Graduate Student Essay Contest

The SMFS Graduate Student Essay Competition is open to all currently-enrolled graduate students, including those who will complete their degree in the current academic year. Papers submitted for consideration should be polished, original scholarly work and may cover any aspect of medieval studies that focuses on issues of women, gender, and/or sexuality. Papers written originally as conference presentations or seminar/ capstone assignments should be revised into article length, format, and style prior to submission for this contest.


  1. Papers should be no longer than 8000 words, not counting foot/endnotes and bibliography.
  2. Papers that do not conform to these basic guidelines will be returned with a request to revise in accordance with required length and formatting.

The prize will be 5 years’ membership of SMFS and publication of the winning paper, subject to editing, in the Society’s journal, Medieval Feminist Forum. The winner will be paired with a mentor who will help facilitate revisions and work with you to develop your essay for publication. All submissions will receive constructive feedback.

Deadline for submission of papers is February 29 2024. Decisions will be announced in March. There may be years when the prize will not be awarded, dependent upon the publishable potential of submissions.

Send all submissions (via email attachment) and correspondence to Nicole Lopez-Jantzen ( with subject heading: “Submission, SMFS Best Graduate Essay Prize”


2024 Basil Arnould Price, University of York

“Bad Trans* Feelings in Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss

2022 Adelaide Greig, The University of Melbourne

“’Let Calle Hym Tristram’: Women’s Reproductive Bodies and Resistance in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur.”

2021 Sophie D’Ignazio, Cornell University

“The Carolingian Gender Reform: Making Monastic Women Female in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries”

2020 Kersti Francis, UCLA

“Alchemy, the Liber Aureus, and the Erotics of Knowledge”

2019 Ashley Odebiyi, The University of Alabama

“Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Brabant, and Marguerite of Porete: The Annihilation of the Soul and the Challenge to Church Authority”

2017 Shireen Hamza, Harvard University

“Medicine Beyond Doctors: Aphrodisiac Recipes in Tenth-Century Medicine and Cuisine”

2016 Jaimie Gunderson, The University of Texas – Austin

“The Space Between a Wound and a Scar: The Negotiation of Heroic Identity in Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina”

2015 Alexandra Locking, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

“‘And they shall be two in one flesh’: The Battle Over the Virgin’s Body in the Life of Christina of Markyate”

2014 Gillian Adler, UCLA

“Female Intercession and the Shaping of Male Heroism in the Roman d’Eneas and Le Chevalier au Lion”

2013 Jennifer Freeman, Vanderbilt University

“Theologizing Gender in the Rothschild Canticles.

2012 Rachel Freedman Stapleton, University of Toronto

“Motherly Devotion and Fatherly Obligation: Eleanor of Aquitain’s Letters to Pope Celestine III”

2011 Laura Saetveit Miles, Yale University

“Looking in the Past for a Discourse of Motherhood: Birgitta of Sweden and Julia Kristeva.”

2010 Autumn Dolan, University of Missouri-Columbia

“A Revival of Female Spirituality: Adaptations of Nuns’ Rules during the Hiberno-Frankish Monastic Movement of the Seventh Century”

2009 Sarah Celentano, University of Texas-Austin

“Commentary from the Canoness: Female Agency and Christian-Jewish Debate in the Hortus Deliciarum

2008 Amy Brown, University of Sydney (undergraduate)

“Gender, Power and Heroism in Aelfric’s Judith