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French student runner-up in prestigious essay competition

10 November 2015

It was announced yesterday that Rachel Hindmarsh is a runner-up in the annual R. Gapper Undergraduate Essay Prize run by the 'Society for French Studies of the United Kingdom and Ireland' (SFS). This is an exceptional achievement in a prestigious and always fiercely fought competition. 

Rachel's Year 2 Extended Essay was on the topic ‘The Machine-Man: An Exploration of Masculinity and Modernism in First World War France.’ 

Currently on her Year Abroad in Poitiers, Rachel writes: 'I'm absolutely thrilled to have been announced as a runner up for the R. Gapper Undergraduate Essay Prize (2015). The First World War interested me as an event which, not only marked a rupture in history and society, but reached into the world of art and the growing debate around modernism too. Men and their bodies – how they perceived themselves, and how they were perceived by French society in general – seemed to come under the microscope, and often be emblematic of wider tensions or ideas. I compared Ferdinand Léger's highly stylized fantasy of soldiers as hard, virile and powerful 'machine-men' in 'La Partie de cartes' (1917) with military photographs of real 'machine-men', amputees who were photographed trying out their prosthetic limbs, to explore how the concepts of masculinity and modernism jostled and played out at this tumultuous time, and what they could reveal about how the war was understood in France'. 

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