Tag: Fiona Barclay

Strasbourg and more

Another week until the start of semester and these final few days before the new academic year are full of news to report. Usually, the bits of this blog that are written by me (Cristina Johnston) are written in Scotland but this post sees me making my way to Strasbourg where I’m headed for meetings with our colleagues at the Ecole de Management. We’ve had an exchange partnership with them for many years now and currently have a great Integrated Masters programme that we run with them in International Management and Intercultural Studies. As is the way with these things, most of the time that just means corresponding via email and it’s our students who benefit from being able to enjoy the delights of our respective institutions and cities. Every now and then, though, colleagues come from Strasbourg to Stirling or from Stirling to Strasbourg and that’s what I’m up to just now. A good day of meetings and discussions about possible future partnerships and teaching and research collaborations lies ahead, and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to see the EMS.

The added bonus – from my perspective, at least – is that I spent my own year abroad when I was an undergraduate as an English Language Assistant living and teaching in Strasbourg so it’s a city I used to know well. As those students who were away as ELAs last year make their way back to campus in Stirling, and some of those who are just starting on new adventures as assistants in places as far-flung as Colombia (watch this space for more…) send emails to say hello, it’s great to get a chance to reminisce on my own experiences as a Language Assistant. I taught at the Lycée Marie Curie in Strasbourg where – at the time, at least – they taught both the French Bac and the European Bac, meaning that one class of pupils in terminale had extra language tuition, History and Geography taught in English and an impressive openness to the possibilities that language learning opened up for them.

For me, it was a great first experience of teaching – I wasn’t much older than the pupils, they were (without exception) really keen to learn, and the school was incredibly supportive (of me and of their pupils). As well as the actual teaching, I was lucky enough to be asked to accompany that terminale class on a 10-day trip to Northern Ireland and was just generally made to feel part of the school community. I kept in touch with some of the pupils for a few years after I came back and, ever since then, have also kept in touch with one of the former English teachers from the school so this EMS trip will also give me a chance to catch up with her, having not actually seen her face-to-face in 20 years! All in all, a good trip lies ahead!

Enough about me, though… What other news? Well, Fiona Barclay and I had a great meeting last week with the ever-enthusiastic Grahame Reid of Stirling’s MacRobert cinema to talk about (fingers crossed) bringing some of this year’s French Film Festival films to Stirling again this year. All being well, November should be French cinema month at Stirling but more will follow on that once we get confirmation. French at Stirling has also been busy preparing workpacks for all the modules we’ll be running in the new semester and generally getting ourselves ready for all our new and returning students. And, at the end of this week, just before the focus shifts back more towards teaching, many of us will also be attending a Research Away Day led by Bill Marshall to discuss research plans and ideas with colleagues from Languages, Translation, Religion, English and Creative Writing. Oh yes, and our former PhD student Martin Verbeke has another article forthcoming: “Represent Your Origins: An Analysis of the Diatopic Determinants of Non-Standard Language Use in French Rap” has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Francophone Studies!

A flurry of pre-semester activity! And pictures of Strasbourg will doubtless appear on the blog over the next week or so…

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‘One of the best things about academic research is how eclectic and varied it can be’

With the teaching term over, staff turn to their research and have more time to attend conferences. Dr Fiona Barclay was speaking at a conference in Leeds last week. Here’s what she has to say about it:

“One of the best things about academic research is how eclectic and varied it can be, and how it offers the chance to investigate the significance of familiar cultural phenomena. For example, many people in the UK and further afield will be familiar with Downton Abbey, and its fictional portrayal of the ups and downs of an upper-class family around the turn of the twentieth century. It’s an example of a family saga, which is a genre often used by writers to examine the changes taking place in the nation, using the fortunes of an often middle- or upper-class family as a way to stand in for the experiences of society more generally. So, in Downton Abbey we see the effects of the First World War on the different classes, and see how the class structure evolves over time; it’s a microcosm of the changing nation. The conference which I attended in Leeds last week focused on portrayals of the family saga in literature, TV and radio, but not just in English: it brought together academics working on texts in French, German, Spanish and even Czech and Japanese. So we heard papers on the great literary family sagas of nineteenth and twentieth-century France, some of them running to 27 volumes, but also on the East German equivalent of Radio 4’s ‘The Archers’ , which told the story of a typical socialist family in the GDR, and TV series on the Mafia such as ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Gomorrah’.

My own paper looked at the French settlers who lived in Algeria until it became independent in 1962 and they were forced to resettle in France. It looked at novels which recount the tale of four generations, from the earliest settlers in the 1840s onwards, and showed how the writers used the tremendously difficult experiences of the early pioneers, many of whom were soon killed by violent conflict and disease, to justify the privileged existence of their settler descendants, who were very poor but not as poor as the Arabs they lived amongst. But the novels are not solely about justifying the settlers’ treatment of the Arabs: they also suggest that Algeria itself is a family of characters in conflict. By presenting the warring Europeans and Arabs as the ‘brother enemies’ Cain and Abel, and considering whether the act of colonization might be a re-enactment of the original sin of the ‘first man’ (which is the title of the Algerian philosopher Albert Camus’ last novel), these writers use the form of the family saga and draw on Biblical ideas about family inheritance and the ‘sins of the fathers’ to ask difficult questions about colonialism which it would be unthinkable to ask in other contexts. Given the furore which greeted President Emmanuel Macron’s recent suggestion that colonialism was ‘a crime against humanity’, this is one contentious issue which will continue to provoke strong reactions for a long while to come.”

Many thanks to Fiona for sending us this blog post and we look forward to posting more about other research activities over the course of the summer.

Happy Holidays! Joyeuses fêtes!

Teaching ended here last Friday and our students have just finished their oral exams and handed in last essays of the semester so – apart from now waiting for feedback and grades… and the occasional exam in other subjects – it’s time to settle into the festive break until the new semester in January. To mark the occasion, our Language Assistants Brigitte Depret (for French) and Maria Sanchez (for Spanish), organised a pre-Christmas get-together for Year 3 and 4 students yesterday and Brigitte has very kindly written the following post with plenty of positive thoughts on the semester that’s ending from those in attendance!

‘As the semester is drawing to a close, and the exams are over, a Christmas party co-hosted by our Spanish colleagues, was the perfect opportunity to ask our 3rd and 4th year students what the highlights of the semester have been for them.

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Kirsten and Charlotte

Charlotte, in the final year of a BA Hons in French and Journalism, “enjoyed the semester very much even if it was a lot of work. Working on translation (both from English into French and French into English) really enhanced my skills. We also have a lot of support from staff.” For, Kirsten, who is in Year 3 of our BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society, the semester was “hard work, but well worth it. Fiona, our lecturer, helped me a lot and gave me all the support I needed, especially in translation.”

 

Colm, a final year BA Hons French and Spanish student, has found the shift back to Stirling after his Semester Abroad in Spain challenging but says “we were lucky to have extra oral classes this year. These were really helpful to me. We are also lucky to have very friendly staff here, and interesting classes to keep us motivated.” Colm’s fellow final year French and Spanish student, Luise says she is “really happy with the language class where the students are encouraged to take part. Our small classes are ideal to work in and it makes learning French a very enjoyable experience.”

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Colm and Luise

David, Lysiane, Conni and Jennifer, who are all also taking both French and Spanish in their final year, were equally positive about the past semester. David enjoyed both the weekly written and spoken language classes this semester: “With Mathilde, in our Spoken Language class, we speak about current affairs, French culture and French society, which keeps us up-to-date with everything we should know about France. It’s a class-based discussion, with lots of interaction in a relaxed atmosphere. I was lucky to have Cristina for written language. As a teacher, she is very approachable and always there to help. Anytime you need support, she’s there.” For Lysiane, “Talking about current affairs, politics have been especially helpful to understand the French society. My teachers were all lovely, especially Cristina who did help a lot in translation. It has helped me to expand my vocabulary and gain more confidence. It was also a great human experience. At Stirling, there’s a real feeling of community.” And Conni and Jennifer are clear that “Our confidence has improved a lot, thanks to great tutors.”

Alongside the weekly oral classes, our French Language Assistants, Brigitte and Mathilde, also scheduled shorter individual and paired slots for further opportunities to speak French throughout the semester for our Year 3 and 4 students, something that seems to have been particularly appreciated by Brett: “I really enjoyed the course, because it opens lots of room to progress, especially because of the extra one-to-one language slots we were offered this year. I am glad I had the opportunity to improve in a well-structured environment and thanks to small classes.” And for Anna, a Year 3 French and Spanish student, the “highlight was the written class which I enjoyed very much. The articles we read in class were really interesting. They widened my knowledge in the realm of politics and French society.”

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Michael and Thomas

Determined not to be out-done, our Year 2 students also got into the festive spirit, deciding to wrap up the semester with a Xmas Jumper challenge during their Language Class. The idea came after they talked about fashion as one of the topics of the Language class in November. They wanted to do something funny and memorable, and then the idea of a Hawaiian shirt came up… Alas, weather not permitting, they had to give up on that idea and Xmas jumper, it was! Two students arrived dressed as Santa with some balloons and nice treats for everybody, while the majority, including our tutor had on their very fashionable jumpers…

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Year 2 Christmas Jumpers

For Jack, who is in the 2nd year of his BA Hons in French and Spanish with Professional Secondary Education, the “Langage Parlé sessions have been relaxed, fun and informative. I greatly look forward to this class every week where we just sit down and spend an hour speaking French. Whether it’s stereotypes or Siberian Skiing, fashion or Facebook, the LP class has given me the opportunity to improve my ability to express my opinions and I feel more confident using French in conversation.”

Another group of dynamic students was also up for the Xmas jumper challenge. On that occasion, Rebecca (in the middle, below) went the extra mile to bring us chocolates, cupcakes and biscuits. Who said we can’t speak  French, learn and have fun at the same time?!!

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And finally, for Amy, who is in the 2nd year of her BA Hons in Primary Education with Modern Languages, “French this year has been great. I really enjoy the written grammar classes as it gives me the opportunity to practice the grammar that is so necessary for us during exams. Langage Parlé classes are also really good as you get the necessary practice speaking French in a very relaxed and unpressured setting. It’s been a really helpful and fun semester.”‘

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Amy, Shana and Holly

Many thanks to Brigitte for putting together this blog post and to the students for their positive and kind words! Enjoy your break and joyeuses fêtes! We look forward to welcoming back our Year 4 students (and Year 2 and 1, of course!) in the New Year and to hearing tales of Semester Abroad adventures next Autumn from our Year 3 students.

French Film Festival: School Screenings at the MacRobert

More to follow on this over the next few days but this year’s screenings for schools as part of the annual French Film Festival will be kicking off at the MacRobert this week. Fiona Barclay and Cristina Johnston will be introducing the screenings to pupils from Dollar Academy and Queen Victoria School in Dunblane a little later this week, with pupils from Dunblane High School also due to attend a screening later in November.

As well as these screenings for secondary school pupils, there will also be 3 films from the main programme of this year’s French Film Festival showing at the MacRobert in November. On Monday 17 November, at 7.30pm, there’s a performance of the WWII film Come What May, followed by a screening of A Journey Through French Cinema, at 7.30pm on Thursday 21 November. And finally, on Monday 24 November, David Murphy will be giving a lecture before a screening of Nicolas Boukhrief’s film Made in France. Tickets for all of the screenings can be purchased via the MacRobert website and there’s a special deal for people buying tickets for all three screenings! Venez nombreux!

 

 

From Cincinnati to Saarbrücken: Stirling’s September

As well as heralding the start of a new academic year for our students, September also saw French at Stirling staff giving invited lectures at conferences in Germany and the US.

2016-bill-cincinnatiOn 6 September, Bill Marshall was invited to give a guest lecture at Saint Louis University entitled ‘Rethinking Francophone Film: World Cinemas and World History’ and a keynote at the World Cinema and Television in French Conference at the University of Cincinnati. These talks sought to link the question of cinéma-monde to the longue durée of world history, via four films: A tout prendre (Jutra, 1963), Quest for Fire (Annaud, 1981), Avant les rues (Leriche, 2016) and Stavisky (Resnais, 1974).

From 29 September to 2 October, Fiona Barclay was an invited speaker at the 10th annual conference of the Francoromanistes allemands, which took place at Saarbrücken in Germany. Dr Barclay was invited to speak on the subject of ghosts and haunting North Africa, and her lecture was accompanied by a number of papers on the same broad theme delivered by delegates from across Germany, the United States, France and Morocco. The conference also benefited from the presence of Kebir Mustapha Ammi, the Moroccan-born novelist, who participated in the scholarly debates, and who gave a well-attended reading of his work during one of the evening events. Intriguingly, Kebir Ammi cites Scotland as his favourite area of the UK, and the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as one of the earliest influences on his writing. Perhaps Stirling will have the opportunity to invite him to renew his ties with Scotland in the near future!

In coming weeks, Stirling colleagues will be giving invited papers in Liverpool, at the Africa in Motion film festival, in Dakar and in Montpellier… And French at Stirling staff will be giving lectures and introductory talks at public and schools screenings as part of the annual French Film Festival at the MacRobert in November. We’re also hoping to welcome one of our Erasmus partners, Laurence Gourievidis, from Blaise-Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand to Stirling in early-December. News on all of these to follow…

PhDs in French at Stirling

As well as our new group of Semester 1 students and new Masters students on our Translation programmes, we’re also delighted to be welcoming back to Stirling recent Stirling French and History graduate Fraser McQueen who’s embarking on a PhD with us. Fraser will be supervised by Fiona Barclay with additional supervision from Nadia Kiwan at Aberdeen. His research topic is ‘Race, religion and communities of friendship: literary and filmic contributions to French political debates post-2005’ and we’re particularly pleased that Fraser was awarded an AHRC scholarship to fund his research.

We’re looking forward to keeping you posted on Fraser’s work over the months ahead but, in the first instance, you can read his article on the current burkini controversy in The Conversation. The article was also republished in The New Statesman and we’re sure there’ll be much more to follow.

Fraser will be joining a growing community of doctoral students supervised by French at Stirling staff on a wide range of topics. Martin Hall is currently working on ‘British Cinema: Historicising Theory’ with Bill Marshall as his supervisor while Bill is also supervising Angus Macdonald’s thesis on ‘New French Horror Cinema.’ Angus’s 2nd supervisor is Elizabeth Ezra who also supervises Katie Moffat’s research project which examines ‘Transnational Nordic Film Culture and Minority Politics.’ As well as being 2nd supervisor for Fraser and continuing his supervision of Juliet Tenshak’s research on contemporary Nigerian fiction, David Murphy has also just taken on a supervisory role for Education student Mostafa Gamal who is working on Ethical, reflexive encounters with internationalisation in FE: an autoethnographic conversation’.

We hope to have a chance to post more about these projects and their authors over the months ahead.

Looking forward to new semester

With the Autumn semester less than 3 weeks away, a couple of bits of news about the year ahead. French at Stirling has a new Programme Director in the shape of Dr Fiona Barclay – congratulations and all the best for the new role! We look forward to reporting on a whole range of French at Stirling initiatives over the semesters ahead.

First among these new initiatives is the launch this week of a pilot 4-week block of ‘Bridging Materials’, available to all incoming students registering for our Advanced stream Semester 1 module. The aim of these materials is to bridge the space between school and University-level study of French through a variety of subject-specific exercises, as well as more generic study skills information. All members of the French at Stirling team have contributed to these Bridging Materials and we hope they’re useful to students embarking on their study of French with us.

More news about the 2016-17 academic year to come over the next few weeks.