Interview with Balázs Zsuzsanna
About you and the prize
You were the one of the two winners of the Ruttkay Essay Prize this year – were you surprised at the jury’s decision? Why?
-Yes, I was surprised, because unlike the paper I had submitted last year—a paper which was written directly to the Ruttkay Contest—this essay was written as a seminar paper. It means that I could not research the topic as thoroughly as I would have liked. I also knew that the theme of this year’s paper drifted away from my research topic (W. B. Yeats and the traces of Italian literature in his œuvre). This is why I expected to receive less positive feedback this year.
How important was/is it for you to be thus noted and acknowledged?
– It is important for me, as it indicates that my writing skills are coming along, although there is certainly room for improvement.
Why did you feel you wanted to compete? What made you submit your paper? If you hesitated about the submission, what made you uncertain?
– I wanted to compete this year mainly because the last Ruttkay Contest inspired me to do so and continue writing essays on topics which interest me. What is more, I was inspired to try my hand at the theory of Shakespearean adaptation. I usually deal with Yeats and Irish literature, so composing an essay on the problems of the adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in Caesar Must Die was a big challenge for me, and I wanted to know how successfully I managed to cope with this task. However, I would not have dared to submit it had not Dr. Kinga Földváry indicated that it might be appropriate for the Ruttkay Contest. It was her inspiring feedback that finally made me submit the paper.
About the contest at the English Department
The participant who submits a paper graded “better” usually receives a book voucher or present of 1000HUF worth, while the ones receiving a grade “Good” will be acknowledged by a Diploma only. The Prize (of four or five thousand forints) means to express the appreciation of the very best. Do you think the book voucher of 4000HUF each of you received is encouraging enough? Why?
– Yes, I think it is encouraging, even though I personally was not motivated by the fact that we may receive a book voucher worth a certain amount of money. I am inspired by feedback, including criticism as well, because this is the way I can improve my writing skills. I do not mean that I am not happy to receive the book voucher—certainly I am, since I always have certain books on my wish list, which I would like to buy—but receiving the comments and the suggestions of my professors is in itself a huge encouragement. For example, one of the reflections was that I had undertaken a big task with this film adaptation topic, which was an important acknowledgement for me. But it was also mentioned that I used sentences that were too long and complicated in certain parts of the essay, and this feedback encourages me to improve this aspect of my writing as well.
How high is this essay contest held among your fellow students? Is your achievement respected by your friends students (as much as you wish)?
-As I see, this contest is held in high respect among my friends and fellow students. My friends were as excited as I was before the announcement of the results at the Department Eve, and they were very happy about my achievement.
If you had to seek talented people at the Department, how would you invite and inspire them?
-I would encourage them to write on any topic they are interested in—be it literature, linguistics, history, philosophy, film, law, or the mix of these disciplines.
We intend to open up the essay contest before authors coming from a non-literary field because we believe that clear and witty argumentation that is comprehensible for the “lay” reader is quite essential in the fields of linguistics, methodology or applied linguistics as well. Do you think this could inspire your friends or acquaintances to participate?
-Yes, I think it would definitely give them much more inspiration, because so far most of the essays have been written on literature, and this might have given them the impression that it was not worth composing papers on a non-literary theme for the Ruttkay Contest.
The Prize and your future
Do you think this essay prize will look good on your CV?
– Definitely, as it acknowledges that we have achieved a certain level of writing in English, and thus it also strengthens the value of our degree.
In what way do you intend to use your excellent researching and writing skills in the foreseeable future?
– The very first occasion is going to be the TDK conference and later maybe also the OTDK, when I will also receive further feedback on my writing and researching skills. Later, if everything goes well, I would like to deepen my research in Irish studies, especially in the influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy on the works of W. B. Yeats during the M. A. programme in English Studies, and if I am given the opportunity, I would like to continue my Yeats studies in the Doctoral School of Literature—hopefully still at PPCU.