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Jeffrey Walker, Chair PAR 3, Mailcode B5500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-6109

Trimble Prize for Excellence in Writing

John Trimble

The winner of the 2013-2014 prize is Rhetoric and Writing major Erik Zane Fisher, whose winning entry is titled, “Rebranding Socialism.”  Erik learned his submission was being honored when Emeritus Professor John Trimble called from his home in Colorado to announce him as the winner during his Film as Rhetoric class.  To the delight of Eric's fellow students, the call was put on speaker phone.  Always the writing teacher, Trimble praised specific attributes of the essay and talked about the power of effective prose. 

John Trimble arrived in Austin in 1970, teaching first in the Department of English, then splitting his appointment between English and Rhetoric & Writing, where he taught his legendary signature course, Advanced Expository Writing (RHE 325M). His devotion to clear, engaging prose anchored the course, and he asked much of his students, requiring they compose weekly essays and meticulously line-edit those of their peers. Students praised the course effusively, and often credited Trimble with revolutionizing their attitudes toward writing and editing. 

In 1995 Trimble was inducted into UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and his celebrated book, Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, is now in its third edition, having sold upwards of one-half million copies. “I wanted it to be a ‘non-textbook textbook,’” Trimble told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011, “something like Strunk and White's Elements of Style, agreeably short and compact, and nuts-and-bolts practical — a  book that emphasized, and explained, how veteran writers actually think; a book with all the water squished out but with all the life left in; a book that students might reasonably find themselves actually reading cover to cover.” Based on the response to the text, Trimble has been extraordinarily successful. 

The Department of Rhetoric and Writing is thus honored to offer the Trimble Prize for Excellence in Writing, awarded annually to an undergraduate for his/her work in nonfiction, whether argumentative, expository, or self-expressive.

The award is for $1,000, and applications are available in Parlin 3 or online here. The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 20, at 5 p.m

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