Academic staff in the Department of Modern Languages are engaged in a wide range of research and scholarly projects. The Department hosts a vibrant research seminar series with guest speakers from across the EU. It also contributes to the new Faculty of Humanities research seminar series. Academic staff in the department are also members of research networks in Africa, the United States and Europe. The Department has recently undertaken a major expansion in its research activity. It has an international profile in francophone African and Caribbean Studies, and is strengthening its profile in a number of other areas including contemporary European cinema, gender and society in post-reunification Germany, pedagogical theory and practice and culture and society in contemporary Spain.

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  • Patrick Modiano parolier (1967-1970) : à la recherche d’une voix

    Obergöker, Timo; University of Chester (Universität Innsbruck, 2023-01-23)
    Patrick Modiano, Nobel Prize for Literature 2014, has had an abundant activity as a songwriter between 1967 and 1970. Together with his friend from prep school, Hughes de Courson, they were writing songs for artists as prestigious as Françoise Hardy, Régine and Myriam Anissimov, famous for her biographies of Primo Levi and Romain Gary. In this article, we explore the core themes of some of those songs, asking ourselves to what extent they reflect literary themes and characters Modiano develops in his novels. We argue that his years of songwriting have allowed Modiano to find his voice as an author. With Modiano having found the sober elegance which is still marking his writing in Les boulevards de ceinture, he abruptly stopped writing songs, with one exception in 2018. Modiano dans la chanson1« C’est le soir où près du métro, nous avions croisé Modiano »...Vincent Delerm, chef de file de la Nouvelle scène française du début des années 2000, relate dans sa chanson « Le baiser Modiano » une rencontre nocturne, inattendue avec l’écrivain révéré. Delerm compte parmi les auteurs-compositeurs-interprètes que l’on peut qualifier de littéraires dans le sens où un certain souci de la qualité du texte régit ses chansons, lesquelles abordent, qui plus est, souvent des sujets littéraires. La présence d’un écrivain dans l’univers de Delerm n’a d’emblée rien de surprenant. (Obergöker 2008 ; Remy s.d.)C’est le soir où près du métroNous avons croisé Modiano Le soir où tu ne voulais pas croireQue c’était lui sur le trottoir Le soir où j’avais dit tu vois
  • Navigating the Digital World: Teaching Contemporary Chinese Culture via a Third Space With a Multimodal Approach

    Guenier, Amily; Min, Ge; Lancaster University; University of Chester (IGI Global, 2022-11-01)
    This study explores a multimodal approach to teaching Contemporary Chinese Culture to foster university students’ intercultural awareness and intercultural communication competence via a third space. Two universities in the UK took part in the study where the course contents moved from static notions of culture-as-fact in terms of national traditions to digital presentation of and live discussion about contemporary China. The pedagogy includes discussing Chinese celebrities’ digital videos and films on digital platforms, and students’ digital presentations in multimodal modes. Findings from students’ comments in the module evaluations, students’ reflective essays, and lecturers’ observations prove the viability of this approach and the data analyzed via themes address the function of the third space, the application of multimodality, and approaches to intercultural awareness and intercultural communication competence. The paper suggests that multimodality can be an effective approach to advancing theory and practice in future contemporary culture teaching and research in other higher education contexts.
  • The ‘People’s Sport’: Petty Theft in the German Democratic Republic, 1963-1985

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester
    This article examines petty theft in the GDR. It considers offences committed from the early 1960s to 1985. It shows that GDR citizens stole a range of items including money, vehicle parts, clothes, food, cigarettes, alcohol, and construction materials and/or equipment from places such as factories, construction sites, shops, staff rooms, private homes, and colleagues’ bags. Many of these thieves were apparently motivated by a lack of money to buy the things that they desired. Though petty theft did undermine the vision of socialist society that the Party hoped to create, there is little evidence to support the conclusion that it constituted an act of outright resistance. Thieves stole for personal gain rather than in order to thumb their nose at Party bosses.
  • Worlds of evidence: Visualising patterns in witness statements in the aftermath of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster

    Canning, Patricia; Ho, Yufang; Bartl, Sara (John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2021-09-15)
    Abstract The Hillsborough football stadium disaster (1989) in Sheffield, UK, led to the deaths of 96 football fans and resulted in the longest jury case in British legal history (2016). This article examines the witness statements of two Sheffield residents who claim to have attended the match. Using a mixed-methods approach that incorporates a cognitive linguistic framework (Text World Theory) with visualisation software (VUE) we consider both form and function of a number of linguistic features, such as meta-narrative, evaluative lexis, syntax, and modality to investigate how institutional voices permeate and potentially distort layperson narratives. Our analysis casts doubt on the veracity of the statements and raises questions about what can be considered evidential in a forensic investigation.
  • Screening Dissent: The Uprising of 17 June 1953 in East German Film

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester
    An analysis of how the politically sensitive subject of the anti-regime uprising of 17 June 1953 was portrayed in East German film productions.
  • Le roman sans aventure... Vraiment ? Quelques réflexions sur la mondialité du roman québécois

    Obergöker, Timo; University of Chester
    The present article challenges one of the major claims of Isabelle Daunais’ essay Le roman sans aventure (The novel without adventure) which states that literature from Quebec is hardly ever read beyond the boundaries of the province as its underpinning narrative pattern is what Milan Kundera in The Art of the Novel calls an idyll, a hermetic, protective environment. My contribution firstly seeks to show that the lack of reception of the Quebecois novel can be explained by the particular dichotomy separating the French-speaking literary field into “Parisian” and “Francophone” texts. Moreover, I would like to explore two Quebecois novels (Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner and La fiancée américaine by Eric Dupont) which engage with the world and with globalisation in numerous ways, thus contradicting the argumentation of the “idyll”.
  • Les journaux de confinement de Leïla Slimani et de Marie Darrieussecq – Histoire d’un malentendu

    OBERGÖKER, Timo; University of Chester
    Immediately after French President Macron declared the lockdown of the country, French writers Marie Darrieussecq and Leïla Slimani have published their lockdown journals, Slimani in Le Monde, Darrieussecq in Le Point. However the reception was indeed problematic, in that most critics insisted on their class privilege, romanisation of an unbearable experience for normal citizens, to mention a few. Our text explores the reasons for this problematic reception: we show that the lockdown has brought to the surface a whole set of traumata closely linked to the German Occupation. What is more, we explore the changing role of the author in French society. The author is not the nearly sacred institution Roland Barthes describes in his Ecrivain en vacances, he has become a celebrity like any other. The diary (journal intime) has strong female connotations, thus allowing for misogynistic stereotypes to flourish. Finally, we argue that Annie Ernaux's Journal du dehors is a more appropriate literary approach to the urgency of sanitary, economic and social crisis.
  • Mai 68, une approche transatlantique

    OBERGÖKER, Timo; HENNUY, Jean-Frédéric; University of Chester
    The book is the result of a workshop held in 2018 at the German Association of French Studies in Osnabrück. It raises questions around May 68 as an international event, particularly at the Francophone periphery, in Montréal, in the Canadian Maritimes, in Belgium.
  • The Quebec spring, a new May 68?

    OBERGÖKER, Timo; University of Chester
    May 68 seems to have become the global matrix for youth protest and indeed one of the first globalised rebellions. Powerful images of young people challenging the establishment circulated quickly around the globe , thus creating a language of dissent encapsulated in slogans, posters, music, happenings. In 2012, when students in the province of Quebec protested massively against an increase of their tuition fees, many commentators in the media compared this event to “May 68”. Indeed, we find striking similarities between Paris 1968 and Montreal 2012. But are things really that easy? We will explore in how far a common set of signs and symbols might, potentially, hide deep structural differences..
  • The Limits of Anglo-American Cooperation in Cuba, 1945–1959

    Hull, Christopher; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020-10-14)
    Before the 1959 Cuban Revolution, British governments and diplomats in Havana sought to protect their interests in Cuba, always sensitive to reactions from Washington – a vital transatlantic ally with a significant political and economic stake in the Caribbean island. After the Second World War, the allies continued their wartime cooperation over sugar supplies, with Cuba’s mainstay export still important to Britain’s refining industry and ongoing food rationing. Following two democratically-elected but highly corrupt Cuban governments, both the US State Department and the British Foreign Office came to recognise the benefits of strongman Fulgencio Batista’s abrupt return to Cuba’s political scene in 1952. Everything changed, however, when the Fidel Castro-led anti-Batista insurgency gained strength between late 1956 and 1958, and London and Washington became increasingly concerned about a political upheaval beyond US control. The issue of arms sales to Cuba became a touchstone not only of US and British policy toward Batista’s regime, but also of Anglo-American cooperation. When it came, Castro’s revolutionary triumph questioned the strength of US hegemony in its hemisphere.
  • Black French women and the struggle for equality, 1848–2016. F. Germain & S. Larcher (Eds.). Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2018, ISBN 978-1-4962-0127-0

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (emerita) (Taylor and Francis, 2020-10-29)
    This articles reviews fourteen essays focusing on the often unacknowledged contributions Black women have made, and are continuing to make in the fight for equality in metropolitan and 'overseas' France.
  • La place de la République dans la littérature française ontemporaine

    OBERGÖKER, Timo; University of Chester
    This book endeavours to better understand France and the French through the lens of the place the idea of the Republic has in their collective imagery. The book starts at the round-about, leading everywhere and nowhere, and then visits several places encapsulating what Fernand Braudel has called "The French identity".
  • Le roman national à l’épreuve du littéraire : Alexis Jenni, Jérôme Ferrari, Magyd Cherfi

    OBERGÖKER, Timo; University of Chester
    The recent publication of the L’Histoire mondiale de la France by Patrick Boucheron has reactualised a debate on the "worldliness" of French culture and history. His detractors reproach to this new and broader view on French History not to take into contact certain pillars of national History. The fondamental question which is here negotiated is another one_ What it the status of France in globalisation? What is the place of France's expectionalism? What is the role of national storytelling, a pedgagogical account of France's grandeur? French writers have reacted in manifold ways to this debate. This article shows how authors engage with this debate since 2010.
  • The Anniversary Politics of 17 June 1953 since 1990

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester (Wiley, 2020-07-21)
    This article analyses the politics of anniversaries through examination of the role that the anniversary of the East German uprising of 17 June 1953 has played in German politics since 1990. Prior to reunification, West Germany commemorated the date as the ‘Tag der deutschen Einheit’. This annual public holiday was a chance for politicians to express their views on the possibility of German unification and to lambast the East German regime. After 3 October became the ‘Tag der Deutschen Einheit’ in 1990, German politicians all but ignored the anniversary of 17 June until political commemoration of the date enjoyed a revival in 2003. This article shows that the ‘genre memory’ (Olick) of a commemoration ensures that continuities in political commemoration of an anniversary persist, even after long periods in which an historical event is not commemorated. Significantly, the analysis demonstrates further that consideration of the drivers of political mnemonic activity in the twenty-first century must now take into account the technology-led ubiquity of the media in motivating politicians to act. Moreover, the article concludes that politicians’ internationalisation of anniversaries has enabled them to find new political capital in dates that may appear to be politically redundant.
  • ‘He didn’t really talk about it’: The (re)construction and transmission of a Free French past

    Millington, Christopher; Millington, Richard; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2021-12-21)
    A study of how the memories of a member of the Free French were (and were not) communicated to the rest of his family after the Second World War.
  • Revisiting Centres and Peripheries in Iberian Studies: Culture, History and Socio-economic Change

    Gant, Mark; University of Chester (Cambridge Scholars, 2019-08-05)
    The centres and peripheries that form the focus of the book are markedly diverse and interdisciplinary in nature. In terms of geography these range from considerations of transnational influences in the wider Hispanic and Lusophone worlds to a closer focus particular regions such as Catalonia or Asturias. The historical and transhistorical processes studied are also varied in character, with consideration given to a number of cases of economic and political change from the late nineteenth century to the present. In terms of cultural representations, more marginal social groups including migrants, children and the elderly are considered as well as those excluded in periods of dictatorship or by the developing democracies. Themes of memory, identity, regionalisms and nationalisms are frequently salient in the interconnectivities across time and space which the volume explores. Contributors are drawn established academics and early career researchers from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Costa Rica and the USA.
  • A Critical Review of the Long Term Development of athletes in age-groups

    Guan, Zhixun; Xue, Lan; Cui, Wei; Min, Ge; Sun, Guishan; University of Chester (2019-01-30)
    This research studies the development of the age group of Chinese athletes from five main themes with an approach of opportunity cost. The themes include: the grouping studies; the skills development studies; the training sensitive period of the age group athletes; the growth, training, and the supporting studies. The main trends in terms of the development of the age group are: the precision of the age group development. The training of the age group athletes needs to seize the opportunity of growth. The development of the age group athletes need to organize the sports training based on the athletes' school education. An efficient and low-cost retirement arrangement needs to be provided to the age group athletes, in order to transfer all kinds of the age-group athletes into the sports population.
  • Square dancing: A multimodal analysis of the discourse in the People’s Daily

    Zhang, Qi; Min, Ge (2019-07-12)
    Square dancing, guangchangwu in Chinese, is a kind of physical activity practiced in flat public spaces for fitness and entertainment. Despite its popularity all over China, there have been news reports on conflicts caused by it, such as noise pollution or use of a public square. This study collects 150 news articles published between May 2016 and May 2018 containing the keyword guangchangwu from the People’s Daily, one of the most influential official newspapers owned by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The purpose of the study is to investigate the government’s attitudes towards square dancing through an analysis of the official media discourse, using word frequency of occurrence and multimodal discourse analysis. Both the word count and the co-deployment of visual and linguistic resources indicate that square dancing is perceived as an integral part of promoting the national fitness agenda. While the discourse demonstrates awareness of square dancing in the context of an aging society and a shortage of public space, general approval for it is still quite evident in the frequent positive descriptions in the text and presentations in the images. The use of the word dama ‘big mama’ in the official media discourse reveals gender inequality in contemporary China.
  • Chinese writing composition among CFL learners: A comparison between handwriting and typewriting

    Zhang, Qi; Min, Ge (Elsevier, 2019-09-20)
    Situated in the context of CFL (Chinese as a foreign language), the current study examines and compares texts produced by twelve pre-intermediate CFL learners using both pen-and-paper and the pinyin input system. The participants were also invited for interviews to investigate their attitudes towards handwriting and typewriting. Because of the ease of use of the pinyin input system, CFL learners tend to prefer it over writing by hand when composing lengthy texts. Based on the evaluations of fifteen professional CFL teachers, the typewritten texts were rated higher than the handwritten ones. Using the self-report empathy test, there was no significant correlation between an evaluator’s empathy and his/her rating for the texts, whether composed by hand or with pinyin input. Pedagogically, typewriting might better assist Chinese language learning after handwriting has been introduced and practised among non-beginner CFL learners. The empathy effect on handwriting reported in previous literature is not found in the study. The study goes beyond the factors influencing typewriting and typewritten essays, to encourage future research investigating when to introduce computer-based writing and how it would best assist in language learning.
  • State Power and 'Everyday Criminality' in the German Democratic Republic, 1961-1989

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester (OUP, 2020-06-20)
    Friedrich Engels claimed that communists would ‘take an axe to the root of crime’; the removal of the perceived causes of crime in a society - capitalist economic and societal conditions - would automatically lead to its eradication. This did not, however, prove to be the case in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), where instances of ‘everyday criminality’ such as theft, robbery and assault never fell below 100,000 throughout the period of the state’s existence from 1949 to 1989. This article examines the ruling Socialist Unity Party’s (SED) perceptions of the causes of ‘everyday criminality’ in the GDR. It shows that the SED concluded that crime persisted because citizens’ ‘socialist sense of legal right and wrong’ (sozialistisches Rechtsbewußtsein) was underdeveloped. The regime measured this by the extent to which citizens supported and participated in socialist society. Thus, crime could be eliminated by co-opting as many citizens as possible into the Party’s political project. The SED’s ideological tunnel vision on the causes of ‘everyday criminality meant that it dismissed hints about the real causes of crime, such as poor supply and living conditions, identified by its analysts. Its failure to address these issues meant that citizens continued to break the law. Thus, the Party’s exercise of power contributed to the creation of limits to that power. Moreover, analysis of opinion polls with GDR citizens about their attitudes to criminality shows that they accepted crime as a part of everyday life.

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