In focus: Isabelle Riepe, Lidl Graduate Scholar

A talented linguist has excelled at Oxford and has begun a PhD thanks largely to a scholarship from the discount supermarket chain Lidl.

Isabelle Riepe, Lidl Graduate Scholar for 2019-20, was awarded a Distinction for her MSt Modern Languages (German) degree at the University of Oxford. She is now pursuing her doctorate at the European University Institute in Florence, focusing on the writings and artefacts associated with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his contemporaries.

Without Lidl’s fully-funded scholarship, Isabelle would have had to abandon her dream of studying at Oxford. The financial support also funded her visit to Weimar, Germany, where she conducted research for her dissertation about the material culture and environment nurturing Goethe’s interpretation of the nineteenth-century concept of Weltliteratur (world literature).

This trip proved to be a springboard for further study. Her PhD is now continuing this research by exploring the material culture of literature between c.1750-1850. She aims to show that books are not only a resource for historians, but they are also artefacts with their own stories to tell.

Isabelle said: ‘The Lidl scholarship provided financial security before and during COVID-19. It supported a very rewarding research trip to Weimar, and the funds also supported my academic book shopping during the lockdown. 

‘The most exciting part of my MSt Modern Languages was my module on the History of the Book, which took me around Oxford’s many libraries and introduced me to the many treasures they hold’.

As well as her studies, Isabelle embraced extra-curricular activities at Oxford and developed professional skills and experience. She completed a micro-internship with the University’s National Trust Partnership, undertaking research into the Clive Collection at Powis Castle in Wales.

Isabelle added: ‘At Oxford, I was very fortunate to join the inspirational and open-hearted community of Regent’s Park College. I will cherish its Middle Common Room, choir and boat club forever.’

Lidl’s generous commitment to the study of German at Oxford began in 2018 when the supermarket chain agreed to support five annual graduate scholarships, fund undergraduate students requiring financial assistance for their year abroad, and create an annual undergraduate competition.

Christian Härtnagel, CEO of Lidl GB, says: ‘Lidl GB is delighted to support the teaching of German at Oxford and to provide opportunities for talented young linguists.  Isabelle has clearly used the scholarship to its full.  We congratulate her on her success and send her all our best wishes for her future career.’

Lidl was founded in Germany in 1973 and has since grown to become one of Europe’s leading food retailers and Britain’s fastest growing supermarket.

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