Tag Archives: AHRC

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

 

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!

 

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.

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!

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/ 

Back from the USA

I have just arrived back from Atlanta, and then went to Swindon last week to be filmed by the AHRC for a video on research funding  which is aimed at Early Career Researchers. It’s always nervewracking being filmed, particularly when it’s about subjects such as ‘the application process’, so I hope my answers will be honest and helpful guidelines for others. More on that when the film is ready…

I’ve also been busy Tweeting (@zobelproject) my support for a very exciting UK Zobel event – a film screening of Sugar Cane Alley which will be held at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 14th November, with a special introduction by the author’s daughter, Jenny, and granddaughter, Emily! Here’s the link: http://www.leedsfilm.com/films/sugar-cane-alley/

Jenny and Emily have been very supportive of my own research, and I encourage anyone in the Leeds area next Saturday to head to the screening! I’ll blog about that a little more in the coming days!

And then I’ve been reading and writing! I have produced this account of my activities for the University of Birmingham online news pages, so I’ll leave you with this:

Dr Louise Hardwick has just returned from a Visiting Fellowship at Emory University, Atlanta, as part of her AHRC-funded research project into Joseph Zobel.

The Visiting Fellowship was crucial to Louise’s reframing of Zobel as an author whose importance transcends the Caribbean region: the issues of race, diversity and post-slavery identity which are central to his work find particular resonance in the American South.

Emory University is recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, and its scholars and experts generate more than $572 million in research funding annually, while also maintaining a traditional emphasis on teaching. The city of Atlanta is itself an important location for the study of civil and human rights, and is the birthplace of Martin Luther King.

At Emory, Louise worked alongside experts in African American Studies and Caribbean Studies. She met with graduate students, and taught classes on Joseph Zobel and Francophone Caribbean literature. Louise also gave a research seminar on Zobel’s publication Laghia de la mort, and continued to draft her forthcoming monograph on Zobel.

While in Atlanta, Louise also collaborated with colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology, a leading research and teaching institute, where she was invited to give classes and a research seminar at the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts which had just celebrated its 125th Anniversary.

Visiting Fellowship at Emory University, Atlanta

The Zobel project is on the move once again… special greetings to any new readers of this blog who are in Atlanta, Georgia! It is a privilege to be here. DSC02022

I am currently working in Atlanta as a Visiting Fellow at Emory University, where I am based in the Department of French and Italian. This is a wonderful chance for me to exchange more transatlantic perspectives on Zobel and his legacy, and was an activity I planned when I submitted my AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship application in 2013.

Zobel is widely taught across the US, through text and film, and my time in Atlanta gives me an invaluable opportunity to understand how he is taught, and to discuss possible new approaches to teaching his work based on my new research findings with my American colleagues.

Over the past few days, I’ve taught classes on Zobel and on Caribbean literature more generally with my colleague Prof. Valérie Loichot, an expert on Francophone Caribbean literature whose latest book The Tropics Bite Back: Culinary Coups in Caribbean Literature was awarded the Modern Language Association of America’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize earlier this year. It is a fascinating study and Valérie’s insights into food are particularly interesting to me in the light of my own recent work on ecocriticism and food security in Martinique.

I’ve been explaining my pDSC02161roject to faculty members and to students, and this helps me to think about how I present my research to different audiences.

It’s an excellent chance to discuss my past activities – from the Paris Salon du Livre to my work in April for the Zobel Centenary in Rivière-Salée in Martinique, to my ‘Indiana Jones moment’ at the British Library in London.

Next week, I’ll also be working with Prof. Michael Wiedorn at Georgia Institute of Technology, and I’m looking forward to meeting colleagues and students there!

I am also preparing to give research seminars and am really impressed at the quality of the poster produced by a graduate student at Emory – here it is!

poster