGE” in this book, but they are not minor characters.  Why are the influences of his mother and wife an important part of his larger understanding of his father?


[Creative Nonfiction Topic].  Write (in Key’s chosen style) about the complicated relationship  between you and a same gender parent or grandparent.  What are the conflicts?  The ongoing old arguments? The shared traditions?  The shared memories and even “old jokes” that unite you? The changes in the relationship as you grow? 

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 Harrison Scott Key’s ideas and themes in The World’s Largest Man
  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 23, 2018.
  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.