Professor Charles Forsdick visits California for two research projects


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Professor Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, has recently spent a week in California working on two current projects. He spent several days in Los Angeles, as a visiting research at the Getty Research Institute, where he was able to consult the rich holdings of French colonial iconography in the ACHAC collection. Professor Forsdick is one an international team of researchers preparing a volume on the collection, and his own research focuses on colonial ephemera (especially toys and games).

Jeu des échanges, the 1940s board game about colonial administration

This work develops in new directions his previous work on exoticism and human zoos, and allowed him to consult a range of material including cut-out toys, advertising materials and Vichy-era board games. Whilst in Los Angeles, Professor Forsdick also led a seminar for students in the Department of French at UCLA and had an opportunity to present the activity he currently leads relating to the AHRC Translating Cultures theme.

The landing stage at Angel Island Detention Centre

The research trip ended with a visit to San Francisco, where Professor Forsdick was able to continue work on a project relating to penal heritage and dark tourism. He visited two islands in San Francisco Bay, both of which are important dark heritage sites. On Angel Island, he met park rangers to tour the Immigration Station, often known as the ‘Ellis Island of the West’, through which – between 1910 and 1940 – numerous Chinese and Japanese migrants arrived in the United States. Professor Forsdick was able to consult the remarkably well-preserved Chinese poetry carved into the wooden walls of the detention centre, and make comparisons with similar traces of former prisoners and detainees at other sites such as the Cité de la Muette at Drancy in Paris and Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

Chinese poetry at Angel Island

On the day of his visit, he was one of the only people to explore the Immigration Station on Angel Island. This was not the case the following day on Alcatraz Island, which remains one of the most popular penal heritage destinations in the world (with c. 1 million visitors per annum). The United States Penitentiary on Alcatraz is the source of what Professor Forsdick calls ‘penal exoticism’, a romanticization and sensationalization of prison heritage that is supported in this case by a rich corpus of popular cultural representations. What interested him most on the island, however, was the way in which the site was occupied in 1969 – following the closure of the prison – by Native American activists, who transformed Alcatraz for over a year into a centre of their struggle for recognition of land rights.

Building 64 on Alcatraz, with its American Indian graffiti

The prison-museum operates as one of a number of palimpsestic ‘sites of memory’ at which penal heritage co-exists with other histories and memories. The research at Angel Island and Alcatraz will feature in an article Professor Forsdick has co-written with Dr Wendy Asquith due to appear in a special issue of the journal Mémoires en jeu on dark tourism that he is currently co-editing with his collaborator Annette Becker of Paris-Nanterre. It will also be presented at a forthcoming workshop on Dark tourism in comparative perspective: Sites of suffering, sites of memory / ‘Tourisme des catastrophes’, sites de souffrances, sites de mémoire: perspectives comparées to be held in Liverpool on 21/22 March 2017.

Dr Godfried Croenen visits Rome and the Vatican



Dr Godfried Croenen, Reader in French Historical Studies, used the break in teaching during tutorial week to make a research trip to Rome and Vatican City. While there Dr Croenen worked in the Vatican Library, which houses one of the most important collections of medieval manuscripts in the whole world. Dr Croenen used his visit to study several precious manuscripts that contain French chronicles from the 14th and 15th centuries, a particular focus of his current research. The codices he was working on in the Vatican were once part of the private library of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had brought together an extensive and exquisite collection of medieval French manuscripts. Having converted to Catholicism Queen Christina moved to Rome and took her collections of books and art works with her. After her death in 1689 her books were purchased by Pope Alexander VIII for the Vatican Library, where they are still housed and available for study to scholars from all over the world.

Dr Croenen at the Vatican’s Porta Sant’Anna, behind which is the courtyard where the papal archives and library are located. The Swiss Guards protect the Vatican and only allow through accredited scholars and people who work in Vatican City

Dr Croenen also gave a lecture at the Villa Lante (Finnish Institute in Rome). He spoke about a manuscript from the Vatican Library that contains the Chroniques of Jean Froissart. The codex Reg. Lat. 869 is one of the most important surviving manuscripts containing Froissart’s text. Dr Croenen has published a new edition of the text in this manuscript as part of the Online Froissart project, for which he acts as co-director.

Having first explained the importance of Froissart and his Chroniques in which the author recounts the wars between France and England in the 14th century, Dr Croenen reflected on the unique character of the Vatican manuscript and on the crucial role that it can play in scholars’ understanding of the historical oeuvre left by Froissart.

Dr Croenen giving his lecture in the Villa Lante, a Renaissance villa located on the Gianicolo Hill overlooking the city of Rome. It was originally designed as a summer retreat and is decorated with frescoes by Giulio Romano, one of Raphael’s pupils.

Dr Croenen’s lecture was followed by a lively question-and-answer session and a dinner hosted by the Institute’s president Dr Tuomas Heikkilä.

Dr Lisa Shaw talks about Afro-Brazilian performances in Rio de Janeiro


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Last month, Dr Lisa Shaw, Reader in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, gave a research seminar at the Brazil Institute, King’s College London, on Afro-Brazilian performance on Rio de Janeiro’s popular stages from the 1880s to the long 1920s, which drew on a chapter of her book Tropical Travels: Brazilian Popular Culture, Transnational Encounters and the Performance of Race (University of Texas Press, forthcoming in 2017). In it she explored the historical evolution of the representation of black subjectivity in the popular entertainment venues of Rio during that period, illustrating the various tensions and contradictions that came to light as Brazilian journalists, authors, politicians, theatre-goers, impresarios, and especially performers contributed to the creation of a national identity more receptive to Afro-Brazilian cultural traditions and that drew on transnational circuits of performance. The analysis was underpinned by an understanding of ‘blackness’ as both an identity based on family lineage and perceived phenotype, and a performative identity that can be adopted, exaggerated, played down or discarded at will.

Gordon Stretton, as a boy and young man

Dr Shaw examined a number of case studies of popular performers identified as having varying degrees of African heritage that were active on the popular stages and cabaret venues in the city during the period in question, including Liverpool-born musician Gordon Stretton, pictured as a child and an adult musician below, who was a successful jazz percussionist in Paris in the 1910s and early 1920s and travelled to Rio in 1922 with the French theatrical company, the Ba-ta-clan. Stretton went on to settle in Argentina, and hosted a popular radio programme in Buenos Aires.

Interview with Professor Eve Rosenhaft on Black Germany


Last month, MLC’s Professor Eve Rosenhaft, together with Dr Robbie Aitken of Sheffield Hallam University, gave an interview for the New Books Network blog on their recent publication Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Diaspora Community, 1884-1960 (Cambridge University Press, 2015). The original blog from New Books Network appears below, as well as a link to the audio interview itself.

“There were black Germans?”

My students are always surprised to learn that there were and are a community of African immigrants and Afro-Germans that dates back to the nineteenth century (and sometimes earlier), and that this community has at times had an influence on German culture, society, and racial thinking that belied its small size.


Germany’s role in colonizing Africa has received increased attention lately, with an exhibit on German colonialism appearing at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in October and recent headway on a deal for Germany to pay reparations to the descendants of Herero and Nama genocide victims in Namibia. In Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Disapora Community, 1884-1960, Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken supply a part of the colonial story that gets even less attention than that of Germans in Africa: what about Africans in Germany? Focusing primarily on a community of West-African-born black Germans and their families, Rosenhaft and Aitken trace the groups evolution in the nineteenth century through its persecutions by the Nazi state and postwar existence.

To access the interview, click here.

Modern Languages and Cultures annual Translation Workshop with Shaun Whiteside


Wednesday 15 March 2017, Seminar Room 11, Rendall Building, 1-5pm

The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool invites you to attend its fourth annual Translation Workshop. This year, the workshop focuses on crime fiction, with special guest speaker Shaun Whiteside.


Front cover of Robert Enke: A Life Too Short, translated by our guest speaker, Shaun Whiteside

Shaun is a translator of French, Dutch, German and Italian fiction and non-fiction. He won the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German Translation in 1997 for his translation of Magdalene the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger, and translated Robert Enke: A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng, winner of the 2011 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Recently he has translated Norman Ohler’s Blitzed (Guardian Books of the year 2016), several Maigret detective novels in the series by Georges Simenon and Michel Bussi’s Black Water Lilies. Shaun has also translated works by Freud, Nietzsche, Amélie Nothomb, Luther Blissett, Wu Ming amongst many others.

The workshop will begin with a talk by Shaun, followed by a workshop in small groups where participants will have a go at translation a short extract of crime fiction. Refreshments will be provided.

Students, postgraduates, early career translators, and all interested more generally in translation and/or crime fiction are invited to attend. Workshop groups will translate texts from French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish (and other languages), we also welcome those with no knowledge of languages other than English. All materials will be provided.

We would like to arrange participants into language groups so please contact us with your preferred language: Lyn Marven,


MLC hosts Annual Manuel Irujo Lecture in Basque Studies



On 16 February 2017, the Annual Manuel Irujo Lecture in Basque Studies took place at the University. Manuel Irujo (1891-1981) was a Navarrese lawyer and politician and an exponent of Basque culture. His work supporting the Basque language and the identity of the Basque Country was and remains notorious. The University of Liverpool has the honour of holding the Manuel Irujo Collection, donated to the Special Collections & Archives section of the Sydney Jones Library by Manuel Irujo’s grandchildren.

For this year’s annual lecture, Dr Nagore Calvo Mendizabal gave a paper entitled Deciphering the Basque City: Different Imagining of the Basque Country in the Post-Franco Period. Dr Nagore Calvo is a lecturer in Spanish and European Studies at King’s College London. Her research interests are based around the themes of political economy, state theory, nationalism, geographical studies, and historical sociology. She explores these themes in her study of modern and contemporary Spain and Europe. In 2015, she published a monograph with the Centre for Basque Studies entitled The Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation Building.

In her paper, Dr Nagore Calvo discussed how the post-Franco transition (1976-1982) in Spain brought about important political changes, including political decentralisation and the development of the Basque Autonomous Community. She argued that Basque nation building could be best understood within a broader political economy framework that understands cultural, political and economic discourses, rather than focusing on changes in the political scene. Moreover, she analysed how the newly formed Basque government, under the leadership of the nationalist Christian Democratic Party (PNV), used the challenging metaphor of the ‘Basque city’ as a focal point for encouraging economic growth, increasing local competitiveness and developing new imaginings for the Basque nation and identity. She consequently compared the concept of the Basque city to the concept of the ‘Basque region’, presenting the latter as an alternative to the first and with a competitive advantage in competition with other regional economies.


2017 Annual Peers Symposium



On Friday 17 February, colleagues in Iberian and Latin American Studies celebrated their well-established Annual Peers Symposium, which this year was devoted to Spanish contemporary poetry, with a special emphasis on the work of Spanish poet Luis García Montero. It was a great event, supported by the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester and the Office for Cultural and Scientific Affairs at the Embassy of Spain in the United Kingdom, attracting more than 120 attendees and including students, staff, academics from other institutions, and members of the general public.

The day kicked off with a welcome address by our Head of Department, Professor Matthew Philpotts, who praised the figure of Edgar Allison Peers as well as the impact of his legacy. After that, the first speaker of the day, Dr Javier Letrán (University of St Andrews) delivered the lecture ‘Poetry in the Age of Neoliberalism: Reflections on Luis García Montero’s Balada en la muerte de la poesía’. Our second invited speaker, Professor Chris Perriam (University of Manchester), delivered an interactive session entitled ‘Spanish Realities/Spanish Verses’, and during which the symposium attendees read and discussed poems by Antonio Machado, Luis Cernuda and Manuel Rico.


Luis García Montero delivering the 2017 Annual Peers Lecture

The 2017 Annual Peers Lecture was delivered by Luis García Montero, and it was entitled ‘El compromiso con la poesía’. The lecture proved to be a fascinating address in which he defended poetry as a tool to stand up to neoliberalism and dogmatism. Luis García Montero is one of the most read and influential Spanish poets today, as well as a distinguished literary critic, journalist and a professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Granada. García Montero has played a key role in Spanish contemporary poetry: in the early 1980s he was a crucial figure of the poetic group La otra Sentimentalidad, which promoted a Marxist approach to literature and emphasised the need to write according to one’s time, sensibilities and socio-historical context, following Antonio Machado’s ideas. A few years later, in the 1990s, he became the leading poet of poesía de la experiencia, one of the most important poetic trends in Spanish contemporary poetry, and one that has certainly inspired and shaped later generations of poets and readers alike.

‘We were really pleased to be part of such a magnificent event. Poetry was almost literally in the air. Luis García Montero, Charlie Arnáiz, Javier Letrán and Chris Perriam, each in their own particular way, spoke about contemporary poetry in such a way that all of us listened in awe. Fascination, emotions running high… The symposium could not have been better’ (Instituto Cervantes Manchester)

The symposium closed with the screening of Aunque tú no lo sepas (a film on Luis García Montero’s poetry) and a Q&A session with the director Charlie Arnaiz and Luis García Montero. Following Q&A, all invited speakers visited the Special Collection Archives in the Sydney Jones Library, where colleagues had displayed a fascinating sample from the Edgar Allison Peers’ Collection.




MLC welcomes local schools for Language Enrichment Event


On the 15 February 2017, MLC hosted its second Routes into Languages event of the academic year. This latest event was a Language Enrichment Event (LEE), designed to emphasize the importance of learning a language and a different culture in secondary education. This time, our guests were 95 Year 8 pupils from three different schools from Liverpool and the surrounding area: Bellerive FCJ Catholic College, Wirral Grammer School for Girls and St Francis Xavier’s College.

The morning programme involved a variety of sessions designed to teach language through culture. These sessions included a class given by Francisco José Fernández from the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester, encouraging Spanish language learning through singing. Nelson Becerra also gave a salsa class (Nelson loves his salsa), and Yipeng Zhang gave a lesson in Tai Chi, aided by second- and final-year Chinese students studying at Liverpool.

In the afternoon, pupils attended Chinese, Basque and Catalan language tasters, offered by Lei Peng, Marina Balenciaga and Joan Mas respectively.

The University of Liverpool prides itself in collaborating on such initiatives that help to raise language and culture awareness in the community.


Year 8 pupils enjoying a Spanish singing class

Enjoy English Summer School



Are you looking for a summer job abroad? Would you like a job which provides a great experience whilst enjoying the summer? Are you a Spanish or Basque language student and want to practice your language(s)? Are you thinking about becoming a teacher or working with children? If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, Enjoy English Summer School is the ideal opportunity for you!

Enjoy English is an English summer school aimed at children between the ages of 5-12 which takes place throughout the Basque Country, in the north of Spain. The Basque Country is budding with rich culture and ancient history, its main characteristic being the Basque language, one of the oldest languages in Europe and the origins of which are a mystery.  As well as the Basque language, Spanish is also spoken there, making it a perfect place to practice and/or learn about these two languages.

I had a brilliant time in the Basque Country. I’ve never visited anywhere quite like it. Living with a Basque family and working there for a month helped me to fully embrace the day-to-day lifestyle and culture. I immediately formed a very good relationship with the children. They were always up for taking part in the activities and always tried their best to speak in English. Most afternoons we spent at the beach. It was amazing sunbathing on the beach, surrounded by mountains, with the most spectacular views you won’t see anywhere else. My host family ensured I was very well fed the entirety of my stay. They taught me how to cook traditional Basque food which I would recommend. Lois Entwistle, Hispanic Studies and Business student

Enjoy English Summer School is now looking for native English-speaking monitors to work in local schools in the Basque Country for four weeks during the school holidays. The monitors will be in charge of different activities such as project work, theatre and sport, and will stay with a local family, an excellent opportunity to get immersed in real Basque culture.

For more information, visit Enjoy English Summer School’s website at, or contact June Rivas ( To request an application form, please contact Marina Balenciaga ( The deadline for applications for Liverpool students is the 20 March 2017.


Teachers and pupils at the Enjoy English Summer School

Graduate Profile: Kate Logan

We continue our series of graduate profiles by catching up with Kate Logan, who graduated from Liverpool with a degree in Hispanic Studies in 2008.

Having been raised bilingual by my French mum and Irish (English-speaking) dad, my interest in languages started from a young age. I completed my undergraduate degree in Hispanic Studies in 2008, studying Portuguese alongside Spanish. I split my year abroad between Havana, Cuba, and Lisbon, Portugal: a semester at a local university in each. I found it was a great way to experience a bit of both Latin America and Europe, and improve both my Spanish and Portuguese language skills – plus I made some wonderful friends from all over the world! After graduating, I moved to London to study law, and was lucky enough to get a training contract at Slaughter and May, one of the elite ‘magic circle’ of international London law firms. I qualified as a solicitor in 2012, specialising in competition law until I moved to the Government Legal Department in 2014, where I have since worked as an EU advisory lawyer. As you might imagine, my role has become even more interesting since the EU referendum last year.

Studying languages was great preparation for going on to qualify as a solicitor, and I am hugely happy with my choice of undergraduate degree. Enjoying the subjects, combined with great teachers, was my recipe for success. Studying languages also gave me a valuable extra skill that I believe has given me an edge in numerous professional roles. As part of my two years of legal training, I spent six months on secondment at a Spanish law firm in Madrid, during which time my fluent Spanish came in particularly useful! As an EU lawyer, my French has been put to good use on trips to Brussels and Luxembourg, and occasionally when judgements are published first (or only) in French.

This year I will be taking a career break from government law to explore alternative jobs, as well as to spend more time with my one-year-old daughter – and am considering studying for a translation qualification. Nowadays, our working lives are long and the idea of doing just one thing seems outdated and, well, a bit boring! I would also love to live and work abroad again, something I don’t think I would be as likely to do had I not studied languages and had the mind-opening experience of my year abroad. The combination of broad module choices, diversity of year abroad options and fantastic teachers not only made the University of Liverpool a brilliant place to study, but has provided me with the option of exploring different career pathways.