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Undergraduate Writing Symposium: Submissions and Self-Nominations

The Undergraduate Writing Symposium provides an opportunity for Vanderbilt to celebrate the achievements of its undergraduate students.

Call for Self-Nominations and Submissions

Undergraduate Writing Symposium poster

In Spring 2021, the Undergraduate Writing Symposium will be held virtually over Zoom and as two separate events.

The first event, Undergraduate Writing Symposium: Creative Writing Showcase, will be held on Friday, April 9.

The second event, Undergraduate Writing Symposium: Academic Writing Showcase, will feature the exceptional work of first-year authors as well as the research writing of more advanced undergraduate authors. This second event will take place Thursday, April 15.

Each category has its own distinct submission and review process, discussed below.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Writing Symposium and our review process for submissions by reading our comprehensive overview of the Undergraduate Writing Symposium.

Submission Categories and Forms

First-Year Submissions

This year, all first-year submissions to the symposium will once again be competing for inclusion in Scaffold: A Showcase of Vanderbilt First-Year Writing a digital collection begun in Spring 2019 as an extension of the symposium.

Following our review process, the authors of the highest scoring submissions will be invited to prepare their pieces for digital publication and to submit a short video or audio reflection on the writing of the piece and what they learned. (Guidelines will be provided to finalists.) All pieces included in the digital showcase will also be eligible for prizes in several categories, which will be announced during an awards ceremony at the symposium’s conclusion.

First-year writing completed during the 2020 calendar year are welcome to compete for inclusion in the event. Note: Creative pieces written by first-year students should be submitted under the Creative Writing category.

To nominate your writing or to submit a piece nominated by an instructor, please fill out the First-Year Writing Submission Form.

Advanced Research Writing Submissions

All undergraduates currently completing advanced writing-intensive research projects are invited to submit their project for inclusion in this year’s symposium. To be considered for inclusion, writers should submit a 250-word abstract of their project and a brief description of their work to be included in the online program. Writers are also asked to provide a short reflection addressing the current state of their work, progress expected before the event, and what they have learned about their topic and/or writing process thus far . Following our review process, select authors will be invited to join our Advanced Research section to discuss their work and writing process alongside other participants.

Advanced writing projects completed or currently in-progress are welcome to compete for inclusion in the event.

To nominate your writing or to submit a piece nominated by an instructor, please fill out the Advanced Research Submission Form.

Creative Writing Submissions

Creative writing pieces, including those written by first-year students, completed during the 2020 calendar year are eligible to compete for a place in this year’s designated Creative Writing Showcase. Accepted works will be presented in an online gallery during the event, and writers will have the opportunity to discuss their work through Author Talks. Readings and performances of the highest rated pieces will round out the event.

To nominate your writing or to submit a piece nominated by an instructor, please fill out the Creative Writing Submission Form.

Submission Guidelines

Word Limit

Please note that there is a 3,500 word limit for first-year papers and creative writing pieces submitted for consideration. Pieces longer than 3,500 words will not be considered for inclusion in the Symposium. If selected for presentation, papers will be need to be edited to 7-8 pages of text or 15 minutes of presentation time. (For multimodal works selected, we will work with students to decide the best way to display or share each piece.)


Submission files should be Word Documents (.docx preferred). Please include your name in the file name, while removing all identifying marks (name, class, professor, etc) from the document and the header.

Digital Compositions Welcome

The submission form includes instructions for submitting writing project with multimedia components. (If removing identifiers from such projects proves difficult or impossible, we understand and will adapt our review process accordingly.)

Two Entries per Student Maximum

Each student may submit up to two of their own projects, which includes both faculty-nominated and self-nominated pieces.

Critical Deadlines and Dates (Spring 2021)

  • Friday, January 29: Deadline for Faculty Nominations
  • Friday, February 5: Deadline for Submissions (applies to faculty- and self-nominated works)
  • Friday, April 9: Creative Writing Showcase*
  • Thursday, April 15: First-Year and Senior Research Showcase*

(*Please note that you must be available to present in person in order to participate.)

Questions or technical issues?

Please contact Beth Estes, Academic Support Coordinator.