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? Read more!

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.

Read more!