Tag: Research

‘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.

British Academy-funded workshop coming up at Stirling

French at Stirling’s Bill Marshall is organizing a day-long British Academy-funded workshop on the ‘Uses of Prehistory’ at Stirling on Saturday 3 June. This bilingual workshop will examine the ways in which prehistory, notably the Upper Palaeolithic period including its cave art, has entered debates in modern and contemporary France concerning aesthetics, fiction, politics and philosophy. The event is free, including a sandwich lunch, but registration is essential by Tuesday 30 May. Please contact Bill Marshall: w.j.marshall@stir.ac.uk if you wish to attend. The programme for the day is as follows:

 

10.30 TEA & COFFEE

10.45 Welcome remarks; Bill Marshall (University of Stirling): ‘Prehistory and Transnational French Studies’

11.30 Marc Azéma (Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail) : ‘La Préhistoire du cinéma’

12.15 Jo Malt (King’s College London): ‘La Main négative, limit-case and primal scene of art’

13.00 LUNCH

14.00 Douglas Smith (University College Dublin): ‘The Great Prehistoric Art Scandal: André Breton and Raymond Queneau on Cave Painting’

14.45 Mary Orr (University of St Andrews): ‘Questions of Adaptation: Rethinking Intermedial Uses of Prehistory in Nineteenth-Century France’

15.30 TEA & COFFEE

16.00 Michèle Richman (University of Pennsylvania): ‘Georges Bataille’s Prehistoric Modernism: A Universal History for the 21st century’

16.45 Conversation with Margaret Elphinstone, whose novel The Gathering Night (2009) is set in mesolithic Scotland.

17.30 Workshop ends

Looking forward to an account of the workshop in due course!

2017 Bill Touma First Biped May
Touma, the first biped; Musée national de la Préhistoire, Les Eyzies de Tayac

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!

New Articles by Bill Marshall

Very pleased to be able to announce details of two new articles by French at Stirling’s Bill Marshall. ‘Linguistic Zones of the French Atlantic’ has been published in Sherry Simon’s edited collection Speaking Memory: How Translation Shapes City Life and, continuing Bill’s long-standing interest in the French Atlantic, ‘New Orleans and the French Atlantic’ is now available in Ottmar Ette and Gesine Mueller’s New Orleans and the Global South.

Last blog post for 2016

One final blog post before switching off for the holidays and a few bits and pieces to catch up with from end of semester activities. So, in no particular order…

Many congratulations to former French at Stirling PhD student Stefanie van de Peer whose edited collection Animation in the Middle East will be out very soon with IB Tauris and promises to be a great new addition to the field of Animation Studies. We’ll be ordering it for Stirling University Library, of course!

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And thanks to the group of French at Stirling undergraduates who found the time to go to Graeme High School in Falkirk to talk to pupils there about the opportunities that open up through the study of languages. Our Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques, organises our Student Ambassador scheme which, as he says, “relies entirely on the good will of students who, given the opportunity, are keen to share their love for languages. No-one is better placed to reach out to pupils who might never have considered pursuing with a language at school, or who might think that the sole purpose of studying a language is to become a teacher. We are very fortunate at Stirling to have a combination of volunteers that includes people with prolonged experience abroad and even native speakers. This is also the result of good relations and collaboration between the University and local authorities.” This visit to Graeme High follows on from an equally successful visit to Wallace High earlier in the semester and we were particularly pleased to get one of our visiting Erasmus students involved with the December visit.

Thanks also to the colleagues and postgrads who came along to Cristina Johnston and Charlotte Lange’s Study Day on crime fiction earlier in December, and to those who attended the public reading and Q&A the same evening with leading Scottish crime fiction author Craig Russell. The papers presented during the day included one by Cristina Johnston on the hit French crime series Engrenages and a paper by Charlotte Lange on Mexican crime novels, as well as contributions from our colleague in Creative Writing, Liam Bell, talking about Malta as crime scene in his next novel, Creative Writing PhD student Lorna Hill who spoke about invisible victims and Ailsa Peate (University of Liverpool) on Cuban crime fiction. Miriam Owen – a former postgrad on our Publishing Studies programme – was also on hand to screen her short documentary about the Iceland Noir book festival.

Plenty to look forward to in the Spring, too, with a visit from our colleague Lucie Herbreteau from Angers who will be teaching some classes on our final semester core language module while she is in Stirling. And we’re looking forward to welcoming back Bill Marshall after his semester’s research leave which has – most recently – included a plenary on ‘Queering Guyane’ at the ‘Imagining the Guyanas/Across the Disciplines’ conference hosted by the Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III.

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In the meantime, though, the University is about to close for the break and we wish you all de joyeuses fêtes!

Black History Month: Dakar 1966-2016

As part of Black History Month, French at Stirling’s David Murphy organised a series of events and film screenings in October to mark the 50th anniversary of the First World Festival of Negro Arts, held in Dakar in April 1966. These events emerged from research for his recently published book, The First World Festival of Negro Arts, Dakar 1966: context and legacies2016-david-dakar-book-cover-sept.

On 14 October, at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, there were screenings of two documentary films on the 1966 festival, followed by a panel discussion, ‘Dakar 66: Fifty years on’. Later in October, he was involved in more screenings/events as part of the 2016 Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival. On 28 October, he gave a talk on the 1966 festival at a symposium, ‘Havana-Dakar 1966: Capitals of an artistic and political revolution’, at the University of Edinburgh, and held a Q&A after screenings of two documentary films. Then, on 30 October, David introduced documentaries on the ‘Zaïre 74’ Festival (held in conjunction with the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ fight between Ali and Foreman) and the 1966 festival, as part of another AiM screening. Finally, from 8-10 November, David was in in Dakar, Senegal, where he had been invited to speak at a conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the festival. The event featured academic papers and personal testimony from participants in the festival, and it received wide local media coverage. While in Dakar, David carried out further research on the 1966 festival, including filmed interviews with participants from the 1966 event.

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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…