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Liberal Arts student Gina Prat Lilly awarded The Katie Lentakis Memorial Fund Award

At the annual award ceremony on Monday 17 June 2019, final year Liberal Arts student Gina Prat Lilly was awarded The Katie Lentakis Memorial Fund Award for her dissertation entitled “Between dictatorship and exile — Two Antigones of postwar Spain. Salvador Espriu’s Antígona and María Zambrano’s La tumba de Antígona.”

Gina Prat Lilly and Dr John Kittmer
Dr John Kittmer, Chairman of the Anglo-Hellenic League and former British Ambassador to Greece, and Gina Prat Lilly.

Left: Dr John Kittmer, Chairman of the Anglo-Hellenic League and former British Ambassador to Greece; Right: Gina Prat Lilly, award recipient.

Gina is the first Liberal Arts student to win the award (and was also the first to be shortlisted). One member of the committee which decided upon the award commented that Gina's dissertation was a “fabulous essay that convincingly identifies a gap in a major strand of scholarship (viz. the position of Spain in the reception of the classical tradition) and demonstrates how this gap might be filled through a close analysis of two Spanish plays, each based on Antigone and written during the period of Franco’s dictatorship. It offers a sophisticated comparative reading of the dramas, draws in a lucid manner on a wide array of scholarship and while demonstrating its thesis clearly opens up new fields for research.”

The Katie Lentakis Memorial Fund Award was established by the Anglo-Hellenic League in memory of Mrs Katie Lentakis, and was first awarded in 2002. It is awarded to undergraduates studying in the field of Hellenic Studies in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at King's College London, and the winner is chosen by a committee of experts established by the Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies.

After receiving the prestigious award, Gina commented:

I’m so very proud of having won the The Katie Lentakis Memorial Fund Award 2019 for my dissertation ‘Between dictatorship and exile — Two Antigones of postwar Spain.Salvador Espriu’s Antígona and María Zambrano’s La tumba de Antígona.’ And I’m especially honoured to be the first Liberal Arts student to have been shortlisted for this prize! I remember Rosa Andújar putting forward, in her Translation Across Disciplines lecture, that the Classics are interdisciplinary by nature. Never is this more true than in Classical Reception Studies, where my particular interests lie. I’m fascinated by the reception and deployment of the Classics in other contexts, especially those that remain somewhat overlooked by the mainstream Classical tradition. For example, I’m currently refining an essay on the reception of Plato’s myth of Atlantis in the music of a 1990s electronic music duo from Detroit, Drexciya. Cases like this prove that receptions of the Classics can be found in very far-flung and unexpected places! The interdisciplinary eye I developed in my three years as a Liberal Arts student undoubtedly played a role in the methodologies I employed in my dissertation. Though my point of departure was Sophocles’ Antigone, I was most interested in why this Ancient myth has surfaced in times of political and social upheaval, in this case the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. I closely examined the two Spanish authors’ texts to unpick their transformations of the myth to both reflect and answer to the Spanish political context. While remaining aware of the agendas of the Spanish Antigones, I was shocked to find that, though Antigone has been proven relevant in periods of duress time and time again, these two Spanish texts are absent from the academic discussion of Antigone. And even more critically, why does the Classical Tradition all too often obviate Spanish engagements with the Classics? My approach therefore combined close textual reading with historical, political and social contextualisation, while also intimating that perhaps it requires an interdisciplinary eye to bring to the fore lesser-known sources that straight disciplines may not otherwise encounter. I believe that the interdisciplinarity of Liberal Arts is a way to combat the potential for insularity in straight disciplines, with results that can only enrich us.– Gina Prat Lilly

Dr Rosa Andújar, who supervised the dissertation, described the work and congratulated Gina on the achievement:

In her dissertation, Gina not only expertly tackles a difficult and well-trodden topic – the modern afterlife of Sophocles’ Antigone – but she also manages to find a new focus: its unique manifestation in twentieth-century post-Civil war and Francoist Spain. Throughout her dissertation Gina provides nuanced analysis of two relatively understudied texts which deploy the myth of Antigone for opposing ends (Salvador Espriu’s Antígona and María Zambrano’s La tumba de Antígona) during the volatile dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Her analysis is furthermore based on close and careful reading of the texts under scrutiny (the former in Catalan, the latter in Spanish), as well as on a deep understanding of Sophocles’ Greek source text. She additionally demonstrates an expert command of an impressively wide range of secondary literature: from scholarship on Greek tragedy (including particular topics such as mourning and the ritual lament) to critical studies on Antigone’s afterlife in both literature and philosophy; from theoretical approaches to exile (Bakhtin, Said, Arendt) to accounts of Spain’s fraught twentieth-century politics and history. This is a superbly rich and interdisciplinary dissertation, and an exceptional contribution to Classical Reception Studies. We in Liberal Arts are immensely proud of Gina’s fantastic accomplishment!– Dr Rosa Andújar

The entire Liberal Arts department would like to send their warmest congratulations to Gina on this wonderful achievement!