MLC hosts Dark Heritage workshop

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On 16 November 2016, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures organised a workshop entitled Dark Heritage: Comparative Approaches to Troubled Pasts. In this short Q+A, the organiser of the event, Marieke Riethof, gives us a taste of how the event unfurled.

So Marieke, what was the inspiration for the workshop theme? 

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together research interests across different language areas in the department on one of the University’s main research priorities: heritage. We wanted the workshop to form the basis for research collaborations by attracting an audience beyond the department. The event also builds on Charles Forsdick’s project on dark tourism and prison museums as sites of memory. “Dark heritage” refers to heritage associated with death, conflict, and human rights violations. Researchers in this field analyse sites such as prison museums and memorials to human rights violations as well as other practices of commemoration and memorialisation.

What did the guest speakers talk about?

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The Escuela Mecanica de la Armada (ESMA) former detention centre

We invited Dr Cara Levey (lecturer in Hispanic Studies at University College Cork) to speak about her research on memory and human rights violations in Argentina and Uruguay. In her presentation, she gave fascinating insights into the controversies surrounding the fate of sites where human rights violations took place during the dictatorships in these states. In the case of the clandestine detention centre ESMA (Naval School of Mechanics) in Buenos Aires, turning the site into a museum was controversial among human rights activists. In Montevideo, Uruguay, Punta Carretas prison was preserved after the end of the dictatorship, but transformed into a shopping centre with few indications of the building’s dark side.

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Dürer’s Rhinoceros, inspired by the rhinoceros that was brought temporarily to Château d’If and that has now become a symbol of the island

Representing Francophone research, Dr Sophie Fuggle (senior lecturer in French at Nottingham Trent University) discussed the dark heritage theme from a philosophical and methodological perspective. In her talk, she examined representations of the Château d’If prison island and the Second World War internment camp Camp des Milles, both of which are located in the south of France. She also introduced us to the postcard as a methodological tool to interrogate the political and ethical dimensions of how dark heritage is represented.

How are you planning to take the topic forwards?

We asked Charles Forsdick to respond to the presentations as a starting point for a new research agenda. Drawing on the speakers’ emphasis on a modern languages perspective on the topic, Charles pointed out that this approach has the potential to challenge the predominantly Anglophone focus of research in this area. He argued that modern languages researchers can examine the translatability of concepts such as dark heritage across historical, linguistic and cultural boundaries.

The University of Liverpool has strong research interests in heritage, dark tourism, memory and human rights, and we plan to continue building a network of researchers interested in the theme.

The presentations are available to watch online at this link: https://stream.liv.ac.uk/b84vbrbf

Erasmus experiences: Amélie Doche

Having learnt more about the Year Abroad experiences of our own students in recent weeks, today French Erasmus student Amélie Doche tells us a bit about her experiences in Liverpool, where she will be spending this academic year. 

Hi there,

My name is Amélie. I am a French student, aged 21, and I’m here at the University of Liverpool for the whole academic year – cheers, Erasmus programme! I’ve been studying English language, literature and history for two years at the Université Jean Moulin Lyon III. I absolutely love the English language… I must say, I find it very pleasant to hear – and even more so if you come from the North of England! I feel that, when you study a modern language, it is important to “experience” it, almost to “lose yourself” in it. I’m not saying that you cannot learn a foreign language at the university –in fact, I definitely think that you can – but a foreign language is not just about learning new words. Every language is strongly linked with the culture with which it is associated.

So, why did I choose Liverpool? Well, I wanted to live in a big city where there is always something going on. And I also wanted to be rather close to the countryside (to fulfil my romantic need for nature and green areas perhaps?). Seems like Liverpool is a great location for me! There was also this popular cliché that people who live in the North of England are more welcoming that their fellow countrymen in the South. It might have influenced my decision without my consciously knowing it!

For those of you who’d like to study/work as a teaching assistant in France next year, feel free to contact me!

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Getting to know the local artwork: Amélie on Crosby beach, the site of the sculptures that form Anthony Gormley’s work Another Place

Year Abroad experiences: Lucy Kay

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The run-up to the end of term brings with it extra pressure on students, especially those in their final year, as coursework submission deadlines loom. In this short blog post, one of our finalists, Lucy Kay, allows herself a spot of reminiscing as she shares with us experiences of her Year Abroad. 

Hi, my name’s Lucy and I spent my year abroad in Metz, France, where I worked as a language assistant for the British Council.

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The Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Metz

Metz might not have seemed like an obvious choice for many (in fact, many French people raised their eyebrows when they heard I had actually chosen to come to the capital of the Lorraine region!), but it really worked for me. A deciding factor for the location of my year abroad was being in proximity to the eastern border, as I wished to visit other countries during my stay. Spending my weekends off visiting Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland was a definite plus!

For any students deciding to choose the British Council pathway for their year abroad, I would really recommend it. Working as an assistant guaranteed a pre-established network for me to become a part of, which definitely made things easier during my first days in France – and having colleagues to ask for advice is really helpful. The work experience in itself is invaluable, as is the fact that you’ve already lived and worked abroad when you come to graduate.

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The Temple Neuf de Metz

I think the biggest benefit of my time away is showing itself now that I have returned to classes at the university. My improved ability and confidence has definitely reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the subject and has made me look at studying French in a new way. The global outreach of the year abroad is something that really struck me. Although I was living in France, I made friends from all over the world and we were all connected by the fact that we were learning a second language. It really makes you feel like a part of a bigger network, and helps you realise that there are so many opportunities that arise from studying languages.

Italian students take Erasmus+ Traineeship in Liverpool

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Over the summer, two students from Italy spent the summer in Liverpool as part of the Erasmus+ Traineeship scheme. In this short blog post, they tell us about their experience in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures.

Buongiorno a tutti!

We are Annalisa Porcelluzzi and Annamaria Trimigliozzi. We are currently studying for an MA in Specialized Translation at the University of Bari, in Italy.

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Over the summer, we had the chance to participate in the Erasmus+ Traineeship scheme that led us to Liverpool to join the Department of Modern Languages & Cultures. We spent three months as honorary fellows in Italian and too the opportunity to learn more about how to prepare exercises for examinations and search for appropriate materials for teaching Italian as a foreign language. We were also able to assist Dr Rosalba Biasini during Italian exams, which was indeed a very interesting experience since they were different from the exams we are used to in Italy. Furthermore, we collected useful information about Italian universities and about opportunities for students who would like to study in Italy during their Erasmus placements. In turn, we provided plenty of information about the University of Bari, as we also took our undergraduate degrees there, in Linguistics and Intercultural Communication.

Thanks to this amazing opportunity, we developed a deep knowledge of how a British university works and it certainly was a valuable experience in a field we are really interested in, and which we hope to pursue in the future. Moreover, the experience allowed us to explore different parts of the United Kingdom and to learn more about this wonderful country, full of culture, traditions, breathtaking landscapes, and beautiful but challenging accents!

The experience would not have been the same without the precious help and support that we received from our colleagues in Italian, whose professionalism was complemented by their capacity to help us feel welcome and at ease during our stay. We hope that we will have the possibility to join them once again in the future.

TA!

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Annalisa and Annamaria taking in the sights of Liverpool

 

Modern Languages graduate profile: Chris Pover

As we move into Week 9 of the Autumn Term, we catch up with another of our graduates, Chris Pover, who graduated with a first class degree in German and Economics, including a distinction in spoken German.

I am currently in my first year of the three-year Grant Thornton Business Advisory Graduate programme. I studied German and Economics at the University of Liverpool, and whilst my degree choice was suited to the graduate scheme, I genuinely believe that it was my year abroad experience that gave me an edge over other candidates in the application process.

For my year abroad, I chose to do a business analytics internship for Atos, an IT company based in Munich, and the transferable skills I gained throughout the year were invaluable to me, both professionally and personally. I was able to experience life in the field of work of my choice before finishing my education, something many graduates aren’t able to include on their CV. I am also very grateful to have worked closely with others in an international team, where I was able to learn a lot from my colleagues’ different experiences.

Munich is a bustling city with lots going on, so meeting people my age wasn’t too difficult. I found a group of friends with whom I watched the legendary Bayern München play (and win of course) at the Allianz Arena, I explored the Bavarian countryside and some of Austria, visited many a beer hall and, of course, dressed in Lederhosen for Oktoberfest!

My year abroad was certainly one of the most challenging yet most enjoyable years of my life so far, and I would do it again in an instant. I met friends from all over the world with whom I spent a year having fun, and when paired with my time as an intern at Atos and my education from Liverpool, I felt confident to begin the graduate program with Grant Thornton.

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Chris at the Allianz Arena (watching TSV 1860 München on this occasion)

Iberian and Latin American Week 2016

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A couple of weeks ago, MLC played host to Iberian and Latin American Week. In this blog, three of our students – Laura McFadden, Rebecca Mayo and Joe Corazón – share their experiences of the week with us.

From Monday 31 October to Sunday 6 November, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures welcomed a plethora of guests from a wide range of Iberian and South American cultures. The week kicked off with a taste of Basque music, followed by a discussion of the Mexican celebration Día de los muertos and the Galician tradition of Noite dos Calacús, and concluding with another musical showcase, this time of Mexican and Galician songs.

Iberian Week is a great opportunity to get a taste of Spain and Latin America’s vibrant culture.  It’s a week jam-packed with poetry workshops, dance lessons, language tasters and much more

On Wednesday, we had to put on our dancing shoes in order to learn a range of Latin moves and grooves. Spanish lecturer Nelson Becerra-Gonzalez stole the dancefloor with his eye-catching cumbia routine, which put everyone in high spirits for the evening’s event. This involved a special performance by Catalan group Jansky, an electroverse duet who combine electro music with the spoken word. The impressive duo’s alternative type of poetry managed to turn The Caledonia pub into a little Catalonia. For a taste of their work, have a look at the following link: https://youtu.be/2yzSiwZ3bKU.

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Jansky, performing at The Caledonia

Give everything a go; that’s the whole point of Iberian Week!

As well as bringing the cultures that we study at Liverpool to life, the activities on offer provided more direct support for our language work as well. For example, on Thursday, Blanca González from the University of Manchester gave a workshop entitled ‘Translating Spanish Culture: La Movida’. After introducing us to ‘La Movida’ (a cultural movement that began in Madrid after Franco’s death), we finished the workshop by translating ¿A quién le importa? a song by Alaska y Dinarama – which was great fun and definitely improved our understanding of the translation process.

Muchas gracias to everyone involved for putting on such a fun, informative and fiesta-filled week.

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Staff and students put on their dancing shoes for a salsa session

 

Q+A: Claire Taylor attends Screening the Literary worskhop

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Claire Taylor, Professor of Hispanic Studies, was invited to speak at a workshop on Screening the Literary: Writing Quality on the Web, which was organized by the Authors and the World group at the University of Lancaster on 28 October 2016. In this short Q+A, Claire tells us about the event and her contribution to it. 

So Claire, who organized the event and what was it about?

The event was organized by the Authors and the World group, which is an AHRC-funded collaboration between researchers in the departments of European Languages & Cultures, English & Creative Writing, Linguistics, and Contemporary Arts (LICA) at Lancaster University. Their aim is to interrogate the literary, social, political, linguistic, and historical significance of the author as a cultural artefact and a producer of literary texts.

The one-day workshop focused on how the digital environment affects authors’ approaches to writing, in terms of practice, aims, and content. It looked at issues such as to what extent the concept of ‘literariness’ changes in a digital context. It had a comparative approach, bringing together scholars working in French, German and Hispanic contexts, as well as practitioners.

Were there any outstanding moments in the day?

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Claire Dean talks about developing a digital writing practice

Everyone gave great papers, with much food for thought, so it’s hard to choose! That said, what perhaps stood out most for me was the presentation by Claire Dean, who is both author and scholar, and told us about her creative writing practices. In her talk, entitled ‘Making Wonder Tales: Developing a Digital Writing Practice’, she not only made us re-think the terminology that we use to describe creators today, but she also gave us fascinating insights into her creative practice that brings together writing, digital technologies, and material artefacts. For instance, she told us about her projects that have, amongst other things, used technology to connect to MOSS, capture environmental data to determine what stories would be available online, and use mapping and altitude levels to generate stories. It was really exciting to hear about her practice, and to hear from an author herself about how she negotiates new technologies.

What was your contribution to the workshop?

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Professor Taylor discussing Hispanic Digital literature

I was invited to speak specifically about Hispanic Digital literature, so I chose two examples: the Spanish-Argentine author Belén Gache, and the Latino author Eduardo Navas. My talk was entitled ‘From Print to Tweets: Tracing the Heritage of Digital Genres’, and I argued that these two authors demonstrate in their works a dialogue with existing, pre-digital genres; in other words, that, all the while using new technologies, they speak back to a rich, non-Anglophone tradition of literary experimentation. I looked at how their dialogue with pre-digital literary movements is both critical and self-aware, and how they update prior literary genres for the twenty-first century.