Tag: French history

Stevenson Scholarship in Granada: “An Amazing Opportunity”

As promised, following on from Alex’s post about his experiences at Stirling and plans for the future, here is the article Jeanne Nozahic has sent us about her time in Granada. As well as studying at the University there, Jeanne – who is about to enter Year 4 of her degree in International Management with European Languages and Society – has been working on research on ‘untold histories’ that she was able to conduct thanks to a Stevenson Scholarship.:

“The Stevenson Scholarship has been an amazing opportunity. Indeed, it has made me realize that intercultural research is what I want to do in the future. In order to get a better idea of how Francoism was dealt with in Spain, I was able to combine both archival work, buying books (i.e: Otras miradas sobre Golpe, Guerra y Dictadura. Historia para un pasado incómodo by Fernández Prieto and Artiaga Rego [2014], Qué hacemos para la Memoria Histórica? by Escudero et al. [2013]…) looking at the various books on the subject in different libraries in Granada (i.e: Biblioteca Pública Provincial Granada), the University library, Spanish media… and visits to numerous “lieux de mémoire” in Granada, Madrid and Toledo. The project has enabled me to have many discussions with friends, classmates, teachers, guides in museums, librarians…thus providing access to different perspectives and opinions.

2017 Jeanne Nozahic Stevenson Reflections El Escorial pic 1

In fact, the ‘Valle de los Caídos’ was the most recurring example given by the people I have spoken to regarding my research project on the ‘untold’ and historical memory. They were furious, ashamed that Franco could ‘rest in peace’ in the basilica of the ‘Valle’ while so many mass graves (‘fosas communes) have still not been exhumed, preventing families ‘the right to mourn’. I therefore decided to go and visit the Valle de los Caídos, (an hour away from Madrid), where we find the tomb of Franco, and which is not presented as a site of memory condemning the dictator’s actions but rather presenting him as a ‘hero’.

2017 Jeanne Nozahic Stevenson Reflections El Escorial pic 2

He lies in a beautiful basilica, in a tomb decorated daily with fresh flowers by the monks. What struck me during my time abroad, and which was particularly interesting was the ongoing presence of fascist symbols, imagery. This could be interpreted as the best example of a lack of political determination (‘voluntad política’). For instance, I learned that the economic crisis in 2008 was used to justify the inability to carry on with exhumations (Escudero et al., 2013). This infers the persistence of a Francoist influence at a political level: the past is still too ‘recent’.

Regarding the way the history of Spain is taught at school level, many students told me they did not study the Civil War nor the dictatorship, or only very briefly, the reason being that it was always taught at the very end, and that there wasn’t enough time to work on it. This is comparable with the Algerian War in France, being a ‘late event’. At the University of Granada, the same problem occurred with the course “Civilisation et Culture Française” which taught the entire French history, from prehistory to modern day in one “cuatrimestre” (four months), making it impossible for the teacher to finish the program, leaving aside the most recent events (Colonisation, WWII). The problem seems to be ‘chronological’. However, many Spanish people have told me it is ‘an excuse’ more than anything when I told them about this ‘chronological reason’. The teaching time could be distributed differently: should it be more dedicated to recent, contemporary events rather than spending more time on the Reyes Católicos in Spain, or the Gaullois in France? It is a long, complicated debate. Nonetheless, the Civil War, and the Dictatorship, need to be taught. At the University of Granada, I also took the course “Spanish Literature of the XXth century: theatre and prose”. We were taught key works set during the Civil War, the dictatorship…such as “Qué has hecho hoy para ganar la Guerra?” by Max Aub (1939). Limiting the teaching in courses focusing on defined time-periods could perhaps be beneficial when it comes to recent, still painful events: it could guarantee their teaching. Moreover, my teacher herself (Gracia Morales) said that literature as a means of communicating, teaching historical facts could help as it is not perceived as the teacher’s own opinion, but as the work of an author which is interpreted. I must say that this was my favourite class!”

Many thanks to Jeanne for this update on how things have gone with the Stevenson and the doors it has opened up in terms of this particular topic of research. We wish you all the best for the rest of the Summer and hope this post gives future Stevenson scholars ideas for ways they can conduct their own projects.

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French at Stirling: ‘Relaxed and welcoming atmosphere in classes’

As promised, these few weeks will see a series of blog posts profiling some of our current students, so we’re delighted to get a chance to post the next of these with this article by Stuart Close, who has just completed his first year with us:

dav“Salut! I’m Stuart Close and I’m studying a BA Hons French and Spanish at Stirling University. I started learning French when I was still in primary school and was exposed to strange (but great) French movies from an early age! I considered it my main subject all the way up to Advanced Higher where I was the only Advanced Higher pupil in my school for a year! After trying French at another Uni and not enjoying the way it was being taught, I looked elsewhere and found Stirling Uni. It was far enough from my home town of Dunoon to still give me what I felt was ‘the Uni experience’ and offered more of a broader study of the languages and cultures they belong to rather than the narrower focus of how I’d seen French taught previously.

I have now finished my first year of Uni and I’m happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The way French is taught here is that it’s broken into three segments: langage écrit (writing and grammar), langage parlé (and listening) and matière which focuses on French history, literature and film. Both the langage classes are well taught and engaging, and the tutors keep learning complex grammar rules and speaking out loud in a foreign language fresh and fun by sprinkling in stories of their experiences learning English or French. With the culture side of things, topics such as the First World War, or the French Revolution, are introduced and then you get to see the French perspective and writings or films to study on them. One thing I really enjoyed from Matière was getting to study a graphic novel (bande dessinée), Tardi’s Putain de guerre. I don’t think you would get this experience in any other language study and, as these are a big part of French culture, it was a welcome change from poems or short stories.

Overall, I would highly recommend studying French at Stirling. The relaxed and welcoming atmosphere in the classes often makes it feel less like a class and more of a club.”

Thanks to Stuart for taking the time to write this. We’re really pleased Year 1 has gone so well and look forward to updates as your degree progresses!

 

French at Stirling Stevenson Successes

2017 Stevenson winners in Strasbourg Stefano Nicolas AnnikaFélicitations to Annika, Nicolas and Stefano – three French at Stirling students who have just finished their 2nd year and who have each been awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship to help them undertake a project of research during their Semester Abroad next Spring. This is a great achievement for all three and we’ll post updates on their progress while they’re away on Study Abroad but we wanted to share their success.

The Stevenson Exchange Scholarships are awarded competitively each year with applicants from across all the Scottish Universities who have to submit an application including a research project outline and then attend an interview at Glasgow University. The range of topics Annika, Nicolas and Stefano will be exploring thanks to their scholarships gives a really good sense of the variety of research interests across undergraduate Languages students.

Annika is interested in the development of French social structures with particular focus on the relationship with the EU and the scholarship will help her, among other things, travel to Marseille to visit the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée and to Roubaix to spend time researching in the Archives nationales du monde du travail.

Nicolas’s project aims to build on time he has already spent working in the fashion industry near Milan in order to further pursue his interest in fashion and the development of the fashion industry in France. As well as attending events around Paris Fashion Week, he intends to visit the Musée de la Mode in Albi and the Musée de Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon.

As for Stefano, he wants to use the scholarship to enhance his knowledge of Human Rights, with a particular focus on those of refugees in France. The key components of his research project include planned trips to Mechel (Belgium) and to Geneva (Switzerland), to visit, respectively, the Kazerne Dossin–Mémorial, Musée et Centre de Documentation sur l’Holocauste et les Droits de l’Homme and the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge.

This year’s trio will be following previous Stirling Stevenson successes, including Jeanne who is currently in Granada for her Semester Abroad, having been awarded a Scholarship through Spanish at Stirling. Having already undertaken a good deal of research into the question of the teaching of ‘untold’ histories through discussions with teachers at school and University-level about their experiences teaching on aspects of Franco’s Spain, Jeanne is now planning to focus to expand her research to include visits to historical monuments. “I will visit the Centro Federico García Lorca, where there is a library, to see if the War and the dictatorship are depicted and if so, how. I will also visit the rest of the Provincial Prison of Granada, almost fully destroyed, and the Campana prison for political opponents during Francoism, and the Cartel de las Palmas (where torture used to be carried out). She’s also planning a trip to Madrid, to see Guernica, and to Toledo, to visit the Museum of War.

Félicitations once again, to both the new Stevenson Scholars and those currently completing their projects from this past year!

First year French: “Looking forward to an exciting four years ahead!”

Alongside our articles by former students of French at Stirling, we thought it would be good to post a few profiles of our current students, to give you a sense of who studies with us, how they end up at Stirling, what they make of the campus and of their classes… We’re kicking off this series with a profile of one of our first year students, Eilidh Wynd, and there’ll be more to come over the weeks ahead:

2016-eilidh-wynd-picture-nov16“I am Eilidh Wynd and I am currently studying International Management with European Languages and Society. Despite not living on campus, I still feel a sense of belonging to a friendly and welcoming community here at the university. From the classes to the sports teams, you are immediately included and everyone can be part of the university life as the subjects and extra-curricular activities are wide ranging.

I originally intended studying at Strathclyde University as I didn’t want to be too close to where I was brought up. However, after attending the Stirling university applicant day and their original open day I knew I wanted to study here. The language department staff were welcoming and enthusiastic when I visited and encouraged me to come to Stirling. This was also supported by the student ambassadors who sounded as though they really enjoyed the course. I now look forward to an exciting four years ahead.

I am studying both French and Spanish and have experienced at first-hand how understanding and caring the staff are. All my French tutors have been extremely considerate and supportive, which I cannot thank them for enough. I am particularly enjoying the cultural side of the course which I had not studied in depth before. Discovering the history and customs of modern day France brings a greater understanding of its people and language.

I would without doubt encourage any prospective students to come to the University of Stirling to study French and enjoy all that the university has to offer.”

Thanks to Eilidh for this blog post and we look forward to giving you a chance to get to know more of our students over the coming weeks.

 

Languages Open Doors…

Very pleased to be able to round off the week with another update from a recent graduate. Ruth Mahlstedt graduated from Stirling in 2013 with a BA Hons in French and Spanish and is now working in Canberra, enjoying slightly warmer weather than up in this hemisphere…

2016 Mahlstedt pic Mar

“Thinking back to my three years in Scotland, I have a lot of fond memories. I transferred to the University of Stirling after completing my first year of university at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Before my move, I did a lot of research in order to find the right university and course for me; amongst other places, I considered schools in England, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands and Sweden. Yet, Stirling stood out to me as the course description for the BA Hons in French and Spanish sounded incredibly exciting and exactly what I was looking for. The variety of subjects and themes covered in the different modules available was what helped me made my final decision. And the very prospect of spending a compulsory semester abroad was, of course, very tempting as well.

Having come from a similar course at a different university, I was excited by the quality of teaching and level of knowledge of both my fellow students and my lecturers and tutors. I did not know what to expect, whether the teaching style and level of difficulty would be anything like what I was used to from Australia. It was challenging because even though the Bachelor I started in Canberra was similar, the content we covered in Stirling focussed more on politics, culture, history – all subjects I thoroughly enjoy. Even after my first semester, my knowledge and understanding of French and Francophone culture grew tremendously, and I would never have thought I’d be reading a novel written by Simone de Beauvoir in its original language in second year French.

If someone asked me to name my favourite part of my degree, spending a semester abroad at the École de Traduction et Interprétation at the Université de Genève is definitely very high up there. However, I think that the course itself was overall very well organised and structured. Grammar, conversational skills and culture were all considered as important as each other, and though taught separately, skills gained and themes covered in one merged into the others and it all came together in the end.

As mentioned above, what struck me most in the course outline was the big range of subjects covered in the different modules that were on offer. Ranging from Colonialism to the Vichy Regime, to Francophone Detective Stories, to discussing very recent matters like parental leave or marriage equality in our conversation classes, I ended up with a very good understanding of what makes France, France, and felt more informed about what was happening and was important to one of the strongest economies in Europe and our next-door neighbour. If I had to pick the class I enjoyed the most, Screening the City would be the one I’d recommend to anyone taking French as the works covered in that course are all wonderfully intertwined with past and present aspects of French culture.

Now, two and a half years after graduating and living in Canberra again, I still engage with French culture and politics, continue to converse in the language whenever I can, and have visited France on several occasions. I was accepted to study a Master Program at both the University of Amsterdam and the Queen’s University in Belfast in two very different areas: Master of Comparative Literature and Master of Translation. My Bachelor degree at Stirling did not limit me to only being able to pursue one area of study or another, but opened many doors. Even though French is not a part of my daily working life at an international technology firm, I strongly believe that having a degree in French and Spanish is what made me stand out amongst all the other candidates and will give me the competitive edge needed to take my career with the company to the next level and travel internationally.”

Thanks to Ruth for this update and best wishes for the future!