Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Model Papers from the Disciplines

Professional writers often read other writers to think about new techniques. Although reading a good paper cannot teach you everything you need to know about writing in a given discipline, it can be enormously helpful. The papers on this page are past winners of the Writing Center essay contest. We hope you find some of these helpful for expanding your writing repertoire. (You may also want to browse Additional Model Papers, collected in earlier years.)

It can be even more valuable to ask your professors for sample essays that they admire. In fact, if your field is not represented below, please encourage your professors to send us a good paper in that discipline.

2015 Contest Winners

“From Sanctuary to Cemetery: The Fate of Astoria and the Italian Immigrant Community,” by Giovanni Bacarella ‘15. AMST 348: Space, Place, & Landscape, Professor Laura Barraclough.

“Electrospray Synthesis of Graphene Oxide-Mized Metal Oxide Nanocomposites for Energy Storage,” Brandon Ortiz ‘18. STARS, Professor Alessandro Gomez, Teaching Fellow Justin Tang.

“The Preserved Party: A Metonymical Still Life,” Janine Chow ‘15. LITR 202: Nabokov and World Literature, Professor Marijeta Bozovic, Teaching Fellow Daria Ezerova.

“Nutrition in Zambia,” Christina de Fontnouvelle ‘16. HLTH 230: Global Health Challenges and Responses, Professor Richard Skolnik, Teaching Fellow Jordan Emont.

“Choosing to Walk the Tightrope,” Emma Fallone ‘16. ENGL 240: Writing Narrative Nonfiction, Professor Edward Ball.

“Thomas Clap, Ezra Stiles, and Yale’s First Revolution,” Thomas Hopson ‘16. HIST 135J: The Age of Hamilton and Jefferson, Professor Joanne Freeman.

“Preserving Values in a Market for Kidneys,” Cynthia Hua ‘15. SOCY 321: Sociology of Markets, Professors Devin Singh and Frederick Wherry, Teaching Fellow Andrew Cohen.

Silencing the Past by Michael-Rolph Trouillot: A Revolutionary History,” Chentian (Lionel) Jin ‘18. HIST 007: The History of U.S.-Latin American Relations, Professors Jennifer Van Vleck and Taylor Jardno.

“The Beauty of Illness,” Jacquelyn Nakamura ‘15. ENGL 121: Style As Argument, Professor Kim Shirkhani.

“Big Trouble in the Big Easy: The Battle of Canal Street and the Independence of Black Political Power,” Jacob Wasserman ‘16. HIST 139J: The American South Since Reconstruction, Professor Glenda Gilmore.

“A Diachronic Perspective on Semantic Maps,” Robert Yaman ’15. LING 121: Historical Linguistics, Professor Claire Bowern, Teaching Fellow Sean Gleason.


American Studies

“The Trolley Problem: The Demise of the Streetcar in New Haven,” by Jacob Wasserman ’16. HIST 116J: Roads and Cars in American Life, Professor David Spatz.

“An Unattainable Salvation: Dirt, Danger & Domesticity in Old New York,” by Catherine Carson Evans ’13. AMST 207: American Cultural Landscapes, Professor Dolores Hayden, Teaching Fellow Chloe Taft.

“Pruitt-Igoe: Utopic Expectations Meet Tenement-Infused Realities,” by Evan Frondorf ’14. AMST 207: American Cultural Landscapes, Professor Dolores Hayden, Teaching Fellow Liz Bondaryk.

“The Numerous Faces of South Korea’s Burgeoning Medical Tourism Industry,” by Lisa Wang ’12. AMST 192: Work and Daily Life in Global Capitalism, Professor Michael Denning.


Bioethics

“The Prisoner Dis-Analogy as a Defense of Stem Cell Research on Spare Embryos,” by Ilana Yurkiewicz ’10. CSES 362: Bioethics and the Law, Professor Dov Fox.


English 114/116

“Muahaha!: Defining Evil Laughter,” by Spencer Katz ’13. ENGL 114: Writing Seminar, Professor Ryan Wepler.

“The Camera as Dictator: Photography and Fascism at Abu Ghraib,” by Stephanie Lynch ’09. English 114: Writing Seminar, Professor Raymond Malewitz.

“Israel’s Withdrawal from Gaza: Legitimizing Civil Disobedience from Both Sides,” by Aya Shoshan ’10. English 114: Writing Seminar, Professor Andrew Ehrgood.

“My Secret,” by Lydia Martin ’12. English 114: Writing Seminar, Professor Paula Resch.

“Treat the Problem, Not the Disease: The Necessary Shift from Vertical Programs to Horizontal Programs for Treating HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa,” by Xiuqi Cao ’17. ENGL 114: Writing Seminar, Professor Karin Gosselink.

“‘The Moral Meaning of a Pause’: Ethics Committees and the Cloning Debate,” by Lindsay Gellman ’12. English 116: Writing Seminar, Professor Raymond Malewitz.


Essays

Laura Lee, Ink on Skin, Personal Collection of the Artist,” by Maia Hirschler ’17. ENGL 120: Reading and Writing the Modern Essay, Professor Briallen Hopper.

“A Security Debriefing with R. Rosarbo on the Subject of Wilbur Cross High School,” by Sophie Dillon ’17. ENGL 120: Reading and Writing the Modern Essay, Professor Ryan Wepler.

“Not Today,” by Emile Greer ’15. ENGL 121: Styles of Academic and Professional Prose, Professor John Loge.

“Collecting Time,” by Kathryn Culhane ’15. ENGL 121: Styles of Academic and Professional Prose, Professor John Loge.

“Choice,” by Joanna Zheng ’14. ENGL 120: Reading and Writing the Modern Essay, Professor Kim Shirkhani.

“Unthinkable,” by Karen Tian ’15. ENGL 121: Styles of Academic and Professional Prose, Professor Randi Epstein.

“When Culture Trumps Law,” by Emma Sokoloff-Rubin ’11. ENGL 454: Non-Fiction Writing, Voice & Structure, Professor Fred Strebeigh.

“Vignettes From a Carpetbagger: Four Parables of the Katrina Era,” by Easha Anand ’08. English 454: Non-Fiction Writing, Voice & Structure, Professor Fred Strebeigh.

“Choosing Terms,” by Sarah Nutman ’11. English 120: Reading and Writing the Modern Essay, Professor Richard Deming.

“Round Up These Characters,” by Presca Ahn ’10. ENGL 469: Advanced Nonfiction Writing, Professor Anne Fadiman.

“Prove It,” by Jeremy Lent ’11. ENGL 467: Journalism, Professor Jill Abramson.

“The Flood,” by Michael Schulson ’12. ENGL 120: Reading and Writing the Modern Essay, Professor Barbara Stuart.

“Why I Powerlift,” by Chelsea Savit ’13. ENGL 120: Reading and Writing the Modern Essay, Professor Andrew Ehrgood.


Health Studies

“Cardiovascular Disease in China,” by Sudhakar Nuti ’13. HLTH 230: Global Health: Challenges and Responses, Professor Richard Skolnik, Teaching Fellow Nidhi Parekh.

“Importing Prescription Drugs from Canada: A Public Health Solution,” by Stephanie Heung ’15. PHYS 320: Science and Public Policy, Professor Bonnie Fleming.


History

“Managing History: The Federalist Attempt To Shape the Hartford Convention’s Legacy,” by Nathaniel Zelinsky ’14. HIST 133J: The Creation of the American Politician, 1789–1820, Professor Joanne Freeman.

“‘In the Fold of America’: Immigration Politics in the Alien and Sedition Era,” by Jacob Anbinder ’14. HIST 135J: The Age of Hamilton and Jefferson, Professor Joanne Freeman.

“Selling Dentifrice from New Delhi: Chester Bowles in India, 1951–53,” by Harrison Monsky ’13. HIST 134: Yale and America, Professor Jay Gitlin.

“Mr. Madison Meets His Party: The Appointment of a Judge and The Education of a President,” by Ryan Jacobs ’11. HIST 135J: The Age of Hamilton and Jefferson, Professor Joanne Freeman.

“Hearts of Darkness: Opium Dens and Urban Exploration in Late Victorian London,” by Teo Soares ’13. HIST 225J: London and Modernity, Professor Becky Conekin.

“Meanings in Canada’s Vimy Ridge Memorial,” by Michael Birnbaum ’08. HIST 423: Cultural History of World War I, Professor Bruno Cabanes.

“The Progressives’ Attempts to Link America’s Rural Past and Modern Future,” by Brooks Swett ’09. HIST 496: Nationalism in American Politics and Culture, Professor Samuel Schaffer.

“Dissidence in China and Eastern Europe and the Search for a New Pragmatism,” by Eli Bildner ’10. HIST 231J: Responses to Totalitarianism, Professor Marci Shore.

“Regarding the Body: The Spectacle of Dissection and Its Uses in the 18th Century,” by Mihan Lee ’10. HSHM 431: Science/Spectacle in Enlightenment, Professor Paola Bertucci.

“Modern Blood Libels and the Masking of Egyptian Insecurities,” by Matthew Bozik ’10. HIST 434: Anti-Semitism in Modern Times, Professor Paula Hyman.

“The Impossibility of P. Grad. 4 in the Thebaid and Implications for Ptolemaic Rule,” by Jennifer Barrows ’12. CLCV 204: Alexander and the Hellenistic World, Professor Joseph Manning, Teaching Fellow Caroline Stark.

“Silent Protection and the Burden of Silence,” by Emma Sokoloff-Rubin ’11. HIST 160: Topics in Lesbian and Gay History, Professor George Chauncey.

“Stages of Modernity: The Thaw-Nesbit-White Scandal, the New York Press and the Drama of the Century,” by Randall Spock ’11. HIST 126J: Murder and Mayhem in Old New York, Professor Mary Lui.


Literature

“ ‘A Pattern of Your Love’: Sainthood as Erotic Example in ‘The Canonization and ‘The Relic,’” by Eve Houghton ’17. ENGL 125: Major English Poets, Professor Benjamin Glaser.

“Whither Hast Thou, Fortune, Led?,” by Daniel Pollack ’16. ENGL 129: Tragedy, Professor Margaret Homans.

“The Governess Question: Modes of Social Engagement in Agnes Grey and Jane Eyre,” by Helen Knight ’13. ENGL 431: The Brontës and Their Afterlives, Professor Linda Peterson.

“Within You, Without You: Cannibalism and Consciousness in the Transatlantic World,” by Carina del Valle Schorske ’10. ENGL 420: Literature of the Middle Passage, Professors Shameem Black and Caryl Phillips.

“The Prophet Who Protested Too Much,” by Sam Ayres ’09. ENGL 395: The Bible as Literature, Professor Leslie Brisman.

“From Ass to Audience: Imagination as an Act of Translation,” by Carina del Valle Schorske ’10. ENGL 129: The European Literary Tradition, Professor Laura Frost.

“‘Both Soles of Every Sinner Were On Fire’: Contrapasso in Canto XI,” by Alice Baumgartner ’10. Directed Studies: Literature, Professor Shameem Black.

“Want, Need, and Reason: Milton and Cause,” by Annie Atura ’11. ENGL 125: Major English Poets, Professor Christopher Miller.

“Holiest Love: The Spiritual Valediction in ‘A Hymne to Christ,’” by Alexandra Schwartz ’09. English 125: Major English Poets, Professor George Fayen.

“Paradise Lost, Again,” by Eliana Dockterman ’13. Directed Studies: Literature, Professor Mark Bauer.

“The Limited Potential of True Reform,” by Bianca Yuh ’12. ENGL 117: Literature Seminars II, Professor Andrew Karas.

“The essay (which others call the List),” by Caroline Sydney ’16. Directed Studies: Literature, Professor Mark Bauer.


Music

“‘That’s What It Is’: Musical Potential and Stylistic Contrast in Act One, Scene One of The Most Happy Fella, by Dan Rubins ’16. MUSI 246: American Musical TheaterProfessor Daniel Egan.


Natural Science

“Research Proposal: Do Octopuses Think Like Vertebrates? A New Comparative Test,” by Dakota E. McCoy ’13. E&EB 122: Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior, Professor Stephen Stearns, Teaching Fellow Amanda Subalusky.

“The Hygiene Hypothesis and the Increase of Cancer in the 20th Century,” by Stacy Scheuneman ’14. E&EB 235: Evolution and Medicine, Professor Stephen Stearns, Teaching Fellow Vanessa Lamers.

“Determining the Ages, Metallicities, and Star Formation Rates of Brightest Cluster Galaxies,” by Hannah Alpert ’15. SCIE S101: Scientific Research: Process and Preparation, Professor Maria Moreno.

“The Influence of Egg Crypsis on the Broken-Wing Display of the Killdeer,” by Casey McLaughlin ’15. E&EB 240: Animal Behavior, Professor Suzanne Alonzo, Teaching Fellow Stacy Arnold.

“The Sooner, the Better: Modeling Evolutionary Recovery Following Isolated Incidents of Environmental Pollution,” by Laura Goetz ’17. BIOL 104: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Professor Leo Buss.

“Cloning of the Oryza sativa ferric chelate reductase promoter-terminator fusion into a pYU2735 plasmid: generation of a universal construct toward rice biofortification,” by Micah Johnson ’13. MCDB 201L: Molecular Biology Laboratory, Professor Maria Moreno, Teaching Fellow Michael Turner.

“Visualization of localization and expression of Arabidopsis thaliana gene AT1G52340, an ortholog of Tasselseed2,” by Kevin Hochstrasser ’15. MCDB 201L: Molecular Biology Laboratory, Professor Maria Moreno, Teaching Fellow Christopher Bartley.

“An Introduction to Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy,” by Andrew Yang ’12. CHEM 251L: Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, Professor Jonathan Parr.

“Fly Sex: Adaptive manipulation of offspring sex ratio in Drosophila melanogaster,” by Tse Yang Lim ’11. E&EB 240: Animal Behavior, Professor Suzanne Alonzo, Teaching Fellow Andrea Hodgins-Davis.

“Evaluating the influence of evolution on human brain size,” by Sarah Foote ’10. E&EB 122: Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior. Professor Steven Stearns, Teaching Fellow Katy Richards-Hrdlicka.

“Recombination in Mitochondrial DNA: Nonzero but Rare,” by Christina Hueschen ’10. E&EB 122: Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior, Professor Stephen Stearns, Teaching Fellow Jeremy Draghi.

“‘Junk’: Breeding Innovation and Complexity,” by Jared Shenson ’12. E&EB 122: Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior. Professor Steven Stearns, Teaching Fellow Andrea Hodgins-Davis.

“Cloning of the Yellow Stripe 1 gene and of the promoter of a Tapetal Development and Function gene in Oryza sativa japonica,” by Sabrina Gill ’13. MCDB 201L: Molecular Biology Laboratory, Professor Maria Moreno.


Philosophy

“Formulating Maxims to Test Their Morality: Sources of Ambiguity in Kant’s Moral Philosophy,” by Dan Friedman ’17. Directed Studies Philosophy, Professor Daniel Greco.

“Charlotte’s Finite Web: Causality in Aristotle’s Metaphysics,” by Anya Richkind ’16. Directed Studies: Philosophy, Professor Epifanio Elizondo.

“A Reconstruction and Critique of the Refutation of Idealism,” by Minh Alexander Nguyen ’15. Directed Studies: Philosophy, Professor Matthew Noah Smith.

“Telling a Lie to Save a Life: Kant’s Moral Failure and Mill’s Mere Suitability,” by Brian Earp ’10. Directed Studies: Philosophy, Professor Gregory Ganssle.

“The Lottery of Babylon and the Justice of Random Chance,” by Nabeem Hashem ’12. PLSC 118: Moral Foundations of Politics, Professor Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Teaching Fellow Josh Simon.

“Save Yourself from Yourself,” by Ryan Hollander ’12. PLSC 114: Intro to Political Philosophy, Professor Steven Smith, Teaching Fellow Meredith Edwards.

“Mill’s Failed Critique of Kant, and Further Critiques of Both Philosophers,” by Noah Lawrence ’09. Directed Studies: Philosophy, Professor Jonathan Gilmore.


Political Science

“Reconsidering Broken Windows: A Critique of Moral and Pragmatic Justifications,” by Aseem Mehta ’14. PLSC 252: Crime and Punishment, Professor Gregory Huber, Teaching Fellow Jeremy Kaplan-Lyman.

“Fools & Self-Representation: A Defense of Faretta v. California,” by Daniel Cheng ’13. PLSC 252: Crime & Punishment, Professor Gregory Huber, Teaching Fellow Jeremy Kaplan-Lyman.


Social Science

“Unweaving the ‘Development Narrative’: Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India,” by Alina Aksiyote Bernardete ’16. ANTH 276/SAST 219: South Asian Social Worlds, Professor Sara Shneiderman.

“Positive, Math-Unrelated Priming and Women’s Math Performance,” by Jason Parad ’12. PSYC 235: Research Methods in Psychology, Professor Woo-kyoung Ahn, Teaching Fellow Jacqueline Smith.

“Effect of Excuses on Making Moral Judgments,” by Angela Choi ’12. PSYC 235: Research Methods in Psychology, Professor Woo-Kyoung Ahn, Teaching Fellow Sarah Hailey.

“Suffering and Redemption in the Eyes of Lincoln,” by Katerina Apostolides ’06. PLSC 314: Lincoln—Principle and Persuasion, Professors Steven Smith and David Bromwich.

“Fixing Poverty: What Government Can and Cannot Do To Make America Better,” by James Kirchick ’06. PLSC 203: Inequality and American Democracy, Professor Jacob S. Hacker, Teaching Fellow Nicole Kazee.

“Pressured Justice: Activating the Courts for the Protection of Female Laborer,” by David Wheelock ’09. PLSC 373: Comparative Judicial Politics, Professor Frances Rosenbluth, Teaching Fellow Stephen Engel.

“Imagined Identities: The Tibetan Government-in-exile and the Western Vision of Tibet,” by Emily Kruger ’08. ANTH 455: Religion and Globalization in East Asia, Professor Gareth Fisher.


Women’s & Gender Studies

Chronicles of My Life: A Minority Reading of the Dominant Narrative,” by Cathy Shen ’17. WGSS 327: Constructing Self: Autobiography, Professor Geetanjali Chanda.