Modern Languages graduate profile: Jemma Marshall

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One of the more popular careers for graduates in modern languages is teaching, and a significant number of alumni from Modern Languages & Cultures have gone into the profession. Jemma Marshall (née McKenzie) BA (2005, French & Hispanic Studies) is one of the department’s former students who has pursued a career in education.

Jemma Marshall on a school trip to Parc Guëll, Barcelona

Jemma Marshall on a school trip to Parc Guëll, Barcelona

Jemma came to the University from Liverpool, and spent three happy years on campus, with a year abroad as an English language assistant in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain. On graduating, Jemma completed a PGCE at Liverpool John Moores University and then took on her first teaching role at a school in Widnes. These were two challenging years, but stood Jemma in good stead to become Head of Spanish at Ridgeway High School on Wirral. She particularly enjoyed her time there, especially in organising trips abroad and pupil exchanges, using her contacts in Spain.

I love languages and studying at the University of Liverpool gave me fantastic opportunities and experiences that I wanted to share with the next generation.

The desire to teach at A Level prompted Gemma to apply for the post of Head of Spanish at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where she has been for five years now. A key part of her role is to organise the annual Spanish exchange, and Jemma closes the circle between her studies and her career by taking her pupils back to the school where she was an English language assistant, in Logroño.

Professor Claire Taylor launches a research project on ‘Ways of Being in a Digital Age’

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Professor Claire Taylor, from Modern Languages & Cultures’ Iberian & Latin American Studies section, is part of a team that has been awarded a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to undertake a scoping review on “Ways of Being in a Digital Age”. Led by Professor Simeon Yates of the Institute of Cultural Capital, this review will inform potential future ESRC initiatives in this area, and Professor Taylor is one of the co-investigators on the Steering Group of the team.

The University of Liverpool's Institute of Cultural Capital

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Cultural Capital

The review undertaken by the team will provide a holistic view of how digital technology mediates our lives, and of the way technological and social change co-evolve and impact on each other. As well as undertaking a review of expert opinion and a systematic literature review, the project will also run a programme of events to build and extend networks among the academic community, other stakeholders and potential funding partners.

As a Modern Linguist, I’m keen to contribute to exploring questions such as how linguistic and cultural specificities affect communities and their engagement with the digital, and also how digital technologies may be employed to enable the expression of citizenship that goes beyond the nation-state.

The project team represents 16 universities from the UK, EU, USA and Singapore. The core team of co-investigators from eight UK universities, of which Professor Taylor forms a part, provides expertise across a range of social science, arts, engineering and science backgrounds. The project will focus on seven ‘domains’:

  • Citizenship and politics
  • Communities and identities
  • Communication and relationships
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Economy and sustainability
  • Data and representation
  • Governance and security

On completion of the project, the team will be holding a symposium to report the findings and to discuss the future of digital research in the social sciences.

 

Summertime research: Dr Ulrike Bavendiek

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This summer, Dr Ulrike Bavendiek, the Director of the Modern Languages & Cultures’ Languages Teaching Team and Senior Lecturer in German, has been continuing her research into curriculum design and modern languages. Dr Bavendiek is a regular attendee and presenter at the biennial Languages in Higher Education conference, co-organised by the University Council of Modern Languages, the Association of University Language Centres, and the Centre for Languages, Linguistics & Area Studies, and this summer, she gave a paper devoted to integrative approaches to curriculum design.

Dr Ulrike Bavendiek (third from left) and some members of the Languages Teaching Team

Dr Ulrike Bavendiek (third from left) and some members of the Languages Teaching Team

Given her interest in the relationship between language and society, Dr Bavendiek has been re-investigating the link between language learning and culture from a sociolinguistic perspective. She argues that language learning should both be embedded in cultureal learning and provide a holistic intercultural experience for hte learner in order to create a truly modern, 21st-century curriculum.

Dr Bavendiek, who convenes the department’s Languages Teaching Team, has recently contributed to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) review of benchmarks in languages and related studies, as an invited member of the Benchmarks Review Team. These benchmarks define the nationwide standards for language degree programmes in the UK. With Marina Rabadan Gomez, from Modern Languages & Cultures’ Iberian & Latin American Studies section, Dr Bavendiek is working over the summer with UNILANG to develop a certification scheme for language learning in universities in the UK, which will be linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Franziska Schmidt arrives in Liverpool as an Honorary Associate in German

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Franziska Schmidt has joined Modern Languages & Cultures as an Honorary Associate in German, having graduated from the University of Tübingen in Protestant Theology and English. Having specialised in both literature (from Shakespeare to Dickens) and linguistics, Franziska developed a particular interest in the German language, especially German phonetics and phonology. Above all, Franziska is considering pronunciation from the perspective of German as a foreign language, and this is one of the key things that she intends to explore whilst in Liverpool.

Franziska Schmidt, Honorary Associate in German

Franziska Schmidt, Honorary Associate in German

To my own surprise, there is a lot to say about German pronunciation, not least because of the unusual consonant clusters.

Franziska is keen to work with the department’s students of German to help them perfect the intricacies of pronunciation, not least where there is no symmetry between the sound system of English – which is the first language of most of the student body – and that of German. In particular, Franziska is keen to help students work on the three umlaut-sounds (ä,ö,ü) that English-language speakers find challenging, and also on the specifically German consonant clusters, such as pf, ch, sch, etc., that seem to cause difficulties for some students. In order to make things a little easier, Franziska is trying to describe where and how some of these sounds are produced in the mouth and, more importantly, how to practise them. To this end, she is developing sound files and videos so that students can listen to German pronunciation and watch lip movements. She hopes that these videos will not only entertain students, but also help learners of German to improve their pronunciation.

National Student Survey 2016 results: Modern Languages & Cultures celebrates

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Last week saw publication of an extremely pleasing set of results from the annual National Student Survey (NSS). The survey was filled in by more than 90% of final-year students in Modern Languages & Cultures before they finished their studies earlier this year and asked them to express their overall satisfaction with the quality of their course, as well as with a number of specific areas, such as assessment and feedback, academic support, and personal development.IMG_1098

All of our language areas achieved outstanding scores: Italian had an overall student satisfaction of 100% and Iberian Studies a score of 97%, both at least 10% above the national average for those subjects; 94% of students in French and 97% of those in German were satisfied with the teaching they had received. Some 97% of students in Iberian Studies and 96% in French thought staff were good at explaining things, while 100% of students in German and in Italian felt their course had been intellectually stimulating and had helped to develop their self-confidence. It was particularly pleasing to see students in the department responding so positively to questions about the feedback they had received on their work. When asked about the promptness, clarity, and usefulness of feedback, students in MLC expressed levels of satisfaction between 10 and 20% higher than the average for other UK universities.

“I’m delighted to see that our students feel so positive about the courses they’ve studied here at Liverpool,” commented MLC Education Lead Dr Lyn Marven. “We all work really hard to ensure our teaching is both challenging and rewarding for students, and these results suggest they value that.”

Summertime research: Dr Marco Paoli

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This summer, Dr Marco Paoli, Lecturer in Italian Studies, will be completing an article regarding Italian cinema in the 1960s. His aim is to expand his research on the generic diversity and versatility of Carlo Lizzani’s work and its ‘popular’ stylistic and narrative elements. In particular, in the context of Lizzani’s oeuvre, his comedies including Il carabiniere a cavallo (1961), La vita agra (1964), La Celestina P… R… (1964) and L’autostrada del sole, Lizzani’s episode in Thrilling (1965), reflect Italian style comedy’s capacity to draw attention to topical subjects and to the most recent social transformations by exploring the implications of emerging gendered tensions and forms of criminality in the early-mid 1960s, and by engaging viewers from an emotional and intellectual perspective.

Publicity material for 'La Celestina P... R...'

Publicity material for ‘La Celestina P… R…’

In short, this article will trace Lizzani’s depiction of the changing nature of Italian society as a consequence of the economic miracle. Attention will be paid to the development of Italian film comedy and the director’s capacity to exploit the potential of comedy at the peak of the 1960s to elaborate a detailed portrayal of contemporary Italy and, at the same time, to highlight the contradictions and deleterious effects of the post-war changes in society. Therefore, by focusing on the representation of criminality and gender issues in Italian style comedies, and in particular by analysing La Celestina P… R… in this context, Lizzani and his films will be seen to have greater cinematic significance than has previously been thought.

Assia Noris playing the role of Celestina

Assia Noris playing the role of Celestina

Dr Paoli argues that Lizzani emphasizes the ambivalence of comedy by contrasting the form of the film and the implications of its content with the portrayal of the main character, Celestina (played by Assia Noris), an impudent figure inspired by Celestina, the popular Fernando Rojas’ character. Assia Noris (who was not only the protagonist but also co-scriped and, most importantly, produced the film) selected Lizzani as the film director in a comedy set in the middle of the 1960s economic miracle ‘when sex was also equated with consumerism and access to power’.

Professor Charles Forsdick launches a research project on ‘Dark Tourism’

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Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, spoke last month at an international conference in Lisbon about his recently launched project on prison museums as sites of memory. The event on ‘Colonial incarceration in the 20th century’ was held at the Museu do Aljube, the Portuguese museum of resistance and freedom, to mark the eightieth anniversary of the opening of the Tarrafal camp on Cape Verde.

The Museu do Aljube, the Portuguese museum of resistance and freedom

The Museu do Aljube, the Portuguese museum of resistance and freedom

Professor Forsdick gave a paper entitled ‘Remembering colonial incarceration: dark tourism and penal heritage’, and outlined in his presentation recent research on commemoration and places of incarceration, and linked this to developments in the heritage industry around sites of suffering and death. He has a particular interest in the transnational dimensions of penal transportation, and took in his paper the examples of Algerian prisoners in New Caledonia and prisoners from French Indochina in French Guiana to explore the relation between penal establishments, their colonial environments and postcolonial afterlives. The wider project of which the paper formed a part analyses the prison and penal colony as sites for production of multiple memories. The research explores locations such as the Bagne des Annamites de Montsinéry in French Guiana and the Musée du Bagne in New Caledonia, and studies these as postcolonial lieux de mémoire in which colonial incarceration is remembered alongside other forms of deportation and transportation.

The paper is part of the recently launched project, ‘Dark tourism’ in comparative perspective: sites of suffering, sites of memory, of which Professor Forsdick is Principal Investigator. The Liverpool-based Co-Investigator is Barry Godfrey, Professor of Social Justice in Liverpool, who is also lead researcher on the major Digital Panopticon project. The work is funded by the AHRC, as part of the ‘Care for the Future’ theme, in association with LABEX. A key collaborator in the project is Co-Investigator Annette Becker, Professor of Contemporary History at Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, and other project partners include Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart of the University of Tasmania. Whilst Professor Becker leads a parallel strand of research on Holocaust and genocide-related tourism and heritage (a partner is the Mémorial de la Shoah at Drancy in Paris, a site of incarceration of French Jews in WWII), the project team based in Liverpool will focus on penal heritage sites in metropolitan and non-metropolitan locations.

The site of the former Oxford Gaol, now a museum and boutique hotel

The site of the former Oxford Gaol, now a museum and boutique hotel

Professor Forsdick will be conducting fieldwork next year in French Guiana and New Caledonia. These sites will be studied in comparative perspective, not least with the many convict transportation sites used by the British colonial authorities in Australia that have been opened to the public and are an important part of the Tasmanian tourist and heritage industry in particular. (In 2010 six Tasmanian convict sites were inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in recognition of their historic importance and growing appeal as tourism destinations and places of remembrance for the descendants of transported convicts.) ‘Dark tourism’ has been the salvation of many former prison buildings in Australia and in the UK, since they are popular with the public, and because interest in what went on behind the prison walls has produced a valuable revenue-stream. Professor Forsdick has already visited a number of former prisons in the British Isles that now have alternative functions, including Oxford Gaol (decommissioned in 1996 and reopened in 2006 as a museum and luxury hotel) and Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast (closed in 1996 and reopened as a museum in 2010).

Memorialization at Oxford Gaol

Memorialization at Oxford Gaol

The project runs for a further twelve months, and will conclude with a conference in Liverpool in Autumn 2017. A comprehensive bibliography of scholarship in English and French on dark tourism has been prepared by the project research assistant Dr Wendy Asquith, and will soon be published; a special issue of a journal guested-edited by the project team will present interim research findings in the New Year. During the next academic session, Professor Forsdick has been invited to give a number of keynote lectures and other presentations on the emerging research, including at conferences in Australia, France, Ireland and Oman.

Modern Languages graduate profile: Alan McCloy

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Alan McCloy BA (2012, German & History) crossed the Irish Sea to come to Liverpool from Belfast in 2008, and when he wasn’t to be found on a river – as a key member of the University Rowing Club – he threw himself into his studies. Alan was particularly interested by the range of modules on offer, meaning that he could study everything from German literature to films featuring the Vietnam War.

Alan McCloy about to take to the skies

Alan McCloy about to take to the skies

My time at Liverpool was definitely the most exciting, fun and important time of my life, providing me with memories and experiences which have definitely helped shape and develop me as a person as well as in my career.

Alan spent his year abroad at the University of Würzburg in central Germany, as a full-time student on the Erasmus scheme. Here, he was able to continue his rowing, as well as enjoy a particularly memorable visit to the beer festival in Erlangen, in Bavaria.

On graduation, Alan trained as a pilot and currently flies for Ryanair, based in Athens. Alan notes that living and working in the Greek capital reminds him a lot of his year abroad, given the diversity of nationalities and the cultural differences. Relocating to Athens did not come without its challenges, but Alan feels that his time at Liverpool in part prepared him for the culture shock. Talking about his time at university and in particular the year abroad took up a large portion of the interview with Ryanair, highlighting the emphasis which large, multinational companies place on transferrable skills, especially given that, in Alan’s words, a degree in history might not seem essential for becoming a pilot.

 

Summertime research: Dr Şizen Yiacoup

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This summer, Dr Şizen Yiacoup, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, will be working on an English translation of the sixteenth-century Spanish novel known as the Viaje de Turquía. Her aim is to make this important and previously untranslated text accessible to a wider cross-section of readers than ever before, a factor which she believes is of great significance due to the book’s potential to enrich our appreciation of Renaissance Humanist literature on the Ottoman Turks and renew and develop the discussion around Turkish-European relations from the early modern period to the present day.

Kara-Kevi Galata Bridge, Constantinople

Kara-Kevi Galata Bridge, Constantinople

Given that the presence of Moriscos (descendants of Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity in the 1500s) in Spain was seen as untenable due to their potential to act as collaborators with the Ottomans, another of Dr Yiacoup objectives in producing an English translation of the Viaje de Turquía is to encourage a more nuanced understanding of Habsburg Spain’s relations with the Ottoman Turks in comparison to its relations with its own subjects of Muslim descent.

In addition to her translation, Dr Yiacoup is also completing a chapter on religious conflict and coexistence that will form part of an e-textbook being published by Liverpool University Press. The e-textbook, which is being edited by Dr Jon Hogg in the Department of History with contributions from historians across the School and partners such as the University of Georgia, will draw heavily on the resources available in the Special Collections & Archives housed in the University’s Sydney Jones Library, and seeks to serve as a detailed guide for undergraduates getting to grips with using primary sources for their own research. Some of the key primary sources that Dr Yiacoup discusses in her chapter include the laws on the construction of mosques and the conversion of Muslims contained in the thirteenth-century Castilian law code known as the Siete Partidas.

Alfonso X of Castile and the Siete Partidas

Alfonso X of Castile and the Siete Partidas

Professor Emeritus Roger Wright honoured by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language

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Modern Languages & CulturesProfessor Emeritus Roger Wright has recently been honoured by the Real Academia Española (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language) (RAE), who have conferred  membership on him as ‘académico correspondiente extranjero’ (international Academy member). rae

As Professor of Spanish at the University of Liverpool, Professor Wright gained wide international scholarly renown for his investigations into the evolution of Spanish and other Romance languages and the invention of Medieval Latin; his books include Late Latin and Early Romance in Spain and Carolingian France (1982) and A Sociophilological Study of Late Latin (2003). Professor Wright is also a scholar, translator and performer of the Spanish ballad tradition.

Modern Languages & Cultures now numbers two Spanish Academicians amongst its ranks, a number only equalled or exceeded in UK universities by the University of Oxford (3 Spanish Academicians).

Membership of the RAE was similarly conferred in 2009 on Professor Emerita Dorothy Severin, FSA, hon. OBE, Professor of Spanish at the University of Liverpool, former Gilmour Chair of Spanish (the first established Chair of Spanish in a UK university) and former General Editor of the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (a scholarly journal devoted to Hispanic studies, founded in 1926 by a member of the Department at the University of Liverpool, where it continues to be published by Liverpool University Press). Professor Severin’s research interests in late Medieval Spanish literature include La Celestina and cancionero studies; her internationally acknowledged scholarly publications include Memory in ‘La Celestina’ (1970), an early study of the uses of cultural memory in literature and the cancionero digital library ‘An E-Library of 15th Century Castilian Cancionero Manuscripts’ (2007-).

The Plenary Chamber of the Real Academia Española

The Plenary Chamber of the Real Academia Española

Founded in 1713, the scholarly activities of the RAE are devoted to the Spanish language and its literature. The Academy compiles and publishes the Diccionario de la lengua española (the Spanish equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary) and includes amongst its illustrious members the novelists Javier Marías and Mario Vargas Llosa, together with academic scholars of Spanish, now joined by two Academicians from the University of Liverpool.

 

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