Academic | Essay Contest
Signet Classics Announces Winners of the 14th Annual Scholarship Essay Contest
New York, NY, July 2010Signet Classics, the imprint of New American Library devoted for more than 40 years to publishing inexpensive paperback editions of more than 300 of the world's greatest literary works, has announced the winners of the fourteenth annual Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest. The Grand Prize Winners, listed in alphabetical order, are:
- Isaac Hellemn
Isaac is in 12th grade at Plano West Senior High School, Plano, TX
- Angelica Hicks
Angelica is in 12th grade at Shawnee High School, Medford, NJ
- Ji Min Lee
Ji Min is in 11th grade at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
- Erika Lower
Erika is in 12th grade at Lakota West High School, West Chester, OH
- Sarah Marx
Sarah is in 12th grade, homeschooled in Chevy Chase, MD
Essay Subject: War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Topics for the essay contest:
- In the Signet Classic edition of The War of the Worlds, Karl Kroeber writes: "Wells here writes why enduring science fiction is grounded in factual accuracy....The art of science fiction is not the overcoming of indifference but the establishment of new, unanticipated possibilities." Find examples in the novel to support this statement.
- Although The War of the Worlds is an imaginary work, Wells pays a great deal of attention to verisimilitude. That is, he presents the story as though it is a factual account of real events. Discuss specific ways in which he creates this effect. In what ways does verisimilitude affect the story? The reader?
- Why did H. G. Wells leave his first person hero/protagonist nameless? Other characters are also not given names, only descriptive designations "the artilleryman," "the curate," "my wife." In your opinion, does this insistence on anonymity increase or decrease the effectiveness and emotional impact of the novel? Give examples to support your point of view.
- H. G. Wells was accused by some of his critics of advocating "social engineering," i.e., trying to control the future of the human race by encouraging the rise of the physically and mentally strong at the expense of the less gifted and intelligent. Support or counter these charges using evidence from the novel.
- One explanation of the enduring popularity of The War of the Worlds, is that though it is set around the turn of the twentieth century, it contains important information for future generations. How is Wells' treatment of subjects like extra terrestrial life, science, religion, the environment, methods of warfare, relations between humans and/or other species relevant to readers in 2010? Is Wells hopeful about the survival of civilization? Do you agree with his opinion? Discuss, with specific references to the novel, at least two of the topics mentioned above.
The Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest was established in 1996 to encourage greater interest in reading among high school students by offering tangible assistance to the winning students and their schools. It is open to qualifying high school juniors and seniors in the United States. "We are proud to be involved in a unique scholarship program that encourages student appreciation for the great classics," notes Craig Burke, Vice President and Executive Director of Publicity for New American Library.
Entrants are required to submit a 2-3 page double-spaced, typewritten essay, answering one of four questions relating to the designated competition book. Essays must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the themes in the book; clear, concise writing; and logical, well-supported arguments. Judges also consider style, content, grammar and originality. Five Grand Prize Winners are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a Signet Classics Library for their school (or local public library, in the case of home-schooled students), valued at $1,700.
The designated title for 2009-2010 was The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The book selected for the 2010-2011 Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
For more information on the 2010-2011 Signet Classics Essay Contest, click here.
Entry forms and full information about the contest will also be available in high school English departments, or by writing to:
Penguin Group (USA)
Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
New American Library is a division of Penguin Group (USA), part of Pearson Plc, the international media group, and includes the imprints Signet, Signet Classics, Onyx, Roc and NAL Trade Paperbacks.