Tag: Research

One Year On

This time a year ago, we were welcoming our new colleague, Nina Parish, to French at Stirling. A tremendous amount has happened in the intervening twelve months and Nina has been kind enough to send us her thoughts on her first year working at Stirling:

‘Last week I completed my first year of working in the Division of Literature and Languages at the University of Stirling and what a year it’s been!

2020 Jul NP Office ViewThe year started with floods and a very washed out graduation ceremony (I still can’t quite believe that it took place – kudos to those who made this happen!) and a considerable amount of damage to the Pathfoot Building where I have my office and do some teaching. The Pathfoot also houses and exhibits the University’s wonderful art collection – what an absolute headache for the curators! But by the start of the semester the vast majority of us had access to our offices and the teaching rooms were ready to be used again!

2020 Jul NP DumyatAnd so Semester 1 started – earlier than what I was used to in England – and I began to get to know my wonderful colleagues and my new, mostly Scottish, students. I was struck by how pleasant these students are and it made me think a lot about how high tuition fees have changed the student-teacher relationship south of the border. There were also a couple of students from the EU in most of my classes and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed teaching a class with this diversity of experiences. I’m sad that this is likely to change in the future.

Just as I was getting into my stride (and beginning to know my way around the Cottrell Building!), we went on strike. It is always tough to stop teaching in this context and to not have the contact with students that you did previously but it is also important to fight the good fight and there was a lot on the line here from casual contracts to pensions. Looking on the bright side, you also get to know colleagues better on the picket line.

2020 Jul NP Dryden TowerThere had been talk about the Covid-19 virus from the beginning of the year but I had managed to ignore it quite successfully and was all set to travel to Warsaw for a research meeting mid-March, to give papers in St Andrews and Aberdeen, to go to a conference in Rome and then travel on to Armenia for a month-long research secondment as part of the EU funded DisTerrMem project in May and June. All this was obviously cancelled and my world shrank to the tremendous city of Edinburgh where I live. Getting to know this city has been the high point of the lockdown and in the last weeks getting out into the glorious Scottish countryside to go walking again has been such a relief. I was appointed Director of Research at the beginning of the year and having the time to be able to talk to my brilliant colleagues about their research trajectories and future plans has been a delight.

I sometimes wonder what my second year at Stirling will bring (I was due to go to Lebanon and Pakistan for the Memories from the Margins and DisTerrMem research projects), but I’ve decided to focus on enjoying the summer and preparing online classes for September for now.

Bilan de l’année: des évènements inattendus (c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire!) mais j’aime vivre et travailler en Ecosse.’

Many, many thanks to Nina for the great post (and for the pictures of Scottish views) and we’re delighted to have you as a colleague at Stirling, and look forward to pestering you for more blog posts in the months and years ahead!

Research Funding Success

Given the current global backdrop, it feels particularly good to be able to round the week off (and start a new month) with a couple of good news posts, starting with congratulations to our French at Stirling colleague, Hannah Grayson.

2020 May RSE LogoIn March, Hannah started work on a project called ‘Postcolonial Resilience? Débrouillardise in African Texts’ funded by a small Arts and Humanities grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh that she was awarded in December. The project examines pervasive discourses of ‘resilience’ and questions its cultural and political underpinnings. Hannah will be looking at a couple of key moments in 20th and 21st-century Francophone Africa and tracing uses of the term, and alternatives, in literary and non-literary texts, as soon as she can get to some archives once again!

Working in collaboration with her colleague, Steven Wilson, at Queen’s University Belfast, Hannah has also been awarded an IMLR conference grant for what she quite rightly describes as a ‘(scarily) relevant conference’ entitled ‘Languages of Disease in the Contemporary Francophone World’ planned before Covid-19 was on the radar. The precise dates for the conference are under review at the moment but we’re hoping to be hosting it at Stirling and will follow up about in on the blog over the months ahead.

Many, many congratulations to Hannah (and Steven) for these successes!

A journey into the wonders of French

Two blog posts for the price of one today! Both the authors – Artie first, then Julian – are very much caught up in the current Covid-context so there are some thoughts here on the immediate impacts that is having on the lives of recent(-ish) Languages graduates. However, both have also been kind enough to reflect on their lives and career paths since graduation, with plenty of food for thought for anyone reading this and wondering where a degree involving a language might lead them… First, it’s Artie’s turn:

‘My journey into the wonders (and confusions at the many same-sound endings) of French language learning began with my studies at the University of Stirling in September 2012 with a degree in French and Spanish. I began the degree with a beginner’s knowledge of French (and by beginner’s, I mean absolutely zero French know-how, I still remember learning the phrase “Je suis de Doncaster” in one of my first classes…).

By graduation in 2016 I had vastly improved my knowledge of both French language and culture, with some of my French writing assessments equalling, and even surpassing my Spanish writing. I graduated with a First-Class honour’s degree and this became the foundation which I have since used to explore multiple career avenues.

Through the University of Stirling, I was able to complete a year as an English Language Assistant with the British Council in Tenerife upon graduating. I had two potential career paths I was interested in following, teaching or translation, and this allowed me the opportunity to trial run one. My professors at the University of Stirling also helped me apply for a scholarship to fund a research project while working with the British Council, an opportunity I surely wouldn’t have had otherwise. While I enjoyed my time immensely as an English Language Assistant and was offered to stay a further year, I ultimately decided to return to academia, and began a Masters in Translation Studies at the University of Glasgow.

I continued with my original language pair, French and Spanish, while attending advanced translation and translation theory classes. Here, I was able to build on practices already learned in my Undergraduate course adding further translation theory, fully confident, not only in my ability to state where I’m from, but also pay attention to nuances within the French language, differences between French and English writing styles, becoming ever more confident in my own writing abilities and stylistic choices as a translator.

After completing my Master’s in Translation Studies at the University of Glasgow, I started work as a Videogames Localisation Quality Assurance Tester, a really rather long title for what I actually did – play video games and make sure translations are error free and feel made for the target audience. It has been an excellent graduate role where I mainly work with likeminded people of a similar age group, in a fairly relaxed multicultural office environment with plenty of opportunities to practice my speaking skills (not that I ever feel like I do this enough). After beginning work as a Tester, I then combined my testing experience with my background in teaching and began training any new starts that came into the company. Following on from this, I moved onto Project Coordinating where I began coordinating the testers, as opposed to directly testing the videogames myself. Through this role, I further developed managerial, timekeeping, organisational and communication skills – all of which are highly coveted in the world of translation where Project Coordinators are always needed.

And so, we have arrived my present situation! I, like most everyone else, am currently at home, self-isolating, faced with the current global circumstances but, oddly enough, it is a time when we are all most connected, checking in with each other, doing those little things that have been neglected on our to-do list (like… say… writing an article for a blog) and where language skills are just as important as ever. Most recently I had the opportunity to translate a UN document from French into English as a volunteer while staying at home, interview for a potential role in Bordeaux, and I’m using this time to attempt to build up a freelance client base in the hopes of maybe, hopefully (fingers and toes crossed!) being able to translate as a Freelancer by the end of the year. And let’s not forget the most taxing at home activity of all – watching an abundance of French films and series as a vital means of continuing my exposure to the language, it’s a hard job but someone has to do it!

I do hope everyone is keeping safe in these tricky times and remember enjoy your time at the University of Stirling while you can, it’ll be over before you know it!’

Many, many thanks to Artie for taking the time to send us this fantastic blog post – I, for one, have learned things about the role of translation in gaming that I certainly didn’t know before! We hope all goes well with the client-base-building and we look forward to more updates in the future. In the meantime, stay well and stay safe.

Publication News: Handbook of French Politics and Culture

2020 Jan Publication Handbook cover NinaWe’re delighted to announce (albeit a little belatedly!) the publication of the new Routledge Handbook of French Politics and Culture which has, among its co-editors, French at Stirling’s own Nina Parish who has this to say about the volume:

‘I’m really delighted to announce the publication of The Routledge Handbook of French Politics and Culture. I’ve been working on this handbook for a number of years now with my colleagues, Marion Demossier (University of Southampton), David Lees (University of Warwick) and Aurelien Mondon (University of Bath). We wanted to provide a fresh look at some of the questions raised by modern and contemporary French politics and culture. Many of the chapters will help to understand what is happening with current strikes and protests in France about pension reform (eg. ‘La France dans la rue’ by Chris Reynolds, Nottingham Trent University). The handbook is divided into four sections: ‘Politics in Modern and Contemporary France’; ‘Identification and Belonging’; ‘Spaces of Political and Cultural Contestation’ and ‘Mediating Memories and Cultures’ (including my co-authored chapter with Eleanor Rowley on ‘Remembering the First World War in France: Historial de la Grande Guerre and Thiepval’ in this final section). It was difficult to know when to submit the final manuscript as it seemed as if the political and cultural shape of France was constantly changing. The final changes were requested of relevant authors following the ‘gilets jaunes’ phenomenon last autumn. Full details of the handbook, including a complete list of chapters and contributors, can be found here.

Many thanks to Nina for sending us through this blog post and, to all blog readers, Bonne Année from all in French at Stirling! And bonne lecture!

Languages and Career Stories

2019 Dec Languages and Career Stories AllAs Laura and Michael noted in their post yesterday, it can be really helpful for secondary school pupils to get a sense of the opportunities that studying Languages at University can open up by actually getting a chance to meet Languages students and ask them questions. The same can be said of those Languages students themselves and the benefits that can come from listening to Languages graduates, at different stages post-graduation, talking about the different paths their lives have followed and the ways in which languages have shaped those paths. With that in mind, Hannah Grayson, who coordinates our Languages for Employability module this academic year, organised just such an event for our undergraduates last month:

2019 Dec Languages and Career Stories Sam‘On Thursday 7 November, we organised ‘Career Stories’, an event aimed at our Year 3 students taking the Languages for Employability module as part of their degree programme and any other students interested in hearing more about where languages can take you. We had three former Stirling students come to speak about their semesters/years abroad and the trajectories they have taken since leaving Stirling. The speakers were Sam Philips (Languages teacher at Bo’Ness Academy), Luise Pawlig (freelance translator) and Fraser McQueen (current PhD student at Stirling) and they shared experiences of working in tourism, au-pairing, customer service, translation, teaching and parliament.

2019 Dec Languages and Career Stories Luise

It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to hear about their experiences and to get advice on how to meet some of the challenges that intercultural experiences can bring. These events are made by the anecdotes and enthusiasm of those who share, and we couldn’t have asked for more from our speakers. All three of them encouraged students to go abroad whenever the opportunity arises!

2019 Dec Languages and Career Stories Fraser

We also heard from Lena Bauchop, our Careers and Employability consultant who has delivered teaching on the module and is herself a languages graduate. Lena explained her own career path and shared helpful insights into what can influence job decisions. There were plenty of questions for our visiting speakers and lots of conversation and networking afterwards over refreshments. Thanks to all involved!’

And many thanks to Hannah for making the time to send through this blog post and for organising the event.

Au revoir and bonne continuation!

On behalf of everyone at French in Stirling, we just wanted to post thanks and good wishes to our (now former) colleague, Beatrice Ivey, whose time working on Fiona Barclay’s AHRC-funded project ‘Narratives and Representations of the French Settlers of Algeria’ sadly came to an end last month. Many, many thanks to Beatrice for the fantastic work on the project and, more generally, for having been a fantastic colleague!

Beatrice’s new post is as a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, working with Dr Emma Heywood in Journalism Studies on her UKRI GCRF-funded FemmePowermentAfrique project. The project is conducting large-scale qualitative and quantitative research into the impact of radio on women’s empowerment in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso in collaboration with Fondation Hirondelle, a media development organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

All the very best in the new role, Beatrice, and in the future – we’ve all loved working with you at Stirling.

Articles, Books and Conferences

As well as launching language websites and giving introductions to films, French at Stirling colleagues and students have been up to all sorts of French-related activities over recent weeks. More on some of these will doubtless follow in due course but, by way of a quick overview…

Anyone with an interest in contemporary French politics and society should look out for Fiona Barclay’s article ‘French citizenship campaigners may find acceptance depends on far more than official papers’ published online in The Conversation in early October. Fiona also gave a talk at the Alliance française in Glasgow on 5th November about the French settlers of Algeria which included a local pied-noir amongst the attendees.

Fiona and Beatrice’s Ivey’s MOOC ‘Remembering Empire’ is coming to the end of its first run with around 350 people registered at the last count. The MOOC will be left open for new participants to join and will remain live until April so it’s not too late to sign up!

Next week will see a fine Stirling contingent giving papers on a wide range of topics at the annual Society for French Postcolonial Studies conference in London. This year’s conference theme is ‘Postcolonial Realms of Memory in the Francophone World.’ Fiona and Beatrice are both giving papers as part of a panel on ‘Memories of Algeria’, along with Susan Ireland of Grinnell College. Fiona’s paper is on ‘Fraternity in French Algeria: (post-)colonial conceptions of republican citizenry’, while Beatrice will be talking about ‘Ahmed Kalouaz, Childhood and Colonial Memory in Ecriture Jeunesse.’ Fraser McQueen is the third member of the Stirling cohort, with his paper on ‘Memories of Empire in France’s Literary Grands Remplacements.’

2019 Nov Rwanda since 1994 Hannah coverHannah Grayson has two co-edited volumes that have come out over the past few months: Rwanda since 1994: Stories of Change published by Liverpool University Press and After the Genocide in Rwanda: Testimonies of Violence, Change and Reconciliation with IB Tauris. And to return to the online publication The Conversation, our French and Translation colleague, Aedín ní Loingsigh is one of the co-authors of this fantastic article on bilingualism and dementia: ‘Bilingualism and dementia: how some patients lose their second language and rediscover their first.’ Aedín’s co-authors are Ingeborg Birnie (Strathclyde), Thomas Bak (Edinburgh) and our former Stirling colleague, David Murphy (Strathclyde).

More news to follow!

French Film Festival Screening at MacRobert

As often happens as the pace of the semester increases, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat over the past few weeks. However, there are lots of posts building up and lots of news to share about French at Stirling colleagues and students so there will hopefully be a bit of a catch-up over the coming days.

To start with, we’re delighted to announce that, in partnership with French Film Festival UK, Dr Fiona Barclay’s AHRC project at Stirling is hosting a screening of the documentary Libre/To The Four Winds at the MacRobert Arts Centre on campus on Wednesday November 27th. The documentary follows Cédric Herrou, a French farmer arrested for ‘crimes of solidarity’ when he helped people crossing from Italy make their asylum claims on French territory.

Dr Beatrice Ivey will briefly introduce the film with some background and updates on the situation of migrant activism in France today. The film will then be followed by a roundtable discussion with volunteers from Refuweegees and Forth Valley Welcome, two organisations that help refugees in Scotland.

All are welcome to the screening and the discussion that will follow and tickets can be purchased online here or at the MacRobert Box Office. And please do also check out the other French Film Festival films coming to the MacRobert over the next couple of weeks.

Africa in Motion 2019 Programme Announced

As regular blog readers know, the annual Africa in Motion film festival was founded in 2006 by Lizelle Bisschoff, who was at the time a PhD student in the then School of Languages, Cultures and Religions at the University of Stirling, whose research project was supervised by David Murphy. 13 years on, Lizelle is now Senior Lecturer in Theatre, Film and TV Studies at the University of Glasgow, David is Professor of French at Strathclyde University, the School of Languages, Cultures and Religions is part of Stirling’s Division of Literature and Languages and Africa in Motion is still going strong with Justine Atkinson as the Festival Producer.

The festival has just released its programme for the 2019 edition which will run from 25 October to 3 November, with screenings and a wide range of other events in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Division of Literature and Languages is particularly pleased to be the joint sponsor this year of the screening of Lost Warrior, a Somali-Danish coproduction being shown at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on 26 October. You can access the full programme of events via Africa in Motion’s website here. So much to choose from!

 

Remembering French Algeria

As well as catching up with graduates of French at Stirling, it’s good to get the opportunity to find out more about what our current colleagues are up to so we’re particularly pleased to be able to post the following article by Beatrice Ivey, who works with us as a post-doctoral researcher:

‘Since September 2018, I have been working with Fiona Barclay on her AHRC-funded project ‘Narratives and Representations of the French Settlers of Algeria’. I have two main roles on the project: first, to research ‘pied-noir’ memory culture, and second, to introduce the project’s research findings to the public.

Research

2019 Beatrice Pcards Alger-1930-1-dOrléansIn my research role, I have presented at two conferences (Digital Diasporas and the Society for the Study of French History) and am in the process of finishing an article on the circulation of colonial-era postcards online among amateur websites dedicated to ‘pied-noir’ memory and history. On the one hand, I have found a great deal of continuity between the postcards’ original purpose (to advertise the empire to the metropole and abroad) and their contemporary purpose as vectors of colonial nostalgia. On the other hand, I have noticed that these postcards also appear in surprising new contexts, fostering nostalgia that does not necessarily apply to the ‘pieds-noirs’ alone.

2019 Beatrice Pcards Benisaf-Rue-Republique

Public engagement

As part of my public engagement role, Fiona and I have launched a Massive Open Online Course with Iversity entitled ‘Remembering Empire’. This is a free online course which examines narratives of settler colonialism in Algeria through two differing models of memory: one based on competition, the other based on implication. By studying a mixture of archive footage, artefacts, and extracts from literary and journalistic texts, we think this is a pertinent case study for understanding how empire is remembered and forgotten in Europe today.

The course will launch on 17th October and then again on 21st November, running for 5 weeks each time with each unit lasting about an hour. The course is open for anyone to register, so do check it out here.’

Many thanks to Beatrice for finding the time to send us through this article and we would encourage all blog readers to sign up for what looks like a fantastic online course! And thanks also to the ‘La Mer à Boire’ society and the Redoute Béar Museum in Port-Vendres for their kind permission to reproduce the postcards.