For details on how to apply for the R. Gapper prize competitions, click here.

R. Gapper Book Prize 2016

The Society for French Studies is delighted to announce the outcome of the sixteenth annual R. Gapper Book Prize. For the first time this year, there are joint winners. They are:

Neil Kenny (University of Oxford), for Death and Tenses: Posthumous Presence in Early Modern France (Oxford: OUP, 2015); and

Patrick McGuinness (University of Oxford), for Poetry and Radical Politics in fin de siècle France: From Anarchism to Action Française (Oxford: OUP, 2015).

The Prize will be presented to the two winners at the Society’s annual conference, to be held at Durham University this July. The award, which is given to the best book published in 2015 by a scholar working in French studies in Britain or Ireland, is made by the Society for French Studies together with the Gapper family, representing the R. H. Gapper Charitable Trust, on the recommendation of a Prize Jury appointed by the Society. The jury this year consisted of Prof. Margaret Topping (Queen’s University Belfast); Prof. Jean Duffy (University of Edinburgh); Prof. Shirley Jordan (Queen Mary, University of London); Prof. John O’Brien (Durham University); Prof. Paddy O’Donovan (University College Cork); and Prof. Emma Wilson (University of Cambridge). The Society for French Studies gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the R. H. Gapper Charitable Trust for this prize.

The jury had the following to say about the winning books:

Neil Kenny, Death and Tenses: Posthumous Presence in Early Modern France (Oxford: OUP, 2015). Neil Kenny’s study is a work of tremendous scholarly distinction that combines a tight focus on tenses with an extraordinarily wide range of material from linguistic theory through to Montaigne and Rabelais, taking in on the way epitaphs, sermons, rituals, obituaries and much else besides. The work provides a fascinating way of understanding cultural difference through the changing use of tenses in different periods. Indeed, in this, it tells us as much about how the modern age understands relations between the living and the dead as did early modern France. Readers of Kenny’s book working in any literary period will want to look at their own authors again through the lens of tenses.

Patrick McGuinness, Poetry and Radical Politics in fin de siècle France (Oxford: OUP, 2015). Patrick McGuinness’s book is equally a work of supreme critical and scholarly distinction. The arc of the work takes us from the legacies of Romanticism, through key late-nineteenth-century literary/political movements (focusing on the Symbolist and Decadent movements and their successors) and up to fin de siècle poetry. What distinguished it for the panel was the sureness of its engagement with the range of poetic sources on which it draws, and the novelty of the approach it takes to political discourse in juxtaposing it with a highly diverse poetic tradition. The work adroitly finds ways to illuminate interactions of poetry and politics, e.g. in the place it gives to polemic. The range of sources it encompasses—manifestos, prefaces, treatises, journalism—is impressive and enlightening, while the book also succeeds in shifting our habitual angle when it comes to viewing the political significance of major poetic works, such as those of Mallarmé.

For details of previous winners of the R. Gapper Book Prize, click here.

R. Gapper Postgraduate Essay Prize 2016

The Society for French Studies is pleased to announce that the recipient of this year’s R. Gapper Postgraduate Essay prize is Daisy Gudmunsen (King’s College London), for an essay entitled ‘On the Representation of Jewishness in Denis Guénoun’s Un Sémite and Jacques Derrida’s Le Monolinguisme de l’autre’.

The R. Gapper Postgraduate Essay Prize includes an award of £750 and expenses-paid travel to the Annual Conference of the Society, which this year is being held at the University of Durham from 3 to 5 July.

The Society offers its congratulations to Daisy Gudmunsen on her achievement, and also to the runner-up for this year’s award, Vittoria Fallanca (University of Oxford), for an essay entitled ‘The Design of the Essais: Montaigne and the language of ‘dessein’’.

The Society for French Studies gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the R. Gapper Charitable Trust for this prize.

For details of previous postgraduate essay prize winners, click here.

R. Gapper Undergraduate Essay Prize 2017

This year’s winner is Peter Tellouche (Oxford), for an essay on the following topic: ‘”The rich detail with which the experience of time is treated in individual sentences is hard to reconcile with the big-time temporality of Proust’s novel as a whole.” Discuss.’

The Selection Committee also commended the following shortlisted entries:

Rachel Hindmarsh (Bristol), ‘Abnormal Bodies: The Politics of Resemblance and Interpretation in Rabelais’s Le Quart Livre and Ronsard’s political poetry’

Gabrielle Imbert (KCL), ‘The representation of suffering in much contemporary women’s writing in French is characterized by a troublingly masochistic enjoyment of women’s subordinate position.’ Discuss with reference to AT LEAST TWO texts you have studied for this course. (Djebar, Ernaux)

Elizabeth Kelleher (UC Cork), ‘Discuss critically the extent to which theories of trauma are useful for understanding experience. Your answer should draw on at least 2 of the narratives and at least 2 of the theories studied during this course.’

Lucy Wilkinson (Sheffield), ‘Language purism and Martinican Creole: a linguistic paradox’


For details of previous undergraduate essay prize winners, click here.