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French Lectrice awarded Contemporary Women’s Writing Essay Prize

  • 20 May 2019

French Lectrice Ashwiny Kistnareddy has been awarded the 2019 Contemporary Women’s Writing Essay Prize for her essay “Against the Flow”: Exile and “Willful subjects” in Malika Mokeddem’s Mes Hommes and Kim Thúy’s Vi, which is forthcoming in the Journal of Contemporary Women’s Writing (Oxford University Press).

The prize-winning essay critically assesses the notion of education and exile as means of resistance for women from deeply patriarchal societies, and draws on insights from two autobiographical narratives set in Algeria and Vietnam.  Ashwiny uses Sara Ahmed's concept of "Willful Subjects" to frame her argument. She explained, “Ahmed's premise is that women are expected to follow the rules of patriarchal societies and they are considered "willful" if they have a subjectivity or claim one.”

The title captures the essence of Ashwiny’s thoughtful and informed analysis. She said, “‘against the flow’ is used as a means to counter patriarchal hegemony and thereby inscribe these women's subjectivities in the intellectual as well as human landscape.”

These texts are part of Ashwiny’s corpus for her PhD in French Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) at Cambridge. She chose to study MML because of her “longstanding interest in migrant narratives and autobiographical accounts of exile.”



  • Calling all UK Year 12 students: entries are now open for our Schools Prizes, and our Modern and Medieval Languages Essay Challenge will allow you to explore your MML interests further. The closing date is Friday 31 May 2019. 
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