Category Archives: Conferences

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.

What academics do over the summer ‘holidays’

Le temps passe vite…!

Well, this post is a round-up of recent June-July activities, and another opportunity to set the record straight about what academics do during the summer ‘holiday’. Although the Undergraduate students have mostly left campus, the Postgraduates are still around and we continue to supervise them… and I have been so busy that I realise now that this blog is long due an update! So here goes:

I’ve been juggling a number of projects these last few weeks. Firstly, we brought our series of Francophone Postcolonial film screenings to a close with a public workshop reflecting on what we’d done. It was a chance to unpick the terms ‘francophone’ and ‘postcolonial’ with members of the general public, and we were delighted to have teachers and A Level students present, as well as others who are interested in some or all of the terms Francophone / Postcolonial / Film. This rounded off our film series with some very positive feedback and ideas for future developments!

Then it was off to York, to present at the inaugural AHRC Commons event, which brought together academics and organisations including charities, businesses and educational bodies to showcase and discuss how Arts & Humanities research contributes to bring about real world impact and societal change. My talk was a co-presentation called ‘When Mockingbird met French Studies…’ delivered with my collaborator at Mockingbird, an SME at Birmingham’s Custard Factory. We discussed our work together screening Francophone Postcolonial films to date, and in future, and shared advice and best practice on our experiences. We were thrilled to see that our fantastic image of the Mockingbird was chosen to head up the Collaborate section of the programme for the AHRC Commons: (see p.3).

Since then, I’ve been sequestered away and writing my book about Zobel, as well as supervising dissertation students, mentoring a postdoctoral researcher, supervising a postdoctoral Research Assistant, attending meetings and training courses, making preparations for a conference in the US in the autumn, advising potential future PhD students, preparing module paperwork, preparing bids for more work with non-academic partners… the list goes on…!

So all in all, it has been a very busy end to the academic year, and certainly not a ‘holiday’! The summer is the time when we push forward with lots of projects that are either in progress or in the pipeline! And it continues… but more about that next time!

 

Ecocritism Keynote at Durham IAS

On Friday 13th May, I gave a keynote paper at the international symposium ‘Aesthetics of Crisis: Ecology, Disaster, Representation‘ which was held at the University of Durham’s Institute of Advanced Study, and was generously funded by the Durham Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience (https://www.dur.ac.uk/ihrr/).

The symposium was organised by Dr Kerstin Oloff (Hispanic Studies, Durham) and is part of a wider programme of activities. It followed the ‘Plotting the Crisis’ symposium held at the Durham IAS in 2013, and is part of the series of events run by the Ecology and the Arts Research group in the Modern School of Languages and Cultures at Durham (https://www.dur.ac.uk/mlac/research/groups/ecology/).

I spoke on my recent research, and my paper was called ‘Experiments in Ecocriticism in the French Caribbean’.

It was a chance to discuss the ideas I set out in an article which will be published any month now… In this article, I undertake a cultural and political examination of the Manifeste pour les ‘produits’ de haute nécessité, a manifesto co-authored by a collective of leading Martinican cultural figures, including Chamoiseau and 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’ in the overseas departments. I argue that authors are creating new forms of hybrid cultural creation which aim to transform human attitudes towards work and natural life, and to address the potential impending environmental catastrophe in the Caribbean, and beyond.

What is the link to Zobel, you may well ask…?  Well, as I’ve commented before on this blog, my current research is identifying a number of environmental themes in Zobel’s work (see previous posts on my public talk at the Toulouse La Novela festival, my work with Birmingham Institute for Forest Research, and my page on Ecocriticism).

The day had a fantastic line-up of papers which discussed the anthropocene, depictions of migration, and Cli-fi, the branch of Sci-fi that focuses on environmental themes.

It was a pleasure to meet so many colleagues working in related fields, and it provided a rare opportunity to mix in an interdisciplinary environment. The other keynote was provided by Dr Mark Anderson (University of Georgia) who gave a fascinating paper on  “Latin America in the Anthropocene: Crisis and Cultural Representation” and has a book out soon on that research project. I’ll be looking out for it…

 

 

 

Cardiff guest talks/Angolan book launch

It has been a very busy week. Marking dissertations, presenting research, more marking, meetings, emailing, planning…

I’ve just written an item for my University webpages giving an update on my activities, and here it is below, too:

On 25-26th April, Dr Louise Hardwick gave a guest seminar paper at Cardiff University on her current research into Joseph Zobel. The talk was part of a larger event which included a research paper on Mozambique, and a book launch for a cultural Foundation based in Angloa. Louise was invited by Dr Rhian Atkin, Lecturer in Portuguese, who organised the stimulating programme of activities!

neto

These activities were an invaluable opportunity to consider postcolonialism and the black consciousness movement of Negritude across Francophone and Lusophone contexts. Although the presentations spanned different languages and continents, the similarity of the themes discussed was striking.

After the papers, the book launch celebrated a generous donation of books about the life and works of the Angolan poet and politician Agostinho Neto. The donation was made by the Agostinho Neto Foundation, which is based in Angloa. For more about the foundation, see the @zobelproject twitter feed https://twitter.com/ZobelProject , and visit the foundation’s official website: www.faan.og.ao (in Portuguese) which currently features items on the events in Cardiff. The TV station Televisão Pública de Angola also ran stories on the launch.

The following day, to celebrate 26th April, which would have been Joseph Zobel’s 101st birthday, Louise led a workshop where she discussed her public engagment and Impact activities in Martinique, metropolitan France and the UK.

Joyeux anniversaire Joseph Zobel!

Today would have been Joseph Zobel’s 101th birthday! Thanks for stopping by to learn more about his work and legacy. For a quick introduction, you might enjoy the pages on Martinique’s history and the media links page.

Hard to believe it’s one whole year since we celebrated the centenary in Martinique! Below is a photo of me with some of the fantastic team that made it all happen. Bonjour aux Saleens! Hello to Riviere-Salee!

Today I’m in sunny Cardiff to give an invited seminar paper about Zobel’s  work.

The paper was part of a panel of talks which compared black consciousness movements across Francophone and Lusophone contexts in Africa and the Americas.

I’ve been tweeting about events @zobelproject and will add more once I’m back in my office!me and centre cult

 

Transnationalizing Modern Languages

Last week, I attended an event held at the British Academy in London which addressed many of the challenges facing Modern Languages as a discipline, and which proposed innovative responses to these challenges.

The event was structured around the following questions:

  • How do Modern Languages promote cultural as well as linguistic competences that are vital in an increasingly globalized world?
  • How do University curricula articulate with the range of subjects that students study in schools?
  • How do they encourage a nuanced and inclusive understanding of notions of translation within multicultural spaces and societies?
  • How do they enable students to compete and meet the demands of a changing workplace?

Put simply, to quote Prof. Charles Burdett (Bristol), how do Modern Linguists – researchers and students – articulate what Modern Languages study is?

This blog is one small part of responding to that challenge, as it aims to present the various strands that go into ML research activities – from queuing for hours to get into a Parisian library with a one-in, one-out policy (see Jan 2015 posts) to being interviewed on the Martinican evening news (see this post).

006 me on atv

The large project, ‘Transnationalizing Modern Languages’ (TML), on which Prof. Burdett is a PI, is part of the AHRC’s ‘Translating Cultures’ initiative, and aims “to provide a model that allows Modern Languages to be construed and practised not as the inquiry into separate national traditions, but as the study of cultures and their interactions.”

This prompted me to reflect on my own research practice, and how it has evolved during my current AHRC Fellowship to integrate processes of consultation and the co-production of knowledge with wider communities in Martinique, Paris and the UK… As I’ve said before on this blog, no researcher is an island, and the photo memories below certainly reflect this!

Update on MLA and other activities

It’s already February!

January passed in a blur of conferences… First, the Modern Languages Association annual convention in Austin, Texas, where I presented research into gender in Zobel’s novels.

Then I spoke in London at the launch of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies at the School of Advanced Studies, which is part of the University of London. This was an opportunity to discuss activities fostered by the FRANCOPOCO Network at the University of Birmingham.

And January has also been a month of forms: from PhD applications and funding applications which I’ve supported, to getting ready for ResearchFish (more on that in another post)… Not to mention working on my book proposal form!

I’m also back teaching, and am really enjoying giving the MA modules on Postcolonial Theory and World Literature which I convene and teach, as part of the MA in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. So a busy start to the new year!

 

MLA at Austin, Texas

Happy New Year!

The Zobel project is on the move once again. I’m in Texas to present a research paper at the major research conference in my field, the Modern Language Association of America annual convention.

Thousands will attend this conference, which is held this year in Austin, Texas.

I’ll be speaking in a special panel on Caribbean Women, which will present four Francophone Caribbean case-studies. My fellow panellists and I will be exploring the role of women as novelists and cultural figures, as well as the representation of women in Francophone Caribbean literature and culture.

My own paper is entitled “Zobel’s Women” and I’ll argue that the depiction of women characters in Zobel’s literature is far more complex and interesting than has previously been acknowledged.

The MLA will be the biggest conference I have ever attended. Thousands register for it every year!

To prepare for it, I’ve been reading this Guest Blog by Natalie M. Houston, which is a great “Survival Guide” to academic conferences in general, and the MLA specifically! You might enjoy it too:

https://convention.commons.mla.org/guest-post/surviving-and-thriving-at-the-mla-convention?shareadraft=baba335_5682f9fa5936e

 

 

 

 

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.