Oxford Essay Competition Success

U6th former wins two Oxford prizes

Earlier this summer, I was awarded prizes in two essay competitions run by St Hugh’s College, Oxford. In my entry to the Julia Wood History Competition (for which I was awarded Fourth Prize), I investigated how the Supreme Court’s undisturbed memory of Reconstruction impacted their rulings. I discovered that this retreat from Reconstruction, which led to the gradual erosion of the Fourteenth Amendment, was facilitated by Claude Bowers’The Tragic Era, a finding which encouraged me to reflect on both the impact flawed histories can have on the present and the nature of judicial decision making in general.

My entry to the Mary Renault Classical Reception Competition (which was ‘highly commended’) concerned the reception of Tacitus’s Germania, an ancient text firstly misinterpreted and misappropriated by fifteenth century Italian and German humanists. The debate that ensued between the two nations regarding their relative superiority arguably fostered the concept of multipolarity among nations, consequently giving rise to nationalism itself. Indeed, the Germania was used by German nationalists to reaffirm and strengthen their national character. Beyond nationalism, at the dawn of the Third Reich, Tacitus’s reference to the purity of the Ancient German people justified antisemitism, giving rise to its reputation as “a most dangerous book”.

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