Tous les articles par Anne Page

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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To search or not to search? Students’ perspectives on the Master ACMA

By Élodie Galiana-Camarena, co-editor of EN-globe (2015)

Aix-Marseille University offers a wide range of graduate programmes, among which a 2-year Masters degree in English Studies (ACMA is short for Aire Culturelle du Monde Anglophone). Through four main disciplines – literature, translation, history and linguistics – , this Master explores a great variety of subjects and allows students to pursue their own research. Students are also encouraged to spend time abroad to experience life and research in an English-speaking country. At the end of our first year, we have to write and defend a short dissertation, in English. The second year is more advanced, laying the foundation for a Ph.D.

Thanks to the opportunity for interdisciplinary research, students are able to explore a wide range of topics. We are encouraged to communicate with each other and share the fruit of our work. This academic blog, for instance, attests to the fact that researchers are part of a larger community. Working in close collaboration with the Research Center on the Anglophone World (LERMA), we discover what it means to be a University researcher, notably thanks to the organization of the ‘LERMAsteriales’ (a symposium organized each year by the students themselves), the research seminars that we regularly attend, and this new blog, which was created in 2015.

Universities are supposed to train futures thinkers. From our experience, we can say that Aix-Marseille University has offered us a rich learning experience. This Masters degree is an excellent way to start research. It is gratifying, albeit quite challenging, as it requires a lot of time and work, but it makes you even prouder of what you accomplish.

As students, how do we experience it?

Thanks to the diversity of choice offered by this Masters degree, we undoubtedly gain a lot of open-mindedness, cultural awareness, knowledge and maturity. As we choose our research subject independently, we work on a topic that is truly of interest to us. Our supervisors help us make our debut as researchers, guiding us towards the path of academic erudition. With this comprehensive training, we are at the heart of research and all that it implies.

The logical next step is a Ph.D, but we also discover a myriad of possibilities and opportunities, brought by the variety of things we do. Beyond an academic career, there are many alternatives. Thanks to the different projects we are involved in, which provide us with professional experience, we feel adequately equipped to gain a sure footing on the work market.

By Nora Menicucci, co-editor of EN-globe (2015)

I first enrolled in Aix-Marseille University driven by my interest for the English language.

The many different courses offer in-depth exploration of the English-speaking sphere as a whole, in its varied cultural forms. Students are encouraged very early on to immerse in an English-speaking country – and to become aware of its cultural differences, especially academic differences. We benefit from financial support, as well as an educational and administrative structure. If I have not experienced this full immersion yet, I can nevertheless share my experience of four years within the English Department, which led me to enroll for this Masters degree.

 From student to young researcher

Having experienced teaching in a secondary school, and this being my primary goal when I first came to Aix-Marseille University, little by little, I developed a considerable interest in research, and eventually decided to pursue a research-oriented degree, instead of a teacher-training course.

I have developped an interest in gender studies, queer studies and women’s studies after following a course on the history of women from the late Victorian era to the 21st century. And although I had initial concerns that such a discipline, which might be regarded by some as typically American, would be eclipsed within a French Masters degree, the Master ACMA provided me with a long list of supervisors whom I could approach to supervise my dissertation. Thus, during my first year, I choose to work on the representation of lesbianism in the media. All the necessary tools were available to write my dissertation, notably classes in research methodology.

Gradually, the feeling of being part of something big and, in a way, constantly new, wiped away the concern that ever young researcher eventually has – to be invisible among so many available sources and to be, in the end, forgotten. In fact, we are part of a community of young researchers, who share their knowledge and their work in various disciplines. For instance, somebody who chooses to write a dissertation in literature is also given the opportunity to follow seminars in history, linguistics and translation (for instance ‘Britaix’ seminars focus on early modern Britain[1], while ‘ALLITA’ seminars deal with American literature) as the degree strongly encourages students to discover various disciplines.

What future for young researchers?

Ultimately, if the Masters degree does not guarantee a professional future in higher education, it provides young researchers with all the necessary tools to exploit their own strengths and to explore their field of research in the best possible conditions. For instance, last March, we were given the opportunity to present our research at the fourth annual LERMAsteriales, and, even if the work involved was considerable, we were able to share our research and to learn how to organise our own symposium with a high degree of autonomy.

[1]   http://britaix.hypotheses.org/

A Call for Further Discussion on the Fundamentals of a Theory of Biography

By Maryam Thirriard (2015)

The first thing a newcomer to the study of life-writing would be likely to do is to set off in search of some references. This could give a sense of direction in this immense new territory. However, one soon discovers it is difficult to find a reference book or an ‘Oxbridge’ introduction to biography theory, or to life-writing in general. So one can only rejoice at the promise of the theoretical input presented in Theoretical Discussions of Biography written by Hans Renders and Binne de Haan. This collectively-written book provides important insights into the historical approach to biography and highlights the pertinent connections between biography and microhistory. However, it seems that the representation of biography in this book is much narrower than what the full scope of biography has to offer. The theory of biography needs to be broadened. The following considerations may seem general, but they reveal that the essentials still need to be addressed and that we have quite a way to go before we find a satisfactory framework in which to build a theory of biography.

Defining the terms

The aim of Theoretical Discussions of Biography is to provide the theoretical framework necessary for biography to achieve the status it deserves as an object of scientific study – a status to which the very tangible flourishing of departments of biographical studies in universities bears witness. One can only welcome such an undertaking. However, Renders and de Haan warn the reader of the price the discipline will have to pay: ‘biography as a research area belongs to history’ (Renders, 3). I am uncomfortable with this delimitation of biographical study, and feel that the field has shrunk from a myriad of life-writing productions of all shapes and forms to what seems more like a private club.

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4th Lermasteriales: 6 March 2015

The 4th LERMASteriales, organized by the Masters students, will take place on campus, 29 avenue Robert Schuman (Aix-en-Provence), on Friday 6th March 2015, Room A220, from 8.45.

LERMAsteriales 2015 posterAs usual, the chosen theme is that of the annual conference of the French Association of English Lecturers, L’Engagement/Commitment.

To download the full programme, click here.

To download the book of abstracts, click here.