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!

Rebecca

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.

German students play in football tournament

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On Saturday 25 March, seven first- and second-year students of German in MLC – Becky, Erin, Esme, Hanna, Jodie, Mason and Tom – proved that their choice of studies was not motivated by language alone. Together with the current DAAD-Lektorin, Anke Bohm, they took the short trip down the M62 to take part in the Sauerkraut Cup, an annual 6-a-side football tournament for German departments in UK universities. As well as competing for their universities’ honour by attempting to bring back the coveted Sauerkraut Cup trophy, the tournament was an occasion for students from around the UK to get together and have fun. This year, it was hosted by the University of Manchester and a total of nine teams participated: in addition to the team from Liverpool, there were two teams from Leeds, one from Lancaster, three from Manchester and two from Sheffield.

With the weather being warm and sunny for the first time this year, it was the perfect day to play football at the Platt Lane Sports Complex and to get to know students of German from all over the North West. Liverpool’s team even won the Team Spirit Award – a prize well-earned for their great spirit and enthusiasm!

Football

Professor Claire Taylor: ongoing research

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In October 2016, Professor Claire Taylor was awarded Impact Acceleration funding for her project Latin American Art and Museum Policy. Here, her research assistant, Ailsa Peate, a doctoral student in Latin American studies at the University of Liverpool, tells us more about the research.

Overall, the Latin American Art and Museum Policy project aims to increase the impact of Claire’s previous research, Latin(o) American Digital Art, by focusing on galleries and museums, community media groups, and artists themselves, as well as establishing new links between the University of Liverpool and museums in the UK and Latin America.

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Marina Zerbarini’s Tejido de memoria, shown at the exhibition in FACT

As part of the Latin American Art and Museum Policy project, we have revisited the policy document created after Claire exhibited the digital artwork of four Latin American artists at FACT in 2014 as part of her previous project on digital art from the region. The policy document provides guidance for these institutions when approaching exhibiting digital artworks which deal with memory and trauma in a physical space; when running workshops on the topic through the use of digital arts; when considering the most productive manner in which to engage the public in thought on the topic of dictatorship and memory through a digital approach, and provides insight into Twitter curation as a means through which to expand on the physical creative space of the gallery/museum among other objectives. The document has now been translated into Spanish and disseminated to museums, galleries, and action groups with a focus on military dictatorship, state violence, memory, and trauma in six Latin American countries.

Among other outcomes of the project, we are currently also contributing to refreshing the  Federation of International Human Rights Museums‘ (FIHRM) website through the addition of new case studies, based on specific artist exhibitions at FACT in 2014.

The Latin American Art and Museum Policy project also holds at its core the development of a project with National Museums Liverpool . NML acts as an advocate for museums all over the world concerning ethical representations of topics such as slavery, corruption, and human rights, and is currently advising El Museo para la Democracia Internacional (the Museum for International Democracy) in Rosario, Argentina, a country which has experienced military dictatorship (1976 – 1983).  As such, Claire’s project also works with NML to form a bridge with the museum in Rosario as they develop their materials and prepare for the formal launch of the museum at the end of this year. In order to do so, we are working closely with the museum in Rosario to assess their needs, and are being advised by NML’s own International Slavery Museum, who have expertise in these areas.

In November 2017, we will travel to Rosario to present the policy document and other research findings at the annual FIHRM conference. We’ll also be running a hands-on workshop to encourage discussion on the challenges of representing dictatorship-focused digital art.

 

Dr Diana Cullell gives Annual Kate Elder lecture

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Dr Diana Cullell, Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, delivered the 28th Annual Kate Elder lecture at Queen Mary University of London at the end of last month. The prestigious Kate Elder lecture series was established in 1989 by the Department of Iberian and Latin American Studies by means of a generous endowment made by the parents and grandparents of Kate Elder, a student of the department who died tragically during her first year of study.

Dr Cullell’s lecture, entitled “Engaging and engaged poetry: the poet, the reader and history in the works of Luis García Montero”, examined some of the tenets around which Luis García Montero –who delivered the 2017 Annual Edgar Allison Peers Lecture at the University of Liverpool on 17 February– has built his verse. García Montero is one of the most read, acclaimed and influential Spanish poets today, and Dr Cullell was particularly interested in comparing most of the poetry the author published since the 1980s to his latest poetry book to date, Balada en la muerte de la poesía (released in 2016). Balada en la muerte de la poesía is a collection of 22 prose poems that narrate how one day the poetic voice learns via the television that Poetry has died, and from then on proceeds to attend the funeral. In her lecture, Dr Cullell approached what she interprets as a turning point in García Montero’s precepts and ideas about poetry, the reader and history, and tried to make sense of a poetic publication that seems to destabilise a carefully orchestrated programme constructed by the author through both poetry and essays over the course of 30 years. She concluded her lecture drawing some hypotheses about where this shift might lead to, both for the poet and for Spanish poetry in general.

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Student profiles: ex ab initio German

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A number of students in MLC who started learning a language as complete beginners are now in their final year. In this series of posts, we hear more of the challenges and successes of learning a new language from scratch from some of our students of German, beginning with Victoria Napier, who is taking a BA in French and German. As ab initio students, they have four language classes a week. Two lessons take place with a dedicated textbook and support grammar-learning. There are also weekly oral classes, in which students practise speaking, and every week they spend one hour in the languages laboratory to enhance their listening skills. Our ab initio students need to invest many hours in independent learning to consolidate what they’ve learnt in class. It is an intense way to learn languages, but those who do it this way find it extremely rewarding. As they head towards fantastic graduate opportunities, here is how some of them look back on four very successful years at Liverpool.

Victoria Napier

Being an ab initio student was initially quite daunting and challenging. However, going from beginners level to A2 level within the space of one year was extremely rewarding. Of course, it required hard work and plenty of independent learning, but we received a lot of support from our lecturers and being in such a small class enabled us to get the attention we needed. Learning vocab and grammar can only take you so far with a language and, for me, listening comprehension was extremely difficult. To tackle this I listened to German as much as I could, be it radio or news podcasts.

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Victoria in Munich on her Year Abroad

During my Year Abroad, I worked as in intern with Huffington Post Deutschland. Being thrown into a German-speaking work environment was challenging as it was a completely new experience for me, and the German spoken in the office was unlike that of our classroom. Adaptability was important and I just had to throw myself into this new situation, without worrying if I was making silly grammar mistakes. I learnt a lot through this placement, especially about online media and how it works but most importantly I made some amazing friends.

Before starting my final year, I was slightly anxious as we would now be in the same classes as the Advanced German students. Much to my surprise and delight, I felt on a par with my fellow students and I was tremendously happy to see the progress my fellow beginners students had made. As for my plans after University, I wish to teach abroad – be it English, French or German. I wish to use my German in the future, not necessarily exclusively within a working environment.

Being an ab initio student has definitely presented me with many challenges and it’s a lot of hard work but, without a doubt, worth it in the end.

 

Korrika, the race to support the Basque language comes to Liverpool

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Following on from our plea for ‘likes’ of our Basque video earlier in the week, today we would like to promote Korrika further. As our last blog post outlined, Korrika is a race in support of the Basque language, which will take place between the 30 March and the 9 April 2017. To support the initiative, there will also be an event in Liverpool, organised by the Etxepare Basque Institute and the University of Liverpool, and consisting of a (shorter) run around the university campus.

The event will begin at the Cypress Building (University of Liverpool) at 12:00 midday, on the 1 April 2017. The run will take us around the campus, showing our support for the Basque language and spending some time with people from the Basque country. In this way, Liverpool will be making its contribution to Korrika and to the promotion of the Basque language.

The Basque Country, the home of Euskara, the Basque language, straddles the Pyrenees. The region is made up of seven provinces, four in Spain and three in France. Basque is what is known as a “language isolate”, a language with no known relatives, and is the oldest living language in Europe. Although it has around a million speakers, it is a minority language, as both Spanish and French have become predominant within its area of influence.

This is why AEK, the organisation responsible for promoting the Basque language among adults, set up the Korrika initiative in 1980. Korrika consists of a 2,500-kilometre race that carries support for the Basque language all over the Basque Country, without stopping for a moment over 11 days, 24 hours a day. It is run every two years; this year is the 20th edition and its impact reaches the four corners of the globe, including Liverpool, thanks to the Etxepare Basque Institute, the Department of Modern Languages at Cultures at Liverpool, and the University of the Basque Country.

To contact the organisers of Korrika, you can use the email address: tito-s@aek.eus.

Korrika

 

Request to ‘like’ UoL Basque YouTube video

HELP! LIKE OUR VIDEO ON YOUTUBE!

We are second in a video competition and we need to reach 1500 likes on YouTube by the 22nd March!

We are students of Basque at the University of Liverpool and we would like to ask a little favour from you. We have recorded a video promoting the Korrika run in support of the Basque language that will be taking place in the Basque Country from the 30 March – 9 April. The event is organised by AEK (Alfabetatze Euskalduntze Koordinakundea), an organisation with the mission to recover and revive the Basque language among the people of the Basque Country. The route of the run goes through the Basque Country and covers over 2,000 km over the course of the 11 days.

The video that has the most “likes” on YouTube will be the winner of a grant to study Basque during the summer in the Basque Country. Therefore, we are doing our best to promote the video and asking for as many “likes” as possible. We’d really appreciate it if you could “like” our video and send it to your contacts, and if you would like to share it on your social media, even better! The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNvKhPrPDc

Korrika