Anglicisms and brain rewiring: « J’ai confronté ma mère dans la cuisine »

At first glance, the French quote in the title might sound acceptable to a French student studying English, yet it is not. While the words “week-end” and “management” have now been fully integrated into French, some verbs are still up for discussion. “Réaliser” in French, as in “prendre conscience de”, has borrowed its meaning from the English notion “to realize”; and even though it appears in the dictionary1, some French speakers still won’t accept it as being fully French. Some syntactic structures, however, the ones we call anglicisms, do not seem to be so acceptable.
As students of English, or early English scholars, I dare say, we are constantly in the presence of our language of choice. At university, where most of our classes are either taught in English, or about English media. In our personal lives, when we watch movies or videos on YouTube, read books in English… Due to its omnipresence, our subject is not only work-related, it is everywhere and contributes to our proficiency, and also, if we look even further, to the way our brains work.
In 1978, Albert & Obler2 studied the implications of bilingualism and defined two categories: on the one hand, balanced bilinguals, who “have acquired both languages from birth in a natural “‘one parent—one language’ setting”; and on the other, dominant bilinguals who “have been exposed to two languages consecutively, so that they have a mother tongue and a second language that they have learned later and possibly in a formal setting.” We, as advanced students fluent in English, accordingly fall within the second category. This distinction, however, implies two kinds of bilingual brains: one, balanced, with a single uniform language system, and another, dominant, with two separate systems. A fact which has been proven in a study by Peltoa et al.3 who used modern technology to show that “dominant bilinguals have two separate phonological inventories,” when balanced bilinguals have only one.
The question that should be raised at this point is: Why do we, dominant bilinguals, sometimes produce anglicisms in perfectly French contexts, while talking with French monolingual relatives or friends, when we should only be using the inventory of our mother tongue. Bylalstok et al., in their NIH study (Bylalstok et al., 20124) led experiments to study the problem and have found that this is not how things actually work; because of a phenomenon they coined ‘joint activation’. They state that while “A fluent French-English bilingual ordering coffee in a Parisian café has no reason to consider how to form the request in English. […] fluent bilinguals show some measure of activation of both languages and some interaction between them at all times, even in contexts that are entirely driven by only one of the languages.” In other words, for us, dominant bilinguals, the existence of two systems prompts us to tap into our ‘English brain’ (which takes time, sometimes provoking a slower reaction time when talking) even when the linguistic context does not require it, hence sometimes generating odd English syntactic structures while speaking French to your perfectly-oblivious-to-English mother…

1 Réaliser. (s.d.). Dans Dictionnaire Larousse en ligne. Repéré à http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/r%C3%A9aliser/66830?q=r%C3%A9aliser#66084

2Albert, M. L., & Obler, L. K. (1978). The bilingual brain: Neuropsychological and neurolinguistic aspects of bilingualism. New York: Academic Press.

3Maija S. Peltola, Henna Tamminen, Heidi Toivonen, Teija Kujala, Risto Näätänen “Different
 kinds of bilinguals – Different kinds of brains: The neural organisation of two languages in one brain” Brain and language. Volume 121, Issue 3, June 2012, Pages 261–266

4Ellen Bialystok, Fergus I.M. Craik, Gigi Luk “Bilingualism: Consequences for Mind and Brain” Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 April 16 Consulted at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322418/

In Memoriam: Apprehending History as Self-Reflection

Tackling the final essay of your Master’s degree is more than just a random research project. Now, of course, when considering the importance of what is at stake, the task appears beset with hardships and expectations. But its interest may lie in an unexpected — if not overlooked — dimension. Whatever the subject may be — whether in literature, history or linguistics — the student should not limit his investigations to the world of his chosen academic topic, but extend it to himself. Regarding the essay’s general direction, personal interests are evidently important. No one wants to struggle with the burden of an undesired subject. If the choice of the supervisor is important, the student is the main individual concerned. It is his private background that will shape the original route of his research course. If this essay can be considered as the first distinctive achievement of a future career, it will always be the mirror of a given identity, and the reflection of an intellectual evolution.
Considering historical research, historians are acutely aware of the influence of their own cultural background. Whether expressed at an individual level or at a more collective one, the concepts of memory and identity appear to be fused1. But the following question often remains: why and what do we choose to remember?

When the city of Québec celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plaines of Abraham in 2009, what exactly did it chose to commemorate? The French defeat entailed the destruction of New France and the end of its imperial ambitions in North America. Moreover, it meant the permanent submission of a wide Catholic and French-speaking population to a reviled foreign power. Yet presently, the event is regarded as one of Canada’s founding moments, with the bonding of divided populations by law and pain to share a common future. New monuments now celebrate this cultural marriage2.
While growing up in Michigan, I rarely missed an opportunity to assert my distinct nationality. In spite of the elaborate rituals around the American flag, anthem and Pledge of Allegiance — dutifully repeated in class every other morning — I willingly remained conscious of my linguistic and cultural uniqueness. Perhaps I was being snobbish and unnecessarily chauvinistic, but I was certain that unlike the many European families who had preceded us in ages past, we had not crossed the Atlantic for good. Visiting the landscapes of America and nearby Canada, I remember being struck by the legacy of my past countrymen. Forts, churches, cities… countless areas linked to the history of my country remained in this foreign land. It was a story few of my fellow classmates were aware of, as we were so young. Yet I remained determined to explore it.

Je me souviens

is the city of Québec’s motto. I have simply chosen to do the same.

 

1 Philippe Joutard : Histoire et mémoires, conflits et alliances ; Paris, La Découverte, collection « Ecritures de l’Histoire », 2013, 275 pages.

2 Mémorial de la Guerre de Sept Ans and Monument François-Gaston-de-Lévis : http://www.capitale.gouv.qc.ca/realisations/grille/commemoration-et-art-public

Waking up Finnegan to music

Mind-blowing, wild, nuts, impenetrable, odd, striking, cryptic, dense, obscure and baffling is only a short, inexhaustive list of adjectives commonly used to describe James Joyce’s literary anomaly, Finnegans Wake. The Irish author took seventeen years to write the book, and rumour has it he expected the reader to spend seventeen years reading it. Imitating a dream-like state, words are put together in a challenging way and are borrowed from dozens of languages, when not simply invented by Joyce:

« What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishygods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quáouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms. Sod’s brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms apeal with larms, appalling. »1

Reluctant to conform to a conventional approach, the text raises issues of connection to Joyce’s language: how is one to read Finnegans Wake? The 1939 novel, precisely, invites the reader to set out on an adventure with words, paving the way for many creative approaches. Whether through music, live shows or digital technologies, Joyce’s works have often been adapted to reach wider audiences. In May 2015 a new musical and collaborative project was launched, entitled “Waywords and Meansigns: Recreating Finnegans Wake [in its whole wholume]”.

In February 2016, a second edition of the project was released, bringing together both amateurs and professional musicians from all over the world. Each participant was assigned one of the seventeen chapters. Free to use whatever kind of music or sound effects they wished, the only requirement was that each artist should render all of the chapter’s words in an audible way, more or less in their original order. The outcome of this independent, non-commercial project is now freely available online. Over thirty-hour long, it offers an unabridged audio version of the Wake mixed with varied musical performances ranging from jam bands to rock and jazz.

“Waywords and Meansigns” thus challenges the view that Finnegans Wake is to be read by privileged academics only, using mass communication and web interconnectedness to renew one’s access to literary texts. After all, Joyce did not use words with their commonplace connections, but treated them as living things. Their charm was to be revealed notably by liberating sounds from their servile role, thus promoting the benefits of reading the book aloud.

Instead of simply scanning the page without actively engaging with the literary fabric, attempt to pronounce the Wake’s onomatopoeias or phonetic distortions. It offers a challenge to the tongue: stimulating one’s relation to the text, these strange sounds and rhythms actualize the music of the book. “Waywords and Meansigns” also offers an opportunity to take part in future multimedia projects, allowing one to actively interact with works like Finnegans Wake and as Joyce would put it, to let oneself be affected by the linguistic phenomenon.

http://www.waywordsandmeansigns.com/

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/28/finnegans-wake-james-joyce-modern-interpretations

http://peterchrisp.blogspot.fr/2015/03/james-joyce-describes-finnegans-wake.html

1   Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake. England: Wordsworth Classics, 2012, p. 4.

Picture By : c. Khemiri & M C Morgan

cc licence picture

Speak/Spoke/Spoken

On the way to bilingualism, my fellow English-learners and I have come to the conclusion that the essential flaw in our apprentissage is the obvious lack of exposure to English. The amount of time spent actually speaking the language in real conversation has been negligible. When personal enthusiasm and motivation slowly fade as well, one may wonder: how can French students learning English get real experience? Should they continuously eavesdrop to catch the melodious sound of a native speaker talking, and try to sneak into conversations? Or are there better solutions? My first suggestion was successful on many occasions, yet to enjoy regular opportunities, why not try to find a weekly meeting?
In France, as in many other countries, when not organised by young motivated students or societies, some “conversation groups” can be found outside of university grounds.
As Masters II students of English literature, civilisation, translation or linguistics, we have all been given the tools to master this language we adore. At university we usually are in contact with teaching-assistants – native speakers from different cultural backgrounds who offer conversation classes and groups. However, learning a language in a scholarly environment has its limits, when it is not spoken in a different context.
In Aix-en-Provence, for instance, conversation groups exist, such as Conversations Polyglottes. Soon the Franglish Society will start its own events as well. They mainly follow a similar modus operandi; a friendly and casual gathering in a bar or in a café to exchange a product of a very peculiar nature: people’s mother tongues. So not only does it allow to improve linguistic skills, it also bonds people together. On a less formal tone, Erasmus Nights or International Nights are often organised by pubs, mainly to favor encounters between foreign and French students. Some choose more comfortable surroundings preferring tea to beer and benefiting from a more tranquil exchange. Often a cosy café is chosen to meet on a regular basis rather than a boisterous and crowded bar. One can be surprised to see how difficult it is, no matter what the technological advances are, to properly learn a language without interaction – and these exchanges are the closest thing to real immersion into a country’s culture.
Information on such groups can be found online, on Facebook groups and websites listing the events of a town. For the less formal ones, ads can be found directly at university libraries and cafés like Book in Bar, on bulletin boards. If you are curious, open to new encounters and wish to learn a foreign language, know that in every city, conversation groups exist and will help you make friends from all over the world. My final advice is to speak, speak and speak some more… and of course don’t forget to travel!

You can find all the useful links below :

https://www.facebook.com/groups/145339865640730/?fref=ts
http://www.aix.franglish.eu/en/language-exchange-aix
http://www.bookinbar.com/infosprat.php

What Future for English?

One of the great advantages of studying English is that it does not just grant access to a wide array of different English-speaking cultures extending over five continents, but to a rich repository of non-native cultures as well.

A scholar of English literature does not only read Wilde, Walcott and Hemingway, but also Nabokov, Conrad, Ishiguro and Rushdie. Nowadays English is not only the universal second language, but also the second most spoken native tongue worldwide, the official language of 70 countries, which controls about 40% of the world’s total GNP1, and influences international media, cinema, music, science and computing. But how long will its supremacy last?

That English has become the de facto universal language is less tied to the language itself, and more to the former dominance of the industrially-preeminent British Empire, and the current influence of American political, economical, technological and cultural hegemony. By a lucky coincidence, it also happens to be “one of the simplest and easiest natural languages in the world”2, thus more easy to acquire by large foreign populations, and easier to adjust to diplomacy and business, science and culture, all at once.

Yet universal languages rise and fall. French was a lingua franca in the 18th century, the “unchallenged sine qua non of diplomatic patter”3. It had dislodged Latin, which had itself dethroned Greek; in the era of world mass communication, English has long since toppled French, but how long before it gets deposed in turn? If language is, above all, a powerful tool of subjugation, its importance necessarily fades whenever the power erecting it dwindles. If China is to be the new world empire, who is to say Chinese will not become the new universal language?

According to a study by The Washington Post4, native speakers’ charts clearly put Chinese and Hindi-Urdu-Bengali – all dialects included – massively ahead of English, with Arabic and Spanish closely on its tail. These languages also prevail from an economic-influential vantage point. If we are looking for the most geographically-disseminated languages, we should add French to the list, and we should not neglect Russian if it is culturally influential languages we seek.

Does that mean we will eventually find ourselves specialists of a fading language? Of course not: English will certainly remain a major global language for yet a very long time. It is highly unlikely, however, that it will remain as dominant worldwide as a second language in academia and culture. If one indicator arises from this study, it is that the future will not be made of one but of several linguae francae, and none more prominent than the digital signals of the Internet. English will continue to thrive as a cultural repository, but may no longer remain the vector of universal understanding. Learners – and more so scholars – might soon have to reevaluate the pertinence of settling for a single global language, for the days of unilingual imperialism may very well be numbered.

 


1 Torres, Carlos Carrion. « English as a Universal Language ». Omniglot. [http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/engunilang.php]

2 Ibid.

3 Pulvers, Roger. “The days may be numbered for English as a universal second language”. The Japan Times: 03/03/2013.

4 Noack, Rick. « The Future of Language ». The Washington Post: 24/09/2015.

Lermastériales 2016

By Lévana Eckert & Tiffany Robert (2016)

The fifth anniversary edition of “LERMAstériales” was held this year on Friday 4th March 2016. It was an all-day workshop organised and held by the second-year Master students of the English department at Aix-Marseille University. Launched in 2011 on Professor Anne Page’s initiative, the project always looms as a terrifying challenge for ACMA students who stand both on and off stage all day long – however it seems that it was not an impossible task and we unexpectedly enjoyed it.

While students are encouraged to attend academic events organised by their professors during the year, the LERMAstériales offers a unique and new perspective on all the work and effort that go into such events. So the big day, as Mme Monique De Mattia-Viviès pointed out in her introductory speech, gave the students the opportunity to become researchers. In the professor’s experience, it is a transformation that happens every year on this occasion, when those who are usually only part of the academic audience become active professionals in the spotlight.
First thoughts of gratitude go to the seven members of the organizational committee who put an impressive amount of work into the preparation of the day. However, no student was without their task: everyone had to take part in the event by exploring its theme, answering the call for papers on “Confluence(s)” as well as writing and timing a ten-minute communication for the big day. This implied not only individual work, but rehearsing the presentation with members from the same working group in order to do one’s best, both as a single speaker and within a group.

TimeFood breaks

When facing multiple challenges such as having to make a program, create posters, prepare lunch and so on, one becomes aware of all the mechanics involved in setting up an academic event.
While the whole day revolved around the central notion of Confluence(s),—the theme of the annual conference of the Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur—the students kept switching places, either to speak or to listen, to take notes or to raise hands, to either ask or answer questions.
Being part of the university curriculum, the LERMAstériales are not a one-sided process where students are in charge of everything and receive nothing in return. In fact, as a student, an organiser and a speaker, you are truly rewarded as you learn much from and about the research of others, their methods and their points of view. So in the end, one gets as much out of the LERMAstériales as one puts into it.Conference room

One of the most delicate parts of this academic challenge consisted in being able to confront and deal with the main topic in a professional and appropriate manner. The notion of Confluence(s) was not to be used as an excuse to expound one’s own personal research. On the contrary, the exercise aims at focusing primarily on the given topic, exploring it in depth and using one’s research only as a tool to shed some original light on the subject matter. This implied fine analysis, impeccable structure, coherence, writing and rewriting – all achieved thanks to the precious help from the doctorate students of the LERMA.

Stormy, husky, brawling: City of the Big Shoulders: Loyola University, Chicago

By Clémentine Faure (2015)

During the first year of my Master’s, I spent a semester at Loyola University in the beautiful and exciting city of Chicago, Illinois. Despite the apprehension of living in a huge city where I had never been before, I left my small town in Provence on August 22nd to start taking classes on the 26th. There were ups and downs, but the upsides are the ones that have stayed with me in the long run.

I had many cultural experiences from discovering a city with a very strong, striking history, a completely new way of life and a whole new culture to living with three American roommates, who allowed me to get to know my way around the city quickly and to integrate faster into the student community. The fact that I lived on one of the university campuses (not the one where I took my classes but the building I lived in is located in one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods, right next to the Water Tower) also helped me to be a part of student life, since I regularly participated in events organized by the students in my building.

Illustration billet Çchange ClÇmentine FAUREI discovered a new discipline, Sociology, and participated in a few seminars about American history that were very enriching allowed me to study the subject from new points of view. The ideal location of the Lake Shore Campus made it pleasant to go to class, even in the winter. The downsides, even if they did exist, did not spoil my experience. Among the most difficult things that future exchange students will need to prepare for are missing their friends and family,  their home country from time to time, considerable expenses (especially when you have decided to live on campus, where housing is quite expensive), and the “Erasmus Blues” which has affected almost every exchange student.

For those who are interested in discovering American culture, life on an American campus, and who are not afraid of preconceived ideas about French people (“you’re French? Oh, so you live in Paris, right?”), these exchanges represent unique opportunities that allow us to open our minds to the world, learn how to trust ourselves, be more confident and develop an autonomy that can only be appreciated during future job interviews.

Birmingham, Brum, Bham

By Flora Roselier (2015)

Many of my friends are former Erasmus students, and I have always been jealous of their experiences abroad. When I was accepted at the University of Birmingham in the West Mid-Land, in England, I was eager to start my own experience as an Erasmus student. Needless to say, moving to a foreign country is a bit scary, but as soon as I arrived the fear went away as excitement set in. Still, I did not yet realize that I was starting one of the best years of my life.

If I have to summarize Erasmus in a single word, it would be “discovery.” At the beginning of an Erasmus exchange, everything is new: new country, new city, new university, new home and even new friends. This might sound overwhelming, but one step at the time and everyone is able to find their way.

Erasmus is, above all, a university exchange. This program gives students the opportunity to experience a totally different system. The University of Birmingham offers a great variety of courses to choose from. I took both English and American history and literature courses. In fact, the American history course made me discover feminism and the anti-feminist figure of Phyllis Schlafly who is currently the subject of my Master’s dissertation. A lot of specialized classes, help, tutorials, and so on are put in place to smooth international students’ adaptation to the English university system. In fact, assessments mainly require writing essays, which was totally new to me. I found it interesting to get the opportunity to experience another kind of university system from within.

Illustration billet Çchange Flora ROSELIER

Erasmus may be primarily about university, but it is also about discovering life from a new angle, shaking up habits, meeting people from all around the world, and experiencing a new culture. Birmingham is located in the centre of England, which made it very easy to travel to and explore many English cities.

At its best, Erasmus is an experience that forces us to overcome our own limits, challenge habits, and embrace other cultures. I went back home, but now as a former Erasmus student, and I will never forget this wonderful year.

My year in Wild Atlantic Galway

By Salomé Boucher (2015)

Galway is the capital city of Connemara, a region along Ireland’s West Coast, ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’. Connemara seems to perfectly fit our stereotypes of Ireland: green grass, lakes and sheep. However, after having spent the first year of my Master’s there as an Erasmus student, and truly considering Galway as my home, I discovered it was so much more than pastures. I found a country whose history and culture have captivated me ever since.

International students at the National University of Ireland Galway can choose from a wide range of lectures and seminars. As a student of English and the Anglophone World, I attended lectures in Irish literature, Irish medieval and contemporary history, Irish culture, Women’s Studies and translation in order to truly study the country’s culture and make the most of my time abroad. These diverse topics led me to write a dissertation on the role of Irish women in the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence that followed.

Illustration billet échange Salomé BOUCHER

Life in Galway and on Campus was an equally important and enriching part of my experience. When I first I arrived, I was a little disappointed in the campus, but I quickly learned that living in Galway would give me endless opportunities. Pictures of the University only show the old building, called the ‘Quadrangle’ because of its medieval castle-like shape, and I was expecting to study in Harry Potter-like scenery. While the rest of the campus was not like the ‘Quadrangle’, it had plenty of other advantages. I discovered places I enjoyed to study, met friends in the College Bar and, after the Society Day that was organised during the first week, joined the International Society, which held events for international students and home students who wanted to meet people from different countries. I also practised modern dance, salsa and yoga, tried boxing and kayaked on the river that runs through the city.

The atmosphere in Galway was both peaceful and exciting. While it is one of Ireland’s main cities, it often felt like a small village. After having lived there for three months, I could not leave my house without bumping into someone I knew. Yet, I always found something to do, even if it was just going for a walk through the city centre and listening to the many bands playing in the streets. As an Erasmus student I also wanted to travel as much as possible. Around Galway and Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands are typical destinations, and definitely worth a visit.

Galway is a beautiful and welcoming city. The city and the region are great for tourists. But, for me, Galway has always meant an opportunity for my studies and just a wonderful place to live.

Chichester

By Valentine Oliviero (2015)

“Tom, he was a piper’s son, he learnt to play when he was young,
And all the tune that he could play, was ‘over the hills and far away’.”
(nursery rhyme)

Why travel abroad? Why go somewhere where you may be completely lost and unable to communicate with others? As a student with the option of going on an Erasmus exchange, these are the questions you have to ask yourself. My instinct was to take the plunge and try to make this experience happen. It was worth it. The year I spent in Chichester, England gave me so much, personally and culturally, that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My year abroad gave me the opportunity to see another culture, speak another language every day and meet new people. I discovered several cities around England, enjoyed drinking tea in a café, and read The Hobbit while listening to The Lord of the Rings’s soundtrack in the park. I also joined several clubs, met other international students who became very important to me, and even watched a (real) Quidditch match! It was life, perfected.

I attended modules that I could never have imagined possible in France. I enrolled in classes on Writing for the Screen and Writing Children’s Literature, and followed lectures about Cinema and Fantasy Literature in which we studied Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and even J. K. Rowling. These normally inconceivable modules gave me the opportunity to work in completely different fields and meet teachers that had different, and sometimes striking, approaches to their subjects. The way they worked with their students contributed to an academic experience that was wholly different from what I had known up to this point.

This year was also critical for my personal development. Chichester was the first place I have ever lived alone. It was a whole new world, socially and academically. And while I loved being abroad, I also learned how much I could miss parts of my own country, even sometimes something as simple as the bread.

I am worried that I cannot fully explain my experience. It is necessary to live abroad to understand it. And everyone that goes abroad encounters the same problems – the challenge of explaining such a unique experience and the surprising difficulty of going back home. After a year that changed me so profoundly, both personally and in terms of how I see my work, I will never be the same.

Interdisciplinarity: walking a fine line or walking on the wild side?

By Christelle Klein-Scholz, post-doctoral fellow, LERMA (E.A 853)
Aix-Marseille University

Area studies are intrinsically interdisciplinary: ‘[c]ultures, in their ever-shifting interactions and complexities, need to be both researched and taught from interdisciplinary perspectives’.[1] Characterized by hybridity, breadth, general knowledge and synthesis, they aim at ‘interconnect[ing] and transgress[ing] boundaries’[2] so as to implement a synergistic approach to ‘the growing number of problems “without a discipline”’.[3] ‘Commitment’ can be thought of as one such problem, and the 2015 LERMAsteriales were undoubtedly ‘at the boundary of the individual disciplines’ – literature, history, enunciation, linguistics, translation, photography, art, religion, politics, and language – ‘where they begin to merge and intermingle, clash and jar.’[4]

The concern that comes to mind when dealing with interdisciplinary studies is addressed on the website of the Arts and Science programmes at University College London: ‘If I take an interdisciplinary approach, won’t I just learn a little bit about everything and not much about anything?’; the answer that is provided aims at being both upfront about the issue at hand and reassuring to prospective students:

On Arts and Sciences, you cannot learn as much in one particular discipline as you can on a single-subject degree. There are only 24 hours in a day. But your breadth of knowledge, and the interdisciplinary approach you have followed, will give you different, and arguably more widely valued, strengths. Importantly, it also depends on what you think is a ‘thingʼ worth studying![5]

It is no wonder the lexicon used is that of subjectivity: it is about getting ‘more widely valued’ skills on what ‘you think’ is ‘worth studying.’ ‘[A]rguably’ is the key word: interdisciplinarity has supporters and detractors, and what can be thought of as their ‘quarrel’ can probably be boiled down to the fact that ‘there currently exists no agreed-upon definition of the term’[6]—umbrella terms have a way of drawing suspicion.

Overcoming the segmentation of knowledge is a challenging task and requires new paradigms, new methodologies, new dynamics, new ways to interact with other fields (and therefore with other people—it is no coincidence that interdisciplinarity has become a ‘fashion’, to use Michael Burawoy’s term[7], concomitantly to the explosion of information and interconnectedness on the web), and the risk is to do so 1) for the sake of it and 2) at the expense of well-established, traditional disciplines (they are traditional and well-established for a reason): ‘The danger of interdisciplinarity, therefore, is to abandon disciplines for a superficial fusing of incompatible frameworks, repressing their elaborate structures that have been created in a painstaking fashion by the collaborative work of generations of scholars.’[8]

There is a fine line between ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘lacking commitment to scientific rigor’, but walking it is rewarding because it is an epistemological means to an ontological end: ‘When we have unified enough certain knowledge, we will understand who we are and why we are here.’[9]

[1] Grant Cornwell and Eve Stoddard, “Things Fall Together: A Critique of Multicultural Curricular Reform,” Liberal Education, Fall 1994: 44.

[2] Neil Campbell and Alasdair Kean, American Cultural Studies. An Introduction to American Culture, Third Edition, New York, Routledge, 2012: 13.

[3] Julie Thompson Klein, “Interdisciplinarity and Complexity: An Evolving Relationship,” E:CO, vol. 6, issue 1-2, 2004: 4.

[4] Neil Campbell and Alasdair Kean: 12.

[5] http://www.ucl.ac.uk/basc/faq/interdisciplinarity

[6] James Britt Holbrook, “What is interdisciplinary communication? Reflections on the Very Idea of Disciplinary Integration,” Synthese, July 2013, vol. 190, issue 11: 1865.

[7] Michael Burawoy, “Sociology and Interdisciplinarity: The Promise and the Perils,” Philippine Sociological Review, vol. 61, 2013: 7.

[8] Michael Burawoy: 13.

[9] Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York, Vintage, 1998: 7.

Exchange broadens the mind

Eight students’ accounts of their experiences abroad

 Students at Aix-Marseille, as elsewhere, are strongly encouraged to apply for exchanges abroad. But what is really behind this presumably enriching and colourful experience—an experience that has become became a rite of passage for students committed to the study of English? In the French academic system, a year abroad is not compulsory when you study Modern Languages, so the decision to leave is entirely personal.

What are the reasons why some students choose to leave in the first place? Is the process of leaving as easy as it sounds, and is coming back as natural as one thinks?

If “difficult” and “unique” seem to be two recurrent words when a student is asked to summarize her/his experience abroad, how do these two terms co-exist in the making of such a journey?

Over the next few months, EN-globe’s editorial team will attempt to answer these questions, and to measure the impact of what is, for most, a unique and authentic academic adventure. We will provide eight genuine records of students’ experiences in various English-speaking countries, from Britain and Ireland to the US and Canada.

Why go back to English wor(l)ds?

By Édouard Brasey (2015)

Where did I get this strange idea to go back to school – sorry – University in order to get yet another diploma? Does it make any sense? Is it a reasonable project or totally absurd? All of these questions turned round and round in my poor old head for days on end – I am exaggerating a bit, of course – before getting an answer, which eventually was: ‘Don’t worry. Just do it!’

But maybe I should introduce myself first in order for this post to make more sense. My name is Edouard Brasey, and I am a writer. It is my job. I am 60. So far, I have published around 70 books and novels, many essays, encyclopedia articles and illustrated books on very serious subjects such as faeries, hobgoblins, mermaids, unicorns and other elves and Little Folk. I have had the good fortune to win a number of prizes and awards for Fantasy writing, and if you are interested in dragons, wizards and vampires, you might have already read one of my books (even if you do not remember my name). I have also been translated into different languages including English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian . . . and Japanese (I cannot be certain of the authenticity of this last translation; maybe my books inspired some Manga cartoonists, who knows?).

Translation! Ah! Indeed, my decision to enroll in this second year Masters degree at Aix-Marseille University (Anglophone studies, specializing in translation) is because of translation. I wanted to know a bit more about it and I have not been not disappointed. Allow me to explain.

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LERMAsteriales: an overview of the day

By Mylène Della Monica (2015)

The LERMAsteriales were divided into eight sessions. The first session developed the idea of commitment in times of war and peace. It began by looking at the work of Ernest Hemingway, emblematic author of the ‘Lost Generation’; we saw how a whole generation of artists could commit to a cause, in response to the trauma of World War I, but also how Hemingway can be seen to have dealt with personal trauma through his female characters. War was also the ‘Greater Game’ of sportsmen, who extended their athletic commitment from stadiums to the greater arena of the front, and who also learnt how to use sport to escape the horrors of war. Lastly, we saw how the United States struggles as a country to commit to peace. War seems to cement union and national agreement, but, when at the end of the Cold War, a plan of military conversion was designed, this new cause clearly did not bring people together. While individuals often do commit to a public cause, it appears hard for a whole nation to really commit when it comes to peace.

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LERMAsteriales 2015: A Commitment to Research

By Mylène Della-Monica (2015)

On Friday 6 March 2015, at 8.45am, Professor Anne Dunan-Page, who has been organizing the LERMAsteriales for the last four years, opened the conference. After two long months of intense preparation, the LERMAsteriales were about to begin. Twenty-seven anxious students filled the room, facing a large audience of professors, former students, relatives and friends to give their first papers.

Comité LERMAsteriales 2015

The LERMAsteriales are an exceptional opportunity for Master’s students to dive into the real world of research. We were given the chance to discuss our own research and to get a sense of what organizing a conference means. It gave us an insight into what a researcher’s life is made of: the thrill of the organization, the adrenaline rushing when you are up on stage, but most of all the excitement filling you up when you are about to start delivering your presentation.

LERMAsteriales 2015 session 4

Ten minutes – that is all each of us had – to convince, persuade, and share our passion for our subject. The LERMAsteriales is a great opportunity for young Master’s researchers to share their enthusiasm and interest for a topic of their choice. It was also a chance to discover what we were capable of, to share our research but above all, to communicate a message in an academic context.

LERMAsteriales 2015 session 8

In the end, even the most worried of us took great advantage of those few minutes. It also broadened our knowledge of the subjects of other students. As Prof. Dunan-Page had predicted at our very first meeting, we came out of this experience as a strong and united group.

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Research Blog of the Masters Students in Anglophone Studies (Aix-Marseille University)