This Summer, as we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, two of our undergraduate students – Alasdair MacDonald and Finn Mackie – were awarded Carnegie Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships to work on research projects. For both, this meant a period of time spent living and researching in France, on two very different projects. Finn’s project examined representations of trans-identities in contemporary French and Francophone film, while Alasdair drew his inspiration from work he had done on modules studied in his first and second year at Stirling, and on his interest in questions of the cinematic representation of the Occupation.
Alasdair’s scholarship gave him ‘the opportunity to spend two weeks carrying out research in Paris during the summer holidays. My project centred around the cinematic representations of the French occupation. I spent a lot of time in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, making use of both the history and audio-visual departments. I was able to access books and films which are unavailable in Scotland, which will give me a wider range of research to work from when writing my dissertation.
Perhaps the most valuable materials I found were archive newspapers and film periodicals. Spread between a specialised Second World War collection in the Institut d’histoire du temps présent, and the archive section of the Cinémathèque Française. These materials allowed me to gauge the public reception of the key films around which my dissertation will be based. Overall, the scholarship allowed me to add far greater depth to my research, as well as giving me an early look at directions for further study. Perhaps most importantly, it gave me first-hand experience of carrying out academic research.’
For Finn, ‘the grant I received from the Carnegie Fund enabled me to spend one week at Manchester University, following which I went to Lyon where I had access to newly published material, including La Trans-yclopédie, which is the most up-to-date reference guide for issues relating to trans-identities. In Lyon, I was also able to make contact with several academics interested in trans-identities.
I spent a few days in Paris, where I visited the LGBT centre and made contact with the spokesperson for ORtrans. Although not originally planned, the information I had gathered in Paris and Lyon led me to Marseille, where I met Karine Espineira, Maud Yeuse-Thomas (Trans-Observatoire) and Arnaud Alessandrin, the authors of La Trans-yclopédie. In Marseille, I attended trans-specific conferences held as part of Europride. It was here that I really started to get to grips with some of the most contemporary issues experienced by trans-identifying people.
Being able to spend an extended period in France working solely on the project has undoubtedly developed my research skills. Furthermore, as a by-product of focusing on such a specific subject, I have also improved my foreign language skills. I hope to continue my research in this area by undertaking a Master’s programme upon completion of my undergraduate degree.’
Congratulations once again to Finn and Alasdair on their success and, if you’re a current Stirling French student interested in applying for one of these scholarships for next Summer, get in touch with your tutors for more information.