SCIO Announces Hilary Term 2022 Prize Winners

SCIO is delighted to announce Hilary Term 2022’s De Jager Prize awardees. The prize is awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence in their research essays, British Culture seminars or overall academic performance throughout the term (this is the Alumni prize). Hilary’s awardees include: 

Research Essay: 

  • Natalie Nichols 
  • Mia Staub 

British Culture: 

  • Camille Antonsen 
  • Julia Bryant  
  • Laura Kimzey 
  • Hannah Robinson 

Alumni prize: Natalie Nichols 

A few of the prize winners shared a bit about their work and the reasons why they find it important. This is what they have to say. 

In her research essay, Mia Staub (Wheaton College, ‘22) researched the social and philosophical understanding of suicide and how such an understand can inform the church’s approach to the topic. Staub analysed Augustine’s, Aquinas’, and Metz’s own interpretations of suicide within their theodicy frameworks. Staub said, “This topic was one of the most challenging to approach personally as friends and family have struggled with mental illness, but I am honoured to be recognised as a De Jager Prize recipient, and I hope my work has followed through with my goal of learning what to talk about.” 

Julia Bryant (Azusa Pacific University, ’23) took the creative writing seminar as part of the British Culture series, and her short stories and poetry merited the award. Inspired by the SCIO field trip to Salisbury Cathedral, one short story evoked the “religious imagery of the pelican pecking at her breast to feed her young with her blood” — an act that came at the cost of the pelican’s own life. “The pieces I wrote integrated themes of the harm caused by forms of conditional love with the restorative power of unconditional love for others and the self,” writes Bryant. Her second work, a poem titled “From the Notes App of a High School Graduate”, explores themes of belonging, home, and self. Bryant reflects, “I have always found creative writing to be both a healing and reflective space for myself, which was also true of my time at Oxford.”

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De Jager Prize Winner Julia Bryant

Laura Kimzey (Bluefield University, ‘22) received the De Jager Prize in lieu of her achievements within the Jane Austen in Context seminar, a British Culture offering led by Dr Emma Plaskitt. In the seminar, Kimzey explored three, specific areas of interest regarding Austen’s works, these three areas being the importance of affection within marriages, the impact of reading, and the qualifications for good parenting. Reflecting on her research and Austen in general, Kimzey says, “I loved the chance to deeply study literature I both admire and enjoy, and I particularly appreciated how each of these topics identified connections between Austen’s fictional stories and the real world — needing to choose a life partner wisely, learning how reading shapes your mind, the role a parent can play for good or evil — that existed then and still exist today.” 

In other words, for Kimzey, reading and studying Jane Austen is not only an academic exercise but bears profound insights into the relationships and realities we experience in our own lives. Kimzey says, “Jane Austen has so much to teach, and I loved being one of her students as I wrote these essays.” 

de Jager Prize Winner Laura Kimzey

De Jager Prize Winner Laura Kimzey


De Jager Prize Winner Camille Antonsen

Another British Culture De Jager Prize recipient, Camille Antonsen (The King’s College, ‘22), cites the History of the Gothic Novel seminar, taught by Dr Alice Stainer, as an “unforgettable” experience. Antonsen said her writing improved greatly throughout the seminar, and she relished the opportunity to critically analyse novels The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jane Eyre as she gained “an entirely new, nuanced perspective of gothic novels and British history and culture.” 

Natalie Nichols (Wheaton College, ‘23) earned both the Research Essay and Alumni prizes for her work. Nichols’ research explored “representations of imperialist thinking and reverse colonization anxieties in Victorian detective and Gothic fiction,” looking specifically at Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, a few Sherlock Holmes stories, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  

“In my research,” Nichols writes, “I found that as threats to imperial rule increased, British narratives relied increasingly more on stereotypes of a diseased, dangerous, and uneducated world as a way to build up a nationalistic story of their understanding of ‘civilization’ and therefore justify imperialism. This reflected—and created—even more fear about a dangerous and sick world without British rule.” 

Nichols reflects on how such narratives – justifying imperial action, thought, and word – permeate our culture today. Nichols says, “Many of the harmful stereotypes still remain in nationalist rhetoric and stories today, and often we do not stop to acknowledge how frequently we read them and how this shapes our unconscious thinking and bias.” 

“In short, I saw how powerful literature can be in both reinforcing and shaping what we want to believe—also reflecting just how important it is to question assumptions and examine the embedded messages that we’re telling ourselves about ourselves, others, and the world around us in the stories we tell and consume.” 


De Jager Prize Winner Natalie Nichols

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