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Helen Craske

Merton student wins Society of Dix-Neuviémistes' Postgraduate Prize

April 2017

Merton graduate student Helen Craske has won the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes' 2017 Postgraduate Prize, for the best postgraduate conference paper submitted to the Society’s Annual Conference.

Currently taking the MSt in Modern Languages prior to her AHRC-funded DPhil on 'Complicity in Decadent Literature', Helen matriculated in 2012 and read French at undergraduate level.

She said:

"I am very pleased to have won the postgraduate prize linked to the Annual Conference of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes (SDN), for an essay that I presented as my first academic paper, entitled 'The Decadent Ideal of Impenetrability'.

"In this paper, I discussed the reformulation of notions of intellectual and eroticised impenetrability – alongside related figures, such as the dandy and the virgin – in works by French Decadent writers Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, Remy de Gourmont, and Rachilde. I argued that the self-aware, ironic and playful treatment of this theme by such writers, who simultaneously adopted it as an (inherently flawed) aesthetic ideal, helps to explain the ongoing—if ambiguous—appeal of Decadent fiction, for readers and critics alike.

"The essay was effectively, in condensed form, one of the pieces of work I submitted for the MSt. I am working towards getting an updated version of the original published as an article in the SDN’s journal, Dix-Neuf, in due course."

The SDN, founded in 2001, aims to provide a forum for the promotion and dissemination of research in 19th-century French and Francophone studies in the UK and Ireland; to encourage interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to the 'long' 19th century (1789-1914) in France and Francophone countries, embracing linguistic, literary, historical, cultural and philosophical perspectives; and to foster 19th-century French studies in the postgraduate community. The Society organises an annual conference, and has established Dix-Neuf as an international, fully-refereed journal.