Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Winners of the Dr Greg Wells Undergraduate Essay Prizes, 2020

During July 2020 the CSR awarded for the third time its Greg Wells Prizes for the best undergraduate intermediate-year and final-year essays and dissertation. In total we received 12 (pre-selected) entries, and thanks again to all of those who submitted essays for entry into the prize this year, the standard was once again, very high. Thanks also to our adjudicators, Stella Fletcher, Claudia Daniotti, David Lines, Delia Moldovan and Esther van Raamsdonk, to whom we are most grateful for giving their time. The winners were:

Intermediate year essay, Max Edgson (Philosophy), with his essay entitled: ‘Synods were crucial for the establishment of the Protestant religion. Discuss how these meetings shaped religion and often culture more widely.’ The adjudicators in this category said,

“…While the topic may at first appear to be rather dry, Edgson engages with it in such a way as to bring it to life in a study that combines theology, political and ecclesiastical history, and even a dash of art history. The mature understanding that Edgson amply demonstrates allows him to tackle confidently a significant number of sources and to discuss with notable sophistication issues which are both complex and thorny. The piece is thoroughly researched, extremely well structured, and confidently presented in the style of a natural teacher.”

Final year essay, Anish Rajpal (History) with his essay entitled: ‘The Origins and Logic of Antipuritanism Reconsidered.’ The adjudicators in this category said,

“This essay represents an exceptionally well-considered treatment of the political and religious relationships between puritanism and antipuritanism in the second half of the sixteenth century in Britain, referring in particular to the views of Matthew Parker, Richard Bancroft, and John Whitgift. Written in an impressively confident style, it displays the hallmarks of excellent scholarship, including original perspectives, careful reading of the sources, and active and critical engagement with the views of established scholars. A pleasure to read, this essay operates at a very high (and practically postgraduate) level, and the author is to be commended for outstanding work.”

Final year dissertation, Charity Culley (History of Art), with her dissertation entitled: ‘Disguised Symbolism In Lucas Cranach’s Salome At The Feast Of Herod’. The adjudicators in this category said,

“This is a very thoroughly researched, well-written, and original investigation into the four Salome paintings devised by Lukas Cranach the Elder. The build up of the dissertation by first tracing the origin and development of the Salome story in both textual and visual sources really assisted with setting the scene for a discussion of the paintings in the final two chapters. The second chapter investigates the disguised symbolism of the everyday objects featuring in the paintings to reveal their erotic connotation and relevance in relation to the coeval moral theme pertaining the Power of Women. The third chapter puts forward a different Eucharistic interpretation with connections to other religious works by Cranach. By combining these two different interpretations, the writer of the dissertation also demonstrated and convincingly argued that these are not mutually exclusive, and that both contribute to the complexity of Cranach’s works. What we most admired about it was the interdisciplinarity of the dissertation. It uses historical/literary/theological contexts to comment on the figure of Salome, and shows a very good grasp of the iconographic tradition underlying these kinds of paintings. It was a real delight to read and a significant contribution to the field.”

Commended dissertation, Anish Rajpal (History) with his dissertation entitled: ‘Religiopolitical Legitimacy, Anti-Nicodemite Discourse and the Legacy of the Marian Regime’. The adjudicators comments were,

“We especially admired the extensive research and use of contemporary sources. The readings of these really nuanced the works of some eminent scholars, which demonstrates the original engagement of the student with the material and the real promise that this dissertation shows.”