Whittier Grad Wins MLA Student Essay Contest

April 15, 2022

Yasmin MendozaRecent graduate Yasmin Mendoza ’21 has been selected as the winner of the 2022 MLA Student Essay Contest.

Mendoza, an English and Theater double major, submitted a version of the essay she produced as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow at Whittier.  

“At Whittier, I’ve had the chance to work with amazing faculty and interact with peers who made my college experience unforgettable,” said Mendoza. “The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship has been an especially rewarding experience with the mentorship I have received and the support of the cohorts over the last 2 years.” In fact, Mendoza worked with her advisor Professor Jonathan Burton to polish the final piece before submitting it to the MLA Style publication team. 

Her essay, "Banning Without Bans,” explores how book banning has become increasingly apparent in the 21st century despite book banning being outlawed in 1973 by the Supreme Court. 

“The privatization of censorship has now yielded more potent strategies to restrict readership in the United States and by extension to limit freedom of young individuals across America,” added Mendoza. “My essay examines the tactics of decentralized censors through an analysis of a parent censorship website and an exploration of the censorship of Alice Walker's The Color Purple, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.” 

In the letter she received, the MLA Style Team wrote: “[Y]our work excels as an example of fine student writing and received a special commendation from the committee.’”

The essay will be published in the 10th edition of the MLA Style Center, MLA Handbook Plus.

“It feels unreal on some level to receive this honor,” she said. “It is the first sole publication I have, and I hope it will be the first of many to follow.”  

In fall 2022, Mendoza will begin a Ph.D. program in English at the University of California, Davis.