Interconnections showcases the vibrant research environment in the Department of Modern Languages. It includes posts on our research seminars, workshops and major events, overviews of major publications by colleagues in the Department, and perspectives on the central questions confronting the discipline nationally and internationally. A particular focus is the work conducted under the umbrella of our three streams – Intersecting Identities, Forging Links, and (Tran)sforming Knowledge – and within our Departmental reading group, Interconnections. We hope that the blog will be a hub for further debate – so please do offer comment and constructive criticism using the discussion feature!
Contemporary Modern Languages scholars work from a multitude of perspectives, analysing the languages, cultures, societies, histories and politics of a particular nation or region – increasingly, but not necessarily from a comparative perspective. What unites us in these endeavours is the ability to see and seek connections between aspects of those languages, nations and regions that might otherwise be hidden: for example, connections between the foreign and the domestic, history and society, culture and politics, film and literature, museums and autobiographical writing, international relations and memory. Nonetheless, there are diverse ways of exploring and explaining those connections, including: translation, comparison, interdisciplinarity, intermediality, histoires croisées, intersectionality, relationality. As a term, Interconnections brings these approaches together and seeks to develop an understanding of what connects them and where they diverge. In so doing, the notion of Interconnections encourages the development of more innovative research agendas, pedagogies and practices, and offers provisional responses to some of the key concerns of the discipline, including what Modern Languages research *is* and the vital place occupied by this research not only in academe but in the application of knowledge to human progress and well-being.
This Stream researches the ways in which identity is understood in and through language, and in historically and culturally specific contexts. Identities examined include gendered, sexual, religious, and national identity markers, and the intersections between them. We are currently involved in interdisciplinary and intermedial collaborations with psychological scientists on the language of diagnosis, and with visual artists on representing marginal identities.
This Stream offers a platform for innovative research at the crossroads between disciplines and methodologies, all united by their reference to the perpetual and fruitful movement of ideas, methods, peoples and cultures. We highlight connections, transfers, translation, adaptation – in other words, ‘links’ that can be used to generate paradigm shifts.
This Stream studies ways in which knowledge – or perceived knowledge – is established, contested, appropriated, adapted and transformed in a variety of foreign language contexts and across different types of text and media. We are currently focusing on various forms and practices of creative adaptation, and on the applicability to our work of Deirdre Wilson and Dan Sperber’s concept of “relevance theory”.
Interconnections Reading Group
Our Departmental reading group comes together roughly once per term to discuss selected texts that focus on key issues confronting the discipline internationally: from decolonising the curriculum, to digital humanities, to defining what Modern Languages research is and what it can do. Each post is written from the perspective of an individual or group of individuals and that perspective is informed by debate and critique within the Department.