Monthly Archives: July 2015

This Academic Life – July 2015

It has been another busy month so time for my regular round-up post on my more ‘traditional’ academic activities!

After conference season (see last month’s ‘Adademic Life’ post), I have been busy writing.

Queue several weeks where I have barely left my office and have tried to draw together the various strands of my research into coherent threads, and to express my ideas with clarity in my book chapters.

Quite a few people seem interested in the writing process. It is different for everyone: personally, I prefer to work in silence, on a desktop computer sitting at my desk, with my books at arm’s reach. I try not to check email until the afternoon – by then, what I think of as my “research brain” is tired, and I’m ready to address administrative emails / form filling in etc.

But no researcher is an island (not even those of us working on islands!). At times like these, keeping in touch with friends and other colleagues is essential. As we tend not to work in research teams in the Arts, and are often still working to the ‘lone scholar’ model, it is really important to schedule ‘structured’ contact with others – either in person or via skype etc. This gives added perspective on what we are doing, and helps us see the wood for the trees. These support networks are vital!

In other news, this month, as part of my public engagement and impact activities, I have published an article on my Zobel research with The Guardian Higher Education Network online.

Me outside the British LibraryThe article describes my “Indiana Jones moment” when I realised that a watercolour in the British Library was mislabelled, and held a secret connection to Joseph Zobel:

http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/jul/30/my-indiana-jones-moment-the-day-i-uncovered-an-error-in-the-archives

It has been a new experience for me to write for The Guardian, and it has been both challenging and fascinating to see how to shape my research for wider audiences. I hope if nothing else the article will encourage people to learn more about the French Caribbean and Zobel, and maybe it will help other Early Career Researchers out there to tell similar stories about the different aspects of the research process.

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Talk in London next week

On Friday 17th July, I will be giving a talk (in English) on Joseph Zobel at the British Library in London. The talk forms part of my collaboration with the British Library, particularly the team in the Eccles Centre, and we have been planning it for some time.

I am really looking forward to talking about my research into Martinique at the British Library, and will reveal all about a mystery image of Martinique which holds an unexpected lost connection with Zobel! I’ve been putting out some teasers on Twitter about this: https://twitter.com/ZobelProject

Here’s a short description of Friday’s talk:

  • Joseph Zobel, French Caribbean author

Louise Hardwick discusses Joseph Zobel’s work and its contribution to understandings of Négritude, colonialism and post-slavery Martinique.

I’m excited to have a chance to share my various Zobel-related adventures, from archives to school visits, in Martinique and France over the past few months with audiences in the UK. The talk takes place take place between 12.30-14.00 in the Bronte Room, British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB You can find a summary of my talk here: http://www.bl.uk/eccles/events.html And you can book a free ticket, which includes tea and coffee, here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/eccles-centre-summer-scholars-series-2015-8254723394 Venez nombreux!

This Academic Life – June

The end of June is traditionally what we often refer to as “conference season”. I have just returned from speaking on Joseph Zobel at the annual Society for French Studies conference, which was held this year in Wales at the University of Cardiff.

Academic papers are usually about 20 minutes long, with time for questions afterwards from the audience. My conference panel was responding to the theme of “Translating Cultures”, one of the “themes” the conference announced in its call for paper submissions back in 2014 (yup, you need to submit months in advance, so it takes some organizing). My paper was called “Translating Rhythms, Translating Zobel” and I examined the short story ‘Laghia de la mort’ which is about a combat dance, considering it in the light of recent scholarship around Caribbean music and dance, notably by scholar Martin Munro, and also drawing on earlier critics such as the Martinican musicologist Jacqueline Rosemain.

Then I rushed back to Birmingham for the Society of Caribbean Studies annual conference at the cultural centre The Drum. In a happy coincidence, I met a colleague there from Japan, Professor Yoshiko Shibata, who explained to me that she shows the film Rue Cases-Negres to her anthropology students at Kobe University. I’ve blogged before about this project’s (sometimes unexpected) connections with Japan – here’s another one, which reminds us of the value of Zobel as a global ambassador for Martinique.