Month: March 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.