News Runner-up in the Girton College, Cambridge, Humanities Writing Competition 30.04.2020

Many congratulations to Susanna Freudenheim, Lower Sixth, who is a runner-up in the prestigious Girton College (University of Cambridge) Humanities Writing Competition. Due to the current lockdown, the awards ceremony has been cancelled but Susanna was absolutely delighted to receive her award certificate and here she tells us a bit more about her entry:

‘In the Girton Humanities essay writing competition I chose to write about a Greek terracotta figurine of a woman, which Girton suggested could be a Muse, goddess of the arts, or a Siren. I was really keen to write about Sirens as I had recently read Margaret Atwood’s poem, Siren Song, which amazed me as I had never thought about the Sirens in the Odyssey in the way she suggested: that their song was really just a cry for help, but that this cry is one which men find irresistible. This gave me my title: The enduring power of a vulnerable woman. I loved writing this essay as it allowed me to study parts of the Odyssey I hadn’t looked at before, and it also gave me the chance to analyse portrayals of Sirens in art, despite never having studied art. I had not realised quite how enigmatic the Sirens are in the Odyssey; there is a whole mystique about their song and yet in the Odyssey they never sing a song, they merely promise one. Writing the essay made me much more fully appreciate, as I concluded in my essay, that the Odyssey is not so male-centric as it appears, but full of female characters who determine Odysseus’ fate: Calypso, Circe, Scylla, Penelope, Nausicaa, Athena, and of course the Sirens (to name a few).’

We are very proud of Susanna’s achievement in this competition which is an opportunity for research and writing beyond the curriculum and where the judges are looking for the ability to connect different areas of knowledge, to think about details and to communicate clearly.