Category Archives: Birmingham

Schools Collaboration: Teaching Zobel & Le monde francophone

In the last few months, Zobel Project has been focusing on a new phase of collaboration with local schools. It has been wonderful to work with local teachers to develop and trial  resources on “Zobel & le monde francophone”.

Here’s a write up of recent activites – you can also read this report on the University of Birmingham webpage.

Collaboration with University of Birmingham: the Zobel Project

Local French teachers are collaborating with researchers at the University of Birmingham to develop new teaching materials to inspire pupils to learn French, at school and beyond.  Modern Languages study is an exciting and strategic choice, as graduates enjoy excellent employment prospects, with 90% entering work or further study within 6 months of graduation.

The new teaching materials reposition French as an internationally significant language, offering pupils the chance to learn about French in North America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. To challenge pupils’ perceptions of French as a European language, the teaching materials develop a case study of a renowned French Caribbean author, Joseph Zobel.  1 teacher workshop Jun 17

Throughout 2017, French teachers throughout Birmingham have been providing feedback on Zobel Project teaching materials at meetings, workshops and networking events on campus. A group of local teachers have taken on leadership roles as Project Advisors: Clare Haley (University of Birmingham School, Selly Oak), Dennis Preware (George Salter Academy, West Bromwich), Amy Whetstone (King Edwards VI, Aston) and Raheem Zafar (Holte School, Lozells).

The teaching materials have been developed as part of a research project on Joseph Zobel led by Dr Louise Hardwick, Reader in Francophone Postcolonial Studies in the Department of Modern Languages. The research is UK Government funded through the Arts & Humanities Research Council, as part of the priority area ‘Translating Cultures’. To date, Zobel Project has involved communities in the Caribbean, France and UK, and activities are recorded on the project blog: www.josephzobel.wordpress.com

A CPD workshop held at the University of Birmingham campus in June 2017 (pictured) offered the Project Advisor teachers a guided demonstration of the materials from the research team. The teachers provided detailed, invaluable feedback, drawing on their own extensive experience of teaching French in Birmingham schools.2 teacher workshop Jun 17

The workshop led to lively discussions, with excellent feedback and practical suggestions about maximising the compatibility of the resources with the National Curriculum.

As part of this flagship collaboration with University of Birmingham French researchers, in the academic year 2017–2018, Zobel Project resources will be trialled in schools. The Project Advisor teachers will continue to play a leading role in trialling resources and gathering data. This important collaboration strengthens the connections between the University of Birmingham, the University of Birmingham School, and wider schools in the local community.

Find out more about the excellent employability prospects enjoyed by Modern Languages graduates in this University of Birmingham ‘Why Study Languages?’ video: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/languages/news/2016/excellent-employability.aspx

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.

 

 

 

Francophone Postcolonial Films & Free Workshop

Another busy few weeks – last week, my colleague Dr Claire Peters and I organised a free Francophone Postcolonial film screening of Sissako’s Heremakono, as part of Claire’s AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund activities.

Claire has blogged about it for the UoB website, and you can read more here:

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/languages/sections/french/news/2016/waiting-for-happiness.aspx

mockingbird all 3.jpg

We’re now gearing up for our final event, a workshop on Francophone Postcolonial Film to be held this Saturday at Mockingbird Theatre in the Custard Factory, Digbeth. Here are more details:

BOOK FREE TICKETS for Workshop on FRANCOPHONE POSTCOLONIAL FILM

Held: Sat 11th June between 10am – 12 noon Mockingbird Theatre, Custard Factory, Digbeth

Participants are welcome to leave after 12 noon, or to enjoy a free post-workshop lunch in the Mockingbird’s informal bistro (meat or veg. option available)

Structure:

This morning workshop offers an insight into cinema from other cultures. Together, we will explore some key terms and briefly discuss three important films that two Modern Languages researchers have recently shown to the Birmingham public: Sugar Cane Alley, Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask, and Waiting for Happiness.

No prior knowledge of the films is necessary!

Come and think about what these films and cultural questions mean to you, and share these thoughts in an informal and friendly setting, guided by researchers who work in these fields.

The workshop will be relevant to anyone with interests in ONE or MORE of these topics: Film, Postcolonial cultures (particularly Africa and the Caribbean), French & Francophone cultures.

The event has been generously funded by an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship award.

*Places are limited, so please reserve you place now to avoid disappointment*

Book your free place here: http://www.designmynight.com/birmingham/bars/digbeth/the-mockingbird-theatre-and-bar/free-workshop-francophone-postcolonial-film

French Film Screenings…

It has been a busy end to the term! Once Easter is over, we’ll be straight into our examining and strategic planning phase. The post-Easter meetings are already stacking up, as are the research deadlines… but before then, there’s time to reflect on last week’s AHRC-supported free film screenings which took place as part of the University of Birmingham Arts and Science Festival.

These events were free and arose from partnerships between the Modern Languages Department at the University of Birmingham and local arts and cultural organisations.

The events are led by my colleague Dr Claire Peters, a Teaching Fellow in French and Francophone Studies, who was awarded funding from the AHRC Cultural Engagement fund to carry them out. Claire recently completed an AHRC thesis on Francophone Postcolonial culture.

I’m her mentor, which is a very worthwhile experience for me and allows me to share lessons learned from my own public engagement events in the UK, metropolitan France and Martinique.

My AHRC Midlands3Cities PhD student Antonia Wimbush is also part of the team as an assistant at the events, as part of her own training in public engagement.

The screening of Sugar Cane Alley / Rue Cases-Nègres [dir. Euzhan Palcy, 1983] took place on Wednesday 16th March 2016 at 4-6.30pm MAC Birmingham. We knew that the afternoon timeslot might be tough, but as this event is part of a wider University of Birmingham Arts and Science Festival, we had limited choice over the timing. That said, being part of the Festival was a wonderful opportunity, and ensured that the event was widely publicised.

01 Antonia intro Sugar Cane Alley

Antonia did a great job of introducing the film (see photo above!), and afterwards Claire hosted a Q&A session with me on my own research into Zobel. I was delighted to have so many brilliant questions from the public, which included questions on adapting the novel into a film, Palcy’s career, Zobel’s wider works (and whether there were other film adaptations… not yet…!), the influence of Fanon and wider influences such as Negritude and the Harlem Renaissance. Our colleagues at the MAC had to politely but firmly eject us from the room at the end, as the next screening was due to begin!

The following night, Thursday 17th March 2016 from 7pm-9.30pm,  Claire gave a fantastic introduction to the film Black Skin, White Mask [dir. Isaac Julien, 1996] at The Drum. The film was followed by a lively comments session with the public audience, which gave rise to some excellent reflections on issues such as race, gender, identity, intersectionality and Negritude.03 drum audience

 

The overall feedback tells us that for many people in Birmingham, this was their first encounter with the French Caribbean, and that there is a real appetite for more Francophone events like this… so (shameless plug!) watch this space for the third screening in the series, which will take place in the cinema at The Mockingbird Theatre and Bar… more details to follow after Easter!

Free Francophone film screenings in Bham

This is a guest post by Dr Claire Peters, one of my colleagues at the University of Birmingham
Two FREE AHRC Francophone film events in Birmingham next week!

I would like to draw your attention to two forthcoming AHRC-supported film screenings which directly relate to French and Francophone Studies, and which will take place as part of the University of Birmingham Arts and Science Festival.

These events are free and arise from partnerships between the Modern Languages Department at the University of Birmingham and local arts and cultural organisations.

Wednesday 16th March 2016 4.30pm-6.30pm, MAC Birmingham: screening of Sugar Cane Alley / Rue Cases-Nègres [dir. Euzhan Palcy, 1983].

This screening will be introduced by PhD student Antonia Wimbush and followed by a Q&A session with Dr Louise Hardwick about her AHRC Fellowship work on Joseph Zobel. For more details and for booking: https://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/sugar-cane-alley-q-a/

 

Thursday 17th March 2016 7pm-9.30pm, The Drum, in partnership the University of Birmingham and the NCCCS, will host a screening of Black Skin, White Mask [dir. Isaac Julien, 1996]. For more details and booking information: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/events/arts-and-science/arts-and-science-2016/Screenings/frantz-fanon.aspx

All are welcome! These two events have been organised by Dr Claire Peters as part of the AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund. 

Dr Claire Peters, Teaching Fellow and AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund Awardee,

Department of Modern Languages,

University of Birmingham.

11th November Armistice Day

Tomorrow is 11th November, Armistice Day, which marks the end of the First World War, and is an important time to highlight my project’s humble, but I hope insightful, contribution to WW1 commemorations.

In January 2015, I attended an event on Britain’s Black Community and the Great War, which was organised by colleages at Birmingham and Nottingham’s WW1 Engagement Centres (funded through the AHRC) for researchers and members of the wider community.

The event was held at the Library of Birmingham, one of the city’s flagship buildings and a really important community space.

It was fantastic to meet a range of speakers from community groups in the Midlands area and to learn more about figures such as the footballer Walter Tull  who fought and died in the First World War. I discussed my work on Zobel, and the event has spurred me on to think about Joseph Zobel, the French Caribbean and WW1.

As a result of this activity, I created a new blog page reflecting on WW1 and the French Caribbean. This seemed particularly important given that this project is running at a moment when across the world, commemorations are taking place to mark WW1.

I discuss the soldiers who fought from Martinique and Guadeloupe, and the references to WW1 in Zobel’s famous novel La Rue Cases-Nègres Black Shack Alley (1950):

https://josephzobel.wordpress.com/world-war-1-and-the-french-caribbean/ 

Willard Wigan: Through the Eye of a Needle

think small to think big

 think small to think big

 think small to think big

think small to think big

think small to think big

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, Joseph Zobel was a keen artist and sculptor who was inspired by global culture from the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and even Asia – he was trained in the Japanese art of Ikebana flower arrangement.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a fantastic exhibition by Willard Wigan at the Library of Birmingham. Like Zobel, Willard considers his art international and hopes that it will be accessible to everyone. He makes the most amazing microscopic art – so small that it fits in the eye of a needle! To do this, he has found a way to slow his body down so he can work to the rhythm of his body’s heartbeat to make his microscopic incisions.

Willard was there on the day, and kept us amused with stories of his childhood in Wolverhampton and the development of his career. Several of his pieces are nods to his Caribbean roots, including Usain Bolt in his traditional ‘thunderbolt’ pose, and an absolutely beautiful hummingbird feeding on flower nectar.

Willard reminded us that nothing in our world is too small to matter.

This made me think of how many references there are to ‘petit pays’ (literally meaning ‘small country’) in Francophone music – and not just from the Caribbean. A beautiful song by Cap Verdean singer Cesária Evora, called Petit Pays, which has a French chorus, is now my earworm.

Inspirational stuff!

 

In January, I blogged about TED talks – you can see Willard’s TED talk, including images of his art, here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/willard_wigan_hold_your_breath_for_micro_sculpture?language=en

Martinique and World War 1

DSCF3329On Saturday 31st January, I attended an AHRC-funded event on Britain’s Black Community and the Great War, held at the Library of Birmingham.

The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 and is one of the city’s flagship buildings and a really important community space.

 

This photo shows the library shortly before it was completed – the white boards at the bottom of the building have now been removed.

 

It was fantastic to meet a range of speakers from community groups in the Midlands area and to learn more about figures such as footballer Walter Tull, who fought and died in the First World War. I discussed my work on Zobel, and the event has spurred me on to think about the French Caribbean and WW1, particularly in the light of the WW1 Centenary. I’ve created a new page with more information.

AHRC Leadership Fellows Conference

I’m just back from several days of rushing up and down the country for professional development events!

I was in Sheffield for the Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellows Conference on 26th November. As one of the researchers funded through the prestigious new Leadership Fellowships scheme, this was a valuable chance for me to discuss my research project and public engagement activities with my peers, senior colleagues and with representatives of the funding council.

I discovered lots of other fantastic research projects, and two which really struck a chord with my own research interests were Rebecca Braun’s AHRC project  ‘The Author and the World’ and Nicola Frith’s work on Mapping Memories of Slavery: Commemoration, Community and Identity.

In addition, I gave an invited presentation ‘Advice on Applying for ERC Funding’ at the AHRC Peer Review College members and Early Career Researchers Event for Languages and Linguistics researchers at the University of Warwick on 28th November, where I was fascinated to speak with Charles Burdett about the AHRC ‘Transnationalizing Modern Languages’ project . Find out more about the project goals and team at their website.

I also took part in a third AHRC event here at the University of Birmingham on 19th November. The AHRC Tenth Anniversary Consultation Day, “Crowd Sourcing the Anniversary” was led by my colleague Dr Richard Clay, AHRC Commons Fellow, and brought together Early Career Researchers from all AHRC-funded disciplines for lively debate and a planning session for future AHRC events with the general public.

These events are a far cry from sitting in a library with my primary texts – but they are essential for helping me shape my  work and think about its development and delivery. Rather than being a “lone scholar”, it’s also really important to remember our work is part of a larger community of researchers and has the potential to reach wider public audiences.

This week, it’s back to the books though…!