Superhero Scholarship Essay Contests

Sharpen your claws… er, pencils…

It’s the summer of the superhero here at Oxford University Press. We’re publishing two essay collections on the real powers superheroes hold — on our imagination and our understanding of the world. Our Superheroes, Ourselves, edited by Robin S. Rosenberg, PhD, and What is a Superhero?, edited by Robin S. Rosenberg, PhD and Peter Coogan, PhD, look at some of our greatest superheroes (and supervillains) and explore what exactly makes them “super”. We immediately think of the superhuman powers that our heroes use to save the day. But then again, superpowers can be used for good or evil…

What do you want for your superpower and why? Just as the powers and abilities of Batman and Superman reveal their personal history, your choice reveals a great deal about yourself. So in the spirit of revealing the truth about our superheroes — and ourselves — we are holding an essay contest to find out exactly what you’re made of. Simply follow the guidelines below on submitting your essay and you could be wearing Oxford lycra before you know it (wearing Oxford lyrca = holding an Oxford book). Entries will be judged by Oxford University Press superhero staff experts (costumes optional; secret identities to be protected and all).

Submission guidelines:

  • One entry per person. If multiple entries are submitted, only the first will be considered and you will incur the wrath of your greatest nemesis.
  • Entries must be no longer than 500 words. Longer entries will be zapped or kapowed.
  • Email your submission to blog[at]oup[dot]com by midnight US Eastern time on 14 July 2013. Entries received after that time will not be considered and swallowed by a time vortex.
  • Subject must read “OUP Superhero essay contest-(title)” (e.g., OUP Superhero essay contest-Power of Flight)
  • Body of the email must include the title of the essay and your full name and contact information (street address, email, phone)
  • The essay must be included in an attached document that does not include your name to facilitate blind judging. Title of the attachment must be the title of your essay.
  • Be clear about whether the superpower is for good or evil, or the interpretation will be at the mercy of the judges.
  • By entering the competition, you agree to these Terms and Conditions.

What the judges are looking for?

  • Proper grammar, spelling, and style. Never forget the Oxford comma!
  • The craftsmanship of a hero who has come on a long journey to fully realize their powers.
  • Imaginative detail and creativity in your writing utility belt.
  • What the entry reveals about the everyday hero behind the mask.

What will you win?

Go now, Braniacs, Black Widows, and Batmen, and use your creative powers to submit a piece! The fate of the world depends on it.

Robin S. Rosenberg is a clinical psychologist. In addition to running a private practice, she writes about superheroes and the psychological phenomena their stories reveal. She is editor of Psychology of Superheroes, Our Superheroes, Ourselves, andWhat is a Superhero?.

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Image credit: Hugh Jackman X-Men Origins Wolverine gif, creative commons license via Perez Hilton.

Vaughn M.
Virginia Beach, VA

Characters

Vaughn: A 31-year-old student seeking his doctorate in clinical psychology.

Kang the Conqueror: A Marvel supervillain and time-traveling despot from the 30th century.

Scene 1

(Vaughn sits at a coffee table contemplating life. In an email offering a scholarship, he is asked the question; who would you be, a superhero or a villain? Turning to his lovely wife, he proclaims …)

Vaughn: I should be the villain.

Caroline: What? Why!?!

(Vaughn stares into the distance; entering a world beyond imagination.)

Scene 2

(Kang’s first officer sees his commander open his eyes after a prolonged pause.) 

Officer: Sir, are you alright?

(Vaughn’s influence takes control.)

Kang: Status Report!

Officer: We remain in geosynchronous orbit over Earth!  The fleet stands by for your orders. Their champions, the Avengers, approach.

Kang: Just as planned… Commander! Withdraw the fleet. Set a course for the galactic center!

Officer: But sir …

(Vaughn, asserting his newly found power.)

Kang: You question, me!?!

Epilogue

Caroline: Earth to Vaughn! Where did you go?

Vaughn: By taking the place of the villain, I would be stopping him from “conquering.” If I became the hero, Kang would not be stopped in a day, but if I became the villain the problem would be solved.  In terms of powers, I would want to be a character in command of time and space.  With such power, technically, one day could last for an eternity.  There are so many options!

(Caroline rolls her eyes and finishes her chocolate cake.)

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