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Artur Harris wins 24th Riley Declamation Prize

Congratulations to Artur Harris (2016) on being awarded the 2017 Riley Declamation Prize.

The prize is awarded annually to a student who can show excellence in both speech writing and delivery.  The speech must be on a topical European theme, and it must last between 10 and 15 minutes; beyond that the details are decided by the entrants. The finalists’ declamations took place in the Master’s Lodge on the 9th November.  This year the prize was judged by Lord Christ Smith (Master); Dr Dan Tucker (Senior Tutor); and Dr Geoffrey Edwards. They were assisted by Giselle Riley, widow of Brian Riley, accompanied by Dr Tensay. This year there were five finalists, all of whom showed excellent writing and presentation skills.  A wide range of topics were covered throughout the evening.

RIley Declamation prize 2017 Pembroke College

Riley Declamation Prize 2017: Finalists and judges

With ‘You couldn’t make it up: Why Brexit is a matter of Common Sense’, Jonathan Woolley (2006) explored the role of common sense in the European referendum. He explored how the simplistic ‘trope’ in the Brexit referendum prevented the two sides from properly engaging with each other’s views, leading to a result surprising for everyone, and a debate satisfying for no one. Evie Aspinall (2015) took the topical subject of sexual harassment to the EU with ‘#MeTooEU’.  She discussed the necessity of turning social media moments into lasting movements by disempowering perpetrators and breaking the silence of bystanders with normative and policy change, at the EU level as well as in institutions and state governments. Claire Burchett (2014) explored the history of the Franco-German relationship her speech ‘Voulez vous coucher mit mir ce soir? The role of Franco-German relations in European integration’. Claire outlined three distinct eras, beginning with the end of the Second World War, describing how Franco-German collaboration drove European integration, and ending with recent strains on the relationship and subsequence challenges to European cohesion. Hendrik Pröhl (2017) began with a personal memory with ‘Heart of Europe’, saying how important the solidarity of his peers was after the terrorist attacks in Paris on the 13th November.  He made a passionate plea for a Europe characterised by solidarity, empathy, and understanding, and therefore better able to solve pressing problems.

Artur Harris’ winning entry was titled ‘Look West’, in which he described “the complexity inherent in Polish self-perception”, and in particular their relationship with the categories of ‘East’ and ‘West’.  He discussed the changing nature of Polish people’s relationship with the West through the fall of the Berlin Wall and the increasing resistance to EU governance now that “the fence has been knocked down” . For a full transcript of his speech, click here. The Riley Declamation prize was created in memory of Brian Riley (1959), who read Modern and Medieval Languages and Oriental Studies at Pembroke, specialising in German, French and Chinese.  He maintained his interest in foreign languages and cultures throughout his life.

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