Discover more about current and recent research projects in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.
Lifting the veil of the future has been a concern for humans from the omens of ancient Mesopotamia to computer-generated horoscopes. As a method, Shang divination of the 13th and 12th century BCE is outstanding in its sophistication, elegance, and organisation. Based on the interpretation of controlled cracks on animal bones and turtle shells, Shang kings made predictions about the outcome of battles, the weather, childbirth, sickness, and more. Once made, the prophecies were carved into the bones for record keeping, providing the earliest testimonies of Chinese writing.
The National Museum of Scotland (NMS) holds around 1,300 Shang oracle bones, the largest collection in Europe and second largest outside of Asia. In collaboration with the Museum, researchers at the University of Edinburgh studied the backside of bones in the NMS collection using non-invasive techniques (such as X-ray fluorescence, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy), and conducted experiments to recreate the Shang divination process. The idea was to understand how the divinatory cracks were made, how the diviners achieved such control over them, and what preparation the bones were submitted prior to their use. The research was used in the development of the Museum’s Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Ceramics galleries which opened in February 2019.
Funded by a Challenge Investment Fund from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh: 2016 to 2017
LLC team: Professor Joachim Gentz (Principal Investigator), Antoine Ruchonnet (Research Assistant, January to June 2016)
At its first peak in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis saw the closure of most of Europe’s national borders and many internal boundaries. Were these closures only a temporary measure or, in light of similar responses to migration, war and terror, do they signal an evolution in re-bordering trends? Situating these questions in the wider context of national, transnational and regional identities, Borders as Living Spaces examines the complex impact of COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and migration on European borderlands. In the project, Dr Ruairidh Tarvet uses the theoretical framework he developed for his 2018 PhD thesis, and which he recently expanded upon in a study of COVID-19’s impact on national identity and societal sustainability in the Danish-German borderlands.
Borders as Living Spaces is a comparative analysis of re-bordering trends using survey and interview material. It documents the impact of re-bordering on the lives of the residents and minority populations in two different European border regions: Denmark-Germany; and Austria-Slovakia. The communities studied have centuries of experience as sites of conflict resolution, integration and identity negotiation. As well as policy makers, the study will be of particular use to the minority and borderland community institutions who struggle to find a voice and recognition in times of major crises.
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Research Fund: July 2022 to July 2023
LLC team: Dr Ruairidh Tarvet (Principal Investigator)
Dr Hannah Jeffery’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the understudied role of Black muralism in the Black Freedom Movement. In the first of two recent projects, Beauty in the Struggle, she sought to uncover the empowering, educational, and self-affirming role Black-created interior mural art played in segregated public spaces in the USA, from enslavement to the early-twentieth century. In particular, the project explored how Black artists resurrected inspiring Black and African diasporic memory, history and culture to transform the interiors of segregated public buildings into sites of protest, creating visual platforms for Black liberation.
Drawing on unexplored archival materials, Beauty in the Struggle focused on the work of Charles White, Aaron Douglas, Hale Woodruff, Charles Alston, Robert Scott Duncanson, William Edouard Scott, and John Biggers. Say Their Names brought the research into the 21st century, and widened its scope beyond interior art and the USA to the commemorative street art which has marked a new age of international muralism since the death of Oscar Grant in 2009. For this project, Dr Jeffery created an online digital archive and curriculum tool preserving all known Black Lives Matter murals across the world.
Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship: September 2020 to August 2023 (Beauty in the Struggle), and by a Small Research Grant Award from the British Academy: September 2021 to June 2023 (Say Their Names)
LLC team: Dr Hannah Jeffery (Principal Investigator; Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow)
The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a number of devastating famines in British colonies, resulting in a huge body of literary and artistic work and journalistic debate around their ‘man-made’ nature. While the Irish literary case, for example, is relatively well known, the same cannot be said of literary-cultural responses to the Indian famines, including the 1943 crisis in Bengal. Over a number of projects, Dr Sourit Bhattacharya is recovering famine works, and administrative and periodical sources by Indian and British writers and critics, including influential Scots. A key aim is to maximise visibility of events that were much debated at the time, but are now rarely discussed, despite having influenced anticolonial mobilisation and postcolonial food crisis debates.
This body of work aims to catalyse extensive, long-term research that historicises contemporary debates on neo-colonialism and global food crisis, and indigenous responses to them. Outputs will include an online literary bibliography of the Bengal famine, annotations of major works, and a short film on famine survivors. The projects variously include archival fieldwork in Britain and India, and collaboration with an international team of researchers, library professionals, and curators to form a Network on the British Empire, Scotland, and Indian famines. The Network will host academic conferences in Edinburgh and Guwahati, an authors’ workshop and knowledge exchange programme in Edinburgh, and a public engagement event in Kolkata.
Funded by a Research Incentive Grant from the Carnegie Trust: July 2021 to November 2022, and by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Network Award: March 2022 to March 2024
LLC team: Dr Sourit Bhattacharya (Principal Investigator)
The Abbasids were the second longest ruling dynasty in Islamic history (750-1258). The first centuries of their rise to power are of key importance for the history of Islam, as the earliest surviving literary texts written by Muslims were composed at this time and in their capital, Baghdad. These texts have been the preferred sources for scholars working on the Abbasid period, meaning that our current view of Abbasid state structures is a view from the top.
The five-year Caliphal Finances project (2021 to 2026) will refocus scholarship on the totality of Abbasid administration. In doing so, it will provide for the first time a view ‘from below’ on Abbasid fiscal history through a study of papyrus documents in Greek, Coptic and Arabic written in Egypt. In a field largely dominated by religious history, the project will renew our understanding of the dynamics of change in pre-modern state structures, with a focus on the complexity of local agency.
Funded by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC): September 2021 to August 2026
LLC team: Dr Marie Legendre (Principal Investigator)
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) and Jane Welsh Carlyle (1801-1866) were prolific Scottish writers who corresponded with many of the outstanding cultural and political figures of their time in the UK, Europe and North America. The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke-Edinburgh edition is one of the major editorial projects in Victorian studies of the last half-century. Started by C.R.Sanders of Duke University, in co-operation with John Butt in Edinburgh, it has since amassed an archive of over 10,000 surviving letters, mostly in manuscript, the core collections being in the National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh University Library.
Since the publication of the first four volumes in 1970, the project has produced 48 (of 50) fully-edited, annotated and indexed volumes. Drawing on multiple scholarly collections, work proceeds simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. The publishers are Duke University Press in the USA, advised by academics from around the world. Other research papers have regularly appeared, and the project has held a number of conferences and published a free digital archive, the Carlyle Letters Online.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Binks Trust, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and private donations.
LLC team: Professor Kenneth Fielding, Professor Ian Campbell, Aileen Christianson, Dr Jonathan Wild, Dr Katherine Inglis, Jane Roberts, Liz Sutherland
The pilot for a monograph-length study on the life-course of Chinese Christians, this project builds on ten years of ethnographic fieldwork undertaken by the Principal Investigator in a group of Protestant churches in China. Through a combination of participant observation and in-depth interviews, it investigates how a shared religious identity is established and maintained among Protestant Christians in a rapidly-changing socio-political context.
In its early phase, the research focused on Chinese Protestant naming practices, demonstrating the complex layers of meaning in Chinese-Christian personal names. Now it is exploring a second key aspect of the Chinese-Christian life course; the role of church festivals (for example Christmas and Easter), exploring the interactions between individual Christians and their congregation, and how this shapes religious meaning, identity and authority.
Funded by Small Grant awards from The Carnegie Trust: March 2019 to February 2020, and The Royal Society of Edinburgh: December 2019 to April 2023
LLC team: Dr Mark McLeister (Principal Investigator)
Iran has been the focus of many studies on the subjugation and marginality of women, but little has been studied about the theocracy’s impact on male identities. In her research into constructions of masculinity in Iranian cinema, Professor Nacim Pak-Shiraz examines a number of films with men as the focus. In published papers and curated film seasons, Pak-Shiraz demonstrates how recent Iranian films have skilfully used the cinematic language to narrate men’s stories of alienation and despair. Challenging stereotypes, she explores how such tales provide a more complex insight into masculine identities in patriarchal society than has been studied to date.
This research is part of Pak-Shiraz’s wider exploration of Iranian cinema, with a particular focus on the role it plays in exploring the complexities of Iranian society and Islam. One particularly innovative strand of her research is on female filmmakers’ representations of men. Other themes include Iranian film directors’ treatment of religious and historical narratives, and continuities and discontinuities in Iranian cinema over the last six decades. Her work has underpinned over 60 film screenings and events on Iranian film, largely as part of the Edinburgh Iranian Festival - Film Season (EIF-FS) and Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Funded by the AHRC-CASAW Research Network: 2014, and a Small Grant award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh: 2019
LLC team: Professor Nacim Pak-Shiraz (Principal Investigator)
Can translation theory and methods help us study the way religions travel? And to what extent are the linguistic and conceptual elements of translation linked to the articulation of religious identity? Bringing together an international team of academics from the UK, India and Germany, the two-year Conversion, Translation and the Language of Autobiography (CTLA) project asked these questions, investigating the role of translation in the movement of religious ideas and beliefs across cultures and historical periods.
Conversions to Protestant Christianity in India began in the early 1700s and continued through the period of British colonialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many Protestant converts wrote autobiographical narratives on their conversion experience which were translated for wider circulation within India and in Europe and North America. Taking in a range of narratives (tracts, journal articles, letters, obituaries, and autobiographies), the interdisciplinary project explored the translation of Protestant subjectivity across English, German, Marathi and Tamil. The materials collected and interpreted have been of particular use in secondary level teaching, with CPD events for teachers awarded follow-on funding in 2019.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): November 2014 to May 2017
LLC team: Dr Hephzibah Israel (Principal Investigator)
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)
Decoding Hidden Heritages aims to provide the most detailed account to date of convergence and divergence in the narrative traditions of Scotland and Ireland and, by extension, a novel understanding of their joint cultural history. Funded as part of the UK-Ireland Collaboration in Digital Humanities programme, the project brings together five international universities to explore folktales from the School of Scottish Studies Archives and the Irish National Folklore Collection.
Leveraging recent advances in Natural Language Processing, the project fuses deep, qualitative analysis with cutting-edge computational methodologies to decode, interpret and curate the hidden heritages of Gaelic traditional narrative. Specifically, it involves scanning, analysing and annotating around 80,000 manuscript pages using text mining and phylogenetic techniques, sharing learning and access to the collections through two online folklore portals, Dúchas and Tobar an Dualchais, and a new aggregator website.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Irish Research Council (IRC) jointly under the UK–Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities programme: August 2021 to July 2024
LLC team: Dr Will Lamb (Principal Investigator), Dr Beatrice Alex (Co-Investigator)
Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems are the means by which we use our voices to interact with technology such as smart devices. They are a cornerstone of modern language technology. In developing the world’s first working ASR system for Scottish Gaelic in July 2021, the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group (GARG) opened up a range of possibilities for the language, including enhancing Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), broadening communicative domains, and facilitating automatic transcription and translation for Scottish Gaelic. These applications advance interlinked research, media and government agendas around inclusive access to languages, and the project won GARG a Gaelic Innovation Award in November 2021.
The ASR project builds upon resources and techniques developed in two previous studies: the Gaelic Part-of-Speech Tagging Project (funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Carnegie); and the Gaelic Handwriting Recognition Project, which involved digitising and automatically transcribing thousands of manuscripts in the School of Scottish Studies Archives. It also incorporates two recent spoken language ethnographic recording projects - Saoghal Thormoid and Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal - conducted by project partners, the University of the Highlands and Islands. Following the successful trial of the ASR system, GARG is now working with a range of partners on various applications, including in Canada on speech recognition for the Ojibwe language.
Funded by Soillse - the National Research Network for the Maintenance and Revitalisation of Gaelic Language and Culture: September 2020 to February 2021, by the Scottish Funding Council through the Edinburgh Futures Institute, a Data-Driven Innovation hub: March to July 2021, and by Bòrd na Gàidhlig: February to July 2022.
LLC team: Dr Will Lamb (Principal Investigator), Dr Beatrice Alex (Chancellor's Fellow and Turing Fellow)
The aim of this project is to build the capacity of early career researchers based in India to develop world-class research profiles. Specifically, it provides training in Academic Publishing, Research Governance and Organisation, and Engagement, Influence and Impact. To date, the training has comprised two workshops delivered by humanities scholars of South Asian Studies based in India, the UK and Norway. Each scholar has a publishing track record and experience of successfully bidding for academic grants.
Originally envisaged as in-person events, but delivered online due to COVID restrictions, the workshops were organised in partnership with the Highlands Institute, Kohima, Nagaland in the north east of India, and at the Kerala Council for Historical Research, Trivandrum in the southern state of Kerala. Encouraging interaction between postdoctoral and doctoral research scholars, they involved short talks, group exercises, discussion, networking and Q&A. Time was built in for one-to-one consultations on writing samples and post-workshop mentoring. Two in-person events are planned for 2022, subject to COVID restrictions.
Funded by the British Academy: January 2020 to December 2022
LLC team: Dr Hephzibah Israel (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)
Are there challenges or difficulties unique to the task of exhibiting books and manuscripts? What kinds of pressures and demands do librarians and curators face? How do policies and frameworks aimed at connecting archives, libraries and museums with the communities around them shape our approach to staging such exhibitions? Beginning with a workshop, and culminating in an advisory report that remains widely used, Exhibiting the Written Word brought academics, librarians and curators together to find out.
Exhibiting the Written Word was led by the Making Our Connections team comprising researchers from the University of Edinburgh (including the Centre for Research Collections) and the National Library of Scotland. Together with the core team, participants included the British Library, National Galleries of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Trinity College Dublin, University of Ulster, Edinburgh Napier University, Dublin City Library and Archive, Scottish Poetry Library, Seven Stories children's book centre and the Wordsworth Trust.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): February 2011 to August 2011
LLC team: Professor James Loxley (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 recent years, there have been multiple challenges to developing balanced, human-centred approaches to economic growth and environmental sustainability. There is growing awareness of climate change and the depletion of natural resources, but the uneven economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the lingering repercussions of the 2008 financial crisis continue to raise important questions about social and economic equality. Led by Dr Holly Stephens, an interdisciplinary network of researchers is exploring diverse models of economic cooperation and sustainable resource management. The network involves researchers from the humanities and social sciences, including historians, anthropologists, political scientists, geographers, and sociologists.
The research uses a comparative approach, uncovering the specific contexts around historic models, and searching for links between these and contemporary case studies. In particular, it uses the example of the Korean kye - a type of organisation that has been used to manage a wide range of resources throughout Korean history including forests, fishery rights, education, and financial resources. The project is developing strong ties between researchers in South Korea and the UK through visiting research fellowships and international workshops and conferences. These will not only provide a valuable contribution to academic knowledge, but also support researchers - especially early career researchers - to develop future projects and international collaborations around sustainable resource management.
Funded by a UK-South Korea Connections Grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC): February 2022 - July 2023
LLC team: Dr Holly Stephens (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)
A unique exploration of the possibilities of big data for literary research, LitLong is a project to digitally map the ways in which Edinburgh has been used as a setting by myriad writers. Over two key phases, it has mapped around 47,000 excerpts from more than a million books made available by the British Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Hathi Trust, collectively spanning five centuries of writing. The project brings together researchers in literature, informatics and the digital humanities at three Scottish universities to text mine and analyse narratives. Its interactive map of literary Edinburgh has two visual interfaces: a website; and a free-to-download app.
Since 2014, LitLong has been embedded in Edinburgh’s UNESCO City of Literature digital and on-site programming, with character-led walking tours being a particularly popular addition to the city’s cultural offer. Through foregrounding marginalised voices, including on Wikipedia, the project has also inspired new work by over 80 of the city’s contemporary poets and prose writers whose work is published in the Umbrellas of Edinburgh anthology. Latterly, its methods have been adopted by Edinburgh International Book Festival and its partner Jalada Africa to map a series of transcontinental journeys and trace trajectories of African writing in English.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): January 2014 to March 2015; January 2017 to January 2018
LLC team: Professor James Loxley (Principal Investigator), Dr Beatrice Alex (Chancellor’s Fellow)
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)
Between 1946 and 1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear bomb tests across the Republic of the Marshall Islands, forcing many communities into open-ended exile, including over 2,300 miles away in Hawaii. Led by Professor Michelle Keown (LLC) and Dr Shari Sabeti (Moray House School of Education and Sport), the Marshallese Arts Project (MAP) aims to better understand the Marshallese experience of displacement, and to explore how strategies of resilience that remain within the community might be deployed to build educational and socioeconomic capacity in the future.
Collaborating with artists Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Solomon Enos and Christine Germano, the project team ran a series of participatory arts workshops with school-aged children to generate new understandings of the unique historical trajectories and community development needs of Marshall Islanders. Raising international awareness of the effects of America’s enduring nuclear legacy in the Pacific, the project has led to the publication of the first Marshallese graphic novel, a video performance poem, improved pedagogical approaches in participating and other schools, and an anthology of poetry by children who have demonstrated significant personal growth through MAP.
Funded by an ESRC/AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund award: November 2016 to April 2018; AHRC Follow-on Funding: December 2018 to March 2019, and an EPSRC Global Impact Accelerator Account: February 2019 to January 2020.
LLC team: Professor Michelle Keown (Principal Investigator)
This comparative ethnographic project, hosted by University College London, asks how people of different faiths coexist in cities. What tensions and contestations arise? And how can we think about religious coexistence beyond prevailing frameworks of tolerance or conflict? Such questions take on urgency in a time of increasing religiously-inflected flashpoints across the globe.
MEUS pushes against the limits of regional comparisons to develop a cross-regional, historically sensitive understanding of coexistence. The project looks at three cities where there is a state or dominant religion: Karachi; Nairobi; and Palermo. As part of the Alwaleed Centre's research strand on Muslims in Europe, Dr Giulia Liberatore’s research looks at Palermo, Italy. She is examining what modes of religious co-habitation have emerged in the city and surrounding region, and exploring imaginaries of, and attitudes towards, more recent Muslim migrants.
Funded by an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council: October 2019 to April 2025
LLC Team: Dr Giulia Liberatore (Research Fellow)
Since the late 20th century, traditional musicians in Scotland have been developing experimental creative practices that draw on 'the tradition' but move beyond its conventions and structures into innovative and extended compositions. Building on her doctoral thesis of 2013, which identified this unique community of practice, Dr Lori Watson is now providing the first scholarly documentation and analysis of The New Traditional School in Scotland and its activities. A pilot study to map the School in a database found that it was far bigger than expected, with over 170 composers professionally active. Activity of this nature and scale has not been seen in Scotland before, though there are similar examples of artistic activity elsewhere in Europe.
As a composing musician herself, Lori is seeking to advance both practice and understanding of contemporary traditional music. Over the course of the project, her research methods have included a national survey of traditional musician / composers, and in-depth interviews with a number of her peers; the latter in collaboration with Ruth Barrie, Waltzer Films. She has analysed musical scores, recordings, literature, archival and other data from 1976 to the present day, and developed a series of residences to explore the creative process as it happens. Collectively, the data will feed into the establishment of new collections at the Scottish Music Centre, Glasgow and the School of Scottish Studies Archives, Edinburgh.
Funded by a Small Grant Award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) as part of the RSE Research Awards programme: November 2021 to October 2022, by the University of Edinburgh's Creative Informatics PhD Student Assistance scheme, and by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through a Fellowship: June 2023 to December 2024.
LLC team: Dr Lori Watson (Principal Investigator), Alexandra Huang (Research Assistant)
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
The substantial bibliography devoted to the work of Frances Burney (1757-1840) has confirmed her stature as an author, but has left the dramatic works that she wrote during her years at the Court of George III almost untouched. Opening Romanticism aims to restore to Burney’s small dramatic corpus the cultural depth that has been lost over time, exploring its many provocative questions on gender relations, body politics, and agency.
Using digital methods alongside literary analysis, Opening Romanticism constructs an expanding multimedia ecology for Burney’s quartet of tragic plays - reproducing, through contemporary tools, the Romantic theatre experience. In this way, the project shows the research potential of positioning long-neglected playtexts within a contemporary mediascape capable of doing them justice and engaging with new audiences.
Funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) - Individual Fellowship: July 2021 to July 2023
LLC team: Dr Francesca Saggini (MSCA Fellowship holder), Professor Melissa Terras (Supervisor)
As a world famous African American author, activist and philosopher, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) is often presented as an exceptional individual working in isolation. Our Bondage and Our Freedom breaks new ground by reinterpreting Douglass’ activism and authorship in relation to that of his wife Anna Murray, daughters Rosetta and Annie, and sons Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr and Charles Remond Douglass, as well as hundreds of other 19th century African American freedom-fighters on both sides of the Atlantic.
The project has involved recovering, digitising and interpreting over 1,000 documents, artworks and artefacts, and making these available to new audiences through four site-specific exhibitions, an award-winning book, free digital assets such as the National Library of Scotland’s 'Struggles for Liberty' learning resource, talks, walking tours, interviews and a documentary. Working collaboratively, the team of US and UK partners has helped educators, curators, and archivists to interpret the Douglass family’s intergenerational fight for liberation and to share the lives and works of nineteenth-century African American freedom-fighters with US and UK audiences in their thousands.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): August 2018 to January 2020
LLC team: Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier (Principal Investigator), Professor Andrew Taylor
Through two projects on the culture of finance – Picturing Finance and The History of Financial Advice – Dr Paul Crosthwaite's research has brought humanities approaches to bear on economic questions, helping us better understand the abstract, and often mystifying, domain of money, investment, credit and debt. Involving the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester and Southampton, and galleries and other partners across the UK, the projects have used literary and cultural methodologies to explore the integral importance of visual culture to finance and to a critical questioning of some of its assumptions and practices.
Picturing Finance’s co-curated exhibition 'Show Me the Money: The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present' reached around 70,000 people, producing acclaimed new work by commissioned artists, and receiving excellent reviews from the public and media alike. Free digital resources from both projects, including an app, MOOC, and eight quality-accredited lesson plans, have improved financial literacy - a relatively new addition to the National Curriculum, and one that has rapidly increased in importance as Britain prepares to meet the twin economic challenges posed by Brexit and the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): March 2013 to September 2014; January 2016 to May 2019
LLC team: Dr Paul Crosthwaite (Co-Investigator)
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)
Why do some military transitions succeed while others fail? Drawing lessons from the democratisation of South Korea in the late 1980s, this project aims to tease out the mechanisms that led to a successful outcome in Korea, and to identify the key challenges confronting Myanmar. Moving beyond an exclusive focus on repression and army leadership, the project analyses the military-economic complex and its broader impact on society. This approach is especially timely in the wake of the current humanitarian crisis and military-led operations against the Rohingya community in Rakhine state and, more recently, the February 2021 military coup.
In this three-year project, the Principal Investigator has conducted extensive fieldwork in both Korea and Myanmar. Alongside, and in cooperation with the Pansodan Art Gallery in Yangon, she led the Bahu (Art is Plural) Healing Festival in May 2019, a series of art exhibitions in Myanmar promoting participation and inclusion among the country’s youth. In March 2021, she jointly organised the Arts, Freedom, and Resistance: Voices from Myanmar workshop with the University of St Andrews. The event gave a platform to artists and activists from Myanmar to share perspectives on current events, and enabled academics to draw parallels with the democratization movement in Korea.
Funded by a British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grant: June 2018 to March 2022
LLC team: Dr Youngmi Kim (Principal Investigator)
Working within the field of Applied Theatre, Nicola McCartney has developed a unique, research-led methodology that helps people affected by conflict or inequality to better interpret and address their life circumstances through dramaturgy. Her research has underpinned the significant international expansion of Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre’s flagship education project Class Act which, between 2016 and 2019, developed 55 new plays by 120 young people working with various cultural practitioners in Russia, Ukraine and India.
In addition to Class Act and her own plays, Nicola worked with Dritan Kastrati, who was smuggled from Kosovo to the UK as a child and then spent many years in the care system. Their award-winning, co-written play How Not to Drown (2019) is a piece of physical theatre interweaving interviews with Kastrati’s own writing. In October 2020, McCartney was named as lead artist on the National Theatre Scotland project, Care in Contemporary Scotland, A Creative Enquiry. Involving local authorities, carers and cared for young people, this project enables her to continue her work on the positive impact of creative responses to experiences of the care system.
Funded by various bodies including Traverse Theatre, the British Council, BBC (Emerging Artists Award), and National Theatre Scotland
LLC team: Nicola McCartney
This research stands apart from most studies of Scottish identity by focusing not on national context but on the role that individuals’ stories and memories play in shaping and understanding history. Managed by the European Ethnological Research Centre, the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project has its roots in the major, 14-volume series “Scottish Life and Society: a Compendium of Scottish Ethnology”, but is even larger in scale and more granular in focus. Divided into two themes - the Spoken Word, and the Written Word - the project utilises a ‘study with’ rather than ‘study of’ methodology. This involves recruiting and training on-the-ground volunteers to record and transcribe primary source material on everyday life and society in Scotland, past and present.
Over the course of a six-year pilot (2011-2017), 60 volunteer ethnologists recorded the oral histories of 375 people in Dumfries and Galloway, one of Scotland’s largest local authority areas. Since then, the project’s geographic focus has shifted to East Lothian, Dundee, Lewis and Harris, Edinburgh and the North East (2018-2022), and to the collation of historical documents (account books, diaries, journals, and letters) from across Scotland. Participants ranging from 8 to 103 years have reported many benefits, from personal development to community cohesion and resilience to the challenges associated with an ageing population. As well as making material available through community partners, the researchers have - in partnership with the University's Centre for Research Collections - created an online archive resource which enables free access to project materials.
Funded by the Scotland Inheritance Fund: 2011 to 2016; 2016 to 2023
LLC team: Professor Gary West (2011-2021), Dr Neill Martin, Mark Mulhern, Dr Kenneth Veitch, Caroline Milligan
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)
By the turn of the 21st century, UNESCO had categorised Scottish Gaelic as an ‘endangered’ language. Over the past 20 years, successive Scottish governments have sought to reverse this decline, revitalising Scotland’s Gaelic language, culture and heritage in a range of ways. Using their research into language development in both an historical and comparative context, as well as linguistic work and research on education and media, colleagues in Celtic and Scottish Studies have helped the lead Gaelic development agency, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, to shape evidence-based policy on language planning and maintenance, including through the development of three successive National Gaelic Language Plans.
The research has played a critical role in the development of Gaelic education policy and helped lawmakers strengthen education authorities’ obligations in relation to Gaelic Medium Education (GME). It has demonstrated the high attainment of pupils in GME, who are comparatively more accomplished in English reading than English-medium pupils. A retraining programme started in 2014 has now returned approximately 30 professionals to teach through the medium of Gaelic in schools across the country. By the 2019/20 academic year, over 5,000 pupils in Scotland were enrolled in GME, a 34.4% increase from 2013/14.
Funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig
LLC team: Professor Rob Dunbar, Professor Wilson McLeod, Dr Fiona O’Hanlon (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010 to 2014), Dr Stuart Dunmore (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Scotland and Russia have a long tradition of mutual engagement and influence, going back to the Middle Ages and still thriving today. Drawing on the expertise of scholars, creative practitioners and the general public, Scotland and Russia: Cultural Encounters Since 1900 explores the full spectrum of these connections: from passive consumption of each other’s culture to ethnographic reflection upon it; from creative transformation of each other’s cultural products to professional collaboration in the creation of joint cultural capital.
In addition to three collaboratively-hosted academic conferences covering music, theatre, literature, art, politics and history, the project has organised concerts, a performance workshop, and talks by visiting speakers. Its website hosts an extensive cultural archive of textual, audio and visual materials - some newly translated and all brought together for the first time.
Funded by the University of Edinburgh Challenge Investment Fund: 2014 to 2015, by the Universities of Aberdeen and Dundee, and by the Royal Society of Edinburgh Arts and Humanities Research Network Award: January 2015 to December 2016
LLC team: Dr Anna Vaninskaya (Principal Investigator), Dr Rania Karoula (Research Assistant)
Since the mid twentieth century, a rapid rise in optical technologies has made the textual and the visual more intimately bound than ever. This project explored the ways in which post-war literature has contemplated the perceptual challenges posed by movement, optical illusion, and new media. In thinking about the implications of the kinetic in literature, it asked how motion is expressed, and what impact this had had on the ways we experience or 'read' the world.
Technicities of Illusion traced the lineage of technological literacy in the arts through archival collections of optical devices, artworks, digital design and literary responses. Reappraising the work of authors, sculptors, filmmakers, and designers, it identified the literary strategies that developed in Britain and America in the post-war period to keep pace with a culture increasingly driven by technological enhancement and the rapid flow of information. In doing so, Dr Natalie Ferris built a new history of the ways we manage and visualise information, deepening our understanding of how we read, think, create, and write now.
Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship: October 2018 to September 2021
LLC team: Dr Natalie Ferris (Principal Investigator; Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow)
New parents with limited English-proficiency (LEP) often find it difficult to access adequate information about perinatal care in their own language(s), which greatly contributes to poor maternal outcomes. This project examined informed consent during pregnancy, labour and birth for parents with LEP in Scotland, many of whom are recently-arrived refugees and asylum seekers. Co-led by academics in Translation Studies (Dr Şebnem Susam-Saraeva, University of Edinburgh) and Midwifery (Dr Jenny Patterson, Edinburgh Napier University), the project’s main objective was to understand informed consent from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Through a series of expert focus groups and interactive workshops, the project created an environment where the concept of informed consent in multilingual and multicultural settings in Scottish maternity services could be viewed through fresh eyes and from multiple points of view. Participants were drawn from diverse research and practice backgrounds, including midwifery, translating and interpreting, medical anthropology, biomedicine, and other forms of healthcare. Findings were shared through a one-day online colloquium in October 2022, and three practice-based events for midwives and interpreters, including an episode of the Maternity and Midwifery Forum's podcast, Maternity & Midwifery Hour. International peer-reviewed publications are in production.
Funded by a Research Workshop Grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) as part of the RSE Research Awards programme: January 2022 - December 2022
LLC team: Dr Şebnem Susam-Saraeva (Principal Investigator)
Coastal Routes offers the first comparative study of a neglected archive of Romantic travel writing that explores the deep history of human-environment relationships along the environmentally fragile Atlantic coasts of Ireland and Scotland. Combining approaches from the Environmental Humanities, Archipelagic Criticism and Geocriticism, it examines the ways in which tourists construct landscapes as a resource; considers changing attitudes and values; and demonstrates how environmental narratives grew up around particular locations.
Coastal Routes thereby contributes to the UN’s 2030 Sustainability Agenda in relation to sustainable development of marine resources as well as consumption and production patterns. Uncovering lost environmental understandings captured in travel writing from 1770 to 1840 allows critical reflection on contemporary practices and future directions. Project outputs include a Special Issue of Nineteenth-Century Contexts on ‘Ecologies of the Atlantic Archipelago’ and a one-day workshop on ‘Scotland’s Coastal Romanticisms’ (hosted by Scottish Writing in the Nineteenth Century (SWINC) and The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities).
Funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship: September 2020 to August 2022
LLC team: Dr Anna Pilz (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow), Professor Penny Fielding (Supervisor)
Recent developments in Education Studies have provided the tools to better understand the teaching and learning experience in higher education. However, the interdisciplinarity of Japanese Studies - an ambiguous and diffuse field, apparently without the particular sets of well-defined methods, theories and questions found in other disciplines - represents a particular challenge to understanding why teaching in Japanese Studies happens in a particular way, what its intended outcomes are, and how it all fits together.
Focusing on the perspectives of practitioners and students through interviews and focus groups, this project aims to understand and explore the range of socialisation processes in different Japanese Studies departments across the UK. As well as publishing results in Japan Forum journal, the project team have been recording and publishing interviews with Japanese Studies academics focusing on their careers to date. The Voices in Japanese Studies podcast offers a window into the field for prospective and existing scholars. As such, and along with the journal article, it makes a valuable, evidenced-based contribution to the ongoing global discussion on the role of Area Studies in higher education.
Funded by the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS): February 2017 to April 2021
LLC team - Dr Chris Perkins (Principal Investigator), Matt Loten and Anna Vittinghoff (PhD researchers and podcast hosts)
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 )
The Northern Scottish islands of Orkney and Shetland have both a rich literary history and an active community of poets and novelists at work today. Exploring the many continuities between the historic and the contemporary is challenging, given the location of the islands, and the geographic dispersal of the many people who can contribute to the process, including literary historians, museum professionals, writers, and their audiences. Bringing these groups together, Writing the North unlocked a range of archival and contextual material - shedding light on forgotten writers, and inspiring new work.
Arising out of Professor Penny Fielding's earlier AHRC Fellowship on Shetland and Orkney literature and the literary record of visitors to the islands, the project involved a major six-week exhibition bringing together two collections at Shetland Museum and Archives. Associated activities and events included an animation, lesson packs for schools, digital resources, and a series of creative 'dialogues' resulting in "Archipelagos", an anthology steeped in Shetlandic and Orcadian history. Beyond Scotland, the project has acted as a model for preserving and celebrating minority languages and dialects, including through connections with Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Manitoba, Canada. Although Writing the North has formally ended, related activities such as writing workshops, continue.
Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): May 2013 to June 2014
LLC team: Professor Penny Fielding (Principal Investigator), Robert Alan Jamieson, Dr Alex Thomson