Month: March 2014

Romancing the Bastille


It’s been a good week for French-themed things in the Division of Literature and Languages and our Wednesday research seminar continued the trend with our colleague Dale Townshend giving a very interesting paper entitled ‘Romancing the Bastille’, examining ‘the imaginative uptake of the Bastille, that medieval French fortress of punishment and imprisonment, in British culture of the eighteenth century.’ Dale (who is responsible for our Gothic Imagination MLitt) offered an account of the ways in which the storming of the Bastille in July 1789 was covered in the British periodical and newspaper press of the day, before considering ‘some of the dramas, Gothic, proto-Gothic and otherwise, that sought to retell this inaugurating event of the French Revolution on the Romantic stage in the early 1790s.’

Let’s hope the French theme continues after the mid-semester break…

Alison Cooper: You’re super!

Yesterday was a sad and yet oddly joyous day for us in French at Stirling because it was the last day, before retirement, for our much loved and admired administrator, Alison Cooper.

Alison has worked at Stirling for over 20 years, first as the administrator for French and then for Languages, Cultures and Religions, and most recently for Literature and Languages. Colleagues past and present got together yesterday to wish her a happy and (doubtless) very active retirement which also gave us a chance, and an excuse, , to take a ‘family photo’…
Alison farewell 200314 2

On behalf of all staff and students in French at Stirling, and in Literature and Languages, un grand merci à Alison et bonne continuation!! And thanks to Alastair Duncan for the plagiarised line from his poem in Alison’s honour that serves as a title for this blog piece!

Delphine de Vigan

It’s not every day that a leading Scottish writer gives you a tip for a French author you might want to have a look at but that’s precisely what happened yesterday and it would seem daft not to pass on the recommendation! Janice Galloway, who is Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in the Division of Literature and Languages at Stirling, gave a great lecture on ‘Memoir and Fiction’ to students on the ‘Writing and Identity’ module coordinated by Scott Hames yesterday.
As well as talking about responses to memoir and the unreliability of the very notion of genre, she also happened to mention that anybody looking to read an excellent contemporary writer engaging with these areas should try French author Delphine de Vigan. We’ll be taking Janice’s advice and buying some of her work for the library!
Delphine de Vigan

Stirling French Students to Attend Multilingual Debates

On 2 April, our Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques, will be heading to Edinburgh with some of our current final year students to attend one of Heriot Watt University’s annual multilingual debates. The debate topic for the afternoon session our students will be attending is ‘This House believes that the fragmentation of existing member-states could endanger the future of the EU’ and the debate is conducted in a number of languages with simultaneous interpreting provided by HW final year and postgrad students.

We’ll post an account of the day’s events in a few weeks.

Erasmus Visitor

We’re looking forward to welcoming José Domingues de Almeida from the University of Porto to Stirling at the start of April. Jose will be here as part of the Erasmus staff mobility programme and will be teaching classes on our final year language and option courses during his stay. His research centres on contemporary French and Francophone literature, and he is the editor of the University of Porto’s French Studies journal Intercâmbio.

Postgraduate Bursaries in Languages at the University of Stirling

Stirling University’s School of Arts and Humanities is pleased to offer a number of £6000 per annum research postgraduate bursaries for students starting a research degree programme in the coming academic year 2014-15.

The French programme at Stirling is particularly keen to encourage strong applications from students interested in pursuing postgraduate research in any of our areas of expertise (Postcolonial Studies, Gender and Sexualities, and Visual Cultures, in particular). French forms part of the Division of Literature and Languages and further information about our teaching and research can be found via our webpages.

Full details on the bursaries, eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found here. Please note that the submission deadline is Tuesday 1 April 2014.

Translating Astronomy: Developing New BSL

Back in November, the Division of Literature and Languages organised a 2-day workshop on Translation that kicked off with a fascinating session on BSL and astronomy led by Audrey Cameron of the Scottish Sensory Centre, Gary Quinn from Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Royal Observatory’s senior public engagement officer Tania Johnston.

Royal Observatory
Royal Observatory

Our Translation Master’s programmes have a very fruitful partnership with the Royal Observatory thanks to which our students visit the Observatory each year to meet with Science Communicators and the Observatory’s Librarian and to learn about ways in which strategies of translation, adaptation and communication can be used in a scientific context.

Through our links with them, we found out about a Scottish government-funded project involving the ROE and the Scottish Sensory Centre to develop new British Sign Language signs for a whole range of astronomical terms. Audrey, Gary and Tania’s talk in November gave us an opportunity to find out more about the project, how the signs are created, how terms were chosen and so on, with a practical demonstration of how the new signs are put into use thanks to a comet-making display.BSL Super Nova

Since then, the project has come on in leaps and bounds with over 90 new signs now having been created, video definitions of which can be accessed via the Scottish Sensory Centre’s website. As our partnership with the ROE evolves over coming year, we hope that our students will be able to learn more about this project and about other routes via which the Observatory seeks to make its collection and facilities accessible to a wider audience.

Symposium on Maghrebi Cinema

Our former PhD student (and current Teaching Assistant!) Stefanie van de Peer is organising a one-day symposium at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on Saturday 17 May as part of the annual Edinburgh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace. Proposals for contributions to the symposium (‘Ceci n’est pas une Révolution: Filming Movements in the Maghreb’) are sought and the deadline is 21 March. The full Call for Papers follows below. As well as a day of discussions about film in the Maghreb, the event will also include screenings of new and classic films from the region.


1‐Day Symposium, 17 May 2014, Film Guild Cinema, Filmhouse, Edinburgh

9:00am – 4:00pm

The cinema of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) was born out of the struggles for independence from France, something that is most evident in film production between the sixties and the eighties. In the last three decades, a pre‐occupation with the anti‐colonial struggle has given way to issues of class, gender, economic deprivation and the roots of Islamic fundamentalism. Since 2011, the Wave of Revolutions and anti-government campaigns sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, ostensibly started in the Maghreb, inspires films on the historical roots, immediate causes and the people behind the Revolutions.

This one‐day symposium wishes to look beyond the media frenzy, beyond the emphasis on the so‐called ‘Arab Spring’ in order to look more closely at the historical Waves of Revolution that have dominated postcolonial filmmaking in the Maghreb since independence.

This symposium aims to address issues of style and themes, of the political impulse in Maghrebi cinema, and of the relationship Maghrebi filmmakers have with their ex‐coloniser. The symposium is organised by Dr Stefanie Van de Peer (University of Stirling), as part of the Middle Eastern Film Festival (MEFF) in Edinburgh and with the collaboration of the Edinburgh Film Guild. MEFF’s retrospective of Maghrebi films aspires to move away from the relegation of Maghrebi films to French screens, in order to project these films onto British screens, critically tracing the development of the cinema of the Maghreb and the influence of its ex‐colonial power.

This Symposium will bring together scholars from around the UK focusing on the Maghreb for a day of dialogue, topped off with the screening of some of the best new and classic films from the Maghreb. Proposals for contributions to the symposium are now invited.  Please send your 300‐word abstract for a 20‐minute paper to Stefanie Van de Peer at, accompanied by a 100‐word bio, by Friday 21 March 2014.

Jason Hartford at the University of Sheffield

Jason Hartford will be giving a paper as part of the University of Sheffield’s French Research and Culture programme entitled: ‘Separated before Birth? Charles Péguy and Michel Foucault: Methodologies of History’ on 12 March.

The paper reflects a theoretical interest that initially arose out of a teaching activity, as Jason explains: “I’ve become interested in methodology as an idea and a theoretical area, and having read a little bit about Foucault have started to compare his with others’ methodologies. Péguy was an unusual creature, a mostly non-practising but still strongly self-identified Catholic, and a Dreyfusard nationalist. Not common for his day! Well, what I’ve discovered is that in a few limited, but still interesting ways, some of Péguy’s thought from 1909 is comparable with some of Foucault’s thought from 1969 — even though no one, to my knowledge, has proposed comparing them.” This is a very new area of work for Jason and he is looking forward to feedback from the talk in Sheffield.