Essay competition for Elon students includes $1,000 grand prize

The theme of the 2013 Carret Essay Competition is "Thomas Jefferson, the West, and American Individualism." The top prize is $1,000.


The American value of individualism arose, in part, from Americans’ encounters with western lands, including those Jefferson acquired through the Louisiana Purchase and commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore. How have Jefferson’s philosophy and practices shaped your generation’s perspective on social and cultural life in the U.S. today—including your ideas about American individualism?

Please feel free to approach the question—both conceptually and in terms of formatting—from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective. In every case, please cite your sources using a citation style appropriate to the discipline and attach a bibliography of works consulted. Responses should run c. 1,500-2,000 words (roughly six to eight pages). It is strongly suggested, though not required, that students work with a faculty mentor to craft a successful essay.

The American Studies Advisory Board will evaluate all submissions and will consider depth of insight, felicity of expression, creativity of approach, rigor of research, and power of argumentation. Papers are due electronically to Samuele Pardini, coordinator of the American studies program ( by 12 p.m. (noon) on Friday, March 22. Please put your name only on the cover page to facilitate blind review.


First prize is $1,000 and a paid overnight trip to Monticello, including special recognition at an evening program; second prize is $500; and third prize is $100. In addition, the three winners will present their ideas at a Carret-themed session on SURF Day (April 23). Winners will be notified at their Elon email address no later than April 18, and all contestants will be invited to a celebratory dinner the evening of Thursday, April 25.