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German Students Recognised by Oxford University

By 7th October 2021Classics, Course News, German
Two of Wyke’s second year German students, Libby Darcy and Alastair McLelland, entered a literature competition held by Oxford University’s German network, for which they had to read a piece of literature, Die Verlobung in St Domingo by Heinrich von Kleist, and to then write a detailed, fully referenced 1500-word essay, answering 1 of 4 questions – all throughout the summer holidays!
Alastair McLelland (year 2) came 3rd and has won a £100 prize plus has an invitation to attend an award ceremony in June 2022.
They received over 50 entries this year and only awarded prizes and commendations to eight essays and ‘fully appreciate how much time, effort and thought goes into completing such a substantial essay on a challenging piece of literature, especially when it goes far beyond the school syllabus and is completed independently of teacher input.’ 

Oxford German network were very impressed by the overall quality of all the essays: ‘they were generally as good – and in many cases better! – than the work that our first-year undergraduates produce. Indeed the essays we asked you to write were exactly the kind of essays we ask students to write at Oxford.’ Head Judge Professor Ritchie Robertson commented that the essays were of a particularly high standard this year and contained many insightful observations about Kleist’s story, which made for very engaging reading.

They also wrote; ‘If you’re thinking about applying to study German at university and are wondering if you’re good enough to write essays about German literature, the answer is yes! The very fact that you decided to spend significant time over the summer reading Die Verlobung in St. Domingo, familiarising yourself with secondary literature on it, and writing your essay shows that you have just the right approach. This kind of dedication and passion is exactly what we and other universities are looking for in candidates for a Modern Languages degree. The fact that your essay was selected as one of the strongest entries by the judges only underscores this.’

In response to Alastair’s essay, they explained, ‘This clear, well-written, and well-structured essay makes many insightful points about Kleist’s story by analysing well-chosen examples from the text. For example, there is sophisticated analysis of projection in the second paragraph, and of Gustav’s combination of racial and gender stereotypes in the third paragraph. There are many more excellent observations like this, confirming the author’s engagement with the story. ‘

Congratulations to all the entrants! This is a fine example of engagement in supra-curricular activities which support UCAS applications. Libby and Alastair should be very proud of themselves.