Cheney prize-winners

28th January 2019

News, Student news

The sonnets of Louise Labé and female consent in the Middle Ages are the subjects of Cheney Prize-winning essays.

  • Gabrielle Schwarzmann

    Prize-winner, Gabrielle Schwarzmann 

Andrew Hodgson (Classics and French, 2016) and Gaby Schwarzmann (History and Politics, 2017) were jointly awarded the Cheney Prize in the Arts and Social Sciences.

What Raptus Laws Can Tell Us About Female Consent in the Middle Ages by Gaby Schwarzmann (History and Politics, 2017), is a  thorough examination of the legal system of the Middle Ages with regard to raptus as rape as well as abduction. The essay “showed a sensitive grasp of the finer historical legal and cultural points, and was very well argued” said the judges. 

“It was my Crime and Punishment paper last term which got me thinking about this subject. And when I started the research everything was so interesting. For example, in the middle ages, if a woman was abducted, the central issue was that of theft – theft of the woman as property of her father or husband. If the abductor was caught it was the woman’s father who was recompensed for her clothes!”

Andrew’s essay, Mastering the Mistress: Imitation, parody and feminine revision of the Petrarchan model in the Sonnets of Louise Labé was judged to be “exceptional” by judges Ursula Martin, Stephan Rauschenbach and Judy Stephenson. 

“I came across the poetry of Louise Labé as part of my study of Petrarchism in early modern French poetry,” said Andrew. “Her work is particularly interesting in the context of a male dominated literary culture and of a male oriented literary form, and provides a fascinating example of an often unseen perspective from the early Renaissance. Working with her poetry allowed me to combine elements from my study of early modern French, my knowledge of Classical models, and some modern feminist theory, and so offered me a great opportunity to explore in depth a truly outstanding poet.” 

The College Prize in the Sciences and Mathematics was not awarded on this occasion.