ALCS Undergraduate Dissertation Prize and Essay Prize 2022

10 November 2022
Filip De Ceuster

Congratulations to the winners of the ALCS prizes 2022

This year’s ALCS UG Dissertation Prize went to Gemma Blacker (University of Sheffield). The ALCS Essay Prize was awarded to Lydia Cope (University of Sheffield).

Gemma Blacker - Toon Tellegen’s transnational transfer: How a Dutch author crossed international, linguistic, and gender boundaries

Toon Tellegen (1941), Dutch author and poet who specialises in children’s literature, has been publishing works since 1984. A best-seller and one of the Netherlands’ most-translated authors, Tellegen has won countless awards and is heralded as a ‘genius’ for his philosophical animal stories, covering topics from friendship to greed, low self-esteem to loneliness.

Whilst Tellegen has been, and continues to be, a great success abroad, his work is of particular interest in Russia. Of the 30 different languages in which Tellegen’s work has been published, Russian has the highest number of translations and is responsible for 15% of all translations of his work. Considering Dutch provides just under 1% of the world’s source of translated titles, this number of translations into Russian from a single author is striking.

Blacker’s dissertation aims to uncover the reasons for Tellegen’s successful transnational transfer to Russia and establish the links between two geographically, linguistically and culturally very distinct countries. Specifically, it focuses on the following questions:

Lydia Cope - How the sense of belonging to a nation is shaped and mediated through family ties in Johan Fretz’s Onder de Paramariboom

In Lydia Cope’s essay we see to what extent the sense of belonging to a nation is shaped and mediated through blood ties. Through an analysis of Johan Fretz’s novel Onder de Paramariboom (2018), Cope argues that the concept of ‘nation’ is complex: it is not synonymous with ‘country’ but is rather a mental construct, much deeper and more personal in meaning.

The novel’s protagonist, Johannes Fretz, demonstrates this idea on his journey in self-discovery. Born and raised in the Netherlands, he had always rejected his association with Suriname, the birthplace of his mother, and regarded himself as a Dutchman. However, on turning 29 he finally decides to visit Suriname, where his mother is finally given the opportunity to share her culture as well as introduce her son to other Surinamese relatives.

Here, Johannes gradually starts to identify with his mother, grandfather Miel and his father, all of whom have a great influence on Johannes and his perceptions of nation both directly and indirectly.