The American Friends of James Joyce and The Modern Word are proud to host their sixth annual Secondary School Essay Contest.


The student will prepare an essay that answers the following question:

Question A
James Joyce set his masterpiece Ulysses on a single day in Dublin: June 16, 1904. The book was such a vivid recreation of that time and place that Joyce once remarked, "I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book." In your opinion, what modern masterpiece completely captures what it's like to be alive today? Explain why you feel this book could serve as a "new" Ulysses, and why future readers may use it to "reconstruct" our own time and place.

The essay should be between 500-1000 words, and must be submitted electronically to The Modern Word at the following email address: The essay must be submitted as a Microsoft Word attachment, and contain the words "JOYCE ESSAY" in the subject field.

Entries will be reviewed by a panel of four judges: Robert DiYanni, Chairman of The Modern Word Literary Advisory Board; Bob Joyce, head of the James Joyce Centre in Dublin; Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, former New York Times book critic; and Allen B. Ruch, Editorial Director of The Modern Word. Entries will be judged on their quality of thought, originality, and control of English grammar and usage.

Entries must be submitted by May 15, 2009.

The essay contest is open to students world-wide, but all entries must be in English. Students must be in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade or the equivalent, and may be in public, private, or home-school environments. All essays must include the student’s name, address, phone number, and email address. The name and location of the student’s secondary school must also be included.


First Prize: $1500 scholarship.
Second Prize: $500 scholarship.
Third Prize: A set of James Joyce’s major works.

All winning essays will be posted on The Modern Word, and will remain online for one year.


The Joyce Essay Contest is sponsored by The American Friends of James Joyce, and co-sponsored by the James Joyce Centre of Dublin.

Featured Links

Previous Winners – Read the winning essays from our previous contests.

The James Joyce Centre – Located in a restored Georgian townhouse in Dublin, the James Joyce Centre is dedicated to “promoting an interest in his life and works,” and contains members of the Joyce family on its board.