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Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture

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Lectures and seminars 2020-21

Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture
Research Seminar Series 2020–21

Race, Migration, Decolonization

This year’s seminar series focused on the themes of race, migration and decolonization. Scholars from French, German, Hispanic and Italian studies presented research on writing which engages with histories of colonization, resistance and migration. Visiting speakers gave talks for students on the question: ‘How might modern languages teaching and research contribute to racial justice in education and beyond?’

Summer term 2021

Eight-minute Lunchtime Lectures

This series of webinars is designed to create a forum for interdisciplinary research and cooperation within the Division of Arts and Humanities. Each webinar will be scheduled for one hour and consist of three eight-minute lectures by colleagues and PhD researchers presenting on aspects of their research, followed by 30 minutes of discussion.

Wednesday 26th May

Amy Sackville (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing) and David Flusfeder (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing): ‘A journey around our rooms’    

Inspired by Xavier de Maistre’s A Journey Around My Room, we have created an online, collaborative space inviting writers to share the spaces in which they work. In recent months, we have all become accustomed to a way of being, working, and writing that is more than usually restricted to that space. We have learned that we can speak across time zones, connect across continents, each in our own room. It is likely that our experiences during the pandemic will alter our ways of working and being together indefinitely, now we know that this shared and separate space exists; it is a space that seems ripe for investigation.

Nathan Keates (PhD Researcher, Tizard Centre): ‘Exploring the benefits and impact of participation in improv comedy and autistic lived experiences: a case study’. 

Autistic improvisers (those engaged in improv comedy) are under-researched. This study explored their lived experiences and the impact of improv for autistic stakeholders. The presented results are a case study of one participant (from continuing research). The emerging themes are improv is heady, but a safe space and a good experience; life beyond improv helps; self-othering: wanting to be normal, or well-adapted; and accepting I’m a burden to other theatre people. The participant seems othered by society but has an identity with the 12 ‘rooms’. Nonetheless, improv may benefit autistic people due to being a safe environment to socially engage.

Jeremy Scott, Senior Lecturer in English Language and Literature: ‘Wor(l)ds: literary linguistics and creative practice’  

In 2021, Creative Writing and Stylistics (2014) will be re-issued as a second edition. This presentation will review the progress of stylistics-based approaches to creative practice over the period in poetry, prose and theatre, giving a broad overview of the developments that have taken place in this corner of the field of stylistics. The talk will cover the following topics and projects:

  • The application of cognitive poetics to creative practice
  • ‘Real-world’ language, improvisation and script production
  • ’Seeing through language’ as a metaphor for point of view
  • Creative writing assessment and pedagogy.

Seminar series

3 June, 16.00 BST, Dr Gianmarco Mancosu, University of Cagliari

At the empire’s end?: Legacies and memories of Italy’s (failed) decolonization

Italy’s colonial past has left enduring traces on those countries where Italy acted as a colonial power (Eritrea, Somalia, Libya, Ethiopia). The colonial experience has likewise influenced the making of modern and contemporary Italian society in surreptitious yet significant ways. However, the political and cultural results of that extended chapter of Italy’s past (1890-1960) are seldom seen by scholars, politicians and the Italian public as intrinsic to understandings of Italian history, culture, and society. This is mostly due to the belated and marginal nature of Italy’s colonial projects in comparison to other European colonial powers, yet also because the passage from a colonial toward a post-colonial setting intersected the most significant turmoil occurring in modern Italy, that is the fall of Fascism and national reconstruction following WWII. In my presentation, I will contend that that the ambiguous connection between de-Fascistization and the loss of the colonies engendered unproblematized narratives and memories about the colonial period that still reverberate in contemporary Italy. I will first address newsreels and documentaries about the Italian former colonies produced between the 1946 and the 1960, in order to highlight the political as well as discursive strategies that repressed the formation of a thorough critique of the colonial past. The second part of my presentation will tackle the ways in which material as well as cultural legacies of colonialism infiltrate discourses about the perception of Mediterranean fluxes of migrants (often coming from the former colonies like Libya and Eritrea), an increasing number of instances of ethnically motivated violence and, more broadly, the social and political agenda. This is clear, for instance, by looking at the difficult adoption of a new, and more inclusive, citizenship law, in the forthcoming reopening of the former Colonial Museum in Rome (late 2021), and in the very recent renewal of the agreements between the Italian Government and Libya about the managing of migrant fluxes. In so doing, I will seek to foster an awareness of how modes of thought and practices associated the colonial past continue to exercise a potent, yet often concealed, agency in contemporary Italy. Therefore, my talk aims to intercept the genealogy of these memories and legacies, their sedimentation in the national subconscious, and their recontextualization in diverse periods and contexts.

This talk will be held online, via Zoom. Please register to receive details.

Autumn term 2020

Thursday 5 November, Dr Jason Allen-Paisant, University of Leeds

Thinking with Spirits, or, Dwelling and Knowing in the work of Aimé Césaire

Thursday 12 November, Modern Languages Joint Book Launch

Members of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics will celebrate the publication of the following books:

  • Thomas Baldwin, Roland Barthes: The Proust Variations. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 2019.
  • Ian Cooper, Poetry and the Question of Modernity: From Heidegger to the Present. New York: Routledge 2020.
  • Ian Cooper (ed.), Literature and Religion in the German-Speaking World: From 1200 to the Present Day. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2019.
  •  Alessandra Diazzi and Alvise Sforza Tarabochia (eds.), The Years of Alienation in Italy. Factory and Asylum Between the Economic Miracle and the Years of Lead. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2019.
  •  Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, Los inicios de la república peruana. Viendo más allá de la cueva de bandoleros. Lima: PUCP – Fondo Editorial 2019
  •  Axel Stähler, Zionism, the German Empire, and Africa: Jewish Metamorphoses and the Colors of Difference. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter 2018

Thursday 19 November, Dr Siham Bouamer, Sam Houston State University

Beyond the banlieue: Decolonizing Paris on Screen

Thursday 26 November, Dr Sarah Arens, University of St Andrews

From Mobutu to Molenbeek: Writing postcolonial Brussels

Dr Siham Bouamer and Dr Sarah Arens will give talks for students and staff at 1pm on the day of their research paper on the question ‘How can modern languages teaching and research contribute to racial justice?’. A Zoom link for these talks will also be circulated in advance