Diana Cullell reports on Eramus+ visit to China



XJTLU[2]Diana Cullell, Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, has just spent a week at Xi’an Jiatong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) as part of the Erasmus+ Mobility Scheme. During her time in Suzhou, Diana met with colleagues working in the Language Centre and in Internationalization, and she worked very closely with the team teaching Spanish language over there. Diana also taught on different modules offered by the Language Centre –which included sessions on Catalan culture; lectures focused on Federico García Lorca’s poetry; and Spanish Language classes for beginners and advanced students. Furthermore, she led a Professional Development session for all the staff of the Language Centre, focusing on enhancing language learning through cultural activities. This was a fantastic opportunity to share excellent teaching practice and teaching methods in modern languages, to discuss language teaching challenges in different contexts, to strengthen links between teaching staff in XJTLU and Liverpool, and to continue the productive relationship between the two institutions with many collaborative projects already in sight.


During her time in China, Diana also met many students from XJTLU who will be moving to the UK very soon to finish their studies at the University of Liverpool, and she is looking forward to seeing them in class again!

This was such a fantastic opportunity! The Erasmus+ Mobility Scheme allowed me to share teaching practices and different teaching methods with a team of exceptional language teachers in China. We have great collaborative projects for the near future, which will bring our student communities closer and enhance teaching and student experience in both institutions.


The Spanish team at XJTLU with Diana in front of the ‘Liverbird of Suzhou’

Dr Stefania Tufi (Italian Studies) reports on her fieldwork in Sardinia


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Sardinia [1]Last February, I spent a few weeks in Sardinia (Italy) in order to carry out fieldwork in relation to a project on local language use. Sardinia is a very interesting example of linguistic variety within a relatively small island region (1.6m inhabitants). In addition to a number of dialects which are grouped around two main types of Sardinian, an officially recognised minority language in Italy, there are internal minorities, such as those represented by Catalan (spoken in Alghero in the north-west) and Tabarchino, a Ligurian variety (spoken on Carloforte and Calasetta in the south-west).

The data gathered from informants looks promising and I’m very grateful to the people I met for their invaluable contribution. Any work in Sociolinguistics would not be possible without human input, and on this as well as on previous occasions, Sardinians were very generous with their time and always passionate about their language and culture. Pride in all things Sardinian was shown by all my informants regardless of age or social standing, as it transpired from discussions with groups of youngsters.

I met one such group in a high school in the south-east of Sardinia and was warmly welcomed by staff and students alike. I was impressed by the way in which the study of local language and culture was integrated into the national curriculum and full of admiration for the dedicated teachers.

I’ll be going back to Sardinia for more enlightening and stimulating discussions in beautiful settings, but in the meantime gratzias meda to all!

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A group of final-year students at Instituto G. Dessì (Villaputzu) and teacher Bettina Pitzurra (second from right)

MLC holds third annual Careers in Translation and Interpreting event




On the 26 April 2017, the 3rd Annual Careers in Translation & Interpreting event was held at the University of Liverpool, organized by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures and Routes into Languages North West.

The event was mainly aimed at students who are finishing their degrees and are contemplating the possibility of working as interpreters and/or translators, but members of the general public interested in working as professional translators were also more than welcome.

This year’s programme included professional translators from both fields, translation ad interpreting, who shared their experience and expertise with the audience. This year’s guests who kindly participated and collaborated in the event were:

Paul Kaye from the European Commission in London, who talked about ‘Translating for the European Union’;

Helen Campbell, Director of the National Network for Interpreting, who talked about ‘Working as a Conference Interpreter in International Organizations’;

Karl McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, who talked about ‘Translating for the Media: a “hybrid” profession’;

Matthias Postel, from the Chartered Institute of Linguists, who presented on ‘Developing as a Language professional / Qualifications, Standards and Professional Status’;

Simone Schroth, a freelance translator, who shared her experience and expertise working as freelance translator, and;

Carmina Villar, a Production Manager at Tick Translations, who talked about ‘A Career in Translation’.

The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures is always keen to hold events of this nature, as it aims to provide its students with a range of employability skills and opportunities before they graduate.

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.


A section of the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes

Student profiles: ex ab initio German


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 enjoying a local beverage  

Professor Eve Rosenhaft discusses her new translation of the memoirs of Theodor Michael



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.


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


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


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!


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



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.