Winning the Jose Oropeza Prize

Posted on: 20 October 2021 by Grace Gaynor in 2021 posts

Photograph of Grace Gaynor.
Photograph of Jose Oropeza Prize winner Grace Gaynor.

I was thrilled to receive the prestigious Jose Herrera Oropeza Prize in 2019-20 for my PhD thesis, entitled ‘‘The memory that is inherited from all […] in geometric progression.’ The shared geometric visions of Jorge Luis Borges and William Butler Yeats.’ As the title suggests, my research focuses on the Argentinean writer Borges and his interest in the Irish writer Yeats. I am specifically interested in Yeats’s use of geometric imagery in his writing, and the ways in which Borges appropriated this imagery to explore his own interests in geometric systemisations of time, history and memory.

I wanted my thesis to offer an in-depth analysis of a wider range of Borges’s references to Yeats than I had been able to identify in existing scholarship. In order to achieve this, I created a dataset which outlined all of the references that Borges made to Yeats that I could uncover. This dataset allowed me to analyse both the quantiative and qualitative significance of these references, such as Borges’s use of Yeats’s poetry as epigraphs to two of his short stories. It also gave me a sense of the thematic contexts in which Borges tended to make reference to Yeats, and I was able to explore these more fully in the body of my thesis. For example, I was able to contextualise the importance of Yeats in Borges’s broader interest in Irish writers and Ireland as a nation, and consider the specific affinity that Borges proposed between the literature of Argentina and Ireland, and the crucial role that Yeats played in the formulation of these ideas. 

I am incredibly grateful to be selected for the Jose Herrera Oropeza Prize, and it has significantly boosted my confidence ahead of my PhD viva. This success also gave me a sense of conviction in my own research ahead of a recent interview, which helped me to gain an appointment as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Liverpool, with the engage@liverpool scheme.

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