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!

If it wasn’t for my decision to learn Italian at Reading, I simply wouldn’t be where I am today!

You never know where a degree in Modern Languages will take you. Lora Jury, who graduated from the University of Reading in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Italian, is now in the United States, where she won a Fellowship to pursue a Masters in Italian Studies at the University of Oregon. With the opportunities that a University of Reading degree provides, many of our alumni go on to pursue post-graduate studies, often here at Reading, but also at other universities throughout the UK, and often much further afield. We’ve asked Lora to let us know how she wound up in Oregon and how she’s getting on in her studies. Here’s what she had to say:


Lora Jury, graduating from the University of Reading in 2015 with a degree in degree in English Literature and Italian

“I first began learning Italian at the University of Reading in 2011, and at the start it felt like the most difficult challenge of my life. Before coming to university, I’d attended a state school and a sixth form college in South Wales, and I’d never studied a foreign language, apart from three years of French and German at secondary school. I’d never studied any Italian and I could not profess to be proficient in any language other than English. Just five years later, I’m now teaching Italian at the University of Oregon, USA!

Whilst at the University of Reading I undertook a whole range of courses in Italian language, history, politics, intellectual history, and literature. I found Reading’s Department of Modern Languages and European Studies to be an environment in which I could really develop as an independent thinker. The kinds of assessments I was set by my Italian lecturers encouraged me to develop my own research topics, and also acted as a kind of exercise in learning the rubric of academia (proofreading, citing, creating a bibliography etc.) The most unique opportunity for me was being able to take up a foreign language without having any prior qualifications – if it wasn’t for my decision to learn Italian at Reading, I simply wouldn’t be where I am today.

During my final year at the University of Reading I followed a course on Modern Italian Poetry with Dr Daniela La Penna, and that’s when my love for Italian literature really began to develop and flourish. When Dr La Penna recommended me as an applicant to the University of Oregon’s MA programme, I was full of doubts. Still, even as I wondered whether I would be admitted to this competitive programme, I went ahead with my application. To my great surprise I was offered a prestigious Graduate Teaching Fellowship in Italian Studies. This means that, while I pursue my MA in Italian language and literature at the University of Oregon, all my fees are paid for! I also receive a monthly stipend, which pays for all of my living expenses, as well as health insurance and a whole range of other benefits as well. In exchange, I teach Italian language courses to undergraduate students at the university.

Lora Jury is now pursuing an MA in Italian Studies and teaching Italian language at the University of Oregon, USA

Lora Jury is now pursuing an MA in Italian Studies and teaching Italian language at the University of Oregon, USA

Pursuing a Masters Degree in the US has been an amazing experience, but it’s not for the faint hearted. This is much more than another Erasmus year. It’s the act of transferring one’s whole life to the other side of the planet, and not only learning as a student but also developing as a professional and an academic. At times my colleagues and I work under intense pressures, given that we are teachers and post-graduate students at the same time. Even so, this first year has been great. I’ve learned an unfathomable amount.

My studies in literature and language at the University of Reading definitely gave me an advantage when it came to studying for my MA at the University of Oregon. Some candidates may initially struggle when it comes to the deep analytical and theoretical work, but I definitely never felt this pressure. The courses I took at Reading were particularly rigorous, allowing me already to engage with some of the material I now work with as a post-graduate. I also think that a lot of our assignments had a practical application – for example we were often assessed on the presentation of our research at the undergraduate level, and this is now a crucial part of my everyday work. Studying at Reading taught me to be a confident and vocal young thinker; my lecturers inspired me with the notion to question absolutely everything, to think radically, and this philosophy has always added new elements to my work.

Lora Jury, enjoying life inside and outside the classroom in Oregon

Lora Jury, enjoying life inside and outside the classroom in Oregon

Like Reading, Oregon provides a really comprehensive and well-rounded education. I’m incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to work for all of this and not to have to pay for my Masters programme. I still have one year left, in which I’ll take four more courses in Italian Studies, as well as two four hour exams, while also presenting my research at a post-graduate forum, completing an MA thesis, and reading around forty books. It sounds like an awful lot when I put it like that! But I love it. My professors in Oregon are incredible people. They only encourage the very best from their students. Plus, working in Oregon has opened up other opportunities as well: the Department of Romance Languages will fund my summer studying at a language school in Sorrento, Italy, where I’ll also work on a research project I’ll then present back in Oregon at the Graduate Student Research Forum in the Fall.

Studying in the States has opened up a wealth of opportunities to me. For instance, earlier this year I presented a paper on Italian Neorealist Cinema at a conference at the University of Wisconsin, and I’m hoping to do this again in New York in October. I am also going to apply for PhD in Culture and Theory at UC Irvine, and this is something which I simply would have never considered had I never gotten the opportunity to study at two great institutions like the University of Reading and the University of Oregon. I’ve been able to meet and network with a lot of exceptional academics and to learn more about their research, which also helps me to think about what I would like to research and where I would like to conduct my investigations.

There are so many advantages to being a part of this unbelievable experience. Most days I wake up and can’t believe that this is my life! But I intend to find a PhD programme in the States after finishing my masters.

The 2016 graduates of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading. You never know where a languages degree will lead you.

The 2016 graduates of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading. You never know where a languages degree will lead you.

I definitely believe that other Reading students could follow in my footsteps. As a woman I feel that we are sometimes conditioned to believe that the positions of success and power are not reserved for us, but the role models I had at the University of Reading were testament to the contrary. The Department of Modern Languages and European Studies has a large population of female students, and I believe that we should encourage these young women to aim high. There are so many opportunities here in the US within academia, and I know that students at Reading are well prepared to compete in this market.”

To learn more about how competitive you can be with a degree in French, German, Italian, or Spanish from the University of Reading, check out our careers page. Be sure to follow our blog, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Twitter feed, too, so that you can keep up on all the news and events of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading.

If you’re a Reading graduate, we’d love to hear from you about your career choices after university. Tell us your story. The University of Reading publishes alumni profiles online. If you’d like to share your experiences, all you have to do is fill out an online questionnaire.

When you do, please consider submitting your story for the “Meet a Reading Graduate” section of our departmental blog.

If you’d like to tell us where your Reading degree has taken you, and perhaps to share a few  memories of the department, please get in touch with our Alumni Officer, Dr Veronica Heath. And please consider joining the University’s Thrive Mentoring Scheme to help our students make their transition into the world after graduation.

And remember to subscribe to our blog:



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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Chris Flach – Award for extraordinary enthusiasm in engaging with and supporting MLES.

JackChris Flach, Second year student of Law with Legal Studies in Europe and German Studies, was awarded for his extraordinary enthusiasm in engaging with and supporting the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies. Throughout his two years at Reading, he showed his enormous interest, dedication and commitment for the German language in particular and the Department as a whole by promoting Modern Languages as a student ambassador, being involved in Outreach and Teach meet events, creating a departmental video workshop, playing a leading role in the German Drama Group and being actively engaged in all other extracurricular events and activities of German Studies. The Department has highly appreciated his outstanding support and is wishing him the best of luck for his year abroad at the University of Trier in Germany.

MRes and me

Penny Ditchfield tells us about her experiences of studying for an MRes:

An MRes in Modern Languages – pathway in Italian Studies?? Isn’t it all rather serious? Well, yes, I can’t deny that I felt a bit apprehensive in September, clutching my new Campus Card with the word POSTGRADUATE in bold letters, looking at the emails about modules on Research Skills & Methodology, and optional module topics such as Cultures of Fascism, trying not to dwell on the idea of a 20,000-word dissertation – and wondering. These are some of the questions I asked myself – and the answers!

  • Is there too much to do?

Happily, I’ve chosen the part-time option, two years. Time to breathe. I would recommend that to anyone who has an extra year to spare. There is a lot to do, presentations, essays – and that dissertation – but I have above my computer a card with two words of encouragement: NO EXAMS.

  • What about the working in isolation?

You are not of course totally on your own. I know I am responsible for my own research, I am  making decisions about the direction to take, but close at hand is a spectacular support network, staff in the Library, and the Special Collections Service but most importantly, the staff in Modern languages in general and Italian programme staff in particular  –  and especially the interest,  encouragement and guidance of supervisors and Programme director,  with special mention for their patience, when confronted by an over-excited student saying yet again “Look what I’ve just found!”

  • What if I can’t decide on a topic?

I thought I had decided before the course started. I had even started compiling a bibliography. Then the Methodology module involved choosing an item from the Special Collections to analyse. I set aside an hour to read an innocuous blue-covered diary, and dragged myself back two hours later to 2015 and to the assuredness that I had found my topic. An unforgettable moment in an exciting year.

So are there any more questions? Oh yes, plenty – and I’m off to request “my” box of documents in the Special Collections Reading Room and start looking for the answers… but that will be another story.

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.