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17 November 2023

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First recipient of Pamela Gradon Scholarship begins studies at St Hugh’s

Congratulations to St Hugh’s Graduate student, Hanna Baker Darch (DPhil English) who has been awarded the Pamela Gradon scholarship, one of two scholarships supported by an extremely generous legacy left to the English Faculty, St Hugh’s and Lady Margaret Hall by our late Honorary Fellow, Professor Anne Hudson.

Professor Hudson, who studied English at St Hugh’s, matriculating in 1957, bequeathed £2.6 million for endowing several scholarships for graduate students working on medieval English. St Hugh’s holds the Pamela Gradon scholarship, named after one of the College’s most distinguished English scholars, who was also Professor Hudson’s tutor at St Hugh’s as well as a colleague, friend and close collaborator on the enormous Wycliffite Sermons project. Pamela Gradon was a Fellow and Tutor at St Hugh’s between 1963 and 1982, following which she was elected to Emeritus Fellow.

Hanna commented: ‘Receiving the Pamela Gradon studentship is an honour that will extend far beyond the duration of my DPhil. The generosity of Professor Anne Hudson is testament to the impact this field has on the lives of its scholars, and I am endlessly grateful that my research has been recognised in line with her extraordinary legacy and love for medieval studies. My work explores how western ideologies have been shaped by characters described as ‘Enemies of Christ’, by comparing literary and visual representations of monstrosity against discriminatory depictions of religious, cultural, and ethnic identities.

‘My DPhil focuses on demonization in literature, questioning how representations of the Enemy of Christ in medieval English romance were influenced by the historical and literary cultures of their production.

Terms associated with the devil – fiend, for example – are commonly used as signifiers of alterity within these texts, and have been interchangeably applied to representations of foreignness and monstrosity in popular literature. My project explores how differential characterisations of human and fantasy figures reflect contemporary attitudes towards Christian identities, eking out the dividing line between human, monster and self in the ideologically turbulent history of the Middle Ages.

My methodology combines historical, literary, and codicological research in order to develop better understandings of demonization as a medieval literary practice. At this stage in my project, I am focusing on the comparative reading of ‘ancestral’ romances with intertextual lineages that extend from the 13th to late 15th centuries, and tracking the development of Enemy of Christ characterisations through manuscript variations.’

The Anne Hudson scholarship, which is held at Lady Margaret Hall, has been awarded to Charlotte Ross, whose DPhil research will focus on the manuscripts of Thomas Hoccleve’s longest and most famous work, The Regiment of Princes.

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