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Current research seminars

2015/16 research seminar programme

Semester 2

19 February 2016
Handel’s Ariosto: Passions and Performance
A Scottish Opera Recital
To help us celebrate the 500th anniversary of the fist publication of Ariosto Orlando Furioso, Scottish Opera is bringing to St Andrews a unique recital based on Handel’s opera trilogy inspired by Ariosto’s poem.
The performance will be introduced by Harry Fehr, director of Scottish Opera 2016 production of Ariodante.
The recital is FREE and open to everyone.
6pm in Younger Hall, St Andrews
To prepare our mind, eyes and hears for this evening of lively discussion, beautiful music, and exceptional performance, during the day we will be discussing Ariosto and the very special relationship his work has with Scotland in an academic workshop starting at 11am in Parliament Hall. A selection of Special Collections volumes, including early illustrated editions of the Orlando Furioso, will be exhibited in Younger Hall’s Conference Room (from 4.30 pm).
This event is part of the interdisciplinary project ‘Furious Metamorphoses’, organised by Dr Shanti Graheli (History), Dr Jane Pettegree (Music) and Dr Claudia Rossignoli (Italian).
For more information, please visit:

24 February 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
The Scent of Josef’s Shirt (1995)
By Ebrahim Hatamikia
Iran – 100 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

24 February 2016
Byre World Literary Café Series
12 French poets of the Great War. Dr Ian Higgins (Dept of French, retired) presents a representative selection of poems in his own translation
8pm, The Byre Theatre

25 February 2016
School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series
Dr Sue Harris (Queen Mary University of London)
'Gérard Depardieu: Performing Pariahdom'
From Sue Harris: ‘My paper analyses Depardieu’s performance as disgraced Socialist politician Dominique Strauss Kahn in Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York (2014). I argue that the artistic and political significance of the film, which was refused theatrical release in France, stems from the collision it offers between two notorious real life figures, brought together as an embodiment of pure disgust in a single fictional character.  I suggest that it is by harnessing elements of his own pariahdom — cemented by his decision to adopt Russian citizenship in 2013 — that Depardieu asserts his continued relevance to French life as both performer and citizen.  His controversial performance as DSK offers a powerful exposé of corruption among France’s elites, confronting the media and politicians with their complicity in maintaining a conspiracy of silence around the activities of a known sexual predator.’
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

29 February 2016
CRSCEES Research Seminar
Dr Vlad Strukov (Digital Culture, Leeds)
'Russian Spectacle of Patriotism: What Will We See If We Turn off the TV?'
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

2 March 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
Nargess (1992)
By Rakhshan Bani-Etemad
Iran – 100 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

2 March 2016
Michel Volkovitch
Michel Volkovitch has been translating professionally for more than 30 years. He taught literary translation at the University of Paris VII (1991--‐2012) and currently teaches at CELT – Centre Europeen de Traduction Litteraire (Brussels). For several years, he taught English in secondary education. Volkovitch has received various translation prizes – most recently, La Bourse de Traducion du Prix Europeen de Licerature (2010). He is also the recipient of the Prix du Traduction Nelly—Sachs (1996), the Prize of the Association of Literary Translators (Greece, 1999), the Prix Laure--‐Bataillon (2004) and the Prix Amedee--‐Pichot (2004). He is a member of the jury for the European Prize for Literature and the Prix de Traduction Nelly--‐Sachs. He is also the author of a number of novels and a book on the French style with the Title: Verbier, herbier verbal

Research Seminar
'Confessions of a Literary Translator'
French, Greek, English. Academic translation and literary translation. Prose, poetry, drama. Theory and practice. Creative writing and translation. Language and music. Translating verse. Teaching literary translation. Versification as a key exercise.
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

Undergraduate Translation Seminar (on 3 March 2016)
'Why become a translator?’
Topics of discussion: academic translation and literary translation. The translator’s training. What to read and listen to. Translation and personal writing. Literary translation: curse and blessing. Courses in literary translation in French-speaking countries.
1-2pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

2 March 2016
Byre World Film Series
'The Square' (2013), Jehane Noujaim (Egypt-US)
Arabic with English subtitles
7pm, The Byre Theatre

4 March 2016
Institute of European and Cultural Identity Studies (IECIS) Research Seminar
In collaboration with the School of Classics
Antii Lampinen (St Andrews)
'Stay who you were. Keeping the Roman provinces and provincials 'ethnic''
4pm, School V, St Salvator's Quad

9 March 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
Sara (1993)
By Dariush Mehrjui
Iran – 102 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

9 March 2016
Byre World “A Conversation With...” Series
Ariane Chemin (Journalist, Le Monde), in conversation with Dr Gavin Bowd (University of St Andrews)
Ariane Chemin is grand reporter of Le Monde and co-author of several books about contemporary French politics: Jospin & Cie: Histoire de la gauche plurielle, 1993-2002; Une famille au secret: le président, Anne et Mazarine; La Femme fatale (on Ségolène Royal); La Nuit du Fouquet’s (on Nicolas Sarkozy); and Les Strauss-Kahn. In 2015, Chemin’s series of articles for Le Monde on ‘Les six vies de Michel Houellebecq’  earned her a law-suit and France’s most prestigious award for journalism.
‘Public and Private Life in French Journalism Today’
6pm, The Byre Theatre

9 March 2016
Workshop: New work in Eco-criticism
Featuring a talk by Dr Monica Seger (College of William & Mary) on “Exposure, Embodiment, Narrative: Creative Engagements with Italy’s Dioxin Crisis” and contributions from other members of the School of Modern Languages.
Dr Seger is Assistant Professor of Italian and the author of Landscapes in Between: Environmental Change in Modern Italian Literature and Film (University of Toronto Press, 2015)
4-6pm, Buchanan Building room 216
All welcome!

10 March 2016
School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series
Dr Nadine Meisner (Russian)
'The past is always in the present'
When Diaghilev launched the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909, he rocked the foundations of European ballet and produced a renaissance whose impact was still being felt many decades later.  He became the symbol of creative innovation and modernist experimentation, and has been the subject of many books and exhibitions. But the truth is more evolution than revolution.  I propose to describe how new ways of thinking in the theatre arts had emerged in Russia before Diaghilev: in theatre design, in music and specifically ballet music, and in ballet technique.  All of these were mirrored in the late work of Marius Petipa, the French choreographer who worked in Russia for sixty years and who is generally acknowledged as the father of the Ballets Russes and twentieth-century Soviet ballet.  Using the remarkable dancers shaped by Petipa, Diaghilev put all these new-fashioned components together to create the artistic synthesis that was at the heart of his expatriate company.
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

14 March 2016
Cultural Memory Research Group, sponsored by the Institute of European Cultural Identity Studies (IECIS) and the School of Modern Languages
Public Lecture
Professor Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University)
‘Small Acts: Mobilizing Memory Across Borders’
‘How can the memory of violent pasts be mobilized for a more progressive and hopeful future? This talk explores how the academic study of memory can respond to the renewed monumentality we find in memory museums, memorials and commemorative rituals that perpetuate nationalism and ethnocentrism. Connecting the memory of the Holocaust with that of other histories of political violence, the talk searches for mobile and mutable artistic practices that can effect little resistances and small acts of repair’.
Professor Marianne Hirsch is William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director, Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University.
5pm, Parliament Hall, South Street

An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Cultural Memory
The Future of the Past
10:00 – 10:15 Welcome 
and Opening remarks: Dr Catherine O’Leary
Panel 1: Trauma
10:15 - 11:00 - Prof. Leo Spitzer ‘Improbable Images: School Photos in Holocaust Europe’
11:00 - 11:30 - Dr Jeffrey Murer, ‘Fighting over history: the politics of trauma and the difficulties of working through loss in contemporary Hungary’
Panel 2: Life Writing
12:00 - 12:30 - Dr Elise Hugueny-Léger: ‘Writing (against) history: autofiction and the rise of post-mémoires in French literature’
12:30 - 13:00 - Mr Natthanai Prasannam: ‘While I cannot forget what happened in Kanchanaburi’: The Railway Man as a Transnational Memory Text
Panel 3: Material Culture
14:00 - 14:30 - Dr Emily Finer, ‘Imagining a Dickensian Childhood in Soviet & Post-Soviet Russia’
14:30 - 15:00 - Dr Victoria Donovan, ‘Re-branding Russia's 'Front Line': Patriotic Engagement with the Commemorative Landscape in Post-Soviet Pskov’
15:00 - 15:30 - Ms Darya Tsymbalyuk, ‘Draw me a map of a home I lost: stories from Donbass, Ukraine’
15:30 - 16:00 - Roundtable and concluding discussion (Dr Emma Bond, convenor)
Starts at 10am, Arts Lecture Theatre

28 March 2016
CRSCEES Research Seminar
Dr Amy Bryzgel (Art History, Aberdeen)
'Out-performing the Society of the Spectacle: Strategies of Resistance in Post-communist Performance Art in Central and Eastern Europe'
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

30 March 2016
Raymond Calcraft
‘Words and Music’
Celebrations will take place in both England and Spain this year of two of their greatest writers, Shakespeare and Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, who died within ten days of each other in April 1616. To mark this 400th anniversary, Raymond Calcraft, former head of Spanish at the Universities of Portsmouth, Warwick and Exeter, will give an illustrated talk in St Andrews at School II, St Salvator’s Quad on Wednesday 30 March at 2.30pm.
‘Words and Music’ will discuss aspects of Shakespeare’s and Cervantes’s writings in the light of settings of their words by two twentieth-century composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Joaquín Rodrigo, and will attempt to show how poetry can be enhanced and even given additional meaning when set to remarkable music.
As well as lecturing at several universities in this country and abroad, including at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Raymond Calcraft is well known as a writer and musician. His publications range from Spanish range from Spanish Golden Age prose and poetry to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Joaquín Rodrigo, the paintings of Joaquín Sorolla, and the films of Larry Weinstein. He has broadcast many times for the BBC, and has conducted choirs and orchestras in this country and abroad, including the Bournemouth, English Chamber and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. His recording include music by the Spanish Renaissance master Sebastián de Vivanco, the Mass in G minor by Vaughan Williams, and several choral and orchestral works by Joaquín Rodrigo for EMI Classics.
2.30pm, School 2, St Salvator’s Quad

30 March 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
The Lizard (2004)
By Kamal Tabrizi
Iran – 115 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

31 March 2016
School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series
Dr Agathe Lechevalier-Novak (Paris 10)
"Qu'est - ce qu'un auteur "contemporain" ? Michel Houellebecq et le XIXe siècle"
Qu’est-ce qu’être un écrivain contemporain ? Le cas de Michel Houellebecq semble idéal pour réfléchir plus précisément à cette question. Considéré par certains comme « notre contemporain capital » (Emmanuel Carrère), Michel Houellebecq, à n’en pas douter – en France, du moins – fait l’actualité : par les polémiques que déclenchent ses œuvres, par ses discours, par son omniprésence dans la sphère médiatique. Pourtant, l’écrivain, vu par d’autres comme le représentant par excellence des « anti-modernes », voire des « nouveaux-réactionnaires », a toujours dit son aversion pour l’époque « contemporaine » et pour le XXe siècle en général – raison pour laquelle il puise l’essentiel de ses références dans la culture du xixe siècle, de Lamartine à Huysmans, de Chateaubriand à Balzac, Baudelaire ou Mallarmé. L’examen de ces références nous permettra de nous interroger sur la manière dont l’œuvre littéraire peut s’emparer du temps – et sur la possible nécessité, pour l’écrivain contemporain qui entend saisir sur le vif son époque, de rester profondément inactuel.
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

6 April 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
Facing Mirrors (2011)
By Negar Azarbayjani
Iran – 102 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

6 April 2016
Institute of European and Cultural Identity Studies (IECIS) Research Seminar
In collaboration with the School of Art History
Dr Alixe Bovey (Courtauld Institute of Art)
'Miniature Giants: Paradoxical Scale in the material history of London's Gogmagog and Corineus'
4pm, St Salvator's Quadrangle, School 1

6 April 2016
Byre World Film Series
'Stalker' (1979), Andrei Tarkovski (Soviet Union)
Russian with English subtitles
2:30pm, The Byre Theatre

7 April 2016
School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series
Prof Jeremy Robbins (Edinburgh)
'Cervantes' Last Words'
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

8 April 2016
Arabic & Persian Research Seminar
Dr Francesco Binaghi (Research Fellow in Classical Arabic)
ERC Project “Language - Philology - Culture: Arab Cultural Semantics in Transition"
The Western Legacy of a Marginalised Eastern Grammarian: Problems, Reinterpretations and Evolutions within the Arabic Linguistic Tradition with the Example of the "ḥurūf" kāna wa-ʾaḫawātu-hā
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

11 April 2016
CRSCEES Research Seminar
Prof Dina Iordanova (Film Studies, St Andrews)
'Breaking Through Walls and Discourses: History for Losers'
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

13 April 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
A Separation (2011)
By Asghar Farhadi
Iran – 97 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

14 April 2016
School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series
Dr Tom O’Connor (Maynooth)
'The Spanish Inquisition and the Assimilation of Early Eighteenth-Century British Migrants'
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

15 April 2016
Manuel Sartori (Aix-en-Provence) 
"Determination and Definition in Medieval Arabic Grammatical Thought”
The talk will deal with terminological evolution and, more specifically, with the evolution of the relationship between Definition and Determination within the medieval Arabic grammatical thought.
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

20 April 2016
Byre World Literary Café Series
‘The (useless) craft of poetry’, with Prof. Jordi Larios (University of St Andrews)
8pm, The Byre Theatre

20 April 2016
Weekly Middle Eastern Film Screenings
Don't Be Tired (2014) By Mohsen Gharaie, Afshin Hashemi
Iran – 93 min, In Persian with English subtitles
On Wednesdays at 3pm, Buchanan Building, room 305

20 April 2016
Dr Caterina Calafat (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
Je suis autre moy-mesmes: Generic Blending and French Heritage in Julian Barnes’s Levels of Life’. 
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

21 April 2016
School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series
Dr Kate Tunstall (Oxford)
‘Et même des magots’: the politics and æsthetics of luxury in eighteenth-century France
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

21 April 2016
Comparative Literature Research Seminar
Prof. Richard Bradford (Ulster)
‘What is wrong with literary studies?’ Richard Bradford asks, and reaches a straightforward conclusion. It  refuses to  address the questions that inform all other  aspects of literary culture, from decisions made  by commissioning editors when faced by an as yet unpublished novel  or a collection of verse, through assessments by  reviewers and members of  book clubs, to the choice made by the casual reader flicking through the  opening  pages of a thriller in a  bookshop: is it  any good? It is quite possible that an undergraduate might wonder why exactly Shakespeare has achieved godlike status. Their tutors will certainly not encourage them to take a sceptical approach to the inalienable greatness of the Bard. The  same constraint obtains for the  rest  of  the major  figures in the  undergraduate  curriculum, and even at  the  other  end of the  spectrum, in modules on say Popular Fiction or Crime Writing, the question of why  such works  belong in a minor colony  of the greater empire of  the canon is not addressed. Are they by their nature inferior? If so, what does literary High Art amount toWhy is the academic study of literature so disconnected from the real world of books and reading? Theory, in its various manifestations, has played a part: over the past forty years the notions of aesthetics and qualitative discrimination have been written off as bourgeois delusions, and even the idea that we can ‘define’ literature (a basic prerequisite for assessing the skill of its practitioners) has been systematically dismissed
Can we remedy this problem? Do come and say your piece: Richard has promised to be brief, and polemical, before shifting to an open debate.
Late last year he published ‘Is Shakespeare Any Good? And Other Questions on How to Evaluate Literature’ (Blackwell/Wiley and is currently planning an AHRC Networking Scheme application on the topic of Evaluating Literature. He will be happy to discuss the latter with all who have an interest.
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 312

27 April 2016
German Research Seminar
Emily Oliver
"East German Shakespeare and Nostalgia in Performance Criticism"
Elizabeth Stewart
"Offending the Audience? Feridun Zaimoglu’s  Othello at the Münchner Kammerspiele (2003)"
4pm, Buchanan Building, room 312

4 May 2016
Byre World Film Series
'Wolf' (2013), Jim Taihuttu (The Netherlands)
Dutch with English subtitles
7pm, The Byre Theatre

5 May 2016
CRSCEES Research Seminar
Prof Mitja Velikonja (Cultural and Religious Studies, University of Ljubljana)
"Rock n' Retro": Yugoslav and Partisan Motifs in Contemporary Slovenian Music'
5pm, Buchanan Building, room 216

10 May 2016
Cultural Memory Research Seminar
Dr Cara Levey (University College Cork)
"Generation Next: Postmemorial Affiliations and Activism in Post-dictatorship Argentina and Uruguay"
5pm, Buchanan Building room 216

11 May 2016
Persian Research Events
Dr Niloofar Kakhi, Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of Iranian Studies
Towards the formation of a ‘representative’ architecture: the role of archaeology in formation of architectural histories in Iran
Since the early twentieth century, the primary question that dominated the Iranian architectural circles has not been ‘how to create the perfect building’, but ‘how to design, Iranian’. This has also been the most critical point of concern in every encounter between the architects and the Iranian governments for the past hundred years. Despite the arrival of modernist architecture along with the extensive modernising plans of the early twentieth century what has been considered as the representation of Iranian national identity in the field of architecture, has been dominated by the incorporation of visual historic references into the design of new buildings. Yet, what Iranian architects know of such historic references is in itself a highly political matter and based on a very particular way that this knowledge was transmitted from archaeology to architecture. This presentation will look at the early stages of the production of architectural knowledge in Iran between the 1920s and 1940s and traces the ways in which archaeology has shaped architectural history and the discourse of national architecture in Iran.

5pm, Buchanan Building, room 312

12 May 2016
Prof Barbara Havercroft (Toronto)
Society for French Studies Visiting International Fellowship Lecture ‘“Unspeakable” Wounds: Personal Trauma in Contemporary French Women’s Autobiographical Writings’,  followed by a wine reception at the Byre Theatre. Event open to all, sponsored by the Society for French Studies, the School of Modern Languages and the Institute for Contemporary and Comparative Literature.
5pm, St Salvator's Quadrangle, School V

18 May 2016
Byre World Literary Café Series
Dr Boris Dralyuk (University of St Andrews), reading his translations of Russian literature
8pm, The Byre Theatre

1 June 2016
CRSCEES Research Seminar
Justyna Beinek (Sewanee: The University of the South, USA)
“There Is No Such City as London”: The Idea of “The West” in Polish Film Pre- and Post-1989
This lecture explores the idea of “the West” as a cultural category in post-communist Polish cinema vis-à-vis censored, yet surprisingly frequent, mentions of the West in Polish film 1945-89. The idea of the West as an almost mythological locus of abundance, wealth, freedom, high but also fashionable pop culture, and general “superiority” – a phenomenon which can be observed across time in Polish post-war cultural history, as well as film history – has not yet evolved in a significant way, despite the fall of communism in 1989 and the 2004 accession to the European Union. Although the images of the West in pre- and post-1989 film are diverse and context-/genre-specific, most of them seem to be grounded in an underlying cultural framework of Poland’s polarized attitude toward the West that partakes in resentment and fascination in equal measure. In his Diaries from the 1950s-60s, Witold Gombrowicz warns Poles: “Do not waste your precious time in pursuit of Europe. You will never catch up with her.” But today, 27 years after the fall of communism, when Poland has already “caught up to the West,” the cultural mythology still dominates the cinematic discourse of the West.
A native of Poland, Dr. Justyna Beinek received her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University and a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the University of California San Diego. Since 2013 she has taught in the Department of Russian and in the International and Global Studies Program at Sewanee: the University of the South (Tennessee, USA), where she also directs the Mellon Globalization Forum. Previously she had taught at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, and New York University. Her research and teaching interests include comparative literature, Russian and Polish literatures and cultures, Romanticism, film studies, gender studies, as well as post-communist cultures and memory/identity politics. Her co-edited volume of essays titled Re-mapping Polish-German Memory: Geographical, Cultural, and Political Space since World War II, was published in 2012. Her monograph on early nineteenth-century scrapbooks, Portable Graveyards: Russian and Polish Albums in the Age of Romanticism, is forthcoming. Dr. Beinek’s current research project focuses on the idea of “The West” as functioning in East European cultures, a project for which she has received a Fulbright research grant in 2013-14.
4pm, St Salvator's Quad room 36