Sunday, May 15, 2011

SF/SOS Shakespeare Authorship High School Essay Contest offers $3000 in prizes

Oberon co-counder and Shakespeare Oxford Society President Richard Joyrich recently reported on the Shakespeare Authorship High School Essay Contest, a joint project between the contest founding Shakespeare Fellowship and the SOS. The contest will award $3000 in prizes. Deadline for submissions is Dec. 17, 2011; awards will be announced April 12, 2012. Joyrich said:
After a hiatus of three years the Shakespeare Fellowship, in combination with the Shakespeare Oxford Society, has arranged to revive the annual essay contest for high school students.
Our organizations are both committed to the exploration of the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages with particular emphasis on the question of the authorship of the plays and poetry attributed to William Shakespeare. We believe that this exploration leads to further insight into and enjoyment of these great works.
We further believe that this subject is and should be open to students and that the high school years is an optimal time to begin.
The High School Essay is a great way to introduce the subject to high school students and allow them to utilize their creativity and critical thinking ability in a very interesting way.
Further information can be found at or
The joint contest committee is chaired by Shakespeare Fellowship trustee Bonner Miller Cutting who said of the project:
The SF/SOS joint committee made some innovations to accommodate the age of technology. This year, all essays are to be submitted electronically to the following email address: 
All questions and comments may be sent to this address as well.
Four essay topics have been chosen to introduce students and teachers to the authorship debate, and the questions are directed toward encouraging critical and analytical thinking skills. The committee requires that three resources dealing with the authorship question be incorporated into the essay if it is to be considered for a monetary prize. In an effort to make this as convenient as possible, many of the recommended sources can be accessed through internet links.
There was much discussion on Topic #4 as it deals with the film Anonymous.  It was easier said than done to frame questions around this film which none of us has seen and, moreover, is anticipated with varying emotions by members of the committee, as well as fellow Oxfordians.
Last but not least, the committee wanted the contest to engender an open minded discussion of the authorship question. Judging is based on the following criteria: originality of thought; insight into Shakespearean interpretation from the authorship perspective; logical development of thesis; consideration of contrary evidence; effective use of resources; and elegance of style. In the closing remarks, it is clearly stated that an essay need not support the candidacy of the Earl of Oxford in order to qualify for prize money.   What the judges are looking for is a balanced consideration and evaluation of the Shakespeare authorship question.
The SF/SOS joint committee has put in many hours working out the topics, questions, rules, guidelines and resources for this contest; and we ask those who are interested in the authorship question to encourage their friends who are high school teachers to take advantage of this educational opportunity for their students.
Cutting's joint committee includes Shakespeare Fellowship President Earl Showerman, Shakespeare Oxford Society President Richard Joyrich, Alex McNeil, Lynne Kositsky, John Hamill, Ian Haste, and Brian Bechtold with advice from Tom Regnier and webmasters Marty Hyatt and Richard Smiley. 

Joyrich said, "I think of this project as an opportunity to do things together and lead to future collaborations."