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DPhil Candidate Oliver Jones has been named joint winner of the Forum for Modern Language Studies Prize 2021 for his article ‘Reading Implication: Moral Injury in Heinrich Böll’s Billard um halb zehn and Vasilii Grossman’s Vse techet’.

The Forum essay prize is a prestigious competition run annually by the leading journal, Forum for Modern Language Studies. It is designed as a ‘means of encouraging and rewarding the very best scholarship from any of the areas of study represented by the journal’. This scope includes all aspects of literature, language and culture, from the Middle Ages to the present day, in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The topic of this year’s prize was a ‘literature that we can live by’, with possible approaches spanning the ‘ethical, transnational, or transcultural value(s) of literature’, and the ‘role and power of figurative language’.

Oliver’s winning article explores the usefulness of a new analytical paradigm, moral injury, for comparative literary research, particularly when studying post-atrocity fiction from the post-National Socialist German and post-Stalinist Russian contexts. To do so, it presents an innovative comparative case study of the German author Heinrich Böll’s novel Billard um halb zehn and the Russian author Vasilii Grossman’s Vse techet. The other winner was Prof. Ben Hutchinson (University of Kent) for his article ‘On Purpose: Interest, disinterest, and literature we can live by’. Both articles will be published in the journal in due course.

Oliver commented, ‘I was delighted that my article was named joint winner of the Forum Prize and will be published in the journal, Forum for Modern Language Studies. The essay is based on my DPhil research, which compares Böll’s and Grossman’s works in the context of cultural memory studies. My thesis is supervised by Prof. Carolin Duttlinger and Prof. Polly Jones from the German and Russian sub-faculties, respectively.’