Languages student, Jessica James, wins Douglas Johnson Memorial Essay Prize!

Languages student, Jessica James, wins Douglas Johnson Memorial Essay Prize!

Bonjour, hola, e ciao!  

My name is Jessica James, I’m 22 years old and it makes me very proud to say I graduated from Coventry University with a First-Class BA Hons in French and Spanish in the class of 2020.  

Unquestionably, enrolling at Coventry University has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Despite falling on hard times during the study of my A Levels and experiencing some trouble adjusting to new routines and surroundings I received nothing but the upmost support and consideration from the Languages department and pastoral department of the university and made some amazing memories. I believe this is what allowed me to thrive academically and produce my most successful piece of literature to date!  

In September 2019 my undergraduate dissertation, entitled (granted, it’s a mouthful), “Camus and Godard: An Analysis of the Representation of Absurdist Philosophy in Dramatic and Literary Movements in Post-War France” was awarded the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France’s (ASMCF) Douglas Johnson Memorial Essay Prize, and was congratulated on its quality, in particular “the rigour of [the] methodological approach, the original focus and well-thought-out structure”.  

The aim of my dissertation, above all, was to illustrate the certain importance of Albert Camus’ and Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical advances in existentialism and absurdism in their ascent in popularity (and controversy) in post-war French dramatic and literary movements, such as Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) cinema and the Théâtre de l’Absurde (Theatre of the Absurd). My specific interest in existentialism was sparked when undertaking an extended project qualification (AQA) in 2015 in the form of a literary dissertation (as, believe it or not, I can write for England), in which I discovered Camus’ L’Étranger (1942) and became captivated with its protagonist, Meursault, and his “listless, affectless alienated condition” and indifference to existence. Consequently, whilst continuing to study the works of related scholars such as A.J. Ayer, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, I had found my niche when combining my passions for philosophy and French culture!  

After digesting the preliminary imposter syndrome/phenomenon (Clance, Imes: 1978) I experienced from such high praise, I feel immensely proud of my achievement and furthermore am obliged to thank my advisor and professor Dr Elizabeth Benjamin, lecturer in French, for her invaluable advice and knowledge, and her constructive and inspired suggestions. I could not conclude my university studies without also mentioning the encouraging nature of all of my other professors over the three years, including the French courses course director, and lecturer in French, Gwénola Bescond.  

In other news, other than enjoying a celebrative graduation in November 2019 I have been lucky enough to be carrying out a contract as an English Language Teacher for the Mairie (council) of Boulogne-Billancourt, a south-western suburb of Paris, Île-de-France, with all classes of an elementary school, children aged 3 to 11. This has set in concrete my love and ability in teaching and, alongside other professional projects TBC, I will be beginning a PGCE to teach Modern Languages (secondary level, KS3 and KS4) with work placements from September 2020.  

I’m sending all my well wishes to any current, past or future students and professors during these unprecedented times. Stay positive and safe, and stay home!