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The Pinto Carver Essay Contest

Pinto Carver Essay Topic 2023

The Topic: In 1979 Joan Didion opened her essay, “The White Album,” with this:  “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” In the forty-three years since then, the sentence been endlessly cited, used, commented upon, in part because it captures succinctly a truth about human nature. We are story tellers, telling stories about ourselves, about others, about our surroundings. As Jonathan Adler, a professor psychology at Olin College, recently put it: “…we craft an evolving story about ourselves so as to ascribe meaning to our lives. The more coherent our story is—that is the more our own journey makes sense to us—the more secure we feel in our identities” (The American Scholar, Winter 2023, 96). What story or stories are central to your life, story or stories that have helped and are helping you to live, to give your life coherence and meaning along with perhaps a sense of joy and fun? And where does that story or those stories come from?

The more well developed your thoughts, the more specific your language and examples, the better.  

Eligibility: Current Liberal Arts Honors First Years (Class of 2026) and Sophomores (Class of 2025).

Specifications: 750-1000 words, titled, double-spaced, and typed, with your name and EID in the upper-right hand corner. No cover page.


1st Prize: $1500

2nd Prize: $500

3rd Prize: $250

Submission Deadline: Submit your essay as a pdf to this address by Friday, January 27, 2023 at midnight.

Please label the document clearly with your name. No text in the body of the email will come through. The judges reserve the right to withhold awards in the absence of prize worthy essays.