Ze Germans and ze British: Just good Frenemies?

A lot of people know about the German connections of the British Royal Family during the 18th and 19th centuries. But did you know that what was to become British Gas was founded by two German chemists in the 19th century? That Germans were the largest group of foreigners in Britain in the 19th century? That German academics are the largest group of foreign nationals working at British Universities (including at Reading University)? That the Germans are obsessed with a British comedy sketch, Dinner for One, which is shown, and has been shown for decades by every German TV station throughout the day each year on New Years Eve for decades? That two Germans invented the Doc Martens’ air cushioned sole?

A pop-up travelling exhibition, provided by the UK-based Migration Museum Project, explores such relations between Britain and Germany. It is currently on show at the University of Reading and will remain here until 24 March. It can be visited anytime between 9am and 5pm on weekdays in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building on Whiteknights Campus, room 274A. More directions and a couple of weekend dates for external visitors can be found at the bottom of this post.

The panel discussing “The Brelephant in the Room” on 15 February

The exhibition consists of a small number of panels that explore different groups of German migrants to the UK, from the Royal family to the poor and the refugees during the Second World War. It also explores different economic as well as cultural connections between the UK and Germany from Early Modern Period onwards. There is also a panel about stereotypes and sport – yes, football gets a mention, too; but did you know that a German doctor working in London inspired the Paralympics? Each panel provides specific examples as well as a short text about the historical background. Showing this exhibition is timely – with a view on a pending Brexit – and equally interesting from a German as well as from a British perspective, as it describes a part of British migration history and illustrates how (groups of) migrants contribute to the country that they make their new home, and partly also the difficulties that they may face.

Part of the audience at the panel discussion

A little programme of events around the exhibition also attracted visitors, such as a panel discussion about “The Brelephant in the Room: Living in post-referendum UK as an EU citizen”.

Two more events are coming up: A guest lecture by Dr Stefan Manz about “German Immigrants and the First World War. A Centenary Perspective” on Wednesday, 1 March, 4-6pm and a presentation by Final Year German Studies students who interviewed German academics working at the University of Reading on Wednesday 15 March, 4-5:30pm (meet in HumSS 274A for both).

The exhibition and events are supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Endowment Funds for academic events, the School of Literature and Languages and the Heritage and Creativity Institute.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Building (HumSS) is located on Whiteknights Campus, building number 1 on the map: Room 274A is on the second floor. The exhibition is also open to visit on the following two Saturdays: 4 and 18 March, between 8am-12pm and 2-4pm. Please contact Dr Melani Schröter  if you would like further information.

Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell visited the exhibition earlier this month

To find out more about German Studies and the other languages we in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading – French, Italian, and Spanish –  we invite you to to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our Twitter feed.

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New for 2017! Spanish Single Honours Degree

SpanishWe are very pleased to announce that we have launched a Single Honours degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies, starting from September 2017!

Immerse yourself in the diversity of the Spanish-speaking world by taking modules in language, culture, history and society that reflect the cultures of Spain and Latin America. You will have the opportunity to study with a dynamic team of staff who are internationally-recognised experts in their fields, and to gain a deep understanding of the Spanish-speaking world today.

You will be able to apply for this course to start in September 2017.

For more information visit our website or email languages@reading.ac.uk.

Seminar series TRANSLATING IN DANGER ZONES @MLES

Translating in danger zonesIn a globalised world we are confronted with an increasingly diverse mix of languages and cultures, bringing new challenges to language professions. This series explores the role of language and translation in danger situations, and considers what it takes to work as a translator or interpreter in these contexts. Presented by a mix of practitioners and academics, it will demonstrate how language professions have changed because of these situations, and how translating/interpreting involves more than linguistic knowledge.

First event:

Dr Carmen Delgado Luchner, University of Geneva 

Training field interpreters for humanitarian organisations 

26 October 2016, Room 2s12, URS, 5 pm

CHECK OUR FACEBOOK PAGE FOR FULL PROGRAMME AND MORE DETAILS.

Looking for extra guidance on your studies?

Study Skills PosterTo all students of Modern Languages and European Studies!

The department is offering weekly drop-in sessions for study skills advice specific to undergraduate students (all years) of MLES, run by the department’s study skills advisers. Do you have questions or worries about making the transition to university life, writing or structuring essays, building vocabulary, grammar, exam technique, note taking, time management, etc…? Come along to our sessions when we will be available to answer your questions.

We can’t proofread your work, or give you specific answers to your assignments, but we do have experience of how things work in the department, and are uniquely placed to give you advice based on our knowledge as successful postgraduate students. If your query is beyond our scope, we’ll suggest the best person for you to contact.

These sessions will take place on Mondays 1-2pm in HumSS 274A, the Resources Room. It is not compulsory to attend all sessions; come as and when you have a query.

Hope to see you there!

Maria, Sophie and Stefano

Welcome to new staff in the French section and new developments for 2017!

Photo Marine French seciton blog postWe are delighted to welcome our new Teaching Fellow in French Language, Miss Marine Orain, in September 2016. Marine joins us from Birkbeck College and she will be teaching Language modules. Marine holds an MA in Teaching French as a Foreign Language from the University of Cumbria and she is completing her PhD thesis on French intellectuals.

Marine says:

‘After 9 years in London, I am delighted to be joining the University of Reading. I can’t wait to meet the students of the Modern Languages department. In today’s world, I believe that promoting multilingualism and intercultural understanding is more important than ever. I particularly enjoy teaching beginners and introducing them to my native culture and language.’

Our dynamic Language Teaching team is indeed preparing to launch a new Beginners’ Language module, which will allow students who did not study French at A Level to take French as part of a Joint Honours Degree. For more information on the wide range of degree programmes we offer check our website or contact us at languages.@reading.ac.uk!

 

French @ Reading

Welcome to the new staff in Spanish and Latin American Studies

We are delighted to welcome two new members of staff to the Spanish section as of September 2016.

 

Dream Team

Meet the new Dream Team

Dr Catriona McAllister (Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies) joins us from Brunel

University, where she taught extensively and was also Head of Academic Skills Development. Catriona gained her doctorate at the Centre of

Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, where she completed a PhD thesis on ‘Rewriting Independence in Contemporary Argentine Literature: Postmodernism, Politics and History’, which she is currently re-working as a book.

 

Catriona says:
‘As a Latin Americanist specialising in Argentine literary and cultural studies, my research focuses on discourses of national identity and rewritings of history in contemporary fiction. I’ll be joining the Spanish section in August and look forward to meeting new and existing students in the Languages department’.

Iván Ortega Galiano (Teaching Fellow in Spanish Language) joins us from the University of Strathclyde where he taught Spanish language for several years. Iván holds an MA in Linguistics Applied to the Teaching of Spanish as a Second Language, and will be bringing a Castilian flavour to the Spanish language team (with his colleague Raúl Marchena representing Latin America!)

Ivan says:
‘For me, being part of the Spanish section team is a golden opportunity to inspire all our students to succeed in their learning of the Spanish language and of the Spanish speaking countries’ rich culture’.

Welcome to you both from the MLES Department @Reading!

MAKING HISPANIC LITERATURES / CREACIÓN DE LAS LITERATURAS HISPÁNICAS

The programme for the Reading conference is now finalised and registration is open. Registrations close by end-August if possible (payment on arrival). Follow the link below for more information.

This conference takes as its focus the ways in which literature comes into being in the Hispanic world, from composition to reception, past and present. It aims to locate and explore our interest in literature not primarily in the text itself, but in the mechanisms, spaces and processes by which the literary text – in all its diverse representations – reaches the public sphere. Whether mediated by commercial, political, economic, social or other interests, the text reaches us through the complex interventions of a range of actors: author, editor, designer, translator, promoter, publisher, literary critic, journalist, reader.

Making Literature

 

Making Hispanic Literatures / Creación de las literaturas hispánicas

Reading Reacts: A Letter from the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies

Dr Federico Faloppa, Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of Reading.

Dr Federico Faloppa, Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of Reading.

On  July 7th, Emmanuel Chidi Namdi, a Nigerian refugee living with his wife in the town of Fermo, in central Italy, died of injuries he sustained when a local man, Amedeo Mancini, who had reportedly been racially abusing Namdi’s wife, attacked him. Amedeo Mancini, 39, allegedly referred to the 24-year-old woman as a “monkey”, and attacked Namdi when he attempted to defend her. Namdi – who fled the terrorist group Boko Haram with his wife, suffering the death of his son while crossing Lybia – fell into a coma and was pronounced dead a few hours later. Despite the Italian media’s efforts to de-emphasise Mancini’s extremist opinions, this was a racist attack, and a racist assassination.

"Contro il razzismo" (Einaudi 2016), the anti-racist manifesto that Federico has recently authored together with anthropologist Marco Aime, geneticist Guido Barbujani, and sociologist Clelia Bartoli. The authors will be on tour for a long seires of public talks and presentations next Autumn in Italy.

“Contro il razzismo” (Einaudi 2016), the anti-racist manifesto that Federico has recently co-authored together with anthropologist Marco Aime, geneticist Guido Barbujani, and sociologist Clelia Bartoli. The authors will be on tour for a long seires of public talks and presentations next Autumn in Italy.

The next day, Dr Federico Faloppa, Assistant Professor of Italian in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading, published an open letter to the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati), MP Laura Boldrini, to call for a national campaign against racism and hate speech, drawing on the voluntarily work of scholars, teachers, journalists, activists. For more than fifteen years Dr Faloppa has worked to deconstruct and delegitimise racist discourse, organising anti-racist campaigns and activities in Italy. In a few hours his open letter went viral and become a petition which, thanks to Italian journalists Barbara Bonomi Romagnoli and Daniele Barbieri, collected the signatures of some of the most prominent Italian anti-racism campaigners, eventually reaching President Laura Boldrini’s staff.

A few days later, President Boldrini replied to Dr Faloppa, thanking him and the other supporters for their letter and their offer to contribute to a national campaign coordinated by her and her members of staff. In her reply, President Boldrini also mentioned the recently formed Parliamentary Commission against racism, xenophobia an hate speech that she chairs, and has named after the British MP Jo Cox, murdered by an extremist on  June 16th in Leeds. Expressing her hope that Dr Faloppa’s initiatives can join the activities coordinated by the Commission, President Boldrini expressed interest in future collaborations on these important matters.

At the University of Reading, Dr Faloppa teaches courses on subjects including "Language and Power" and "Intellectuals and Society in Modern Italy"

At the University of Reading, Dr Faloppa teaches courses on subjects including “Language and Power” and “Intellectuals and Society in Modern Italy

Dr Faloppa’s efforts make clear that collaborations between scholars, activists and policy makers is the best option available for a sound, long-term campaign to culturally and politically contrast racism and xenophobia in Italy and beyond.

To find out more about Dr Faloppa’s work and how you can get involved, and to learn about the engagement and outreach of other scholars in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading, we invite you to check out the Reading Reacts section of our blog, to like us on Facebook, and to subscribe to our Twitter feed.

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Obituary – Professor Peter S. Noble

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Professor Peter S. Noble , on 31 May 2016. Professor Noble was for many years a central figure in the life of the Department of French Studies, which he joined as a young lecturer in 1966 and of which he was Head of Department between 1991 and 1999. Peter was an eminent scholar of international stature in the two quite distinct fields of medieval studies and Quebec literature. His many publications cover medieval chronicles, Arthurian literature, the French epic and early modern women writers as well as Canadian writers. An active member of the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, of which he was Director twice (1983-1986 and 2004-2005), Professor Noble regularly attended the Centre’s events until poor health no longer allowed him to do so.   Professor Noble was also a dedicated teacher who derived much fulfilment from student contact and kept abreast with pedagogical best practice; he made a point of teaching both content and language at all levels until he retired in 2007, and could remember all of the many students he taught. His colleagues will miss him.

Beginner’s language at Reading

Beginner’s language degrees are in the news at the moment. Here at Reading we have some news too: we’re very excited to announce that we will be launching beginner’s French for 2017 entry, to join our beginner’s Italian and Spanish courses. We have a longstanding specialism in this area, having provided accelerated Italian for many years.

A beginner’s language degree (or ab initio language degree as universities call it) involvesEnza Siciliano Verruccio learning the language from scratch, but going on to complete the degree at the same level of knowledge and fluency as students who might have a GCSE or A-Level in that language. They are far from being a new phenomenon. It has always been common for language students to pick up another language at degree level. Having more than one language improves your employability in competitive fields such as language teaching, and translating/ interpreting.

If you think you might be interested in learning a language from scratch, you can find out more about how students have found the experience, in these blog posts by our students Sabrina and Jess. Professor Catherine Léglu explains here about the benefits of ab initio language degrees.