Trinity postgraduate Maddy Chalmers has been selected as the winner of this year’s R. Gapper Postgraduate Essay Prize by the Society for French Studies. The essay, ‘The Surreal Technics of André Breton and Gilbert Simondon,’ was undertaken as part of her work towards a DPhil in the Modern Languages Faculty.
The award includes a cash prize, along with travel to the Society for French Studies Annual Conference at Royal Holloway, University of London in July.
Maddy’s DPhil project explores how avant-garde French literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries negotiate the increasingly tight overlapping of technology into human life. Her project seeks to place these texts of the past in dialogue with current philosophical reflections on technology.
Upon receiving the prize, Maddy said: ‘It is an honour to have my work recognised in this way, and I am very grateful to the Society for French Studies for its vote of confidence in my research. As I approach the midway point of my DPhil, it has strengthened my resolve and belief in my project.
‘In my undergraduate teaching and outreach work, I try to share the joy and enrichment that studying the humanities brings, but also to highlight the very real, powerful changes wrought by stories and images in our world. This essay was all about that. It is rooted in the knot of relations that binds together individual human beings and the apparently mundane objects which clutter our world, and highlights the role of the literature, art, and thought in helping us identify who or what has authority over these relations, objects, and their effects – and whether such authority is genuine or illusory. Surrealism proves an unexpected but surprisingly effective partner in thinking through our fraught twenty-first-century techno-political context!
‘I am very grateful for the support of the Oxford AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership, and the benefactors of the Sir Ivor Roberts Graduate Scholarship, whose generosity makes my studies possible.’