The inaugural SWESSE BA Thesis prizes were awarded last week at the National Forum for English Studies in Luleå. Two prize winners and two runners-up in both literature and linguistics were identified by the judges.

The Award for Best Thesis submitted in the field of English Literature was awarded to Charles Simmons for his thesis ‘Things in Blood Meridian: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Look.’ The judges commended Viktor Pepponen Jonsson for his thesis entitled ‘A Poetics of Inconsistency: William Carlos Williams’ Spring and All and New Criticism.’

The Award for Best Thesis submitted in the field of English linguistics was awarded to Anne Blauenfeldt for her thesis ‘Violent rapists and depraved paedophiles: Linguistic representation of sex offenders in the British tabloid press.’ The judges commended Olov Aronson for his thesis entitled ‘Should I Use “I”?: A corpus-based study of first-person pronouns in scientific journals of different ranking.’

Details of the judges’ decisions appear below.

Theses submitted in the field of English Literature

Charles Simmons

The 2015 SWESSE Award for BA Thesis of the Year in English Literature is granted to Charles Simmons for his lively, engaging essay on Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Simmons deploys a hermeneutic approach to the examination of the novel in order to reject Cartesian notions of fixed subject-object relations. By focusing on how things are “given an abode, come-forth, and presence”, Simmons highlights the hopefulness of the text and reconsiders the nature of ‘knowing’ that McCarthy proffers. In an illuminating reading of the novel, Simmons highlights the phenomenal world explored by McCarthy, and in his productive use of Heideggerian concepts, such as the unspoken and the Nothing, he focuses our attention on aspects of ‘seeing’ and ‘naming’ and opens up the text to the reader in new and imaginative ways.

The prize is granted on the following grounds:

  1. The language of the essay is lively, engaging and immerses the reader directly into the argument. Interest is maintained not only by the clarity of the argument, but also by the varied vocabulary and colourful metaphors.
  2. The paper is well-structured: the argument is convincing, well-paced and easy to follow. Each key point is illustrated with suitable citations, and connected to the thesis of the paper.
  3. The theoretical approach is clearly explicated and the essay demonstrates a broad knowledge base within phenomenology. The application of this approach to the literary text feels organic: the result is a deep and thorough insight into the novel.

Viktor Pepponen Jonsson

The 2015 SWESSE Highly Commended Award for a BA Thesis in the field of English Literature is granted to Viktor Pepponen Jonsson for an exceptionally engaging essay on William Carlos Williams’ Spring and All. Jonsson displays an impressive understanding of the context in which the poetry collection appears, as he relates the content and form of the poems to on-going debates within the New Critical literary debates of the day. The language of the essay is lively, engaging and immerses the reader directly into the argument. Interest is maintained not only by the clarity of the argument, but also by the varied vocabulary and colourful metaphors.

Judges Magnus Ullén, Irene Gilsenan Nordin, and Lydia Kokkola offer their congratulations to Charles and Viktor.

Theses submitted in the field of Linguistics

Anne Blauenfeldt

The 2015 SWESSE Award for BA Thesis of the Year in English Linguistics is granted to Anne Blauenfeldt for her investigation of the way rapists and paedophiles were represented in British tabloid newspapers from 2010-2013. Two corpora of roughly 70,000 words each were collected (one with articles on rapists and one on paedophiles) from the online newspaper database World Newsbank. Using a combination of corpus linguistics methods and a critical discourse analytic framework, Blauenfeldt demonstrates convincingly how the two discourses differ: paedophiles are represented as collectives of mentally disturbed and morally corrupt people, whereas rapists are represented as violent ‘animalistic’ attackers.

The prize is granted on the following grounds:

  1. The design of the study: an excellent combination of corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis, demonstrating very clearly both the similarities and the differences between the two discourses in British tabloid newspapers. Results are similar to those in previous studies, but this study makes use of a much larger corpus.
  2. Results and analysis: the two parts (‘keyness’ and ‘categories’) look at the data from two different perspectives, with similar results, which strengthens the analysis. The analyst demonstrates broad knowledge of linguistic methods, a keen eye for analyzing data, and a solid theoretical grounding.
  3. Language and structure: the presentation is easy to follow, with a good structure, clear arguments, and excellent language.

Olov Aronson

The 2015 SWESSE Highly Commended Award for a BA Thesis in the field of English Linguistics is granted to Olov Aronson for his detailed investigation of the frequency and function of first-person pronouns in academic publications within the social sciences. Overall frequencies, as well as frequencies for specific genre roles, are subjected to rigorous statistical testing. It concludes that authors published in highly ranked journals use first-person pronouns in a self-promoting way more frequently than authors in less highly ranked journals. The thesis has a clear aim, a solid methodology, and verifiable results, and it is well positioned in its field of research. The judges emphasize that the paper is exemplary in terms of structure and clarity of presentation.

Judges Jean Hudson, Solveig Granath, and Philip Shaw offer their congratulations to Olov and Anne.