UWE student wins top prize for brilliant essay

Issue date: 31 March 2009

University of the West of England A student at the University of the West of England has won a top prize for an English essay. The British Association for American Studies Ambassadors Award for best undergraduate essay 2008-09 will be awarded to Steve Presence at a special ceremony at the University of Nottingham in April.

Steve's essay entitled, 'Reading the trauma beneath the text in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried ', was singled out by the judges for its excellent interweaving of theory and textual analysis.

Steve says that he is over the moon to win the prize. “It means a great deal to me. It's wonderful to receive such recognition, and came as a big surprise since I had submitted it some time ago and just assumed I hadn't won anything. My essay concentrated on the trauma theory and how it helps us understand the interwoven narrative structure of The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. The novel is set during the Vietnam War and concerns a veteran's attempts to address the memories of his experiences there.

The ambiguous and fragmented nature of the flashbacks which haunt the main character really lends itself to a literary mode of analysis, and reveals a striking depth to the novel. I'm delighted to win the £500 prize money and I plan to spend it on a camera. My degree course in Film and English Literature is very theoretical, which is great, but it'll be interesting to have a go at some filmmaking after I graduate”.

Dr Sarah Robertson, who organises the English Department's submissions to the competition, said, “This is great news for Steve, and for all those who have taught him. He is the second student from the department to win this prestigious prize following on from Edward Flett's success in 2006. Everyone is delighted by Stephen's achievement – he has competed in a very rigorous arena, beating off competition from many other universities.”

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