The following essays, which won the 2019 MLA Student Paper Contest, provide models for organizing an argument and working with sources. They also demonstrate MLA documentation style and paper formatting. For more details, consult the MLA’s guidelines on formatting papers.

Please note that the papers were lightly edited and that missing bibliographic information, such as page numbers, was supplied or invented for illustrative purposes.

The 2019 judges were Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deb Holdstein, Columbia College, Chicago; and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.


Catherine Charlton, University of King’s College, Nova Scotia

“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”


Alyiah Gonzales, California Polytechnic State University

“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”


Meg Matthias, Miami University, Ohio

“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”


Jennifer Nguyen, Chaminade University of Honolulu

“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”


Emily Schlepp, Northwest University

“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s Great Expectations