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

  • The Anniversary Politics of 17 June 1953 since 1990

    Millington, Richard; University of Chester
    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
    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 (2019-07-15)
    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, 2019-12-01)
    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)
    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.
  • Guerre d’Algérie Le sexe outragé

    Obergöker, Timo (Informa UK Limited, 2019-08-23)
  • From Postcolonialism to Decolonial Critique? A Visual Discourse of Dissent

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Postcolonial Studies Association UK, 2019-09-30)
    The article explores the critical discourse developing in contemporary African art around issues of development, economic growth and labour exploitation in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Our Man Down in Havana: The Story Behind Graham Greene's Cold War Spy Novel

    Hull, Christopher; University of Chester (Pegasus Books, 2019-04-02)
    Analyses the backstory to Graham Greene's 1958 spy-fiction satire Our Man in Havana, including the British writer’s seven pre-revolutionary and five post-revolutionary visits to Cuba. This book reveals the gestation of his iconic 1958 novel, and its 1959 film version, directed by Carol Reed. Background includes his wartime experience in MI6, first in Sierra Leone, and later under Kim Philby's supervision in London. The book also details Greene's ongoing manic depression and turbulent private life, context for him beginning to write his novel in the midst of the Fidel Castro-led armed insurrection against the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in November 1957. Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on 1st January 1959, Greene witnessed the development of Fidel Castro’s socialist and then communist revolution during its key early years, on journalistic assignments from the Daily Telegraph in 1963 and 1966. We thus gain Greene’s overview of Cuba during its capitalist apogee under dictatorial Batista and its radical social transformation under Castro’s charismatic leadership.
  • Trabant: Go with the legend

    Lowe, Austen; Stone, Mark (Drystone Radio, 2018-11-18)
    "The car is that mediation between state and society. If you look at when they finally opened the borders for people to go West, the Trabis also went with them." Modern Languages undergraduate Austen Lowe was invited to Drystone Radio's Backseat Driver show to discuss his research on the Trabant with Mark Stone. This radio broadcast outlines the misunderstandings surrounding GDR mobility. The conversation focusses on how the wooden and plastic car personifies the state in which it was made. The broadcast aims to draw parallels between production techniques in the GDR and the FRG, relating these methods to cars produced more recently in Zwickau. What did quality actually mean in the GDR and is the Trabant really a motoring legend?
  • L'affaire Tarnac: L'é(a)vénement de deux générations politiques

    Hennuy, Jean-Frederic; University of Chester (Sybil Duemchen Verlag, 2017)
    Article analysis the so-called Tarnac Affair which saw a confrontation between Nicolas Sarkozy and the the members of a ultra-left group. The article put forward the idea that this is a key moment in French politics that saw the birth of two political generations.
  • The Guerrilla Legacy of the Cuban Revolution

    Clayfield, Anna; University of Chester (University Press of Florida, 2019-06-15)
    In this extensively researched book, Anna Clayfield challenges contemporary Western views on the militarization of Cuba. She argues that, while the pervasiveness of armed forces in revolutionary Cuba is hard to refute, it is the guerrilla legacy, ethos, and image—guerrillerismo—that has helped the Cuban revolutionary project survive. The veneration of the guerilla fighter has been crucial to the political culture’s underdog mentality. Analyzing official discourse, including newspapers, history textbooks, army training manuals, the writings of Che Guevara, and the speeches of Fidel Castro, Clayfield examines how the Cuban government has promoted guerrilla motifs. She traces this rhetorical strategy from the beginnings of the Rebel Army in the 1950s and the implementation of Soviet-style management in the 1960s and 1970s, through the shifting ideologies of the 1980s and the instability of the 1990s Special Period, until the present day. By weaving the guerilla ethos into the fabric of Cuban identity, the government has garnered legitimacy for the political authority of former guerrilleros, even decades after the end of armed conflicts. The Guerilla Legacy of the Cuban Revolution chronicles how guerrilla rhetoric has allowed the Revolution to adapt and transform over time while appearing to remain true to its founding principles. It also raises the question of just how long this discourse can sustain the Revolution when its leaders are no longer veterans of the sierra, those guerrillas who participated in that armed struggle that brought them to power so many years ago.
  • Engagement au marteau: Michel Onfray’s Université Populaire

    Hennuy, Jean-Frederic; University of Chester (University of Wales Press, 2017-11-07)
    Article analyses the anarchist philosophy that underlies the creation of the Université Populaire by Michel Onfray.
  • Imaging the present: an iconography of slavery in African art

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Liverpool University Press, 2015-05-21)
    As memories of slavery re-emerge in the historiography of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, contemporary artists from Francophone Africa are engaged in reassessing how this period in Africa’s recent past has extended beyond its historical era to play a role in shaping the development challenges of present-day Africa. Exploring connections between Atlantic slavery and the use of African labour in contemporary modes of production in West Africa, recent art works from the region that once formed the heartland of the French slave trade are providing a discursive platform on which to challenge traditional post-colonial nationalist discourses of modernity and change. An iconography of slavery dating from the era of the Atlantic slave trade and the capture, enslavement and transportation of over eleven million people from Africa to the Americas over the four hundred year period of the ‘terrible trade', has appeared in a body of digital and material art work produced between 1995 and 2015. Artists originating from countries across Francophone Africa (the former French and Belgian colonies on the African mainland), many of whom now live and work in Europe, have independently been moving towards a re-contextualised use of visual imaginary that both invokes explicitly the history and legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This chapter explores the context in which ‘les arts plastiques’ have been produced in the French-speaking areas of Africa, both historically and into the present day, and explores how art offers an alternative platform for political discourse and dissent in the Francophone Africa today.
  • Fathers, Daughters, and Slaves : Women Writers and French Colonial Slavery.

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Liverpool University Press, 2016-03)
    Review article of Fathers, Daughters, and Slaves : Women Writers and French Colonial Slavery. By DORIS Y. KADISH. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, October 2012. 186 pp. Hb £65. ISBN: 9781846318467
  • The Uprooted: Race, Children, and Imperialism in French Indochina, 1890-1980

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018)
    The article reviews recent scholarship on gender, race and imperialism in French Indochina up to and beyond decolonization in 1954.
  • Gender and Generations: exploring gender at the frontiers of the colony

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Chronica Mundi, 2018)
    Abstract: This essay addresses two unanswered questions on gender justice in postcolonial Francophone Africa. It asks why countries of Francophone Africa invariably occupy the lowest ranks in global gender equity tables, and why this underperformance continues to map onto the colonial geography of the continent three generations after the end of colonial rule. Existing sociological methodologies aimed at evaluating gender equity are failing to identify why gender inequalities in countries of the former French African empires remain more pronounced than in any other part of the world. Drawing from fieldwork and research conducted in countries across Francophone Africa, it is argued that the creation and persistence of such inequalities are better understood if evaluated in the context of the cultural histories of the regions in which they persist. As the cultural histories of the former colonies are still being written, the discussion incorporates new and emerging historical research on earlier studies of African women led by female researchers during the 1930s. These include the reports and correspondence of a substantial colonial tour commissioned by the French Socialist government of 1936 to record the social impact of colonisation on African women living in seven colonies of French West Africa. In addition, analysis of the records of two pioneering French researchers, the first women to conduct anthropological fieldwork in French Africa, is helping illuminate how gender has been perceived by colonisers in this part of the world, and combined with contemporary fieldwork and policy analysis, contributing to our growing understanding of why inequality persists in certain geographical contexts that share a colonial history, and why in the former colonies of French Africa, the path gender equity has been following differs from those observed in all other postcolonial developing areas to the point where the situation in Francophone Africa is historically unique.
  • French women and the empire: The case of Indochina

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2016-02-18)
    This review article assesses the contribution to postcolonial historiography with particular reference to gender in the French colonies of Marie-Paule Ha's study of Indochina published by Oxford University Press under the title French women and the empire: the case of Indochina.
  • Women Writers of Gabon: Literature and Herstory

    Griffiths, Claire H.; University of Chester (Liverpool University Press, 2017-11)
    The review article assesses recent scholarship on women's creative writing in French from Gabon.

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