Caribbean Cinema Guest Lecture

After months of planning and preparation, I am very excited to announce a Guest Lecture on Caribbean Cinema by Dr Jean Antoine-Dunne of the University of the West Indies on 7 March!

The lecture is called ‘Signposts to a Caribbean Film Aesthetic’.

This special guest lecture, in English, will explore Caribbean cinema across a range of languages (English, French, Spanish and Dutch). There is a close link to my current research on Joseph Zobel, as Zobel’s best-known novel was adapted into the award-winning film Sugar Cane Alley by Martinican director Euzhan Palcy.

Dr Jean Antoine-Dunne is an established international expert on Caribbean Cinema – her lecture promises to a unique opportunity, and full details are available here.

The event has been made possible through the generous support of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of London, with additional support from the University of Birmingham’s College of Arts and Law.

 

 

 

BBC Who Do You Think You Are? ft Liz Bonnin

Last night, the popular BBC show Who Do You Think You Are? featured the science presenter Liz Bonnin. I was particularly excited about the programme, because behind the scenes, I had helped the researchers to prepare her episode!

In the spring, I received an email out of the blue asking if I could help with the programme because it was going to include a celebrity with links in Martinique. The researchers had found me online, which was a great surprise, and reminds me of the importance of keeping my staff profile page up to date…!

At that stage, I wasn’t allowed to know who the celebrity was, so my mind went into overdrive 🙂

The emails duly arrived… I helped the team look at some archival documents – birth, marriage and death records – mainly providing contextual advice on the French Caribbean, and also adding some specific comments on the information the researchers had already compiled, to help them deepen their understanding. They had questions about Martinican history, language and culture, as well as specific questions about the documents that they had found.

When I saw the name Gros-Désormeaux, I knew it rang a bell… there is a Martinican publishing house, Désormeaux, whose books I cite in my own research, so I mentioned this to the team… in the end, it turned out to be the same family!

We had a couple of long phone conversations, and I was really impressed by the quality of the research that the WDYTYA? team had carried out – they had clearly used online databases which I use in the course of my academic research.

I was able to use my language skills and knowledge to help the team understand that in the French Caribbean context, the French word ‘l’habitation’ is not translated by ‘habitation’, as it is the word used for a plantation.

They then sent me a further batch of documents, which included the celebrity’s surname, so at that point, I had to sign a disclaimer to acknowledge that I would not spill the beans before the programme was scheduled! This was all new to me, and an exiting development! I was delighted to see it was Liz Bonnin, whose work I really admire.

Last night, when the documents that I had looked at popped up on TV, I was jumping up and down on my sofa! And then the word ‘habitation’ was subtitled as ‘plantation’, which was a bonus 🙂

Liz Bonnin’s thought-provoking story really captures the complexity of societies in Martinique & Trinidad. I am so pleased to have made a contribution to helping her fascinating story reach the UK public!

And I think it’s going to become required viewing for my students… 🙂

Missed it? View at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08501cj

Keynote at SFPS, London

What a weekend!

It was the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Annual Conference, held at Senate House in London, and I was the keynote speaker on Friday evening.

My talk, ‘Joseph Zobel: Négritude and the Novel’ was a chance to present aspects of the research I’ve been working on for the past few years.

With so much to say, it was tough to narrow it down to a 45min presentation, and rather than talk about one specific novel, I decided to concentrate on challenging the current academic understanding of Zobel’s work more generally, asking why he is so often considered a ‘one-hit wonder’, and showing why this is certainly not the case! I also explained how my book (under contract, coming soon…) aims to reshape the current understanding of Zobel’s relationship to the Négritude movement.

There were lots of questions after the paper on various aspects of my research and my public activities in Martinique.

It was a really valuable opportunity to present to distinguished colleagues, early career researchers and PhD students – and to hear their own thoughts and comments on my project!

The two-day conference was intense and fascinating, with papers on all areas of the Francophone world.

Take a look at my Twitter feed @zobelproject for live tweets about some of the other sessions I attended.

Charity placement with Small Woods Association

It has been a very busy autumn/winter period!

A write-up of my charity placement with the Small Woods Association, which was part of my activities as an EU Climate-KIC ‘Pioneer into Practice’, has now gone live on the University of Birmingham Website.

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/languages/sections/french/news/2016/hardwick-charity-placement-small-woods-association.aspx

I’ve reproduced a slightly longer version below!

 

Charity Placement with Small Woods Association

Dr Louise Hardwick has recently completed a four-week placement with the Small Woods Association in Ironbridge. The charity is the national organisation for woodland owners, workers and supporters. Louise, an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow, undertook the placement as part of her EU-funded activities with Climate-KIC, the EU’s main climate innovation initiative. Through the award of a funded place on the Climate-KIC ‘Pioneers into Practice’ scheme, Louise has able to develop the practical applications of her research in Ecocriticism through a specific training programme (workshops, online exercises, and a dedicated coach). Most importantly, through Climate-KIC, Louise applied her knowledge in a real-world situation with Small Woods Association (SWA).

The placement was also part of Louise’s cross-College activities at BIFoR (Birmingham Institute of Forest Research), where she is the Interdisciplinary Leadership Fellow for Ecocriticism. Louise explored the connections between the important knowledge base at Small Woods Association and BIFoR’s ground-breaking FACE facility which uses state-of-the-art science to address the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands.

Louise at the Green Wood Centre site, part of SWA’s national headquarters.

 

At SWA’s working centre in Coalbrookdale, located in a stunning natural environment, Louise learned about ‘the story of wood’, from the local heritage of coracles to wood’s fascinating role in the construction of the Ironbridge itself. She also enjoyed a number of practical demonstrations of wood craft! During her placement, Louise met with SWA team members to discuss the connections between their work and her research on Caribbean authors whose literature raises urgent questions about human relationships with the land. She developed training and presentation materials to support the centre, and was profiled in the SWA members’ newsletter.

Louise’s placement has established a significant new working relationship between BIFoR and SWA with great future potential. Further collaborative activities such as internships and Scholars in Residence schemes can offer new ways to connect her research and the wider research conducted at BIFoR with important non-academic partners.

 

 

 

Back from USA… encore un ti bo!

I am back, and am writing, writing, writing!

So in the meantime, why don’t I share another interpretation of the song Ba Moin en ti Bo by La Compagnie Créole, which has a distinctly 1980s feel! It’s interesting to compare it with the version which my Martinican colleague shared with me (see my previous post!).

The song and video certainly brought a smile to my face after a long editing session! Now it’s back to writing my book…

Ba mwen un ti bo

I’m currently in Tallahassee for an international conference and to undertake research – more on that soon!

In the meantime, the night before I left, I had a lovely surprise when my colleague and collaborator in Martinique, Mme Raphaëlle Bouville, sent me a surprise link (thanks again, Raphaëlle!):

It’s the Guadeloupean folk song, ‘ba moin un ti bo’, being sung by school children in Seoul! So I’ll leave you with this for now!

 

 

EU Climate-KIC

I haven’t managed to update the blog for a couple of weeks, as I’m currently balancing my research activities with a placement through the EU Climate-KIC scheme.

I’m learning a lot and it is fantastic experience of discussing my research – and its practical applications – with partners outside academia.

More on this in the coming weeks – in the meantime, here’s a little item about my placement which appeared on the University of Birmingham website:

Dr Louise Hardwick has been awarded 2000 Euro by the EU Climate-KIC programme Pioneers into Practice.

The award enables Louise to develop her research in Ecocriticism and Ecoliteracy through a specific training scheme (workshops, online exercises, and a dedicated coach) and to undertake a placement with a non-academic stakeholder, The Small Woods Association, a charity in Ironbridge with strong interest in practical applications of her research. It also strengthens Louise’s cross-College activities as a University of Birmingham BIFoR Interdisciplinary Leadership Fellow.

New articles on Zobel

 

This project has now been running for two years.

In addition to regularly updating the blog, I’ve appeared on TV, radio and in the UK and French Caribbean press, to report on my progress and most recent findings.

I’m currently preparing my book on Zobel – scholarly books or ‘monographs’ (a scholarly book written by one author, rather than a team of authors) require several years of research, and it’s exciting to now be at the stage where the manuscript is taking shape.

In the meantime, two other shorter pieces of my research have just been published. These were commissioned by The Literary Encyclopedia, an online resource which provides up-to-date 2500-word profiles of literary authors, works and topics. Here’s how it describes iteslf online:

“The Literary Encyclopedia is a constantly evolving and updating repository of authoritative reference work about literary and cultural history. All our articles are solicited by invitation from specialist scholars in higher education institutions all over the world, refereed and approved by subject editors in our Editorial Board. The LE is thus uniquely selective, reliable and authoritative. Its online format allows for rapid publication and frequent updating of articles; its integrated digital resources (author life-chronologies, customisable timelines, thematic or course-oriented bookshelves, related article clusters, critical bibliographies) respond dynamically to teaching and learning demands.” (source: https://www.litencyc.com/litencycdescribed.php)

I hope that these two articles will be of help to students and scholars, and anyone else with a keen interest in Zobel!

2016 Louise Hardwick, ‘Joseph Zobel’, The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 4.1.2: Francophone Writing and Culture of Central America and the Caribbean. First published 06 June 2016

2016 Louise Hardwick, La Rue Cases-Nègres, The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 4.1.2: Francophone Writing and Culture of Central America and the Caribbean. First published 06 June 2016

 

Ecocriticism: New article published

What really matters in life? What are the real ‘products’ or ‘items’ of essential importance, and how can we recognise and protect them? The ideas were widely discussed during the 2009 strikes in the Francophone Caribbean.

For my analysis of this important recent moment in Francophone Caribbean history, and the insights it provides on attitudes to work, play, and the environment, see my most recent article, which has just been published and is available online for free.

Here’s the abstract:

This article undertakes a cultural and political examination of the Manifeste pour les ‘produits’ de haute nécessité, a manifesto co-authored by a collective of leading Martiniquan cultural figures, including Patrick Chamoiseau and Édouard Glissant, in response to the general strikes of 2009 in Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Réunion. These strikes focused metropolitan attention on the high cost of living or ‘la vie chère’. After a discussion of the aesthetics of the manifesto, with particular attention to the dichotomy it develops between le prosaïque and le poétique and the wider role of culture in challenging neo-liberalism’s global hold which is advanced by the Manifesto, this article introduces the new methodology of biopolitical ecocriticism. A biopolitical ecocritical reading of the manifesto, building on the biopolitical work of Foucault through reference to ecocriticism and the philosophical works of Edgar Morin and André Gorz, reveals the fundamental links between global governance and natural life, raising urgent questions about the relationship between language, life, the environment, history, and politics.

And here’s the link to the article: http://fs.oxfordjournals.org/content/70/3/362

I’ll leave you with this for a couple of weeks, as Zobelproject is taking its annual break! See you in September!