Student Wins W.W. Norton Competition

Liz Scoville, a senior studying English, has won an online recitation contest sponsored by W.W. Norton and Co.

December 12, 2012

By Emily Laidley '14

Senior English major Elizabeth Scoville has won a worldwide recitation contest sponsored by W.W. Norton and Co., an independent publisher of renowned literary anthologies.

Scoville was one of three finalists in the online competition where she read Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare, one of the Bard’s most celebrated sonnets on love. 

"The recitation project was meant to be fun at first; not so much a joke, but just an opportunity to get a feel for what it's like to recite a poem aloud," Scoville said. "I had no idea my submission would win. I'm still so surprised, and the congratulations I'm receiving are numerous."

Editors from the prestigious publisher judged all of the video entries and chose three finalists for the six works listed in the competition. Winners of the competition were chosen by both popular vote, along with the votes of Norton editors. The first-place winners will receive a cash prize and his or her name will be listed in the acknowledgements in a Norton anthology.

Roughly 120 students entered the entire contest of which about 30 entered the Sonnet 116 category.

Scoville said the choice of Sonnet 116 was easy since the piece was one of her favorites that she had already memorized for an earlier class on Shakespearian works.

“It was really fun just to do,” said Scoville, who added she was humbled by her selection as a finalist. “It wasn’t as nerve-racking.” 

Published in 1609, Sonnet 116 speaks of how true love endures despite adversity and the passage of time. Scoville, with the help of assistant English professor Dr. Danielle Glassmeyer, recorded her best rendition and sent a link of the video to Norton editors. The Department of English learned today that Scoville’s video recital had won.

Dr. Glassmeyer said the contest, which started as an enjoyable exercise for some six students, has become an unexpected rallying point for the Department of English.

“It’s exciting to see something start as educational fun and turn into something that has a greater reach than expected,” she said. “It’s created a sense of community.”