Iberian and Latin American Studies receive Learning and Teaching Award

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Many congratulations to staff in Iberian and Latin American Studies, who as a teaching team received a Faculty Learning and Teaching Award this month. The award recognized IBLAS’s applied awareness of the diversity and plurality of the geo-political spaces that staff research, which manifests itself notably in the week-long series of events and activities that make up Iberian and Latin American Week. As reported on the MLC blog, IBLAW brings a taster of IBLAS’s shared knowledge and interest in the Hispanic and Lusophone world every year to students, through events that take place at the university and around the city, bringing students in contact with a range of practitioners, creative producers, and their texts, films, books, and music.

Iberian and Latin American Week enriches the curriculum and draws an audience from within the student body, across the University, and around the city. It raises the profile of IBLAS and enhances the student experience, as demonstrated in consistently high student feedback. Thanks to all guests and collaborators who contributed to Iberian and Latin American Week, and many congratulations to staff in IBLAS for this well-deserved award!

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Ana Reimao (front row, first from left), Marina Rabadán (front row, second from left), and Niamh Thornton (front row, third from right) representing Iberian and Latin American Studies at the Learning and Teaching Awards

Student profiles: ex ab initio German

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We continue today with the latest in our series of posts profiling MLC students who started learning a language as complete beginners and who are now in their final year. This time, we meet Elpiniki Pantanela-Konnell, who is taking a BA in German and Classics. In this short blog, Elpiniki tells us about the challenges and successes of learning German from scratch.

Elpiniki Pantanela-Konnell

Hi all! My name is Elpiniki. I am a final year student at Liverpool University studying German with Classics. My experience with German began 3 years ago, when I picked the language as an ab initio student from other languages that were on offer, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, and Chinese, for the simple reason that knowing German is a big plus for your personal development and future career.

Elpiniki

Although German was hard for me at times, as any other foreign language would be, the experience was utterly rewarding. My tutors were always there for me to explain things I didn’t understand and would always make every seminar unique and interesting, ranging from oral classes to listening sessions. Although I didn’t go to Germany for my Year Abroad, I have already applied for a DAAD scholarship to go to Germany for the summer and do a summer language course there. I have also applied to do a Masters in TESOL at Liverpool University once I graduate this year, as this will help me to get a better insight into the teaching world.

Last but not least, for all those who want to pick German at university and have no previous experience, do not hesitate! The support from the tutors and the very well-organised seminars will help you reach the level of A-level students just like I and so many others did. You can do it! Good luck!

 

Guest speaker Leda Lozier gives talk on gender violence in Central America

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On Wednesday 3 May, the department of Modern Languages and Cultures welcomed  guest speaker Leda Lozier from the University of Georgia to deliver a presentation  entitled “Mapping Narratives of Exclusion and Gender Violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras (1980 to 2016)”.

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To open the presentation, the speaker reflected on her adolescence growing up as a young Honduran woman in the 1980s and 1990s, and how she had believed her country to be peaceful, despite its proximity to its neighbouring countries Guatemala and El Salvador.  She referred to the sense of ‘distance’ from violence that Hondurans spoke of at this time, as a misguided discourse which failed to encapsulate the nature of gender-based oppression across the region.

Referring to Guatemalan artist Regina José Galindo, best known for cutting herself and inscribing the word ‘Perra’ (meaning ‘bitch’ or ‘whore’) on her body in order to protest against the wave of sexualised and violent crimes against women in Central America, Leda spoke of being inspired by this visceral performance art to explore the Northern Triangle as cultural and political space which produces and perpetuates violence against women. She then went on to explore the literary and artistic representations of Central American women in the work of Honduran novelist and poet, Maria Eugenia Ramos and her short story, ‘Sunday Night.’

A central issue raised throughout the presentation was the role of local level narratives in legitimizing violence towards certain female groups (such as gang member affiliates, or guerrilla fighters) and how they obscure the reality of all women’s susceptibility to violence within the socio-cultural setting of Central America. Throughout the analysis of gendered representations of women through art and literature, however, the audience was given insight into how the prevalence of extreme gender-based violence towards women in the region cannot be interpreted solely as a consequence of militarized violence.  Rather, violent and sexualised crimes against women stem from structural and masculinist processes, which engender the female body as always potentially vulnerable to violence.  The seminar thus shed light on how gender-based violence is rooted in a historical legacy of structural and gendered inequality in the region, and happens to women ‘because they are women.’

Diana Cullell reports on Eramus+ visit to China

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XJTLU[2]Diana Cullell, Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, has just spent a week at Xi’an Jiatong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) as part of the Erasmus+ Mobility Scheme. During her time in Suzhou, Diana met with colleagues working in the Language Centre and in Internationalization, and she worked very closely with the team teaching Spanish language over there. Diana also taught on different modules offered by the Language Centre –which included sessions on Catalan culture; lectures focused on Federico García Lorca’s poetry; and Spanish Language classes for beginners and advanced students. Furthermore, she led a Professional Development session for all the staff of the Language Centre, focusing on enhancing language learning through cultural activities. This was a fantastic opportunity to share excellent teaching practice and teaching methods in modern languages, to discuss language teaching challenges in different contexts, to strengthen links between teaching staff in XJTLU and Liverpool, and to continue the productive relationship between the two institutions with many collaborative projects already in sight.

 

During her time in China, Diana also met many students from XJTLU who will be moving to the UK very soon to finish their studies at the University of Liverpool, and she is looking forward to seeing them in class again!

This was such a fantastic opportunity! The Erasmus+ Mobility Scheme allowed me to share teaching practices and different teaching methods with a team of exceptional language teachers in China. We have great collaborative projects for the near future, which will bring our student communities closer and enhance teaching and student experience in both institutions.

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The Spanish team at XJTLU with Diana in front of the ‘Liverbird of Suzhou’

Dr Stefania Tufi (Italian Studies) reports on her fieldwork in Sardinia

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Sardinia [1]Last February, I spent a few weeks in Sardinia (Italy) in order to carry out fieldwork in relation to a project on local language use. Sardinia is a very interesting example of linguistic variety within a relatively small island region (1.6m inhabitants). In addition to a number of dialects which are grouped around two main types of Sardinian, an officially recognised minority language in Italy, there are internal minorities, such as those represented by Catalan (spoken in Alghero in the north-west) and Tabarchino, a Ligurian variety (spoken on Carloforte and Calasetta in the south-west).

The data gathered from informants looks promising and I’m very grateful to the people I met for their invaluable contribution. Any work in Sociolinguistics would not be possible without human input, and on this as well as on previous occasions, Sardinians were very generous with their time and always passionate about their language and culture. Pride in all things Sardinian was shown by all my informants regardless of age or social standing, as it transpired from discussions with groups of youngsters.

I met one such group in a high school in the south-east of Sardinia and was warmly welcomed by staff and students alike. I was impressed by the way in which the study of local language and culture was integrated into the national curriculum and full of admiration for the dedicated teachers.

I’ll be going back to Sardinia for more enlightening and stimulating discussions in beautiful settings, but in the meantime gratzias meda to all!

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A group of final-year students at Instituto G. Dessì (Villaputzu) and teacher Bettina Pitzurra (second from right)

MLC holds third annual Careers in Translation and Interpreting event

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On the 26 April 2017, the 3rd Annual Careers in Translation & Interpreting event was held at the University of Liverpool, organized by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures and Routes into Languages North West.

The event was mainly aimed at students who are finishing their degrees and are contemplating the possibility of working as interpreters and/or translators, but members of the general public interested in working as professional translators were also more than welcome.

This year’s programme included professional translators from both fields, translation ad interpreting, who shared their experience and expertise with the audience. This year’s guests who kindly participated and collaborated in the event were:

Paul Kaye from the European Commission in London, who talked about ‘Translating for the European Union’;

Helen Campbell, Director of the National Network for Interpreting, who talked about ‘Working as a Conference Interpreter in International Organizations’;

Karl McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, who talked about ‘Translating for the Media: a “hybrid” profession’;

Matthias Postel, from the Chartered Institute of Linguists, who presented on ‘Developing as a Language professional / Qualifications, Standards and Professional Status’;

Simone Schroth, a freelance translator, who shared her experience and expertise working as freelance translator, and;

Carmina Villar, a Production Manager at Tick Translations, who talked about ‘A Career in Translation’.

The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures is always keen to hold events of this nature, as it aims to provide its students with a range of employability skills and opportunities before they graduate.

Professor Charles Forsdick gives Garnet Rees Memorial Lecture

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Last month, Professor Charles Forsdick delivered the prestigious Garnet Rees Memorial Lecture at the University of Hull. Endowed in honour of the former professor of French at the University, the annual lecture has now been extended to allow a range of scholars from across Modern Languages to explore the latest developments in their field.

Professor Forsdick first engaged with the work of Garnet Rees as a PhD student at Lancaster in the 1990s working on the author Victor Segalen, when he read Rees’s still definitive 1940 book on the French poet and critic Remy de Gourmont. The focus of his recent lecture was, however, a very different one, drawing on his contribution to the AHRC-funded project Transnationalizing Modern Languages and exploring questions of slavery commemoration in France and the French-speaking world.

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Fabrice Hyber’s ‘Le Cri, l’écrit’ in the Jardin de Luxembourg

Professor Forsdick addressed the persistence of slavery in contemporary French politics, and focused on recent controversies surrounding the publication of L’Histoire mondiale de la France. The aim of the lecture was to show how the French memorialization of slavery is often reduced to a national frame – but that debates about reparations and memory inevitably entail more complex transnational considerations. He concluded with a study of museums and memorials commemorating slavery in contemporary France, constrasting for instance Fabrice Hyber’s ‘Le Cri, l’écrit’, unveiled in the Jardin de Luxembourg by President Jacques Chirac in May 2007, with the ambitious Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery inaugurated in Nantes in 2011. The lecture was hosted by WISE, the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation.

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A section of the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes

Student profiles: ex ab initio German

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In the latest of our series of posts profiling MLC students who started learning a language as complete beginners and who are now in their final year, we meet Rebecca May, who is taking a BA in German and Hispanic Studies. In this short blog, Rebecca tells us about the challenges and successes of learning German from scratch.

Rebecca May

Starting German as an ab initio student was by no means easy, but by all means worth it! I have been very fortunate to have picked up German at Liverpool, where the lecturers have made my experience of learning German from scratch an enriching and exciting one. The modules comprised both language and culture, covering a wide scope of German literature, history and linguistics, which only heightened my passion for the language. My experience has been strongly enhanced by a supportive working environment, which has allowed me to get to know the other students taking ab initio German, who have become my close friends along the way. Together, we have established a successful team and work ethic in the face of learning a new language at degree level.

My year abroad was split between my German and Spanish studies. In Germany, I was fortunate to secure a job as a Boutique Coffee Specialist for the global company Nespresso in Berlin for 7 months. A full-time work placement was the best choice for me as it allowed me to immerse myself fully in the German-speaking environment and improve my language skills. Not only did I establish strong relations with my German colleagues, but also friendships with them for life. Seven of them are even coming to stay with me in Liverpool for the summer of my graduation. The year was a huge success and an experience of a lifetime, one that I feel privileged to have had. Thank you to all those at the University of Liverpool who made my time here studying languages an unforgettable one!

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Rebecca enjoying a local beverage  

Professor Eve Rosenhaft discusses her new translation of the memoirs of Theodor Michael

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Last month, MLC’s Professor Eve Rosenhaft answered a few questions put to her by Liverpool University Press on her new publication, Black German: An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century, a translation of the memoirs of Theodor Wonja Michael.

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Theodor Michael is among the few surviving members of the first generation of ‘Afro-Germans’. He was born in Germany in 1925 to a Cameroonian father and a German mother, and grew up in Berlin in the last days of the Weimar Republic. As a child and teenager, he experienced increased racial discrimination under the Nazis in the years before the Second World War. Having survived the war, he became a journalist and actor in post-war West Germany. Since the 1980s, he has become an important spokesman for the black German consciousness movement, acting as a human link between the first black German community of the inter-war period, the pan-Africanism of the 1950s and 1960s, and new generations of Germans of African descent.

You can read more about Theodor Michael, his memoirs, and Professor Rosenhaft’s translation on the Liverpool University Press website: https://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/blogs/news/the-moving-and-illuminating-story-of-theodor-michael-an-interview-with-eve-rosenhaft

A book launch to mark the publication of Professor Rosenhaft’s translation will take place next month, on Tuesday 2 May 2017, from 5pm-7pm at the Victoria Gallery & Museum. The event is free, but please register here to attend.

 

Student profiles: ex ab initio German

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Today, we continue our series of posts profiling MLC students who started learning a language as complete beginners and who are now in their final year. Today’s post is by Jessica Saunders, who is taking a BA in Modern European Languages, with modules in French, Spanish and German. Here is how Jessica looks back on the challenges and successes of learning German from scratch.

Jessica Saunders

When it came to choosing my University degree, Liverpool was my first choice, as it gave me the opportunity to study three languages on one course, which was really exciting for me as I had always had a passion for languages. I was also keen to pick up an additional one, after studying French and Spanish for A-Level. Learning a language as a beginner was, of course, a daunting task to begin with, but you surprise yourself with how quickly you pick things up, thanks to the intensity of the course. Being in a group that is exclusively for beginners is also really encouraging, and allows you to build your confidence.

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Jessica enjoying the Würzburg Christmas market

The highlight of the course for me was the time I spent in Germany as part of my year abroad. I chose to study at the University of Würzburg for a semester, where I did modules in German, French, Spanish and Business. I had such a great experience; I was able to travel around various cities in Germany, such as Nuremberg, Munich and Frankfurt. I gained a lot of confidence in my spoken language skills, thanks to living with two other German students, as well as meeting many other German-speaking students as part of the Erasmus experience.

Now in my final year, I am so glad that I decided to take on German as another language. I feel that is it giving me an advantage when applying for graduate schemes and jobs, as many international companies are looking for people with a good knowledge of German. I am hoping to secure a job that will allow me to use my language skills to help an international company to expand, and also give me the opportunity to travel.