In 2007, Mary and Steven Swig (BA, 1963) of San Francisco created an endowment to fund the annual prize. Each term UO English honors one major with an award for the outstanding student essay on any subject. The winning essay is chosen from essays nominated by the English faculty.The award carries a cash prize of $500.
Colin Baxley: “‘Innumerable Clanging Wings’: The Three-Part Opening Sonnet of W. B. Yeats’s ‘The Tower,'” written for Mark Quigley’s ENG 407: St. Louis Seminar: W. B. Yeats & Seamus Heaney.
Ian Stewart: “A Gift of Ice and Fire: Creation as Gift Exchange in the Prose Edda,” written for Stephanie Clark’s ENG 425: Age of Beowulf.
Samantha Elwood: “The White Male Protagonist: Friend or Foe?” written for Kirby Brown’s ENG 488: Native American Literature and Film.
Dylan Thompson: “Questioning the Ambivalent Politics of Andrew Marvel: An Exploration on the Authorship of ‘An Elegy Upon the Death of My Lord Francis Villieres,’” written for Ben Saunders’ ENG 440: Seventeenth-Century Poetry & Prose.
Kamiiya Williams: “Masking for Survival: The Broken Black Family and Generational Transfer of Masks in the Trueblood Episode,” written for Courtney Thorsson’s ENG 468: Contemporary Black Fiction.
Samuel Rodgers: “The Performance of DuBois and Dunbar,” written for Courtney Thorsson’s ENG 360: African American Writers.
The winner of the Stephen Swig Essay Prize for Spring Term 2013 is River Ramuglia for “Locating Malindy: Poetic Treatment of the Musical Creative Spirit,” written for Karen Ford’s African American Poetry and Poetics St. Louise Seminar in Poetry and Poetics.
Martin Larson-Xu: “Means Something, Language of Flow: Music, Noise, and Conceptual Art in the ‘Sirens’ Episode of Ulysses,” written for Paul Peppis’s ENG 479: James Joyce course.
Martin’s essay explores the musical manipulation of literary form inthe ‘Sirens’ episode of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. Martin arguesthat, in ‘Sirens’, Joyce aspires to transcend the linear temporality of literary form by assuming the narratorial guise of pure form, or pure rhetorical style. To achieve this, his narrator explores words and sounds at the root level, manipulating these roots through rhetorical device with the goal of delivering a perception of sound in literature that escapes temporality. This foregrounding of rhetorical device also attempts to overcome the conceptual barriers between music and noise by breaking down the step by step mental process of reconceptualizing noise as music. Lastly, the episode’s engagement with the conceptual barriers between music and literature, noise and music, reflects a broader crisis of aesthetic value that occurred as popular commodity culture infiltrated the previously exclusive domain of “high” culture.