Category: French Beyond Stirling

Cuimhnichibh Oirnn – Remember Us

And while we’re posting about French at Stirling-related research, this seems a perfect opportunity to post this article about what our colleague, Aedín ní Loingsigh, has been up to over the past couple of months.

Back in June, Aedín was part of a team of academics and actors who organised a one-day workshop on Dementia and Bilingualism at the Insight Institute in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. As this BBC Alba film shows, the performance-led day created a very different kind of event to the usual format of academic and voluntary sector conferences.

A dramatic reading of the play ‘Five to Midnight’ (provisional title) portrayed the experiences of ‘Mary’ who, with the onset of dementia begins to lose her ability to speak in English and returns to Scottish Gaelic, her mother tongue. The play, performed in separate parts, was interspersed with audience reflection and three panel discussions on bilingualism in the medical context, dementia’s impact on the family and the bilingual community and bilingualism and the arts.

The play prompted much discussion about changing roles and relationships in families affected by dementia. Mary’s husband ‘John’ does not speak Gaelic. Meanwhile, Mary’s adult son finds himself being pulled into the not always comfortable role of interpreter between his parents and those around Mary who do not understand Gaelic.

As Mary’s dementia progresses, she becomes increasingly cut off from the English-speaking world. Audience members without Gaelic language skills are exposed to more and more Gaelic monologues and conversations as the play unrolls, mirroring John’s experience of being increasingly locked out of his wife’s world. This experience fosters audience empathy with characters in the play who are separated by language divides.

Dementia’s impact on language is a key clinical and care issue, and science has shown that monolingual and bilingual individuals are affected differently.

Of course, the play focuses on a very specific linguistic context. However, students of French may be interested in this interview with the Canadian actress Louise Pitre who speaks about the struggles she had to find linguistically cognate care for her native French-speaking parents in anglophone Canada. As the project continues, it is hoped that it will highlight the need for wider recognition of the role of language and cultural understanding for the care needs of bilingual individuals living with dementia.

2019 Key Words for Travel Writing StudiesAedín has also been busy on the publication front with entries on ‘Anthropology’, ‘Coevalness’, ‘Ethnicity’, ‘Primitivism’ and ‘Translation’ in Key Words for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary and a chapter on ‘Migrant Travel Narratives’ in The Routledge Research Companion to Travel Writing.

Many thanks to Aedín for this update and keep an eye on the blog for more news over the weeks ahead.

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Colombia, Sicily, Glasgow: Keeping your options open

Another ‘life after graduation’ update today from one of our recent graduates, David, who completed his BA Hons in French and Spanish with us two years ago:

‘After graduating in 2017, I decided to go off to Latin America to not only discover a new culture but also try to gain some professional experience. Having lived in León, Spain for a full year during my Erasmus+ exchange, I’d met people from all over the world including quite a few who were from Mexico and Colombia. The Latin American Studies focus at the University of Stirling had also sparked my interest (shout out to Guillermo!) and so I took part in the language assistantship programme through the British Council. I was appointed to the Universidad Católica de Pereira in Colombia and I absolutely loved it! I taught English at the university but also organised many extra-curricular activities such as a weekly Conversation Club where students and teachers who were interested in learning more about Scottish and British culture could do so in a less formal setting. I even had my own podcast at the university’s radio station which was something I’d never expected to be doing! In addition, I had the opportunity to translate academic journals in collaboration with the psychology department at the university. Apart from these professional opportunities, I was able to travel to breath-taking places around Latin America and even met up with friends from Mexico, Peru and Ecuador I had met during my year abroad.

After this professionally challenging but wonderful year being part of a completely different culture, I decided I wanted to be closer to home but still keep discovering different cultures and enhance my language skills. I also wanted to be sure that teaching was definitely for me and so, through the British Council once again, I embarked on my next adventure in Catania, Sicily where I taught English in a secondary school. Having never spoken Italian before, I realised just how lucky I was to have studied other modern languages at university as this helped me to pick it up quickly. Although I am not fluent, I am now able to communicate fairly clearly and understand Italian! On the work front, teaching was not always easy but I grew attached to my colleagues and students who were always interested in what I had to offer (although they weren’t fans of Irn Bru!). I felt part of the community and I now realise how lucky I am to have had the chance to live beside the biggest active volcano in Europe (risky, I know!) in a city built from lava stone full of history and deliciously cheap pizza!

I have now started to study for my PGDE at the University of Glasgow. Despite the cold, I am very happy to be back in Scotland, enjoying the comforts I longed for while I was abroad such as Greggs coffee and tatty scones – as well as the open-mindedness of the Scots who are always so welcoming to people from other cultures and backgrounds. After obtaining my Diploma, I hope to be posted somewhere up north and discover more of Scotland. Although I am currently quite focused on teaching, I think it is important to keep one’s options open and I might consider taking up postgraduate research or maybe even further explore the idea of academic translation.’

Many, many thanks to David for this great update and we wish you all the very best for the PGDE – looking forward to updates as the months go by, too.

‘Inspiration, learning and challenges’: Catching up with French at Stirling graduates

More French at Stirling news on a (reasonably) sunny September Wednesday, by way of an update from Kristina who graduated a few years ago on our International Management and Intercultural Studies programme:

‘Coucou! It’s been a while since my last post… ok, admittedly, it’s been a few years! And so, I thought I’d share a wee update on where life has taken me since the last time I’ve written.

I’ve spent most of the last 4-5 years working on my PhD at the University of Edinburgh and I am now proud to say that I have successfully passed my viva in June! Woohoo!!! (Or, as my partner likes to say, I progressed from being the Grumpy dwarf to the Doc dwarf :D)

2019 Sept Auxtova Pic IIt’s been a great journey, full of inspiration, learning, and challenges. Especially the past year has been tough, as I was not only working on getting that thesis finished and written, but I have also taken on the role of Lecturer in Marketing at University College Cork in Ireland. Juggling the two things and attempting to have a life (something I miserably failed at) was not easy! Thankfully, I have made it to the PhD finish line and gained invaluable teaching experience at the same time. 

2019 Sept Auxtova Pic IIYou might ask what’s next? First of all, I needed a wee holiday to recover. So, as a reward for finally being done, my partner and I took a nice little holiday in southern France – in the area between Carcassonne, Beziers, and Narbonne. We stayed in a small and sleepy village called Quarante and took little trips from there to explore the area. I would definitely recommend it as it was perfect for the well-deserved relaxing break!

And now, I am very pleased to say that I am back in sunny Scotland with a new adventure awaiting me at the University of Dundee!’

Many thanks indeed to Kristina for the great update and congratulations on the new adventure that lies ahead! We look forward to hearing more from you as you embark on that journey.

 

More Summer conferences and publications!

As promised, more updates here on what French at Stirling colleagues have been up to since teaching ended in the Spring. And this time, it’s a chance to catch up with what Emeline Morin, Lecturer in French, has been doing, starting with a paper entitled ‘(Un)veiling the sordid: metamorphosis in Marie Darrieussecq’s and Marcela Iacub’s Pig Tales’ that Emeline gave at the University of Glasgow back in May, part of their ‘Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations. Mapping the Mythosphere.’

In June, Emeline was then at the University of Southampton for a one-day conference organised by the ‘South, West, and Wales Gender Cluster.’ The conference was called ‘Marginalised Networks: Locating Queer and Gendered (Trans)national Connections’ and Emeline’s paper was called ‘Bridegroom tales and forced marriages: Francophone and Anglophone feminist fairy tales through time.’ And in August, Emeline went to Durham University for the ‘Consent: Histories, Representations, and Frameworks for the Future’ conference where she gave a paper entitled ‘Sexuality, Marriage, and Consent in Fairy Tales: the Value of Rewriting Stories’ that examined issues of consent in tales such as ‘The Sleeping Beauty’.

Finally, on the conference front, just last week (and evidence of the many and varied directions French and Francophone Studies can take you in!) Emeline spoke at the Royal Geography Society-IBG Annual International Conference in London, co-delivering a paper that she’d co-written with her friend and colleague Dr. Rachel Hunt (a lecturer in geo-humanities at Edinburgh Uni). The paper was called ‘The Bothy: a Scottish mythopoeia,’ and they discussed how cultural myths around Scotland impact real landscape and places such as bothies.

2019 Sept Emeline fairy-tale-vanguard_300And alongside all these conference papers, Emeline has also had a chapter published in Stijn Praet and Anna Kérchy’s edited collection The Fairy-Tale Vanguard: The Literary Self-Consciousness of a Marvelous Genre, entitled ‘Cartesian Wit and American Fantasy: A Comparative Study of Eric Chevillard’s The Brave Little Tailor (2003) and Robert Coover’s Briar Rose (1996).’

A very productive few months indeed!

Summer 2019 Publications and Conferences

As we move closer and closer to the start of term, there’ll be more updates and news about all things French and Francophone at Stirling. In the meantime, we just wanted to let you know about a few new publications and conference papers written by some of our current and former postgrads and colleagues.

Former French at Stirling PhD student Martin Verbeke’s latest article ‘Unveiling the Myth of Mars and Venus in French rap: An analysis of the gender determinants of non-standard language use’ was just published in the August 2019 issue of the International Journal of Francophone Studies.

And our current PhD student Fraser McQueen gave a paper at the Society for French Studies annual conference at Royal Holloway in July entitled ‘Muslim is French: Zahwa Djennad’s Tabou. Confession d’un jeune de banlieue (2013).’ Fraser will be conferencing again later this week, at the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France in Paris, where he’ll be speaking about ‘Transnational Paris and Peripheral France in Michel Houellebecq’s Sérotonine.’

2019 Sept Bill Films of Xavier DolanAnd finally, for the moment, our former colleague, Bill Marshall, has a chapter on Xavier Dolan’s films out in ReFocus: The Films of Xavier Dolan, a new collection focusing on Dolan, edited by Andrée Lafontaine. The chapter was previously published in Nottingham French Studies. Bill’s chapter on ‘Quebec Cinema as Global Cinema’ was also published earlier this year in Janine Marchessault and Will Straw’s Oxford Handbook of Canadian Cinema.

More to follow…

A Year Abroad: ‘Full of new experiences, new friends, new places’

And following on from Andrea’s experiences in Spain, another great post – this time from Paige who has spent the past year working as an English Language Assistant and will be coming back into her 3rd year in a few weeks. Some excellent tips and advice here for students about to go away on assistantships this coming year or thinking about them further down the line:

‘By the time I come back to Scotland for my studies in September I will have lived in France for a year! This was something I had always wanted to do but I didn’t realise that University was an avenue to do it, especially in the middle of working towards your degree.

This year has been amazing! It has been such a quick year and I’m still not ready for it to end! To be honest it’s difficult to write about my year because it has been such a busy, full year. Full of new experiences, new friends, new places. I feel like I have spent the entire year out of my comfort zone, but it has been amazing! I have done so many things I never would have done before and it really helps you to grow as a person. That may sound clichéd but when you have to do so many things you perceive as scary – in a short space of time – eventually the scary things seem less scary, almost normal! And if nothing else, when facing another scary thing (like a job interview or starting a new job) you can look back, think of all the things you did that you never thought you could do and know that you can do this too.

I was assigned to the Académie de Créteil. I had never heard of Créteil but after a Google search I learned that it was very close to Paris and to be honest I was initially a little disappointed. I knew a lot of people wanted to be close to Paris, but I wasn’t one of them – I had already visited Paris on holiday and loved it but I really wanted to experience “real France” away from the touristy capital. The idea of being in a small town in France really appealed. However, as soon as you’re back in Paris it’s hard not to fall in love with the city all over again! I’ve really enjoyed discovering less well-known attractions and the non-touristy parts of Paris this year, but I also loved going up the towers of Notre Dame and I’m so glad I took every visitor up there before the tragic fire. I’m sure it will be repaired soon and I recommend that everyone go up the Notre Dame towers – it’s my favourite thing to do in Paris! Lots of attractions in Paris are free for under 26s (including the Notre Dame towers) so it’s a great excuse to see and do so much!

The two collèges I was assigned to were in two different suburbs outside Paris. I decided to look for accommodation in both towns rather than in Paris – accommodation in Paris is very expensive, as are the suburbs around Paris, although they are slightly less so. I found shared accommodation (colocation) in one of the towns close to both of my collèges and I highly recommend considering this – it can be really nice living with people when you’re in a new country and don’t know anyone. It’s also a great way to practice your French. Wherever you are assigned to in France I recommend using the appartager site to search for accommodation.

I really enjoyed working as an English Language Assistant in my two collèges. Working as an English Language Assistant sometimes involves working in class with the teacher, working with small groups or taking half the class (up to 12 students). It was such a great experience and has made me realise that I would like to pursue the possibility of teaching English as a foreign language in France. I had always wanted to be an English teacher (I began University studying English and Education) but I wasn’t sure if teaching English as a foreign language appealed or if I would rather teach English literature in Scotland. I think working as an English Language Assistant can give you a taste of what teaching is like and help you decide if it’s something you would like to do. Thankfully I still want to go into teaching – working in the collèges didn’t put me off! Of course, it could be challenging at times, especially at the start when you were trying to get to grips with the job, and it felt as though I was just getting the hang of it near the end!

I also embraced the opportunity to take part in the SCILT programme ‘Language Linking, Global Thinking’ which links a high school in Scotland with a Language Assistant. The main purpose is to encourage students to continue studying a language. As an assistant this involves sharing your experiences of living abroad through blogs, postcards, photos etc., as well as anything you learn about such as National holidays and answering any questions the class have for you. I loved responding to the student’s questions, and I enjoyed writing the blog posts as it forces you to research and learn things you otherwise would not.

I remember just before I left for France, one of the SCILT course leaders gave us the following advice: to say yes to every invitation we received unless we thought it would put us in any danger. I decided to follow this advice because although I’m a naturally shy person, I wanted to make the most of this amazing opportunity to spend a year abroad. As a result, I made so many friends of mixed ages and had so many fantastic days out and great experiences.

I found that people really make an effort to invite you to spend time with them when they find out you’re on a year abroad but there are also lots of things you can do too to meet people! My mentor teacher at one of the collèges was great – she really looked after me and invited me to so many soirées where I met other people who also invited me to spend time with them! It was a great way to meet people and spend an evening speaking French. There is also the option to go to Meetups, Franglish (a conversation exchange programme, where Native French speakers are paired with Native English speakers to converse and improve their target language), French classes and there are so many other options too! I went to Franglish and met some lovely French people that I later met up with outside of Franglish. They also introduced me to their friends, so I met even more people! I also went for some evening French lessons while I was in Paris which can be another good way to meet people and make friends.

Before I came out to France, I wasn’t able to speak much French at all, but my French has improved over the year! I always feel so proud of myself after I spend a day or an evening communicating in French with French-speakers even though my accent still makes me cringe – I need to work on that!

Spending this year abroad has also made me realise that you can go abroad with very little money in the bank as long as you have a job to go to. It’s very encouraging to know that travelling or living abroad for a year is not limited to the wealthy. This year has also made the whole experience of living abroad seem less scary and unachievable. I have learned that people are the same everywhere, no matter what country they live in or language they speak. I would definitely love to live in France in the future, but after having this experience of living abroad for a year I am now very open to the option of spending 6 months to a year teaching English in Japan or China at the end of my degree.

I’ll be very sad to leave France when I have to come back for my studies but I’m so thankful to have had this amazing experience and I highly recommend it!’

Many, many thanks to Paige for a fantastic post and we’re looking forward to seeing you back in Stirling in a few weeks!

‘I Can’t Recommend Study Abroad Highly Enough!’

A few weeks from the start of the new academic year seems a good point to breathe some life into the French at Stirling blog which has gone a little quiet over the summer months. Our Bridging Materials are up and running for students joining us on our Semester 1 Advanced French module and we’re all looking forward to welcoming a new intake of students to both the Advanced and Beginners’ streams in mid-September.

It’ll also be good to catch up with all our returning students and to hear tales from those who’ll be back in Stirling after a year on a British Council English Language Assistantship (whether in France or elsewhere) or who’ve been away for their compulsory Semester Abroad at one of our numerous partner institutions. As we wait to welcome people back in person, we’re delighted to be able to post a couple of articles by students coming back from time abroad, starting with this post by Andrea who’ll be heading into her final year in Stirling in the Autumn:

2019 Kolluder Toledo Aug19‘Having recently returned from a semester abroad in Spain, third year has ended as the most challenging but also the most fun year so far in my degree. The language side of my International Management and Intercultural Studies course changed a bit, as the language learning focused more on learning a set of new skills like translation and essay writing rather than the division of classes like previous years. The skills previously developed in year one and two were now brought together for the writing and speaking classes rather than being separately focused on as before. Most of the classes were more unilingual than before (except of course for when we focused on translation) which was helpful to push me more towards thinking in French and Spanish, rather than thinking about these languages in English.

2019 Kolluder Seville Aug19

The change in the teaching was the followed by my semester abroad on Erasmus. I went to the Seville in Spain, and was and still am a bit worried that my French got a bit left behind as I made the best of the opportunity to improve my Spanish in a native environment. However, I did not completely leave behind my French studies, I signed up for a French module in Spain. It certainly was a very different experience learning French in Spanish. On one hand, it was a bit confusing to be learning a foreign language in another foreign language but on the other hand, it helped to clarify some of differences and similarities between the two languages. It has on occasion been challenging to separate the two languages in my head, but having someone fluent in both languages clarify some of the differences and similarities helped to box away the two languages separately in my mind. Also, it was a good experience to listen to other language speakers struggle with French pronunciation and it made me feel less self-conscious about my struggles with my accent when speaking French. Depending on our native languages we all struggle with trying to acquire a less foreign sounding accent in the languages we speak. So, for any of the students also learning both French and Spanish I recommend taking up a module in your other language when you go on your study abroad, it certainly widened my language experience.

2019 Kolluder Madrid Aug19I cannot recommend study abroad enough either. It was a fantastic opportunity to live the language, experience a different education system and culture, and meet new people. At first, it can seem like a daunting idea to pack your bags and go somewhere new alone, whether you’ve done it before or not, but it has been a great confidence boost to find my feet in completely new and unfamiliar surroundings once again. From my experience it’s good to be prepared for a long paperwork trail, start looking for accommodation early, and once your abroad to try as much as possible to make some native speaker friends (the culture clash really improved my language skills, too).’

Many, many thanks to Andrea for the great blog post and we’re looking forward to seeing you back in Stirling in a few weeks.