Month: January 2015

From Parkour to Saint-Pierre et Miquelon…

Our colleague Bill Marshall, currently enjoying some well-deserved research leave, has been keeping himself busy with talks and publications over the past few months…

His article on ‘Parkour and the Still Image’ which builds on the exhibition Bill curated in Stirling’s Pathfoot Building last year has been published in Stephanie H. Donald and Christoph Lindner’s edited volume Inert Cities: Globalization, Mobility and Suspension in Visual Culture. Bill also gave a talk on this work at the ‘Urban Encounters’ event organised in October 2014 at Tate Britain.

2015 Bill at DHM

As well as this event, Bill has also given a talk on Nantes (drawing on his interest in Atlantic cities) at ‘Europa: das Meer und die Welt’ at Berlin’s Deutsche Historisches Museum in November 2014 and on Quebec director Xavier Dolan at the American Council for Quebec Studies in Montreal.

Finally, flying the flag for Saint-Pierre et Miquelon Studies, Bill appears in La Forme des îles, a documentary directed by Patrick Viret!

Le Vent du Nord at Celtic Connections

We have a new system this year in French at Stirling that allows students to take advantage of ‘French freebies’ in order to attend French-related cultural events in Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh or beyond. The first student to benefit from this project is Laura MacFarlane, currently in her final year of a degree in French and Spanish, who went along to a concert by Quebec band Le Vent du Nord as part of Glasgow’s annual Celtic Connections festival. Here’s Laura’s review:

“It was a cold, wintery night and the ground was covered in snow and ice, but that didn’t stop the audience from gathering at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow to see the spectacle that was ‘Misses et Messieurs’.

The concert was part of Celtic Connections, headlined by the Québécois folk group, Le Vent du Nord. They play traditional music from Québec as well as songs they have composed themselves, in a similar style. The group were to be in good company, joined by female folk musicians including Emily Smith, Sharon Shannon and Julie Fowlis.

As we waited for the show to commence, I sensed the audience growing impatient, and admittedly so was I. It was half an hour after the starting time before Le Vent du Nord appeared on the stage, and by this point I was really hoping that it would be worth the wait.

2015 Le Vent du Nord pic

When they began to play, I noticed that their music resembled that of Scottish and Irish folk groups. However, there was a definite originality, not just because of the lyrics in the French language. With a mix of instruments ranging from foot-tapping to hurdy-gurdy, they recreated a traditional sound with a modern twist, and this was set off by the accompanying string quartet.

The tunes played by the ‘Messieurs’ throughout the show were well chosen with some of my favourites being ‘Le Cœur de ma Mère’, ‘Noces Tragiques’ and ‘La Soirée du Hockey’. There was also some beautiful singing from the ‘Misses’ in Gaelic and English, as well as in French. Some step-dancing was added in for good measure.

Le Vent du Nord put a lot of effort into their performance which was colourful and full of energy. Their comedic expressions and funny anecdotes between songs contrasted with the moving moments in more sombre songs. There were some powerful harmonies from the group when they sang a capella and they packed just as much of a punch when they played instruments only.

The concert was a sure success despite the late start, and what sticks in my head is the lively spirit of the group and the professionalism of their playing. The audience clearly enjoyed it, and by the end everyone was dancing, and some were jumping up and down. I thoroughly enjoyed it too and recommend to go and see them if you have the chance.”

With thanks to Laura for this review, expect more accounts of French freebies over the months ahead…

French student’s exhibition

One of our current final year students, Ben Broad, has an exhibition of photos at the moment in the Pathfoot Student Exhibition space (immediately on the left as you enter the building) – well worth stopping off to look at it! The exhibition is entitled ‘From North to South, East to West’ and is a collection of Ben’s images which show a diversity of nature and landscapes. The collection spans through the seasons and in choosing these particular images Ben says that he ‘hopes to try and show the amazingly diverse landscape and nature of the UK. For me, these images serve as a reminder to just what a wonderful place we live in, and even if it’s a place you know like the back of your hand, it can still surprise you after many years.’

If you’re in the Pathfoot Building – maybe to see Sarah Parker’s exhibition – do stop off to see Ben’s pictures, too! We’re hoping for more collaboration between Stirling’s Art Collection and the French programme over coming months.

Photography Exhibition at Stirling

When the muse looks back
When the muse looks back

Nothing specifically French about this (other than a reference to the French Surrealist photographer Claude Cahun) but… our colleague Dr Sarah Parker (an Impact Research Fellow in English) gave a lecture last week entitled ‘When the Muse Looks Back’ to accompany the opening of an exhibition of photos she has commissioned inspired by images of women poets from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The photos – which are on display in the Pathfoot Building – are by Catriona Munro, Johanna Samuelson and Anna Buchanan and are well worth stopping off in Pathfoot to see. More info to be found on Sarah’s blog.

International Translation Conference at Stirling

Lots of exciting things coming up this semester at Stirling, starting with an international conference on 26 and 27 January to launch our new Centre for Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies at Stirling (CTIISS). The varied and wide-ranging programme includes presentations by the Vice Chairs of the ITI (for Scotland and for England and Wales), Professor Charles Lock, Professor Myriam Salama-Carr, Jean-Pierre Mailhac of JPM Language Services and Professor Li of Hebei Normal University with whom we have a new double degree programme. Liam Bell, one of our Lecturers in Creative Writing, and Suzanne Gilbert, Senior Lecturer in English at Stirling, will also be giving presentations as part of the conference which is being organised by Dr Saihong Li (Programme Director for our Translation TPG programmes), Dr Anne Stokes (Lecturer in Translation Studies at Stirling) and Professor Kirstie Blair (Professor of English at Stirling).

More to follow on other Languages events!

French Road Trip

The new semester is underway at Stirling and, amid the frost and snow, this seemed like a good time to post an account of much sunnier climes in the shape of a road trip undertaken by two of our former students, Finn and Antonella, who graduated last summer. Plenty of blue skies and sandy beaches to dream about, and some handy tips for anyone thinking about an inexpensive way to travel around France! Thanks to Antonella and Finn for sending this.

La France avec trois fois rien.

Having offered blood, toil, tears and sweat, to get you through the essays and exams, don’t you think you deserve a break? Fancy a road trip around France but not sure you can afford it? Here are our top 5 “astuces” for a low cost – high satisfaction French camping adventure.

1.  Have a clear idea about how long you want to spend in France. This will allow you to plan time for both travelling and sightseeing. Did you know that you can get from Dover to Calais in 90 minutes for less than £40?  It’s well worth checking out ferry times and prices beforehand.2015 Road Trip Ferry

2.  Decide what you want to see. Do you fancy a visit to the Dune du Pilat stretching along the picturesque Côte d’Argent or would you prefer the rugged landscape of les Calanques?

Maybe you are more of a wine connoisseur and would appreciate a bit of “dégustation” in Vouvray (near Tours). 2015 Road Trip Vouvray

In any case, it’s good to plan ahead. In doing so, we managed to take in a combination of cityscapes and coastlines. We enjoyed swimming in the Atlantic one day whilst meandering around the bustling streets of Bordeaux the next.

2015 Road Trip Sea

3.  Don’t forget to take your accommodation with you. This is a camping trip after all!!  There are over 9800 campsites to choose from. Don’t be put off by choice. Buy a decent guide. We used Le guide officiel camping caravaning by Martine Duparc.

2015 Road Trip Campsite

4. Decide upon a daily budget for accommodation. Tariffs always include access to toilets and showers. You may be surprised to discover that wifi and electricity are available on most campsites. Bear in mind that the closer the campsite is to a city or seaside location, the more expensive it gets. We discovered a few lovely villages only a short bus or tram ride away from main cities, such as Tours, Bordeaux, Marseille and Lyon. Being far enough away from the hustle and bustle of city life, whilst close enough to an abundance of fine wines and boulangeries is the perfect recipe for a relaxing yet inspirational holiday.

5.  Enter your route into This will give you a fairly accurate idea of travel costs before you go.  If you choose to use French motorways, you will certainly become familiar with les péages.

2015 Road Trip Peage

Initially, these tollbooths can be quite daunting to negotiate. If in doubt, keep right! We’d also recommend paying by credit card for speed and convenience. Don’t be discouraged by the seemingly extortionate hit on your wallet (approx. 1.20€/10km). We found that the benefits far outweighed the financial costs. Not only will you save a lot of time and fuel but you will also have access to les aires de reste where toilet facilities are usually maintained to a high standard. Keep some spare change for the coffee machines! From a safety point of view, there are also emergency telephones at regular intervals on the hard shoulder, should you break down.

Bref, all you really need is a decent campsite guide, a vague idea of where you want to go, a credit card, a car and a tent.  You’ll find everything else you need in Carrefour. Oh and remember…

…to download some decent French music onto your iPod (Christophe Maé, Stromae and Francis Cabrel should appeal to even the least eclectic of tastes).  If you get tired of hitting that shuffle button, there’s always MFM Radio.

Bon voyage!!!

Antonella et Finn

2015 Road Trip Antonella and Finn