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English Department Awards Essay Prize to Kym Taylor

Turning a ghost story into a theme about psychology and writing an essay about it could win you a contest, or at least it did for one SUNY Plattsburgh student.

Kym Taylor, an English literature major, entered her department’s annual Literary Essay Contest after professors encouraged her.

Her paper was about “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, a story commonly interpreted to be a ghost story, but not by Taylor.

“The author, Henry James, was well-acquainted with psychology, so I wanted to focus on the idea of the governess unraveling because of a shift in her circumstances and environment rather than as a result of living in a haunted house,” she said.

Taylor explored concepts such as doubling, which is the division of a person into two separate fully functioning halves.

“I think that everyone has a side of themselves that is uncomfortable to explore. It is fascinating, for instance, to consider that every human being is capable of evil, yet some of us are better equipped psychologically to control the impulse,” she said.

The intention of the paper was to make people think from a different perspective and not always go with the obvious.

“I am really proud of the way my writing has progressed while at SUNY Plattsburgh, so I was just content to have work that might be in the running,” she said.

When she received the congratulations letter notifying her that her essay had won, Taylor said she was ecstatic.

“It’s one thing to entertain the thought that your writing might be good, but to have that validated by someone knowledgeable in the field who has never met you before is a heady feeling,” she said.

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