The Robinson Essay Competitions have once again attracted a field of excellent entries. This weekend, Prizewinners attended lunch with their families at Robinson College. Lunch was hosted by Dr David Woodman, Robinson College Admissions Tutor, Dr Simon Perry who marked the entries for the General Essay Prize, Dr Gary Doherty, who marked the entries for the Medicine Prize, and Dr Victoria Harvey, Robinson's Schools' Liaison Officer. Many congratulations to all those whose essays were so highly commended by the judges!
General Essay Prizewinner:
Arun Chopra has addressed the question concerning the efficacious nature of literature from a political perspective. This is achieved through considering an impressive breadth of genre and authorship, analysing literature’s capacity to subvert prevailing ideologies. The essay demonstrates an awareness of modern political history, a capacity to reflect upon the subject matter with perception, and an ability to write with lucidity. The student has managed not only to answer the question, but has marshalled various academic disciplines (e.g. textual interpretation, history, politics) in order to make a strong and defensible case. It is an outstanding piece of work.
Anna Seale: This is a clearly-written and thoughtful essay, addressing the question of whether a repetitive comedy series with no long-term character-development could be considered ‘literature’. The primary focus remains upon the Simpsons (rather than upon what constitutes literature) but careful structure allows a comprehensive answer to the question. This is a well-written, thorough, and uncluttered piece of work which grapples well with the core issues and offers tentative but well-substantiated conclusions.
Luigi Muci: Luigi Muci has written on the practical function of art in a modern context. This essay argues that art enables community cohesion, expresses a full range of human emotion, offers a means of overcoming fragility, and has both ‘timeless’ and ‘down-to-earth’ dimensions. This is manifested, the essay argues, as the artist confronts humanity with a beauty to which it might otherwise remain oblivious. The student has produced a lively and scholarly piece of work.
Sophie Buss: Sophie Buss’ essay on literature and fiction is a fine combination of common sense and original thought. The opening lines of her introduction take the reader straight to the heart of the issue: that fiction is always based upon experience, but human experience itself can also (and perhaps, only) be understood as fiction. With particular reference to Joseph Conrad and Jane Austen, the student presents a carefully developed ‘narrative philosophy’ that is sophisticated, clear and informative.
Faye Heron: Faye Heron has produced a methodical and incisive set of reflections on the nature of literature. Her essay consciously blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction with reference to a range of literary and factual texts. Noting that facts are always embedded within some narrative context, and that fiction is always and without exception rooted in real-life experience, she concludes that literature bridges the gap between the world as it is and as we would like it to be.
Linya Peng: Linya Peng has written a highly creative piece, applying Einstein’s remarks on the philosophy of science, to neoliberal economic ideology. The student demonstrates a sound understanding of basic economic practice, an awareness of the current political climate, and a competent grasp of contemporary approaches to the philosophy of science. Not only is this essay written with lucidity and an excellent command of language. It also presents a careful argument with ‘feeling’ and urgency, without sacrificing the discipline of closely answering the question. This piece of work is multidisciplinary in scope, sharp in focus, passionate in presentation and a pleasure to read.
Dilhan Akarca: This essay is an attempt to deconstruct the ‘conflict myth’ between scientific and creative ways of interpreting the universe. Dilhan Akarca has shown evidence of wide reading, along with an impressive capacity to think and reflect upon that reading. The result is a ‘post-modern’ piece of work (in the most positive sense) that is well organised and easy to read. The conclusion that imagination is as necessary to the sciences as to the arts, is soundly substantiated and well presented.
Joint Medicine Essay Prizewinners:
Adam Sherriff and Natalie Martin
Ga Kitada and Anushree Arunkum
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