Student Writing Contest

Student Writing Contest

“Is CSULA a community ?”

The American Communities Program invites CSULA undergraduates to compete for a first prize of $300 in an essay contest responding to this urgent question.
Christopher Isherwood’s 1963 novel, A Single Man, introduced millions of readers to the topography of Los Angeles and to California State University, Los Angeles, in particular. Described as a cluster of buildings atop a reconstituted trash heap, the campus is a metaphor for how George views his role as an English professor: drab, disconnected, and forced to interact with a disinterested audience. An unexpected encounter with a student alters George’s view of himself in relation to his students, his community, and ultimately, with humanity. Fifty years after its publication, A Single Man, while still a widely read and beloved Los Angeles story, interprets a CSULA that has changed dramatically since Isherwood’s time here, and the Oscar-nominated 2009 film version offers its own take on Isherwood’s depiction. We invite students either to respond to Isherwood’s book (and its film adaptation), and/or to reflect on their own experience at CSULA, in writing an essay to submit for the ACP essay prize. 
Entrants might consider the following:

•       Describe how your experiences at CSULA differ from, or correspond to, the ideals you once held about our campus.
•       How does the uniqueness of CSULA foster bonds with others?
•       Does the CSULA environment (people, climate, cultures) affect how you relate to others?

Submission Guidelines and Rules:
The submission deadline is Friday, April 12, 2013, at noon.  To enter, please send your essay, with the phrase “Essay Contest” in the subject line, to ACP Director Andrew Knighton, at   
Essays should be from 1000-1500 words; projects in other media may also be submitted.  You must be an enrolled CSULA undergraduate student in Spring Quarter 2013 to win.  One first prize of $300 and two runner-up awards of $100 will be awarded.  Winners will be notified by May 1, 2013.

Visual Resources from the Film:  A Single Man. Dir. Tom Ford. Perf. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult. The Weinstein Company, 2009. DVD.  See especially  the segment from 17:00 minutes to about 27:00 minutes, in which George pulls in to the campus parking lot, prepares for his English class, gives a lecture on “fear,” and converses with Kenny, a perceptive student in his class.  IMDB link:

Literary Resources from the Novel:  See especially pages 55-75.

Questions?  Contact ACP Director Dr. Andrew Knighton at or visit the ACP on facebook at