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Research seminars: November 2010

Monday 1 November 2010
French Research Seminar
Dr Elodie Laügt
(Dept of French)
Aphorismes de quelque chose de l'amour (Cioran, Godard)
at 5.00pm in Buchanan room 216

Tuesday 2 November 2010
The Linguistics Institute of St Andrews
Prof Klaus Zuberbühler (University of St Andrews, Dept of Psychology)
Speechless Minds: The Primate Roots of Human Language
at 5.15pm in Buchanan room 216

Non-human primates are unable to acquire speech, even with substantial training efforts. Nevertheless, speech is only one manifestation of human language, which is based on fundamental processes such as coding, inferences, and common ground. I will review recent progress in tracing the biological origins of these processes in our closest relatives, the non-human primates. Results suggest that spoken language has evolved on a primate substrate of phylogenetically older encoding and inferential abilities, more recently evolved social awareness, and uniquely human cooperative motivation.

Wednesday 3 November 2010
IECIS and German Dept Research Seminar
Dr Seán Allan (University of Warwick)
Revisioning Goya. Gender, aesthetics and the politics of national identity in East German cinema of the 1970s.
at 4pm in Buchanan room 216

Films about artists whose lives and works pre-dated the founding
of the German Democratic Republic raised complex issues about how artists
rooted in a humanist ­ but pre-socialist ­ European tradition could be
assimilated into its interpretation of eighteenth and nineteenth-century
cultural history. At the same time, the representation of artists on screen
inevitably posed awkward questions about the prevailing conceptualisation of
art and the artist within contemporary East German society. My paper will
focus on the way in which Konrad Wolf's film Goya (1971) was conceived both
as a production designed to enhance the prestige of the GDR internationally,
and as a provocative reflection on the cultural politics of the GDR in the
1960s and 1970s. At the same time, an analysis of the representation of
masculinity in this and other 'artist films' of the 1970s underlines the
role played by gender in addressing the emergence of a new modernist
aesthetic in the face of conventional paradigms of socialist realism.

This paper does not assume knowledge of German (and all clips are in
versions with English subtitles).

Thursday 4 November 2010
ITALICA Research Seminar
In collaboration with the Poetry Forum
Prof Carlo Caruso (University of Durham)
Renaissance Poetry: Dying Gods and citrus trees.  The revival of the Adonis myth in the Italian Renaissance.
at 5pm in Buchanan room 216

Monday 15 November 2010
Russian Research Seminar
Dr Emily Finer (Dept of Russian)
Reading Dickens in the Soviet Union
at 5.15pm in United College room 31

Wednesday 17 November 2010
ITALICA Italian Reseach Seminar
Mohsen Melliti (Italian Film Director, Rome)
Italian Cinema around Migration: Io l'altro
at 5.15pm in Buchanan room 216

Thursday 18 November 2010
Poetry Forum in collaboration with School of English
Dr Andrew Roberts (University of Dundee)
Poetry, Experimental Psychology and Close Reading: Reflections from the Poetry Beyond Text Project
at 5.15pm in Buchanan Room room 216

Friday 19 November 2010
Spanish Research Seminar
at 4pm in United College room 36

Dr Kirsty Hooper (University of Liverpool)
Raising Atlantis: the ‘Spain’s Women Intellectuals, 1890-2910’ database and the limitations of the archive

This paper considers the effects of the methodological shift brought about by
technology and the digitization of data on research into women's cultural and
intellectual production in turn-of-the-20th-century Spain. For example,
increasing digitization combined with more and more powerful search engines and
improved facilities for data storage and analysis, even on a home computer, open
the door to a vast, dynamic archive that is accessible at more or less any time.
How do we go about making sense out of the often fragmented traces of lives and
works that have barely touched the historical record; traces that are
heterogeneous, dispersed, and – for the most part – all but invisible? How do
we begin to use this vast and largely unstudied store of material to articulate
the innovative questions that will enable us to generate fresh perspectives on one
of the most studied (and yet, I would argue, still least understood) periods of
Spanish cultural and intellectual history?


Thursday 25 November 2010

Prof Emeritus Geoffrey Leech (University of Lancaster, Dept of Linguistics and English Language)
How the grammar of English has been changing:  using corpora to track the recent history of a language
at 5.15pm in Buchanan room 216

A new and rather precise way of tracking the history of a language has
developed in the last 15 years: the use of strictly comparable or
matching electronic corpora sampled from the language at different
periods. In the research I will describe, which began 12 years ago at
Lancaster, we have used the "Brown family of corpora", as it is called,
a set of corpora modelled exactly on the design of the original Brown
Corpus of written American English (the first computer corpus of
English). We can now use five corpora of written British English,
sampled from texts dating from 1901, 1931, 1961, 1991 and 2006, to trace
changes in the frequency of grammatical phenomena over the past century.
Among the significant tendencies observed are declining use of the modal
auxiliaries and the passive voice, increasing use of "semi-modals" such
as be going to and have to, and an increasing preference for
that-relativization over which-relativization. In addition to
considering what changes have taken place, I will consider the possible
reasons for these changes.

Monday 29 November 2010
Russian Research Seminar
Dr Roger Keys (Dept of Russian)
Reading Yeats in Russia
at 5.15pm in United College room 31