Projects, centres, networks and publications in European Languages and Cultures.
In the latest Research Excellence Framework - REF 2021 - our research in European Languages and Cultures was submitted in Modern Languages and Linguistics (Panel D - Arts and Humanities; Unit of Assessment 26).
The results reaffirm Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities - third in the UK.
As published in Times Higher Education's REF power ratings, this result is based on the quality and breadth of our research in Modern Languages and Linguistics.
Selected research centres and networks
Research centres and networks range from formal collaborations to informal groups of researchers working together on a theme or challenge.
A number are based in - or are affiliated with - European Languages and Cultures; others are based elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the University of Edinburgh, or the wider academic community, but involve our staff and students.
The groups provide opportunities for researchers at all career stages to work together with partners and stakeholders in organising events, workshopping publications, engaging audiences outside the academy, and exploring ideas for future projects and funding bids.
Here are just a few of our current groups, and significant networks that are no longer live but have left a legacy of networking and collaboration...
Established in 1995, the Centre promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature on university courses, and hosts a range of activities relating to the field of francophone Belgian studies, including seminars, conferences, publications, writing competitions, film screenings and other cultural events.
Involving colleagues in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, the Centre brings together researchers from across the University of Edinburgh working on research related to Latin America.
Spanning a range of disciplines in European, Islamic, American and Asian studies, including medieval literatures and cultures, the Centre brings together around 70 researchers across the University of Edinburgh.
Based around a series of events, and led by colleagues in German and Russian Studies, this research strand interrogates the ways in which cultural encounters and cultural dialogues take place.
Bringing together specialists in the fields of anglophone and francophone diasporas, this international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the specific contexts of British/French and Canadian immigration policies.
Initially funded by an AHRC Research Network Grant (2015-2017), this collaborative network led by Professor Marion Schmid brings together an international team of researchers and artists from France, Belgium, Austria, Romania, and the UK to forge new directions in the study of cinematic intermediality. Its particular focus is the ways in which the moving image is shaped and revitalised by artistic cross-fertilisation.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), this network is co-ordinated by Dr Nicola Frith (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Joyce Hope Scott (Boston University). Through conferences, workshops, roundtables and collaborative projects, the INOSAAR brings together activists, academics and other partners dedicated to reparations and other forms of transitional justice for the enslavement and genocide of peoples of African descent.
Led by Professor Marion Schmid and Dr Fabien Arribert-Narce, this research strand interrogates the theory and practice of ‘intermediality’, that is, the interrelationships between different art forms and their signification. With a particular focus on events, several jointly organised with Meiji University in Tokyo, the strand brings together academics, research students and practitioners to foster exchange and initiate new collaborative projects.
Read an interview with Fabien on our research partnership with Meiji University
Based in European Languages and Cultures in LLC, this research strand explores the interplay between violence and language in various historical and cultural contexts and from different disciplinary perspectives (including literary and linguistic studies, translation, and memory studies).
Founded in 2010, the Centre’s mission is to advance knowledge in the field of Russian language studies and to foster a broader understanding of Russia through research, academic training and knowledge exchange.
Selected research projects
David Rizzio (1533-1566), musician and courtier, is a highly romanticised historical figure. He has long been represented in the Scottish arts for his close relationship with Mary Queen of Scots, his murder at the hands of her husband and other Protestant lords, and his association with the religious conflicts that marked the Scottish Reformation. Despite his fame, neither his political and cultural role nor his artistic influence have been studied in any scholarly detail. Through a series of workshops, Dr Emanuela Patti is aiming to fill this gap, providing the first comprehensive account of Rizzio’s life, career and impact.
The project brings together experts from multiple disciplines, including History, Divinity, History of Art, Italian, Scottish Literature, and Music. As well as uncovering the political role Rizzio played in religious conflict, it looks at his personal relationships with Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley and how they affected the dynamics of the 16th century Scottish Court. It also looks at Rizzio's artistic contribution to Scottish literature and music, including how he has been appropriated and fictionalised in literature, cinema, music and theatre. Working with schools, libraries and museums, the project asks what this legacy tells us about the cultural interpretation of Scottish history across time.
Funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Workshop Award: November 2022 to November 2023
LLC team: Dr Emanuela Patti (Principal Investigator)
Exacerbated by factors such as the social effects of COVID-19 and the refugee crisis in Europe, United Nations figures indicate that one in three women will experience Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in their lifetime. Dr Charlotte Bosseaux has been funded to consider the ways in which the voices of GBV survivors are translated. The project is practice-based, creating two versions of a multilingual documentary that audiences will be asked to assess on the basis of whether the translation techniques used have done justice to survivors' voices. In this way, and through asking interpreters and translators how they feel about their work, the film is underpinned by new research into the ethics of translation.
Running over 18 months, the project is a collaboration with Saheliya, a Scottish-based charity supporting survivors, the filmmaker Ling Lee, and language professionals recruited via the specialist company Screen Language. As well as establishing which translation method - for example, subtitling or voice-over - is best for translating audiovisual personal narratives, it will provide good practice guidelines for translators, translation companies, filmmakers and charities, including on how to work together effectively on sensitive material.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): January 2022 to July 2023
LLC team: Dr Charlotte Bosseaux (Principal Investigator)
Italian Great War literature is an extraordinarily diverse corpus in terms of genres, agents, and ideological backgrounds. Fatherland as Motherland was one of the first research projects to explore the conflict’s gendered nature, especially the interplay between nationalism and gender. The project combined methodologies from literary studies, political history, and gender and cultural studies to examine both fiction and non-fiction, including diaries, letters and memoirs. It excavated the layered site of invention of Italian Great War literature, interpreting between the lines of its various conflicting masculine discourses and representations.
Fatherland as Motherland studied the female icon of the motherland in Italian Great War literature by analysing its unstable symbolic contents and rhetorical features and comparing them with nationalist propaganda. It proposed a new interpretation of the exploitation of the literature in fascist nationalist culture by analysing edited collections of war writings published in the 1920s and 30s. Overall, the project marked the centenary of World War I by fostering a better understanding of the gendered character of modern nationalism and its cultural roots against the backdrop of European integration. Findings were published in the 2020 book 'Mobilizing Cultural Identities in the First World War: History, Representations and Memory', and shared in various papers and talks.
Funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship: September 2015 to August 2017
LLC team: Dr Cristina Savettieri (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow), Professor Federica Pedriali (Supervisor)
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world saw transnational mobility of Russian speakers on an unprecedented scale. The UK has experienced a dramatic growth of Russian-speaking migrants and a rapid development of Russophone communities and border-spanning cultural activities – from art galleries, costume balls and festivals to hundreds of schools, clubs, restaurants and internet sites.
Combining a discursive studies approach with globalisation theories, the Global Russians project develops a new paradigm to explore the construction, articulation and commodification of ‘global Russian’ identity and its community-building potential. By examining the apparently high level of Russian cultural engagement in the UK, the project's findings aim to deepen our understanding of ‘community’ itself.
Global Russians is part of the multi-university Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community Consortium.
Funded as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Open World Research Initiative (OWRI): October 2016 to July 2021
LLC team: Professor Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (Principal Investigator), Dr Yulia Lukyanova (Research Assistant, 2017 to 2019), Angelos Theocharis (PhD candidate, 2017 to 2021)
The Holocaust is known through translation: survivors’ voices have come down to us through translation, or in languages other than their first. Particularly raw and difficult is the experience of testifying in court, in the face of the accused and under public scrutiny. How are Victims' Voices Heard? explores the work of translators and interpreters in the trial of 22 former SS Auschwitz personnel in Frankfurt in the mid-1960s. Including the voices of dozens of witnesses, speaking 10 different languages, this event had a profound impact on public understanding of the Holocaust in Germany and beyond.
How are Victims' Voices Heard? involves a series of archival research trips in which Professor Peter Davies is engaging with key sources and archive specialists. Working towards a monograph, he is exploring interpreters' professional practice and ethical self-understanding during the Frankfurt trial, showing how these affected the ways in which victims’ voices were heard in and beyond the courtroom. The research asks vital questions about how victims of genocide can make their voices heard in legal systems. It has the potential to transform the way we understand the legal processes by which perpetrators are brought to justice and the crucial role of translation in defining public perceptions of the survivor experience.
Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship: September 2022 to August 2024
LLC team: Professor Peter Davies (Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellow)
Latin American Indigenous filmmaking is often deemed too artisan, unrefined and difficult for 'global' audiences to grasp. Building on existing work with the Latin American Coordinating Council for Indigenous Film and Media (CLACPI), Indigenous Cinematics brings together diverse disciplines and communities of practice to recentre its significance. The project engages with issues of authorship, language diversity and audiovisual translation. It aims to influence perceptions of film's role in reflecting cultural diversity, and facilitate both public and scholarly access to a more mixed ecology of film form.
Indigenous Cinematics is producing a range of materials, including subtitled films and texts, on the art and act of making film in Indigenous Latin America. In 2020, films selected, translated and subtitled as part of the project were screened at the Smithsonian Institution's Mother Tongue Film Festival in Washington DC. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is supporting four Indigenous filmmakers and producers in virtual residencies - a way for them to share, exchange, debate, build and develop new film projects. In addition, the Edinburgh-based screenwriter and filmmaker Armando Bautista García is working on a set of resources exploring the art of creative production in the Mixtec language.
Funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (ARHC) Leadership Fellowship: October 2018 to June 2020
LLC team: Dr Charlotte Gleghorn (Principal Investigator)
The Islay Life Explorer (ÌLE) is a web-based portal to a unique collection of thematically layered data on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay off Scotland’s west coast. The project developed out of research into Viking settlement in Islay which established the nature and extent of Norse-native interaction on the island during the Viking Age. The initial research collated and analysed an extensive body of linguistic, environmental, archaeological, historical and cartographic material, including place-names, family histories and cultural heritage from sources including the Islay Cultural Database. ÌLE makes this material freely and digitally accessible for personal use.
The ÌLE searchable map shows local historic sites and features, as well as a family history of people who once lived on Islay and the places associated with them. Recently updated, the interface was developed in collaboration with the School of Geosciences, including postgraduate students on the Geographical Information Science programme, and informed by activities with Islay school and community groups. In addition to ÌLE, outputs from the original research include the monograph, 'The Vikings in Islay: The Place of Names in Hebridean Settlement History'. A systematic review of around 240 of the island's farm and nature names, this was shortlisted for the Saltire Society's 'Research Book of the Year' award 2016.
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Impact Fund
LLC team: Dr Alan Macniven (Principal Investigator)
In the last decade, particularly among feminist scholars, there has been growing interest in early modern women’s cultural, literary and political agency. This body of work is designed not merely to (re)shape our collective memory and imaginary, but also to challenge deeply ingrained paradigms about knowledge production. Building on her AHRC-funded project of 2010/11, Women's Spaces, Bodies and Voices, Dr Séverine Genieys-Kirk has been working with partners including the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and L’Institut français d’Ecosse on learning to see the power of women. Since 2016, the project has comprised a series of ‘cultural encounters’ between past and present, unlocking disciplinary differences and opening a new field of cross-cultural and transmedial investigation.
In 2016, a three-day conference on ‘Recovering Women’s Past: New epistemologies, new ventures’ brought together 35 international experts to explore the power of women in Europe and America from the Renaissance to the present. Associated events included an exhibition, a guided tour of ‘The Subject and Me’ - Alice Neel’s first solo show in Scotland, a screening of the documentary MARCH, a public panel event, and a facilitated playwrights’ discussion. Since then, the project has held workshops and film screenings on female writers from the early modern period, including Mme de La Fayette and Mme de Villedieu. It has also hosted a two-day meeting of an EU Working Group, focusing on mapping the digital future of European Women Writers before 1900.
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Research Fund and Impact Fund
LLC team: Dr Séverine Genieys-Kirk (Principal Investigator)
While civil society activists have long advocated reparations as a means of redressing the structural inequalities arising from the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved Afrikans, governments worldwide have largely failed to engage with the myriad ways in which the legacies of crimes against humanity are reflected in current social disrepair. Over the course of three projects, this body of research has widened our understanding of reparative justice beyond financial recompense to include commemoration, memorialisation and emphasising reparative justice processes that are driven by grassroots-led affirmative action, education and cultural representation.
The first project looked at mapping memories of enslavement in the Francophone world today, using both contemporary interviews and political, media and legal archives. Through this work, the Principal Investigator built links with grassroots partners whose voices have often been ignored in academia. In turn, this led to the foundation of the International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR), achieving vital trust between activists, researchers and policymakers in Europe, the Americas and, crucially, the Afrikan continent, including collaborating with groups in Ghana and Benin on questions of cultural and spiritual rematriation and Planet Repairs.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): January 2014 to October 2015; May 2017 to February 2019; December 2020 to November 2021
LLC team: Dr Nicola Frith (Principal Investigator)
Nicolás Guillén Landrián was one of only three Afro-Cuban directors active at the Cuban national film institute (ICAIC) in its first decade. Nephew of a revolutionary poet, and son on an attorney who advocated for Camagüey sugar workers, his 35mm film classics include the notoriously-censored Coffea arábiga (1968), which ironized the Havana greenbelt urban agricultural project, unearthing its racialized undertones. After leaving Cuba for the US, Guillén Landrián filmed his final and only audiovisual work in exile, Inside Downtown (2001), a portrait of artists and poets of his generation, including the cult Afro-Cuban poet, Esteban Luis Cárdenas.
In 2020, in conjunction with the Havana Glasgow and Africa in Motion film festivals, Dr Jessica Gordon-Burroughs and Dr Raquel Ribeiro screened these two works together with a 2013 film by Julio Ramos and Raydel Araoz featuring extensive interviews with Guillén Landrián’s widow, the painter Gretel Alfonso. The accompanying panel discussion, streamed live online, featured the researchers in conversation with Julio Ramos. The Memory in Progress project also created a video archive of testimonials from Cuban intellectuals, curators and artists on the meaning of Nicolás Guillén Landrián for the history of Cuban film and future generations of Cuban filmmakers. In 2021, Jessica Gordon-Burroughs was awarded Best Essay in Latin American Visual Culture Studies by the Latin American Studies Association for “The Pixelated Afterlife of Nicolás Guillén Landrián” which looks in particular at Inside Downtown.
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Impact Fund
LLC Team: Dr Jessica Gordon-Burroughs, Dr Raquel Ribeiro
This body of interdisciplinary work spans culture, identity, and politics to consider questions of representation, inclusion, and power. Across multiple projects, Dr Leanne Dawson examines film and screen studies, literature, theatre, performance art, archives, and festivals across European, Asian, and North American cultures. Work on representation on page, stage, and screen focuses on working-class and LGBTQI+ identities, the latter taking in themes of 'passing', and queer femininities, among others. Having a profound impact beyond academia, the research also explores queer spaces and the people who use them, including film festivals and archives, and on improving accessibility, equality, diversity, and inclusion in the arts.
Most of the work is textual analysis, although Dawson’s other methodologies include qualitative and quantitative approaches, and historical analyses in order to theorise gender, sexuality, and class/socio-economic position. In addition to finalising a monograph on queer identities on the German screen from the 1930s to the present day, she is currently researching an AHRC-funded monograph (Poor Queers), which explores the intersection of LGBTQI+ and working-class identities on British screens, a project which will also lead to a range of other publications, including best practice documents.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Creative Scotland, Arts Council England, Goethe Institut, British Council, DAAD, and British Film Institute.
LLC team: Dr Leanne Dawson (Principal Investigator)
Restless Earth examined German-language literature about the Second World War to look at how non-Jewish writers approached the topic of the Holocaust atrocities committed outside concentration camps and prisons. The history of face-to-face mass killing by the German armed forces on the Eastern Front has remained marginal to collective understandings of the Holocaust until relatively recently but this project looked at how this and similar phenomena have been acknowledged in literary texts since the war, albeit not often explicitly.
The project involved a three-day conference in August 2021 on Germany’s historical and contemporary perspective on Eastern Europe, asking among other questions how the East’s construction as an exotic, vast and violent space has contributed to the side-lining of certain aspects of Holocaust history in German popular discourse. Dr Jenny Watson’s first paper on the research, looking at Romanian German Literature in particular, was published in The Modern Language Review in 2021.
Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship: February 2019 to January 2021
LLC team: Dr Jenny Watson (former Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, now Chancellor's Fellow)
Building on Laura Bradley’s earlier AHRC-funded project on theatre censorship in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) 1961-1990, Who’s Watching Who? marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The public engagement project involved award-winning dramatist Peter Arnott writing a play, Ensemble, based on the research, and sharing this creative process with audiences. The relationship between film, research and audience was traced by film-maker, academic and project co-designer, Susan Kemp, in the 2016 documentary Writing Ensemble. The project was developed in partnership with Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, which connects playwrights with audiences and encourages critical discussion about playwriting.
Who’s Watching Who? comprised 13 events in four UK cities, including rehearsed readings of the play-in-progress and screenings of the film. The project website showcased archival and contemporary resources, including a blog by playwright Peter Arnott. Through this extensive engagement, audiences reported learning more about how GDR censorship functioned, the psychology of surveillance, the ethics of playwriting and research, and the complexities and possibilities of verbatim theatre. A collaborative symposium promoted awareness of opportunities for collaboration between theatre practitioners and the Higher Education sector.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): November 2014 to January 2016
LLC team: Professor Laura Bradley (Principal Investigator), Susan Kemp (Co-designer)
Whose Voice is it Anyway? is a series of themed events delving into translation practices. Organised by Dr Charlotte Bosseaux, and held in collaboration with the European Commission, the research-led events bring together academics, students, professional translators, and their audiences. To date, the University of Edinburgh has hosted four events in the Whose Voice… series, variously supported by the Institut Français and Goethe-Institut. As well as talks and panel discussions, the events have featured writers in conversation with their translators.
Each Whose Voice… event deals with a different theme or set of challenges in translation. The first highlighted the importance of voice in many different settings, from interpreting to translating, acting to writing. The second focused on what happens to the voices of women in translation and interpreting, covering territory as diverse as interpreting for the victims of gender-based-violence, translating mommy blogs, and Dalit literature. The third was an evening dedicated to the translation of emotions, with a particular focus on the role of translators and translation when conveying trauma. The most recent event in the series reflected on ethical challenges in a translation and interpreting context drawing on recent research projects and practitioners' experiences.
Funded by the European Commission
LLC team: Dr Charlotte Bosseaux (Principal Investigator)
Since the mid-20th century, Peruvian women nonfiction filmmakers have been giving voice to the country's disenfranchised populations in documentaries that entwine individual and collective traumas. Currently, they are fostering a thriving nonfiction audio-visual scene with transmedia characteristics and global linkages. Despite the artistic and social impact of this body of work, it has hovered under the historiographic radar. By applying feminist and decolonising frameworks and methodologies to the study of Women’s Nonfiction Filmmaking in Peru, this project seeks to foreground women’s work and resignify Peruvian – and Latin American – film history.
Using active research tools, Dr Isabel Seguí combines oral histories, personal archives and interviews to uncover the hidden and complex scenarios of Peruvian women’s filmmaking and complete a picture of women’s creative involvement in filmmaking at different stages. The project’s interconnected outputs include an academic publication, public engagement, and archive digitalisation, the latter involving the development of an online hub of primary and secondary source documents.
Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship: September 2020 to August 2023
LLC team: Dr Isabel Seguí (Principal Investigator; Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh until July 2022, now at the University of Aberdeen )
Postgraduate research and supervision
Join our community and undertake a specialised research project under the guidance of experienced and well-published supervisors.
We offer postgraduate research programmes in all of the following:
|Comparative Literature (PhD)||French (PhD and Masters by Research)|
|European Theatre (PhD)||German (PhD and Masters by Research)|
|Italian (PhD and Masters by Research)||Medieval Studies (PhD and Masters by Research)|
|Russian (PhD and Masters by Research)||Scandinavian Studies (PhD and Masters by Research)|
|Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies (PhD and Masters by Research)||Translation Studies (PhD)|
Beyond the books
Beyond the Books is a podcast that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at research in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and the people who make it happen.
To date, hosts Ellen and Emma have spoken to many members of our research community in European Languages and Cultures. They include:
- Katie Hawthorne, (then) PhD student in European Theatre and German (Series 1 - Episode 3)
- Peter Dayan, Professor of Word and Music Studies (Series 1 - Episode 4)
- Dr Isabel Seguí, (then) Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies (Series 2 - Episode 4)
- Peter Davies, Professor of Modern German Studies (Series 2 - Episode 7)