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In this week’s encounter with a Modern Languages & Culture‘s graduate who has gone on to an academic career, we meet up with Dr Michelle Harrison, a Teaching Fellow in French at the University of Leicester. Originally from St Helens – so almost a Scouser, but not quite – Dr Harrison is a rare breed, namely a triple graduate of the University of Liverpool.

Dr Michelle Harrison in her office at the University of Leicester

Dr Michelle Harrison in her office at the University of Leicester

She originally read French & German in Modern Languages and Cultures, before starting a MA in French, having been inspired by her year abroad project essay which looked at Alsatian as a language of France.  Dr Harrison’s third degree from the University of Liverpool was a PhD for which she was co-supervised by Dr Robert Blackwood and Professor Charles Forsdick. The PhD focussed on language beliefs and language practices in Alsace, in particular in schools in this most eastern part of France. In addition to voracious reading in Liverpool, Dr Harrison spent several extended periods in Strasbourg, conducting fieldwork in schools and across the region.

I was the first person in my family to go to university and so postgraduate study was not on my radar in the beginning, but my lecturers at Liverpool inspired me to believe that the sky is the limit!

Dr Harrison’s research interests centre on France’s regional languages, and to this end, she co-organised a conference at Leicester that explored specifically the challenges and opportunities for these languages at the start of the twenty-first century. The papers from this conference are currently being worked up to form a volume that Dr Harrison will co-edit with her Leicester colleague, Dr Aurélie Joubert, that will be published by Palgave Macmillan. At Leicester, Dr Harrison teaches a wide range of modules, including second- and final-year language, and final-year translation. She is the School of Modern Languages’ careers officer and an Outreach Officer, for which she won a University of Leicester award.