R. Gapper undergraduate essay prize

A prize is awarded annually by the Society for French Studies for the best essay submitted by an undergraduate student at a university based in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland. The award includes:

  • a cash prize of £250
  • expenses-paid travel to the next annual conference of the Society for French Studies
  • mention in the French Studies Bulletin and on the Society for French Studies website

Conditions of entry

To be eligible for submission the essay must be:

  • entirely the student’s own work and submitted in unrevised form
  • addressing a topic within the broad scope of the discipline of French studies
  • written in either English or French, with any quotations from French supplied in the original language
  • written in the past twelve months
  • between 2000 and 5000 words (including notes but excluding bibliography)
  • word-processed with numbered pages
  • submitted without the name of the student, or institution, appearing in the essay
  • submitted by the university, with the student’s agreement, as one of up to two annual submissions per university
  • accompanied by a separate coversheet (which should be downloaded via the link on the right)
  • submitted on the understanding that no correspondence will be entered into by the Society regarding individual essays.

Submissions should come via the Head of French, Programme Director for French, or equivalent.

How the competition is judged

The competition is judged in two rounds. In the first round every essay is judged anonymously by two appropriately selected members of the Executive Committee of the Society for French Studies who are unaware of the submitting university but who are made aware of relevant contextual information supplied on the coversheet.

The five best essays from that first round then undergo a second round of judging by a panel normally comprising the Society’s President and Vice President, the Co-ordinator of the R. Gapper Undergraduate Essay Prize, the Co-ordinator of the R. Gapper Postgraduate Essay Prize and the Editor of the French Studies Bulletin.

To avoid conflicts of interest, in both rounds no essay is judged by someone from the same institution as the author of the essay. In the second round, this sometimes requires that one or more substitute judges be selected from the wider Executive Committee to assess all of the five essays.

The prize is awarded for an essay of outstanding merit at undergraduate level and which is also the best essay submitted in its year. The winning essay will be exceptionally distinguished work for that level: critically or theoretically sophisticated, intellectually adventurous, original in its approach and expressed in sophisticated and elegant English or French. It will also be worthy of publication without major revision.

2023 Recipients

The Society for French Studies warmly congratulates Megan Green (University of Exeter), winner of the 2023 UG Gapper Prize, and runners up Georgia Botros (KCL) and Cory Nguyen (UCL). The award includes:

  • a cash prize of £250
  • expenses-paid travel to the next annual conference of the Society for French Studies
  • mention in the French Studies Bulletin and on the Society for French Studies website

We would like to thank all institutions which sent entries. The judging panel was extremely impressed with the quality and range of work presented this year. A reminder about how we judge the prize is available on our website.

Winner: Megan Green

Project “Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real” (Iris Murdoch). Discuss with reference to TWO OR MORE texts by different authors studied on this module.
Institution University of Exeter

Runner up: Georgia Botros

Project ‘“All filmmaking practice, whatever its genre or form, implies an ethical commitment on the part of the filmmaker”. Discuss in relation to TWO OR MORE of the films studied for this module’
Institution KCL

Runner up: Cory Nguyen

Project 'The nineteenth-century observer is “an effect of a […] system of discursive, social, technological, and institutional relations”, writes Jonathan Crary. Consider through an analysis of possible observing subjects in La Cousine Bette.’
Institution UCL

Previous recipients


The Society for French Studies warmly congratulates Samuel Myers (University of Oxford) and runner-up, Elizabeth Apps (University of Cambridge) as the recipients of the 2022 UG Gapper Prize.

Winner: Samuel Myers

Project “French Poetry of the Mid-Sixteenth Century / ‘L’humour dans un recueil poétique dépend surtout de l’importance accordée au « moi » de l’auteur.’ Discuss with reference to the work of ONE OR MORE poets of this period.”
Institution University of Oxford

Runner up: Elizabeth Apps

Project ‘Medieval French poets deploy the spaces they depict to reinvent notions of self and love.’
Institution University of Cambridge


Winner: Jack Nunn

Project ‘New Ecologies: Plants, Stones, Robots / “Un mur strié de lignes, d’entailles, de marques… Une tranche de temps” (MAYLIS DE KERANGAL). Discuss the relationship between human and nonhuman histories in ONE OR MORE works.’
Institution Worcester College, University of Oxford

Runner up: Lidija Beric

Project ‘La figure d’Émilie du Châtelet sert de modèle pour la possibilité de franchir les frontières entre les pays, les disciplines, et les genres, mais son recours constant à la pensée d’autrui l’empêche d’y réussir elle-même.’
Institution University of Cambridge

Runner up: Jasmine Walker

Project ‘Discuss the relationship between the representation of the natural world in Pagano’s Les Adolescents troglodytes and Adèle’s story as a trans woman’.
Institution University of Warwick


Winner: Francesca Hearing

Project ‘For Abdelkebir Khatibi, the Mediterranean is a space which allows and offers the potential to “transformer les souffrances et humiliations et dépressions dans la relation aux autres”.
Institution University of Oxford

Runner up: Clíona Nic Lochlainn

Project ‘Analyse, with reference to two plays studied, the interplay between the representation of origins and the representation of gender in Racine.’
Institution University College Dublin

Runner up: Anna Gier

Project ‘Le poète demeure ouvert à l’expérience d’un sacré qui se définit par la séparation et qui confronte l’homme à ce qui le déborde’ (COLLOT). Discuss the work of TWO OR MORE poets in the light of this quotation.’
Institution University of Oxford


Winner: Ellen Kemp

Project 'Compare and contrast the relationship between voice, space, and forms of intimacy in Chantal Akerman’s Sud (1999) and Corine Shawi’s E-muet (2013)'
Institution University of Bristol


Winner: Kathleen Mitchell Fox

Project 'Talking Holes and Meaningless Sex: Exploring Gender and Signification in the Old French Fabliaux'
Institution University of Cambridge


Winner: ​Peter Tellouche

Project ‘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.​
Institution University of Oxford


Winner: ​Eleanor Chapman

Project ‘"The monstrous and the non-human may present a threat to human culture but they also offer solutions to what seem like logical and narrative impasses.” Discuss with reference to at least two texts.’​
Institution University of Cambridge

Winner: ​Jack Flowers

Project ‘"L’une des thématiques majeures de la poésie de cette époque est la métropole, conçue comme l’un des lieux privilégiés où s’entremêlent l’ancien et le moderne, la solitude et la foule, le « haut » et le « bas ».”'
Institution University of Oxford

Runner up: Imran Rahman-Jones

Project ‘Why was Michel Debré removed from office in April 1962 and why did de Gaulle choose George Pompidou as his replacement?’​​
Institution University of Nottingham

Runner up: ​Michael Sole

Project ‘Whether it is through the exploration of memory or of the shocks and exhilarations of the present moment, Proust’s novel is concerned, above all, with the individual’s relation to time.’​
Institution University of Exeter

Runner up: Lucy Taylor

Project ‘Addressing the Mediation of Images and Their Implementation in the Construction of Truth in the Works of Rithy Panh'
Institution Durham University

Runner up: ​Sophie Wright

Project ‘How do French literary and cinematic representations of the Second World War represent survival?’
Institution Newcastle University


Winner: ​​Daniel Daly

Project ‘“La bête e(s)t le souverain.” Discuss with reference to the first session of Derrida’s La Bête et le souverain.'
Institution King’s College London

Runner up: Harry McCarthy

Project ‘Discuss how Proust’s syntax and imagery interact with the thematic preoccupations of the novel.’​​
Institution University of Exeter

Runner up: ​Rachel Hindmarsh

Project ‘The Machine-Man: An Exploration of Masculinity and Modernism in First World War France.’​
Institution University of Bristol


Winner: ​Rupinder Kaur

Project ‘Discuss the significance of joy with reference to two 17th century texts: Clélie and L’École des filles’.​
Institution University College London

Runner up: Cameron Quinn

Project ‘Rousseau ne s’est pas suffisamment rendu compte à quel point son style astucieux rendait sa lecture et sa compréhension difficiles’​​
Institution University of Oxford


Winner: Dulcie fforde

Project ‘“L’image n’a pas de sens propre” (Compagnon). Discuss the pertinence of the claim in relation to Renaissance poetic practice.’​​
Institution University of Oxford

Runner up: ​Hannah Stodart

Project ‘Define and discuss the “Sociolinguistic Gender Pattern”, using examples from French as far as possible.’​
Institution University of Leeds

Runner up: Rebecca Sugden

Project ‘“The apparent waywardness of Diderot’s thought simply serves to prove the complexity of the exterior world it mirrors.” Discuss with reference to Le Supplément au voyage de Bougainville and Le Neveu de Rameau.’​​
Institution University of Cambridge


Winner: Amy Cowan

Project ‘A la recherche du temps perdu has been described as an epistemological quest. Explain and exemplify what this might mean.’​​
Institution University of Oxford

Runner up: ​Charlotte Holt

Project ‘Analyse and discuss the representation of friendship in two or more of the seventeenth-century texts you have studied.’​
Institution UCL

Runner up: Matthew Phillips

Project ‘Despite the etymology of the term, the libertine is never free.’​​
Institution University of Cambridge


Winner: Martina Williams

Project ‘For John Locke, memory was a condition, sine qua non, for selfhood. To what extent is this idea prefigured, referenced, critiqued and/or parodied in Montaigne’s Essais, Du côté de chez Swann and Molloy?’​​
Institution University of Nottingham

Runner up: Joseph Revill

Project ‘To what extent was there opposition to Napoleon between the years 1799-1815?’​​
Institution University of Warwick

Runner up: ​Edmund Chambers

Project ‘In what sense, and to what extent, does Beckett’s work attest to “the death of the subject”?’​
Institution University of Nottingham


Winner: ​Claire Strickett

Project 'Femmes-démon or victims? Reconsidering the source of the malevolent in Maupassant’s Contes fantastiques.​'
Institution University of Glasgow

Runner up: Aimee Linekar

Project ‘”Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Aphorisme IV). Examine the roles of food, drink and intoxication in Jean-Claude Izzo’s Chourmo in light of this quotation.’
Institution University of St Andrews


Winner: ​Joe Oakley

Project ‘"Evidence from the history of French provides a strong argument against the idea of typological consistency, thereby threatening the very foundations of linguistic typology.” Discuss.’​
Institution University of Cambridge

Runner up: Annie Tate-Harte

Project ‘Discuss Michel de Certeau’s view that “on n’habite que des lieux hantés”, with reference to [...]: Atget’s photography of Paris streets; Nadar’s photography of the souterrains of Paris; Chronique d’un été; Le Pont du Nord; La Reprise.’
Institution UCL

Runner up: Moya Samer

Project ‘”Before any feminist politicization, it is important to recognize the strong phallogocentric underpinning that conditions our cultural heritage.” Discuss with reference to Julia Kristeva.'
Institution University of Cambridge



Winner: ​Clodagh Kinsella

Project ‘In your view, what is the specific contribution of poetry and/or fiction to the representation of painful experiences?’​
Institution UCL

Runner up: ​Adam Strowger

Project ​​‘"Addressed throughout as vous, the reader is established as the repository of values antithetical to those espoused in the text”. Discuss the relationship between narrator and reader in the Journal du voleur in light of this.'
Institution Durham University

Runner up: Harald Stevenson

Project ‘Théodore de Bèze’s conception of the elegy.’​​
Institution University of Cambridge

Dr Steven Wilson

French Studies
School of Arts, English and Languages
Queen’s University Belfast