Find out more about Postgraduate study at UoB in Modern Languages

As Easter approaches, many people are considering undertaking postgraduate studies in the future, whether they are moving straight from Undergraduate studies or have had some time away from the University environment and are considering a return.

My PhD student Antonia Wimbush runs an online PG Open Day page, where she answers your questions about graduate study in the Modern Languages Department, and I wanted to make that fantastic initiative the main focus of today’s post.

Antonia’s page can be found here: http://pg.bham.ac.uk/mentor/antonia-wimbush/

She is currently in her third year, and is fully funded through the AHRC Midlands 3 Cities consortium, a doctoral training programme. Antonia is co-supervised between the University of Birmingham (where she is based for 80% of her time) and the University of Nottingham (20% of her time).

Last but not least, a photo which is a throwback to my fieldwork in Martinique over Easter 2015. Antonia accompanied me on my work with schools, libraries, local interest groups and in the archives. The image is of Sainte-Luce – however, our trip there was not in our itinerary at all…

At the end of our fieldwork, when we arrived at the airport to leave, as I checked in, I looked across to the next desk and saw Antonia was being told the flight was full and she had been bumped off it! Luckily, I was able to persuade them to take me off the flight, and to put us both on the next flight home, the following afternoon! So we had a few extra hours in the beautiful town of Sainte-Luce, which after the frenetic pace of the fieldwork offered a welcome chance to relax and appreciate Martinique’s natural beauty.

beach kids 01

 

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!