LERMAsteriales 2017: Rémanences

Julia Bongiorno and Nicolas Locks

Both feared and longed-for by the Master students, the LERMAsteriales are study days organized by the students themselves, with an audience comprising academics and fellow students. This year’s guiding theme for the 6th edition of the event was ‘Rémanences’, which could be translated, remanence or retentivity. It goes without saying that the topic in itself was not an easy task to deal with. However, due to the numerous interpretations of the term, the papers were varied and truly interesting.

For instance, Celia Bourcy’s paper was entitled ‘Vestiges d’influences linguistiques et historiques dans les langues artistiques’. During this presentation, Celia talked about how Tolkien used different languages and historical events to create new languages, featured for example in The Lord of The Rings. Emmanuelle Bontemps’ was based on a civilization topic entitled ‘Rémanences de la vision impérialiste sur la représentation de l’Afrique contemporaine’: this added a historical aspect to the term ‘rémanence’. Later during the day, Simon Pasquini spoke about ‘La voyelle STRUT dans le système chanté et les accents du nord des Île britanniques : témoin d’un accent rémanent?’: how people tend to change the way they pronounce vowels when they sing. Within the last panel, Miriam Haddjeri talked about ‘Les rémanences au service de la cause abolitionniste dans Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl d’Harriet Jacobs’, the subject of her paper being slavery.

The speakers were grouped by panels formed by associating their research content under a sub-theme. The panels were arranged in such a way that all the disciplines—literature, history, phonology, translation and linguistics—were merged to illustrate the complexity of the theme ‘Rémanence’, which proved to be an interdisciplinary concept. Thus, the whole range of English studies was represented, and it offered us the opportunity of discovering research in other disciplines.

As you may have guessed, thorough rehearsals were in order before the big event, alone at home or in group sessions. Not only were our papers grouped within a panel but also within the whole conference, which means that they had to be in accordance with those of our fellow students.

A particularly interesting task was the selection of the conference image that went on publicity material. Since we participated in all aspects of the conference, with the help of Mrs Page and the doctoral students, some students volunteered to create posters of their own. They were quite well done all in all and a vote decided which one was to be selected.

The LERMAsteriales was a great opportunity for us. Indeed, it allowed us to organize a workshop and to go from attendees to participants.

Looking back on this experience, we were reminded how important it is to collaborate with colleagues, learning from and supporting each other in order to play a part in academic work.

Keywords : LERMAsteriales, paper, presentation

Brussels Book Fair

The Brussels Book Fair that took place from 9th to 13th of March 2017 is one of the major national events for French-speaking publishing houses. For visitors, it is a unique chance to buy all kinds of books in the same place: everything from the classics to children’s literature including crime novel, romance and detective novels, comics or even specialized works on architecture, photography or translation. Visitors also have the chance to participate in seminars on various topics: creative writing workshops, conferences on the book industry, the role of France within the E.U., the role of women within children’s literature etc. Yet more importantly, this book fair is a unique chance for editors and publishing houses to make a name for themselves.

As a trainee for the Imbernon publishing house located in La Cité Radieuse in Marseille, I had the chance to participate in the Brussels Book Fair. I shared a stand with the Peinture Fraîche bookshop team and together we represented ten other publishers and paper manufacturers: Aparté, Fonds Mercator, Frémok, Louis Vuitton, Prisme, Bec en l’air, Parenthèses, Cercle d’art, Graphius Printing and Arctic Paper. The building we were in was divided into four halls in a row, and we were on the last stand. Although being last was somehow a disadvantage – as people were here for spontaneous purchases and therefore spent their money on the previous rooms – having a spot in such a popular event gave us a chance to make people aware of who we are and what we do.

In addition to working for Imbernon editions and the Peinture Fraîche bookshop, it was also the opportunity to have publishers know about me and my work. As a translation student wishing to become a translator, or at least to work for a publishing house, meeting all these publishers allowed me to talk about my academic background and my professional project. It is usually quite difficult to get in touch with publishers directly, but being present at the same Book Fair, and all the more as a professional and not as a regular job seeker, publishers were more responsive. For instance, I met a publisher working for a children’s literature publishing house who asked me to send her my personal translations to have a look at them. I also met a young woman who wishes to open a publishing house for children’s books and therefore who was interested in my work.

Thus, having the chance to do an internship within my university cursus opened up many possibilities, and participating in this Book Fair turned them into opportunities. The master ACMA (Aire Culturelle du Monde Anglophone) being oriented to finding work afterwards, it offered this internship possibility and I was the first student to benefit from it. This opportunity should be promoted again for the years to come, as students who are interested in translation and book-related jobs will benefit from a first experience will gain a very valuable glance at the professional world, which is highly enriching.


Keywords : Brussels – Book Fair  – Imbernon Publisher – Internship

Student Crisis: Anxiety

One of the many challenges facing a student is to try and handle anxiety. Everyone will be subjected to anxiety at least once in their life, and it can be a terrible experience. Anxiety stems from a wide variety of factors, not only from exams, or from juggling between studies and work. Some people are able to control that state of stress, others cannot overcome it. The problem occurs when this stress becomes counterproductive.

Stress can be a source of strength: sometimes it helps us reach the goals we have set for ourselves. As students, we often get anxious when we are going to be evaluated, and this apprehension can drive us to study and succeed. It can also help us focus on the subject, and even try to go into greater detail and do extra research.

Stress can also be challenging, and it is sometimes hard to overcome. It can be an obstacle in our lives, thus affecting our studies and our mental state. As students, we have all been subjected, one day, to some sort of anxiety crisis that troubled us during an exam, making us forget the courses we knew by heart, or preventing us from managing our time. It can also make us stutter during oral exams, making us forget our words. Therefore, one of the things we should learn, as soon as possible, is how to handle that stress so it does not become our biggest weakness.

We all noticed during our years at university that one of the main triggers to anxiety in our lives is the outcome of our work, not only our grades or our appreciations, but also to what job it will lead us. This fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring can be destabilizing. Some of us are not sure what they will do next while others are not sure how to succeed in what they want to do.

We carried out a survey about anxiety at university in March 2017. It was first conceived for students from L1 to M2 who attended English courses, and the goal was to know how many students were subjected to anxiety or stress. In one week, two hundred people answered the survey, among whom a hundred and ninety-nine were subjected to stress. Their first source of stress were exams (59,4%), their second was homework and classes (22,8%), and their third was having to reconcile their job with their study (8,6%). 72,5% of them said that they were also subject to anxiety, 54,5% affirmed that they already had had panic attacks, and 28,5% admitted that it went as far for them as depression. The most striking aspect of this survey was the amount of students who felt good about being asked about their condition: anxiety and stress are subjects they felt should be tackled more, thus they were pleased with the creation of this survey. Some students suggested that there should be a counselor available in the university for times of crisis, other proposed to create a support committee which would help people in need and show them that anxiety can be overcome.

Keywords: anxiety, stress, handling anxiety, studying.


  • What year are you in?
  • Have you already experienced stress?
  • With what frequency?
  • What is your main source of stress?
  • Have you ever suffered from anxiety?
  • If yes, in what situation?
  • Have you ever had panic attacks?
  • If yes, in what situation and with what frequency?
  • Have you ever gone into depression because of stress?
  • If yes, could you explain more?
  • Would you like to add something (experience, advise, details, remarks, opinion, etc.)?

Music in the student’s environment

Less than half of the population in France play a musical instrument. Most students nowadays acknowledge immersing themselves in a musical environment for at least two hours each day and youngest people are regular attendees at concerts and musical events.

According to an informal investigation run among the Master students this year, we’ve found that the majority of students listen to music every day when going to work. Fewer would rather listen to music at home at the end of the day. In fact, listening to music or practicing an instrument appears to be a useful means to relax, allowing students to isolate themselves before an important event or sitting an exam. Others have suggested that music stimulates their brain and brings them motivation to accomplish the tasks of the day.

As for completing university assignments while listening to music, 80% of students acknowledge doing so. Most of them express a preference for a certain style of music according to the type of academic activity in which they are engaged.

For instance, classical music holds a major role in students’ working atmosphere. It has the advantages of not being harsh and of not having lyrics to which the attention is too often attracted.

When doing research for an essay or a presentation, students would rather listen to instrumental music  (classical music, soft music or jazz). Some of them also listen to movie soundtracks, but they rarely listen to rock or metal since most of these styles include songs and thus lyrics which can influence their writing.

When summarizing courses, most of the student will still avoid listening to songs, but they do have diverging opinions on listening to soft or rhythmic music. It rather depends on the importance and the subject of the course. Yet, when revising their courses for an exam, the majority recommends not to listen to any kind of music. They would rather choose a quiet environment so that their mind can entirely focus on the subject.

Alongside stimulating thinking abilities, music has a scientifically proven effect on our linguistic acquisitions (perception and oral expression) through the process of singing*. This is the reason why reading aloud or singing when learning a course can be quite useful for people having an auditive memory. Some of the students use this method.

93% of students, either professional or hobbyist singers, sing (quite often, if not everyday) in any familiar environment (kitchen, bathroom…). Besides, singing opens the rib cage, works on the breathing process and lays down the rhythm of speech. This is therefore quite useful for oral performances in a lecture or for those wishing to become teachers.

Therefore, merging studies with music is not only beneficial for most M.Phil students but it also directly contributes to their academic accomplishments.


*Called ‘musicotherapy’ (Frégaville-Arcas, O. (2010). Musique sur ordonnance, Science et santé, 0 32-33), dealing with linguistic troubles and psychological traumas through the process of listening to music and singing.

The art of balancing work and studies

It is well known that the student lifestyle can be a bit of a financial struggle. In this regard many students have to work at the same time as they attempt to pass degrees. 56% of  the students who answered our survey “
balancing work and studies” that was carried out on March 17th 2017 said they worked part-time during their studies, versus 18% who work either full-time, or part-time during the holidays, whether this be during the bachelor’s or the master’s degree. Juggling between work and studies appears to be a recurring struggle of student life, the task however is finding a job that does not interfere with one’s studies. When asked what type of jobs they carry out, the survey brought forward the fact that students tend to go for ‘‘odd jobs’’ here and there, meaning taking what they can find. Retail and catering (40%) were at the top of the list, but tutoring and childcare came close behind. Students do not often have the choice of a dream job and go for what happens to be around; be it working in a bank, cleaning hotels or summer jobs; this due to the complicated task of finding jobs in other fields that accommodate to university hours.

This being said, we have yet to tackle the whole debacle of balancing studies and a job. For those doing their first degree it would appear that it is easier to manage, attendance being a choice and not mandatory. For the master’s degree, it is not the same. Your presence being obligatory, it introduces a new element to the equation: work/studies. For the majority of those who answered the survey, their timetables do not overlap (62% no, 37% yes). They have been able to conciliate working hours and university demands, this due to an understanding boss or flexible hours. For the less fortunate, those who still have to balance the two, the options are not numerous. Some have to turn down work hours, which obviously impacts their financial situation. Others have to miss classes, and have to provide justification for their absence. Professors are generally very understanding and do what they can to make the situation easier for everyone.

There is a final case to consider: that of those who do not miss work or classes, but at the expense of free time and rest. Some students will go from university straight to work, their hours do not overlap but that does not leave much space to get things done. This results in some very long nights of work and eventual pleas for extra time to hand in assignments. Although this represents a very small percentage of those questioned for the survey, it is still a position certain students have to face and that deserves recognition. It remains a rare situation and only a few reach the point of ‘‘when am I expected to get this paper done, revise and do my job efficiently? Oh and what does the sun look like?’’ and thus their job does not negatively impact their studies and vice versa, this also being an issue to face.

Student life can be tricky and this without having the strain of financial struggle, carrying out successfully both a job and studies is a task that requires a tremendous amount of implication. ‘‘Working as well as studying requires a lot of organization and knowing what you can and can’t do”, this comment from the survey perfectly captures the debacle of such a situation, in these words lies the key to the art of balancing work and studies, knowing your limits and not biting off more than you can chew!

Zotero, or your best friends when it comes to bibliography and organising your references


Writing a thesis or a dissertation is a very meticulous and complex task. Indeed, you have to find the perfect outline, write something you and your supervisor are happy with, limit yourself to a certain length, and add references, among other things. But references are not always easy to use, because the bibliographic norms that you should respect will not be the same if you study literature, civilisation, or linguistics. You also have to pay attention to the edition, to the type of media you are quoting, and even to punctuation.

But what if I told you that there was a software that could take care of everything that has to do with references for you?

This software is called Zotero. It is a free and open-source program that will help you manage references and bibliographic data. Although it is not well-known by students, it is a very helpful tool that is easy to use and that can save you time and provide perfect norms and references.

Once Zotero is installed on your computer, you will find it in your browser’s toolbar. It means that every time you read an interesting article, the only thing you will have to do is click the Zotero logo, and the article’s reference will be added to your database.

In the same way, every time you want to quote a book, all you have to do is add a few information such as the author, the edition, or the pages you consulted in Zotero (you can add up to 27 pieces of information for each entry), and the software will record them, thus creating an electronic library of everything you used to write your thesis or dissertation.

Once the information about a book (or an article, a TV show etc.) is in Zotero, you can add personal notes about it, thus allowing you to have them with you all the time (as opposed to revision cards that can be lost or damaged).  Thanks to the synchronisation option, you can use your Zotero account on different computers and even on your smartphone.

Finally, once everything is recorded and you want to create a bibliography, all you have to do is click the “create a bibliography” option, select the norm you want to use (APA, CMS, MLA…), and paste it to your dissertation or thesis.

Thus, you have a perfect list of references, with all the information needed, correct punctuation, and all of the works consulted during the writing of your dissertation.

Since the software is often updated, it will never make a mistake, and so you will only have to focus on your research.

Another option that is available on Zotero is the creation of research groups, that allows members to share their research library and to communicate with each other.

You can find the software on www.zotero.org, it is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

To get or not to get


The question is, should we use the verb ‘get’ or are there good reasons for avoiding it?

According to the British National Corpus, ‘get’ is the fourth most common verb in British speech and the tenth in writing, so if you have managed to improve your English to native speaker level, shouldn’t you be reflecting this distribution in your pattern of speech and writing?

Consider its versatility: it combines with most grammatical classes: ‘get a degree’, ‘get up in the morning’, ‘get ready’, ‘get on the bus’ and ‘get going’. It can be causative: ‘get her a present’, ‘get them up’, ‘get him ready’, ‘get it in the car’, ‘get the students working’. Then, it’s used extensively for possession and physical attributes: ‘she’s got a beautiful smile’. And it’s almost achieved auxiliary verb status through passive constructions: ‘he got accepted’, not to mention a panoply of idioms.

‘Get’ is clearly the superpower of verbs. So why the reluctance to use it?

What about its pedigree?

Well, according to the OED, ‘get’ first appeared in an English text around 1200 (The Ormulum). From then on, it occurs regularly: 41 times in Wycliffe’s Bible (c. 1395) and about 300 times in the works of Shakespeare. Its meaning evolved from active obtaining to passive obtaining (i.e. receiving) and then on to locative uses, eg. Hamlet’s famous “get thee to a nunnery” line, and so on. Over the centuries it has come to prove itself a most authentic English verb.

Is it too complicated for non-native speakers?

When using a foreign language, we tend to stick to the verbs which are similar in our own language. But ‘get’ has no equivalent in many other languages (Viberg, 2002). This incompatibility renders it difficult for non-native speakers to master.

What does it really mean?

You may have wondered what ‘get’ actually means in a lot of constructions; it usually isn’t ‘obtain’! Well, to give you a clue, I would suggest focussing on change. The value of ‘get’ often indicates ‘the emergence of a new state’ (Gronemeyer, 1999). And the nature of this new state (possession, position, condition or process) is inferred by the choice of arguments and the context. (Another article might be required to explain this better!). Anyway, once the mechanism has been acquired, using it requires less brain power than seeking alternative verbs.

Is it appropriate for scholarly works?

So, assuming that you manage to master ‘get’ (which is a good idea), the question remains: is it suitable for scholarly works? Well, since meaning is inferred by its arguments and the context, this fundamentally detracts from its performance as a precise lexeme for literary or scientific use.


The popularity of ‘get’ lies in its requiring minimum effort for those who master its mechanism. Since ‘get’ is one of the most common verbs in English, it’s worth getting to grips with it. However, it has poor semantic content, lacks explicitness and so, for precise and scholarly writing, it should probably be used sparingly.


The British National Corpus. version 3 (BNC XML Edition). 2007. Web 1 May 2016

« get, v. » OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 30 December 2016.

Gronemeyer, Claire. “On deriving complex polysemy: The grammaticalization of get.”

English Language and Linguistics 3.1 (1999): 1-39. Print.

Noble, Terry, John Wycliffe, and John Purvey. Wycliffe’s Bible: comprising of Wycliffe’s Old Testament and Wycliffe’s New Testament (revised edition). Vancouver: Terence P. Noble, 2012. Print.

The Ormulum. Ed., Robert Meadows White. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1852. Web 18 May 2016.

Viberg, Åke. “Basic verbs in second language acquisition”. Revue française de linguistique appliquée. 2 Vol. VII (2002): 61 à 79. Print

Scotland’s vote on Brexit: How local politics play a role in European integration

On October, 14th 2016, AMU hosted an OREMA seminar called “The Politics and Geopolitics of Brexit.” I attended it, hoping to grasp what I had missed regarding the outcome of the June 23rd referendum. Not only did the speakers fulfill my expectations but their presentations provided me with material to better understand the inner difficulties of the European Union as a political project. One point made by Pr. Gilles Leydier* can especially illustrate this. As a specialist of Scotland and the SNP he argued that the vote against Brexit was less a declaration of love for the EU than a good old-fashioned political move to increase their power within the UK polity.

Affiche promotionnelle, Création & Impression : DEPIL/PSI – Imprimerie d’Aix-Marseille Université – Aix-en-Provence

In spite of the results, 62% voted to remain (success across the political board, Labour 75%, SNP 66%, Conservatives 56%) something else was at play. Just as most pro EUish (just about anyone who is remotely in favor to some degree of a union) French newspapers, like here (http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2016/06/24/royaume-desuni-l-cosse-et-lirlande-du-nord-ont-vote-contre-le/) I had considered Scotland as ‘Europhile’ because I had overlooked what it meant, politically and the short term, to vote to remain.

Pr. Leydier, reminded the audience that the first referendum had been possible because the British Parliament had granted the legal means for the Scottish government to set up a referendum on their own. He continued by pointing out that the path to a second referendum would be unlikely because the legal window was soon to close. The Scottish government would need to ask the British Parliament for their consent which would, in turn, be unlikely as the Scottish people had just had their referendum, and voted to remain in the UK.

However, M. Leydier explained, that the SNP having been voted in on the basis of an Independence agenda, the unexpected outcome of Brexit provided them with a golden opportunity to threaten and pressure England into giving them as much autonomy as possible. To do so, the SNP government could frame the English Brexit vote as a threat to their vital interests and to back their claim for independence, all the while knowing that they did not have the legal means to deliver on their threats.

This may seem a matter of details but for anyone like me who grew up full of hope regarding the European Union, the current state of affairs seems gloomy to say the least. Europhiles from all parties have had difficulties in coming up with a way to deal with European political integration and the ‘loss’ of national sovereignty. The case of Scotland’s behavior at the outcome of Brexit brings a new way to understand this. It hints at the dual nature of the EU policies. They may be framed by the ruling parties of each member state as either domestic (legitimate) or foreign (invasive, infringing on national sovereignty). Therefore, the attachment shown by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, to the EU all the while spiting its metropole, can account for the tendency of EU members to use the EU in local political equations. The problem being that this behavior inevitably contributes to the EU’s recurring instability.

*Professor at the University of Toulon, specialized in British and Scottish politics, here is a link to his full profile: http://babel.univ-tln.fr/2010/12/gilles-leydier/.




By Thomas Donato,

As it stands for one of our most cherished values, we often take freedom of expression for granted… We use it all the time, sometimes wisely, sometimes not. Being at liberty to say what we think without punishment is a feature of Western democracies. The devastating terrorist attacks which occurred in France in 2015, targeting cartoonists who exercised that very freedom, prompted people all over the world to reaffirm their commitment to freedom of speech and conscience. But why do we hold free speech to be so important? What function does it serve in society at large?
Tolerance of dissent has not always been the norm, and still isn’t in many places. Indeed, if history teaches us anything about human nature, it is that the first instinct when dealing with heretics is to burn them. Whether it is a scientist making unorthodox claims about the nature of the universe, a novelist writing candidly about sex or a radical political activist undermining patriotism during wartime, the drive to censor endures. European Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason as opposed to superstition and obscurantism, allowed for the gradual acceptance of freedom of speech and inquiry as a way to get to the truth and spread knowledge. In the late 18th century, the United States of America was the first nation to officially recognize freedom of speech as paramount in the First Amendment of its Constitution. Throughout the 20th century, the American Supreme Court has repeatedly reinforced protection of a great variety of speech, even the most hateful.
There are several reasons why free speech is vital. First, it is a core aspect of democracy. It allows all ideas to be heard so that citizens may make informed choices about their future. Crucially, it enables marginalized groups to bring injustices to light. In addition, it guarantees that people in power are held accountable for their actions and are prevented from banning uncomfortable ideas from public life. Free speech teaches humility; often there is much to learn from opposing viewpoints. What is more, freedom of expression is especially important for universities. In the sense that it is intimately linked to academic freedom, the belief that scholars should be able to freely to determine what they teach and to communicate on controversial topics without fear of repression. By the same token, open access to academic research is democratic free speech in action.
Finally, the main values communicated by freedom of speech are those of tolerance and inclusion. Free discourse means that one will inevitably encounter idiocy and ignorance. But by letting people express ideas we find offensive, we let them know that they are legitimate members of the community, entitled to the same rights as everyone else. It may be difficult to see views we find abhorrent being openly disseminated, but driving them underground does not make them disappear, it makes them stronger. Repression breeds hate, not harmony. Tolerance towards the thoughts we hate is the price to pay for living in a free society.

Farber, Daniel. The First Amendment. New York: The Foundation Press, 1998.
Lewis, Anthony. Freedom for the Thought We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment. New York: Basic Books, 2007.
Walker, Samuel. Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

Once upon a time there was literature: the Caribbean case

When talking about British literature, even non-specialists cannot help but think of William Shakespeare’s genius, Virginia Woolf’s wit, Agatha Christie’s secrets or even C. S. Lewis’s wardrobe. But how does one kind of literature achieve popularity? For the past century, new kinds of literature have been trying to break through but circumstances have made it more or less difficult for them to flourish. Caribbean literature is a perfect example of how hard it is to fit into the literary world.
Paradoxically, it all started with the Second World War. At that time, the Caribbean Islands were still British colonies and their main purpose was to serve the British Crown. Needless to say that creativity was not really encouraged on these islands. So when they became independent, there were not many writers. And if there were any, there was almost nobody to read their work. As it was nearly impossible to make a living out of their writing, a few writers began to venture to London from the 1950s onward.
Many of them gathered there in order to improve their skills. But one of the most memorable collaborations happened on air in a BBC studio. Indeed, a weekly radio show produced by the Irishman Henry Swanzy called Caribbean Voices (1943–1958) highlighted West Indian writers who would read and discuss literary works. Swanzy wanted this show “to provide an outlet for writers who would otherwise be mute”. (Swanzy, 24) Many authors like Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Samuel Selvon, VS Naipaul, George Lamming, Derek Walcott or Una Marson contributed to the program and “publishing contracts with prestigious London firms often followed shortly thereafter.” (Kalliney, 90) Its format turned out to be quite useful and was part of its success. On the one hand, the “exoticism” of this literature was brought about by its topics and also the authors’ will to “legitimize West Indian oralities” (Simpson, 85) by keeping traces of creole in their texts and reading them out loud. And on the other hand, the audience was not only comprised of British people, it was broadcast in the West Indies as well. As a result, English Caribbean authors became known at home too.
In a nutshell, the need for exoticism after the terrible Second World War and the use of a myriad of media played an important part in the sustainability of English Caribbean literature. It also shows that a literary genre has to find a way to enlarge its readership in order to survive it. For West Indian writers of the 1950s, the BBC’s Caribbean Voices was a useful springboard that gave British and West Indian people the opportunity to discover and appreciate English Caribbean literature. Nowadays, their names and books ring a bell for many of us since they regularly win awards—like Derek Walcott who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. This literature can now flourish and that is mainly thanks to the radio show Caribbean Voices, a minstrel of modern times.


Dawes, Kwame. “Apologia for Caribbean Publishing.” Speech. Keynote for the 20th Anniversary Award Celebration of the UWI Press. 2013.
Newton, Darrell. “Calling the West Indies: the BBC World Service and Caribbean Voices” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 28.4 (2008): 489–497. Web.
Kalliney, Peter. “Metropolitan Modernism and Its West Indian Interlocutors: 1950s London and the Emergence of Postcolonial Literature” PMLA, 122.1 (2007): 89–104. Web.
Swanzy, H. “Caribbean voices-Prolegomena to a West Indian culture.” Caribbean Quarterly 1.1 (1949) : 21-8.
Simpson, Hyacinth M. “The BBC’s Caribbean Voices and the Making of an Oral Aesthetic in the West Indian Short Story” Journal of the Short Story in English, 57 (2011). Web.

Research, or keeping up the desire to read

Going into research implies a strong inclination towards acquiring knowledge and highly developed curiosity. Being a researcher takes time and effort, yet not everyone is willing to spend that much energy acquiring knowledge, sharing discoveries, as well as doing a lot of reading.

We are constantly being told that new generations read less and less, that they spend their time otherwise, and that even if their curiosity has no limit, the written word is dying out confronted with the new media. If the world stops reading, the world will run out of researchers, or so one might think.

As I read Comme un Roman, a book by Daniel Pennac published in 1992, I realised that this book, which is as old as I am, voiced the same concerns about people reading less and less, preferring TV while books are being kicked to the curb. And yet, the author explains that the desire to read is linked to the desire for knowledge, and that this desire has not disappeared, it has only been displaced. He reasons that a young person, once nourished by fairy tales and clamoring for bedtime stories, does not reject reading as a teenager because of television, but because of how he or she was brought up. When reading is presented as a lonely chore to the child and other forms of entertainment as a reward, books are turned into objects instead of stories made of magical words teaching wondrous things, thus a change is wrought and young people are made to rebel against books.

As research students, we are asked to read constantly and profusely. Not only novels but research papers, articles, essays, anything that can help with our work, so that for most of us, what was once a pleasure becomes a chore. Being forced to read, with little time to do so and demanding assignments, it seems that our love of reading withers away in the exact same way. However, it appears that the phenomenon can be reversed, that people can be made to love reading and learning again, if their perception of it is changed. Because actually it is our conception that is false: young people, nowadays, read and write more than previous generations. Technology has made people use the written word without even realizing it. When only a handful of people use to write letters, everyone now texts. When only a small portion of the world had access to books and literature, an ever-expanding portion of the world has access to the internet, and all those people read, and consequently learn. The ways and means have changed, but the curiosity is still out there and so is the will to learn and share.

As students, and future researchers, we are aware of these changes. We know we read more, and we know the mandatory reading we face is not always easy to get through, and sometimes we would rather do something else. However, we fight our own misconceptions every day, and we keep on reading, because in spite of it all, we do still love it. And if as a researcher you feel your reading habits could use a boost, do read Comme un Roman

That-which-should-not-be-named: the aborted research thesis

Between fear and fascination of animals: the case of the animal in Victorian literature

“You cannot have it both ways, you need to choose one and leave the other.” We are confronted with dilemmas on a daily basis. For instance, should we obey our sense of reason or our instincts? In other words, trust our “animal” side. What if animals could behave like humans and the other way around? Could we be both and not be compelled to choose? The topic that I would have liked to tackle for my Master’s dissertation deals with this quandary. I had to leave behind the wayside subversive messages in children’s literature.

Are humans and animals intrinsically different from each other? If a single undeniable distinction were to be made, it could be that humans speak and animals do not. In literature, however, some authors have given animals human voices. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll, all the animals speak, the Cheshire cat for example. The fascination for speaking animals results from a fear of the evasive: as animals do not speak, there is no way for us to know their thoughts. Strategies are put into place to rationalise fear. For example, The Little White Bird, a novel written by J.M. Barrie in 1902, as a prequel to Peter Pan (1904), tells the story of Peter Pan’s birth, originally as a bird to eventually transform into a boy who will never grow old. Prior to the Victorian era, children were not considered as humans, thought to have no awareness and were compared to animals. We notice an evolution of mentality, as the little bird is given a soul, to become a living boy. Pinnochio (1881) by Carlo Collodi could be read in a similar light, the tale of an animated wooden puppet turning into flesh-and-bone child as a reward for his good deeds.
The Victorians dealt with their fear by establishing boundaries to distinguish the human world from the animal one. Humans have a soul; they are reasonable beings while animals are wild, without the capacity to think and are driven by their instincts. Is it that simple though? In The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde (1886) by R.L. Stevenson for instance, the entire plot focuses on the definition of humanity. It suggests that we all have inside of us a Mister Hyde who has been repressing his instincts by society but who is ready to burst out and reveal his true nature. If the Victorians used metaphors or hid behind fictitious characters to deal with the fear of that which cannot be tamed, was it not to distance themselves from the truth, to avoid it? Often, that which is the most feared is that which is not seen.
Now consider this: what if we were deprived of our ability to speak, would it turn us into animals? My point was to show that we are not one-sided beings and we were allowed a wide range of traits: would it be a crime to accept them all, or would it allow us to realise our full potential?


Barrie, J.M., Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy (1904)
Carroll, Lewis, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
Collodi, Carlo, Pinnochio (1881)
Stevenson, R.L., The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hide (1886)

Creative writing, or the importance of creativity in an academic environment

As a practice creative writing is, to say the least, under-appreciated in France. It is a discipline that thrives in other countries, though it is largely ignored inside our borders. As if here it were fractured into two different activities: on the one hand, academic writing which is valued for its structure, and on the other: creative writing which is sidelined, and supposedly does not lead to a full-time job. Hopefully, the trend is slowly changing.

The model, or what is happening next door:
In other countries, creative writing has been introduced in schools and universities as a new way to learn and develop oneself. As an Erasmus student I have spent time at an Irish university and participated in two different approaches: a class entitled literary composition and a student group: The Writer’s Society, both based on the concept of creative writing. At the university level, creative writing is encouraged as teachers push their students to learn how to write stories and to expand their vocabulary in a non-academic way while in an academic atmosphere; students also devote some of their (free) time to practicing and discussing writing among themselves. This way, students learn to be creative as well as structured.

French advances towards creative writing:
Inspired by the emergence of creative writing courses abroad, the French have also changed their habits and feelings towards writing at the university level. As of 2016, a few Masters programs have opened their doors, as well as a « Doctorat Pratique et Théorie de la Création littéraire et artistique » being created at the Aix-Marseilles University. Thus creative writing is slowly being developed and accepted in French universities.

Creative but not only:
Creative writing is not only a means to help students unleash their creative side and feel more comfortable when writing in and about everyday life, but has also been proven to improve language learning. At our very own university, creative writing has been used as a new approach to mastering a foreign language. For the past eight years, it has been a part of the English studies, implemented by Sara Greaves and Marie-Laure Schultze, both researchers teaching at Aix-Marseille University. Their workshops are designed to offer an alternative method to learning and practicing English by appealing to the student’s imagination and feelings. The dissociation of form and meaning has a way of “revitalizing language relationships” and thus improving writing skills1. By writing in a creative way instead of an academic one, students have to adjust their skills to make the language their own and open themselves to the otherness of the tongue (2015). The creative writing classes taking place at the AMU operate at the nexus between language, literature and translation classes.

Creative writing at an academic level is more than just an asset: it is a flourishing discipline, helping students with their personal writing as well as academic writing, and has also proven to be very effective in language learning, which still has a long way to go and much more to offer.

1Greaves & Schultze, 2012

Divine interjection

Watching television and listening to podcasts in English has made me aware of something about interjections: a lot of them are references to God or Christianity. Many people casually use interjections such as “oh my God”, or “Jesus”, without thinking too much about it. But is this religious aspect important to those who use them? It doesn’t look that way.
The fact that a person uses terms like “God” or “Jesus” in their daily life could mean that they are more or less Christian, it could also simply mean that they were raised in a Christian environment, or even that the use of those interjections has become part of the English language. It is quite interesting to think hat, about only a few decades ago, such expressions were considered profane language. People supposedly swore so that their words would have impact, but that same impact has lost its force nowadays due to the widespread use of profanity in our modern society.
In the “No Fear Shakespeare” section of SparkNotes1, you can compare original Shakespeare texts with translations into ‘modern English’. There, you will find the interjection “oh my God” being used as a translation for Gertrude’s “oh, me” in act 3, scene 4. An example that shows how such interjections have become more common in English throughout the years. Of course, some religious people still criticize the use of such interjections nowadays, but they do not seem to be as numerous as the people who use them. However, you can still hear more neutral versions of those religious interjections, such as “geez » (for Jesus) or “oh my gosh” (for “oh my God”), which shows that some people are still conscious of the religious aspect of these exclamations. There is also the other end of that spectrum, mostly on the internet, where people are trying to come up with more elaborated versions, often as jokes; my personal favorite being “jumpin’ Jesus on a Pogo Stick”, which shows some creativity, as opposed to others that just sound disgusting or rude even to non-Christians.

« jumpin’ Jesus on a Pogo Stick »

The spread of the acronym “OMG”— oh my God — on the internet also led to other cultures using it. In France, for example, you might even find a text fully written in French with that acronym being used as an interjection2. This Anglicism may seem weird considering that French interjections related to God and religion have more or less disappeared from young people’s language, such as “bon Dieu” or « Jésus, Marie, Joseph”.
Thus, it appears that most people using these interjections, whether they be native English speakers or not, do not use them to call upon God’s name or because they are part of the Christian community, but rather because such divine interjections have become part of modern English and modern usage in general with “oh my God” being used in countries that are not part of the English-speaking world like France.



Other sources:

-Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear Hamlet.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
-Floyd. « Top 25 Des Interjections Qui Ont Mal Vieilli, Nom D’une Pipe En Bois ! » La vie, du côté top. Topito. 30 May 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
-Sandra. “Oh my God!!!” Sandra, dans tous ses états. sandraelle.com. 8 Dec. 2009. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
SwankSpike. “Jumpin’ Jesus on a Pogo Stick” Urban dictionary is written by you. Urban dictionary. 01 Mar. 2006. Web. 19 Feb. 2016

Picture by Charlotte Khemiri.

Evernote: a master student’s new best friend

After four years of study comes the final year with its master dissertation, which will be every master student’s major preoccupation for several months. This research project is quite demanding, and a good organization will help students pass the hurdle with an easy mind. Once the topic is chosen and approved by the supervising professor, an intense period of reading and data gathering begins for the students, who must know what has been written in their field of research and how to use it for their dissertation. They must also start developing their own reflexions and create an outline for their project. At this stage, the students should already have gathered a pile of eclectic notes (written or typed notes, photographs, reading notes, personal ideas, to-do lists, etc.), half of which might get lost or neglected due to lack of organization, instead of cleverly enriching the dissertation.
Luckily for all master students, there’s a fantastic tool that can make their work less difficult.  Evernote is an application which allows users to gather all their notes in one place, whether they be texts, photographs, audio recordings, web pages, etc. It also lets them organize these different notes into notebooks, create to-do lists and alarms so that no deadline shall ever be missed again, and to use tags for a finer classification. A well-organized set of notes can really prove helpful to identify underlying networks of ideas in research and therefore to build the structure of dissertation.
Evernote has many other attractive features that will make this piece of software the master student’s best friend. Evernote Web Clipper for instance is a very useful web browser plug-in as it allows the user to save web pages (such as articles for instance) and to read them later, even when offline.
Also, the time when many hours were lost combing through piles of disordered notes or skimming computer files is now over. Thanks to the search function and the fact that all notes are gathered in one place, users can find the information they need in a second, simply by entering the right keywords.
Another interesting feature of Evernote is that users with an Internet access can store their data in the cloud by creating synchronized notebooks, and then access them from other devices such as their smartphones, provided they have an internet connection. Thus, even when on the train or in a doctor’s waiting room, users can read, create, and edit their notes: genius can now strike at any moment without being forgotten for lack of paper and pen.
Last but not least, Evernote is easily accessible and downloadable on the Internet. Although users can pay for advanced versions, the Evernote Basic version is totally free and provides all the essential functions that a master student might need.
Surely, students using Evernote at first for their academic work will soon find how useful it can be in every other aspect of their lives.

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