In these pages, you can find articles relating to a range of languages, written by students and colleagues. We learn about the history of the Maison Française. Tom Kuhn describes the Brecht project to which he has been a major contributor. Alex Lloyd reflects on the ‘White Rose’ group of students who ‘dared to speak truth to power’ in Nazi Germany. Nicolo Crisafi gives a brief account of his exploration of Dante’s complex story telling in his recent doctoral thesis. An interview with Helen Craske, one of our DPhil students recently awarded the 2018 Naomi Schor Memorial Prize, contains an exciting suggestion for Christmas reading!
It is vital to the Faculty to reach out beyond the university to others concerned with languages and language learning and especially to schoolteachers and their pupils. Our Sir Robert Taylor Society hosts an annual conference for language teachers each September and has been going from strength to strength in recent years. Our Schools’ Liaison officer Natasha Ryan gives an account of the most recent meeting at which we combined traditional academic talks with sessions aimed specifically at the new A-level syllabuses. Another source of outreach and engagement is our Creative Multilingualism project, supported by one of the largest research grants ever awarded to a Humanities department in the UK, one of whose recent events, a multilingual choral recording with school children, described by Katy Terry.
We have had a wonderfully successful few months in our ongoing fundraising efforts – our ‘Living Languages’ campaign in June raised over £50,000 to help support our ‘bridging’ courses, as well as other outreach activities. As well as the Portuguese studentship mentioned later in this newsletter, we have also received two extremely generous donations from major German companies: from Lidl to fund prizes, travel grants and a graduate studentship and from Bosch for a studentship for our newly launched 1+1 Modern Languages & MBA course. We are extremely grateful to all our donors. Modern Languages is, in Humanities terms, an expensive subject and these contributions make a big difference.
Politically, these remain interesting times for Modern Languages. We still do not know what our relationship to other European institutions will be in a few months’ time, and we are trying to plan for all eventualities, especially to cover options for the undergraduate year abroad. The uncertainly has not hit our applications numbers, which have held steady this year after several years of decline and we continue to be delighted by the application and liveliness of the young people who study with us.
Academic highlights of the past term included Jonathan Thacker’s inaugural lecture as King Alfonso XIII Professor of Spanish Studies and the 2018 Zaharoff lecture given by Pierre Michon. Next term, we are delighted and excited to be able to announce that the 2019 Taylor lecture will be given by Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday 12 February 2019. His lecture is entitled ‘‘Realistic Utopias versus Dystopic Realities: Reflections on writing about an alternative economic present’. We hope to see many of you there. And don’t miss the ‘Babel – adventures in translation’ exhibition at the Bodleian’, mentioned above, which runs February – June 2019.
I wish you all a joyous festive season and a very happy 2019.
Professor Ian Watson
Chair of the Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty Board
Professor of French Languages and Literature