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.

Recent Submissions

  • Year Abroad (A Dialogue)

    Illingworth, James; Gant, Mark; Fukurawa, Akiko; Puzey, Guy; Institute for Study Abroad; SOAS University of London; University of Chester; University of Edinburgh (Liverpool University Press, 2023-12-12)
    This article is the product of an exchange that took place over the course of two months between March and May 2023 and offers reflections on how the year abroad in Modern Languages has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four contributors each bring a distinct expertise in year abroad provision and represent different language areas and geographical regions of the United Kingdom. The core themes explored in the discussion are the need for flexibility and resilience in degree programmes, the importance of accessibility and inclusion, and the challenges and opportunities of digital developments in a mobilities context. As well as reflecting on the impact of the pandemic on year abroad provision, the contributors also dwell on how the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has altered the year abroad landscape.
  • Introduction: Transcultural spaces and identities in Iberian studies

    Gant, Mark; Rocha Relves, Susana; University of Chester; Politecnic Institute of Viseu (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020-11-05)
    This volume brings together innovative research across the diverse field of Iberian Studies, including insights from economics, society, politics, literature, cinema and other art forms, either in a revisionist perspective or incorporating new data. Reflecting recent developments in the field, the subject matter extends beyond the boundaries of Spain and Portugal, as it also includes transnational and transatlantic interconnections with Europe, Africa and the Americas and its scope ranges from the nineteenth century to the effects of the Catalan independence crisis and Brexit. The 18 chapters here are authored by established academics and early career researchers from the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Japan and the USA. The book will appeal to students, researchers and all who have a particular interest in deepening their understanding of the countries of the Iberian Peninsula.
  • Introduction: Memory, transition and transnationalism in Iberia

    Gant, Mark; Rocha Relvas, Susana; Edwards, Sian; University of Chester; Politecnic Institute of Viseu; University of Cardiff (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2023-02-27)
    This volume brings together a wide range of innovative research across the diverse field of Iberian Studies. It will be of interest to academic staff and research students, and will also provide a resource for undergraduate projects and for all those wishing to deepen their knowledge of the Iberian countries and their relationships with other parts of the world. The collection includes cutting-edge work in the fields of memory politics and historical revisionism, peninsular dictatorships, the Spanish Civil War, the Francoist legacy and transition to democracy, and colonial and postcolonial transnational exchanges between Iberia and other continents on a global scale. Within these core themes, pressing topics such as migrations, resistance, memory, exile and trauma, violence, sexuality and feminism, and their literary and artistic representations form the core of the volume. The 16 chapters are written by established and early career researchers from Brazil, India, Ireland, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the USA.
  • Nicolas Mathieu entre le restaurant Drouant et la France périphérique

    Obergöker, Timo; University of Chester (Freie Universität Berlin, 2023-10-31)
    Space is a central factor in Nicolas Mathieu's novels. Notably his last ones Leurs enfants après eux et Connemara present a threefold spatial divide: the little city of peripheral France, the major regional capital and Paris. This divide is presents both through the lense of his fictional texts, but also in the light of the paratext. Whilst some attention is carried to the idea of posture as theorised by Meizoz, we endeavour to show that the paratopie (Maingueneau) of Mathieu is that of a mediator between classes and postions stemming precisely from his position inbetween places.
  • Slavery and Collective Memory: The Case of Liverpool’s Statue of William Huskisson

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester (Indiana University Press, 2023-09-10)
    In 1982, residents of Liverpool pulled a statue of William Huskisson from its plinth. Today, a plaque at the site states that the sculpture was removed by “activists offended at Huskisson’s role in supporting slavery.” Less than a mile away, however, one finds Huskisson’s effigy, re-erected, with no reference to slavery. This article traces the history of the rise, fall and rise of the Huskisson statue. It concludes on how collective memory shapes the urban landscape and informs interaction with it. It also reflects on the nature of memory conflicts and the processing of unresolved events in the past.
  • Der Aufstand vom 17. Juni 1953 im kollektiven Gedächtnis und Bewusstsein der Magdeburger vor 1990

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester (Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2023-03-01)
    Eine Untersuchung und Analyse der kollektiven Erinnerung an den Aufstand vom 17. Juni 1953 unter Bürgern der Stadt Magdeburg.
  • 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 (Brill, 2023-04-24)
    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; University College Utrecht; University of Chester; University of Birmingham (John Benjamins Publishing, 2021-09-15)
    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-Frederic; 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 (Lexington Books, 2021-02)
    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.
  • Book review: 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 & 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.

View more