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The Louis Owens Essay Prize is given annually by the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San José State University to the best student essay (graduate or undergraduate) on the work of John Steinbeck. Essays may focus on particular works or be inspired in some way by Steinbeck's ecological, historical, or political vision. The winning essay will be awarded a $250 prize and published in The Steinbeck Review.

This essay prize was established in memory of Louis Owens, scholar, teacher, and writer. It honors his fine work on Steinbeck and his commitment to his students.