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The Bodleian Library from Radcliffe Square

Looking back over Trinity Term is also a way of taking stock of the academic year. Many students have just completed their assessments, and as in previous years, they have often had to navigate difficult circumstances. Their generosity of spirit, maturity when confronting obstacles, and general all-round decency never cease to impress. One of our undergraduates who is registered as disabled but chose to remain anonymous has written about the challenges and joys of coming up to Oxford. Lauren Figes-Jones, who spent six months in Kyiv last year, has bitter-sweet feelings as she recounts memories of her stay and of the people with whom she engaged whilst also allowing us to hear the voices of Ukrainian friends with whom she is still in touch. Several of our students or alumni have been volunteering on the Polish border. Ada Wordsworth gives us news from this frontline of care where linguistic skills are essential in efforts to save lives, whilst Sean Cann and William Proctor write about learning Ukrainian in Oxford as part of their graduate studies.

The variety of student experiences is one of the features of a Modern Languages degree. The Year Abroad in particular offers a whole range of options. Charlotte Morgan found herself in a position to make the dreams of some French schoolchildren come true when she arranged for them to interview Moussa Sissoko, who plays football for France and for Watford—as part of their language class.

You might think we know all there is to be known about major authors from the past but Maria Czepiel, one of our doctoral students, was leafing through a volume of poems when she discovered two odes by Garcilaso de la Vega. At the cutting-edge of interdisciplinary research, Sebastian Klinger is working with colleagues on sleep patterns and showing how the humanities can contribute their own particular expertise.

As ever there are things to celebrate and things to lament. We have just had the sad news of Peter Mackridge’s death—many of you will have read the moving lines he wrote about Mariupol’s Greek heritage in the last issue of The Oxford Polyglot. In this issue, Stephen Mossmann, an alumnus but also a distinguished academic in his own right, pays tribute to medievalist Nigel Palmer. Thanks to alumni engagement, two recently departed colleagues are being remembered through support to future generations: the Dr James Naughton Prize for Czech with Slovak has been created and LMH is setting up a Scholarship in memory of Alain Viala.

Caroline Warman won the Gapper prize for her book The Atheist’s Bible (which she wrote about in our Michaelmas issue. Three other colleagues Ann Jefferson, Neil Kenny and Emily McLaughlin were shortlisted too. The 2022 Novalis-Preis was awarded jointly to Johanna Raisbeck for ‘innovative and interdisciplinary research in European Romanticism’. In the next issue we will be celebrating Eleanor Lischka’s Gapper Postgraduate Essay Prize by interviewing her.

It is no doubt fitting that our student Jack Klein received OUSU’s Sustainability Award: we are all adapting to a world which seems much less predictable. Perhaps that's where linguists and their ability to see the world from more than one perspective come into their own.

 

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Best wishes,

Professor Almut Suerbaum
Chair of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages