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Liberal Arts Honors

The Pinto Carver Essay Contest

From the mere fact that we consider an object worthy of being loved and sought after, it does not follow that we feel ourselves stronger afterwards; it is also necessary that this object set free energies superior to these which we ordinarily have at our command and also that we have some means of making these enter into us and unite themselves to our interior lives. Now for that, it is not enough that we think of them; it is also indispensable that we place ourselves within their sphere of action, and that we set ourselves where we may best feel their influence; in a word, it is necessary that we act, and that we repeat the acts thus necessary every time we feel the need of renewing their effects.

                        - The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Emile Durkheim


“The people nowadays have an idea about the ceremonies.  They think that the ceremonies must be performed exactly as they have always been done, maybe because one slip-up or mistakes and the whole ceremony must be stopped and the sand painting destroyed.  That much is true.  They think that if a singer tampers with any part of the ritual, great harm can be done, great power unleashed.”  He was quiet for a while, looking up at the sky through the smoke hole.  “That much can be true also.  But long ago when people were given these ceremonies, the changing began, if only in the aging of the yellow gourd rattle or the shrinking of the skin around the eagle’s claw, if only in the different voices from generation to generation, singing the chants.  You see, in many ways, the ceremonies have always been changing.”

                        - Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko


Prompt: Rituals, either familial or religious, play an important role in an individual’s life and society.  While some rituals exist unchanged for many years, others mutate over time. 

In your response, reflect on a ritual you follow.  What is the significance of this ritual to you or society? Explore whether or not this ritual has changed over time and consider why or why not.


Eligibility:  Current Liberal Arts Honors First- and Second-year students

Specifications: 950-1000 words, titled, single-spaced, and with your name in the upper-right hand corner.  No cover page.


1st Prize: $1500

2nd Prize: $500

3rd Prize: $250

Submission Deadline:  Submit your essay through the Liberal Arts Honors scholarship portal by midnight on March 1, 2019.