At its Dissertation Seminar for undergraduates, the Department of Maltese at the University of Malta launched two new awards named after Ġużè Aquilina and Oliver Friggieri.

In this first edition, Jean Paul Borg received the Premju Oliver Friggieri for his BA dissertation on the representations of the family in Antoine Cassar’s prize-winning collection of poems Erbgħin Jum (Forty Days), while Deborah Muscat was awarded the Premju Ġużè Aquilina for her study on the adverbial function of adjectival forms in Maltese.

The Dissertation Seminar was held on February 23 and brought together all undergraduate students of Maltese in the Faculty of Maltese and the department’s 10 full-time lecturers.

Due to the COVID restrictions currently in place and the large number of students studying Maltese at the university, second- and third-year students attended the seminar at the hall of the new Campus Hub, while first year students followed the event via Zoom. 

The seminar featured presentations on the dissertations by the award-winning graduates, Borg and Muscat, and by two other graduates, Kirsty Bartolo and Anthea Enriquez, whose research was also highly commended by the board of examiners of the Department of Maltese. 

Michael Spagnol presenting the 'Premju Oliver Friggieri' to Jean Paul Borg. Photos: Sarah ZammitMichael Spagnol presenting the 'Premju Oliver Friggieri' to Jean Paul Borg. Photos: Sarah Zammit

Apart from recognising the graduates’ high level of achievement, the prizes celebrate the priceless contributions Friggieri and Aquilina have made in their field of study, thereby laying the foundations of the department’s main research areas. 

The steel trophy in the shape of a ship’s rudder, resting on a base made out of Gozitan stone, was designed and produced by artist Austin Camilleri.

At the end of the seminar, Immanuel Mifsud pointed out that the words of Friggieri and Aquilina engraved in the rudder’s steel (iss’inti l-istaġun il-ġdid and l-imfietaħ tal-fantasija huma f’idejk) serve as a reminder that the dissertation is not the end of the young researchers’ academic journey but the beginning of a new one. 

The two trophies were presented to the award winners by Michael Spagnol, head of the Department of Maltese.

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