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Winter light on the Radcliffe Camera

The year isn’t entirely new any more, but it’s still time to wish you well for 2022, wherever you are. Since the start of the academic year, there have been many highs and lows. The loss of close colleagues and friends was a source of sadness, and with their loved ones, colleagues and students we mourn Professor Alain Viala FBA (Wadham and then Lady Margaret Hall), remembered below, Dr Gerald Stone FBA, University Lecturer in non-Russian Slavonic Languages and Fellow of Hertford College, and Professor Richard Parish (St Catz) who died on the first day of 2022.

Among the highs we would like to celebrate with you are Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly’s honorary doctorate from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, the award of the title of professor to Charlie Louth (Queen’s) in German and Dimitris Papanikolau (St Cross) in Greek but also exciting results for our students: DPhil candidate Oliver Jones (University College) has been named joint winner of the Forum for Modern Language Studies Prize for his article ‘Reading Implication: Moral Injury in Heinrich Böll’s Billard um halb zehn and Vasilii Grossman’s Vse techet’ whilst the winners of the Arthur Terry Postgraduate Essay Prize for an essay on a comparative topic written by a master’s student of the British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA) are Benjamin Owen (Queen’s College) for ‘Stateless Literatures: Writing Globally from the “Margins” of Western Europe’ and Tara Kilcoyne (Lincoln College) for ‘Ce que l’épidemie nous apprend de la littérature: World Literature in a Global Pandemic’. We have also launched the ‘gran finale’ for Dante in Oxford 2021, which has brought together scholars and translators, international artists, dancers, theatre-makers, and musicians: our competition invites creative responses to Dante’s work from anyone in primary and secondary school education in the UK.

Joanna Raisbeck, Stipendiary Lecturer in German at St Hilda’s College and MHRA Research Scholar at the Faculty of Modern Languages, has won the inaugural Klaus Heyne-Award for Research in German Romanticism, and Karen Leeder (New College/Queen’s), our new Schwarz-Taylor chair, has been shortlisted for the Schlegel-Tieck prize. Colleagues have continued to hold colloquia and seminars, to give conferences and lectures, to publish books and articles and to take part in radio and television programmes and podcasts – our website will give you a taste of these activities.

In this issue, we start by leading you astray or taking you through the looking-glass to see bits of Oxford you may not remember evoked in an addendum to Patrick McGuinness’ new book, Real Oxford. We also invite you to learn about how some of our students have been spending their time: Callum Whittle remembers a year (abroad) in Provence, enjoying the challenges and rewards of life in Marseille. Izzy Dobson offers us a day in the life of an intern at the Bodleian library. On the Faculty front, Caroline Warman tells us about her investigation of a posthumous work by Diderot which led her down many a metaphorical rabbit-hole. And if you have always wondered about some of the rarer languages you can study at Oxford, how about an introduction to Galician provided by Lucia Cernadas?

We have farewells to Ela Tandello and Ritchie Robertson through accounts of their valedictory lectures by Olmo Calzolari and Charlie Louth. We look forward to them remaining active and cherished members of the Faculty like so many of our emeriti and hope that a relaxation of restrictions on gatherings will make it possible to celebrate the vitality of Modern Languages at Oxford with them all. Finally, in gratitude to the late Alain Viala, we have tributes by Katherine Ibbett, Ted Nye, Caroline Warman and Wes Williams. He had a huge impact on students and staff and no doubt changed Oxford for the better - like so many of the colleagues with whom we are lucky enough to work.

 

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Best wishes,

Professor Almut Suerbaum
Chair of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages