Prized Writing began in 1989 as the brainchild of composition faculty who envisioned a showcase for writing done by UC Davis undergraduates across the curriculum. The first volume was published in Fall 1990, with 12 essays chosen from submissions in the 1989-90 academic year. Since then, the program has grown: by 2015-2016, the annual competition had attracted 410 submissions, with 22 pieces chosen for publication.  

The primary charge of Prized Writing is to represent the broad range of undergraduate writing done at UC Davis. The faculty who judge the annual competition are adept at seeing work in the context for which it is written. As a result, Prized Writing's Archive is a trove of nearly 500 examples of writing from all kinds of courses, aerospace engineering to zoology. 

This makes Prized Writing useful in the classroom. Because the pieces are written by students, they illustrate the qualities of discipline-specific writing AND what an undergraduate writer can acheive. Essays from past issues have been reprinted in anthologies of college writing, and requests for use of our pieces have come from across the globe, including places as far flung as India, South Africa and Norway.

For winning authors, Prized Writing offers the intense experience of working with faculty editors to revise to a new standard, and for most it represents their first publication. Our authors have gone on to careers as professional writers, as our "Where Are They Now" feature indicates, and some, like Katie Arosteguy, have even returned to teach in the University Writing Program.