MELA3161 Dissertation in Modern Languages and Cultures (20 credits)
MELA3152 Extended Dissertation in Modern Languages and Cultures (40 credits)
About this Module
The Dissertation aims to provide students with an opportunity to engage at the highest intellectual level with the ethos of research-led learning that is central to Durham’s strategy for learning and teaching. During your studies in years 1 and 2 you will have been working with diverse and novel ways of approaching a range of subjects and issues, and will have seen that your tutors are setting out advanced intellectual agendas across many periods, cultures, and disciplines. In developing and completing an extended piece of original work, you will participate in and contribute to the distinctive research culture of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. While the subject of the Dissertation must intersect with the research expertise and interests of the staff, we welcome and encourage original and innovative proposals from students.
The module is available in two forms: a 20-credit version (8,000 words) and an extended 40-credit version (12,000 words). Neither variant is available to students taking a Dissertation in any other department.
Learning and Supervision
Undertaking the Dissertation will give you crucial experience in the planning, researching, and writing of an extended piece of work counting for 100% of the final module mark. It will allow you to develop the skills necessary for organizing and managing longer projects, the ability to write fluently and accurately in English, and the ability to demonstrate independent initiative and intellectual ingenuity. These transferable skills are highly valued by employers. The Dissertation also provides invaluable practice for those of you who hope to progress to postgraduate study.
Students will undertake research on the Dissertation in conjunction with a designated supervisor or, in some cases, a supervisory team. These will be specialists, publishing internationally recognized books and articles in their respective research fields. Their role will be to guide and nurture your research ideas by recommending areas in which you should target your reading. They will also assess the methodological, conceptual, and structural validity of your approach to your topic, and encourage you to engage with broader theoretical and interdisciplinary agendas, as appropriate.
Pre-requisites and Co-requisites
In order to be accepted onto the Dissertation, you will need to devise and propose a viable research topic and to have completed at least two relevant cultural modules at levels 1 and 2. You will also need to take the core language module in the subject area of your topic and one relevant final-year option in that language, excluding non-core language modules such as: Specialized Translation (ARAB3041), French Translation (FREN3051), French Interpreting (FREN3331), German Interpreting (GERM3041), Italian Translation (ITAL3121), Russian for Professional Communication (RUSS3381), Spanish Translation (SPAN3131), and Catalan (Advanced) (SPAN3211). This is to ensure that the Dissertation is adequately supported in terms of background knowledge and the ongoing acquisition of suitable critical and theoretical approaches. For example, if you have not studied medieval literature or the nineteenth-century novel at levels 1 and 2, you should avoid topics that fall into those areas. Conversely, if you have taken relevant modules and have gained good marks in them, you will be encouraged to develop your interests creatively in the context of the Dissertation.
Devising a Topic
When devising a topic, think about the areas of interest that you have encountered during the course of your studies in years 1 and 2, or about topics that could potentially interest you in their final-year modules.
The process of dissertation allocation begins in the third term of your year abroad, when students submit two 100-word proposals, outlining two distinct topics on which they would like to work. In order to facilitate the allocation of supervisors, these proposals will have to be substantially differentiated from one another, and will need to correspond to areas of specialism of two different MLAC research staff, as outlined on the School website. You will also be required to specify a final-year module that will serve as your co-requisite learning support – usually, though not necessarily, the module taught by your nominated supervisor. Since module choices are also likely to be affected by the dissertation topic you end up being allocated, you are also asked to rank optional module choices corresponding to each proposal. Students must submit the dissertation and module allocation form to Denise Freeman by a deadline towards the end of Easter term. A list of research staff available for dissertation supervision in any given year can be found here, along with a description of the areas on which they are willing to supervise. Students will be informed of their allocation in early July, at which point they should contact their allocated supervisor to discuss provisional reading.
When you return to Durham in your final year, your topic will be firmed up through discussions with your allocated supervisor and your title will be approved by the Dissertation Coordinator and MLAC’s Education Committee early in Michaelmas term. You will submit your dissertation in the first week of the third term.
Teaching, Learning, and Formative and Summative Assessment
In addition to a series of dissertation skills and methodology lectures in early Michaelmas term, over the course of the academic year you will receive one-on-one tutorials and perhaps also some group seminars with your supervisor. You will be responsible for keeping a written record of each supervision meeting, to be sent to your supervisor for further comment.
In Michaelmas, you will be required to submit an research plan, draft of your dissertation’s structure and annotated bibliography for formative feedback. You will also need to highlight any potential ethical issues posed by your research. Further details of what these might look like are outlined in the dissertation handbook, available on DUO. In Epiphany, you will submit extracts from your dissertation for formative marking, on which your supervisor will comment in writing. It is your responsibility to meet deadlines, submit the required work and attend supervision meetings. Failure to do so will be subject to the School’s Academic Progression procedures.
Normal procedures for the submission of summative coursework apply, including those referring to applications for extensions - which can only be approved by the Chair of the Board of Examiners.
In assessing the Dissertation, consideration will be given to your ability to assimilate, understand, and critically analyse primary and secondary materials, your ability to present a sustained argument on the basis of appropriate evidence and examples, your ability to express yourself fluently and accurately, and your understanding of the norms and conventions of scholarly referencing.
Dissertation Specialisms and Topics
Dr Alex Bellem.I am a linguist specialised in comparative and theoretical phonology and phonetics. Empirically, my own research focuses on Middle Eastern languages, mainly Arabic dialects and Modern South Arabian languages, as well as North-East Caucasian languages. My current research projects centre mostly on: developments in theoretical phonology; comparative and typological approaches to the phonology and phonetics of Semitic languages and languages with related phenomena; Arabic dialectology. I have expertise on Iraqi and Syrian dialects of Arabic, the Modern South Arabian languages, North-East Caucasian languages, Turkish and Kurdish, as well as on the phonology and phonetics of languages outside the Middle East; my major interests are in pharyngealisation (/emphatics) and phonation and in phonological representations. I am also involved in a research project investigating historical Arabic variation and I have an interest in oral narrative and folk literature. I would be happy to supervise dissertations touching on any of these areas of linguistics. My final-year modules are Arabic Linguistics and Dialectology (ARAB3061); Specialised Translation (ARAB3041).
Dr Abir Hamdar. (On leave Term 2-3, 2017-18) I specialise in modern Middle Eastern literatures, film and cultures with a particular interest in the relationship between health, illness and disability. I have an additional specialism in literature and religion, particularly literary and filmic representations of Islamism from the Middle East and North Africa. Finally, I also specialise in gender and postcolonial literatures and film more broadly. I could supervise dissertations in any of these areas. My final-year module is Trends in Modern Arabic Literature 1950-2000 (ARAB3071).
Professor Daniel Newman.I specialise in Arabic geographical and travel literature, and have a special focus on Arab travellers to Europe in the 19th century and a broader interest in the Tunisian and Egyptian Nahda movements. Additionally, I have specialist expertise in linguistics and research Arabic phonology and phonetics. My interest in translation is centred mainly on the development of the 19th-century Arabic translation movement and, concomitantly, the changes that occurred in Modern Standard Arabic as a result of it. Finally, I am currently involved in a project that will result in the edition and translation of medieval Arabic erotic manuals. I would welcome dissertation students looking into any of these areas. My final-year modules are Specialised Translation (ARAB3041) and Literature of the 19th-Century Arabic Nahda (ARAB3081).
Dr Kathryn Banks(On leave 2014-18)My final-year module is Culture and Conflict in the Wars of Religion (FREN3341).
Dr Marie-Claire Barnet. (On leave in term 1, 2017-18). My research has several strands, focusing on 20th- and 21st-century word and image (moving and still images), broadly defined as literature and visual culture. I did extensive work previously on surrealism and moved on to 'l'extrême contemporain'. My approach is broadly based upon on a dialogue between, or a remix of several genres, fields, and critical contexts (i.e. autobiography, psychoanalysis, philosophy, gender studies). I have worked on several different contemporary French writers (including Marie Darrieussecq, Marie NDiaye, and Marie Desplechin, as well as Amélie Nothomb, Michel Leiris, Francis Ponge, Jean Rouaud, etc.), and equally diverse visual artists or filmmakers (Louise Bourgeois, Valérie Mréjen, Arnaud Desplechin, Christian Boltanski, Agnès Varda). My current research area is two-fold: first, a volume on art installation and cinema (Varda), and secondly, the reconfiguration of archives and (auto)biography, via the example of Jacques Derrida's relationships to different media and the visual arts. I am also deeply interested in questions of 'national' identities and evolving boundaries, which form a part of my postgraduate teaching. By way of illustration, I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on artistic encounters, writing and (dual) identity in francophone writing (Assia Djebar and Leïla Sebbar), self-portraits in Agnès Varda's cinema, totalitarianism and silence in Ionesco, Jewish children in contemporary French cinema and literature, everyday sexism in contemporary France, Celebrity culture and societe du spectacle in French culture today, and Annie Ernaux's blending of the personal and social spheres, among others. I would be happy to supervise dissertations focusing on many authors, topics and themes, or comparative projects in the broad fields of contemporary literature and culture. My final-year module is Contemporary French Writers: Autobiography and Fiction (FREN3211).
Dr Sam Bootle. (On leave in term 2 and 3, 2017-18). My research focuses on nineteenth-century French literature, especially Symbolist and Decadent poetry. I am particularly interested in the relationship between philosophy and literature and in questions of nationalism and exoticism, as well as in pre-Freudian ideas about the unconscious. I would be happy to supervise topics on any aspect of nineteenth-century French literature, as well as some aspects of twentieth-century French literature (especially the nouveau roman, on which I have taught a final-year module). I have previously supervised dissertations on temporality in the poetry of Laforgue and Eliot; the role of dress in novels by Flaubert and Zola; optimism and pessimism in Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart; and the poetic aspects of Sartre’s La Nausée. My final-year module is The fin-de-siècle: Symbolism and Decadence (FREN3241).
Professor Lucille Cairns. (On leave Term 2, 2016-17) A specialist in twentieth- and twenty-first-century French literature and cinema, I research and publish on French/ francophone women's writing; gender, (homo)sexuality, and queer in French/francophone literature and cinema; corporeal configurations in French/francophone literature; French/francophone Jewish writing; and representations of Israel in French/francophone literature. I am happy to supervise in any of these areas. I have, however, previously co-supervised dissertations on areas less closely related to my research and publications, such as gender in the French language. My final-year module is Sexual Dissidence in French Literature (FREN3291).
Dr Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze. My research focuses on nineteenth-century literature and culture and cinema. I have published on Emile Zola, fin de siècle fiction, and various forms of comic modes or genres (parody, pastiche, mystification). I am also interested in the relationship between literature and visual and popular culture in the nineteenth century (pantomime, circus, posters). My second research area is cinema: Claude Chabrol, film genres, film adaptations, French cinema of the 1920s and 1930s (Renoir and Carné) and contemporary French cinema. I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on Baudelaire (the figure of the dandy; Baudelaire and the city); Chabrol (the representation of the female murderer); the outsider in Renoir’s 1930s films; the representation of childhood in Louis Malle’s cinema; the banlieue in contemporary French cinema. I could potentially supervise comparative projects (French/Spanish and French/Russian) in the fields of nineteenth-century literature or cinema. My final-year module is French Cinema: 1930s to the 1990s (FREN3271).
Dr Joseph Ford. My research focuses on 20th and 21st century Francophone North African literature and culture and specifically on questions of the politics of writing and reading in contemporary Algeria. I have published on various contemporary Algerian authors and what has become known as the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s, as well as on Albert Camus. I have wider teaching and research interests in the Algerian War of Independence and its legacies, Francophone Postcolonial Studies, and French and Francophone intellectual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries more generally. I have previously supervised dissertations on Algerian women’s writing, literature of the Rwandan genocide, Senegalese cinema and the Cameroonian-French writer Calixthe Beyala and would be happy to supervise students in any of these or related areas.
Dr Gerald Moore. (On leave Term 3, 2017-18) My work focuses on French philosophy from Descartes and the Enlightenment philosophes to the present, with a specific emphasis on contemporary political and social thought and its application to the problems of 21st-century politics: the impact of digital technology; economic stagnation and collapse; global warming; the rise of political extremism; terrorism; the current crisis of mental ill-health, and so on. I also have a strong interest in the relation of French philosophy to anthropology and science (particularly debates over the relationship between biology, evolution, culture and technology). I would be interested in supervising topics drawing on any of the major figures and theoretical approaches of French thought, including Barthes, Foucault, Lacan, Deleuze, Derrida, Stiegler, Rancière and Malabou. I would also consider supervising topics relating to contemporary politics or to the history of French philosophy and political theory, including in relation to literature and film. Indicatively, I have previously supervised undergraduate dissertation projects on Walter Benjamin and Parisian architecture; Michel Foucault and the banlieue; Michel Houellebecq, consumerism, terrorism and political extremism; and various topics on the Ve République, read theoretically. I have some competence in German and would consider supervising French projects with a comparative German element (perhaps bringing in Adorno, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Heidegger or Sloterdijk). I would emphasise, though, that students interested in such projects would need
to feel at ease working independently in the German language. My final-year module is Anthropocene Animals: Philosophy, Technology and the End of the World (FREN3401).
Dr Zoë Roth. My research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century French and comparative literature and visual culture. In particular, I specialize in the relationship between the body/embodiment and aesthetics; francophone Jewish writing; French modernism and the avant-garde (surrealism, dada, etc.); and transnational approaches to memory of the Holocaust and colonialism. I would be happy to supervise dissertations broadly related to these fields—and to twentieth-century French literature and visual culture in general—as well as students who would like to work more specifically on francophone literature from North Africa and the Levant, postcolonial theory, and word/text relations. My final year module is Genocide, Violence, and Trauma in French and Francophone Culture (FREN3451).
Dr Marc Schachter.The primary focus of my research and teaching is early modern French literature and culture. I also work on medieval and Renaissance Italian literature as well as neo-Latin humanist commentaries. Much of my scholarship addresses the reception of classical antiquity through translation, commentaries, editing and intertextuality, often with a focus on gender and sexuality. I spend a lot of time in rare book collections and Michel Foucault is a frequent interlocutor. I have published on Montaigne, La Boétie, Marie de Gournay, Marguerite de Navarre, Des Périers (as a translator of Plato), Apuleius, Boccaccio, Tasso and Ariosto. I am available to supervise dissertations on most areas of Renaissance French literature and culture whether or not they directly align with my own interests as well as the areas of medieval and Renaissance Italian literature on which I have some expertise. I would be particularly keen to work with students interested in incorporating materials from Durham’s rare book and manuscript holdings into their dissertations. My final year module is Androgynes, Witches and Monsters in the French Renaissance (FREN3441).
Dr Mauro Senatore. My work focuses on modern European philosophy, from Descartes to present, with a specific emphasis on theoretical questions at the crossroads of philosophical tradition and natural sciences (biology and physics), such as life/death, space/time, selfhood/alterity, animal/machine. In particular, it critically engages with recent re-elaborations of these questions in light of our current historical moment, in deconstruction, biopolitics, psychoanalysis, new materialism, media theory, neoliberalism, utopian thought, and so on. I am interested in supervising dissertation projects on major XX and XXI century philosophical figures and debates in this area. I also welcome projects that focus on specific approaches to the aforementioned, theoretical questions, in literature and film (including science fiction), as well as in political and legal texts. Indicatively, I supervised dissertations on: Freud’s philosophy of biology, the deconstruction of time in Roberto Bolaño, Malabou’s critique of neurobiological reason, the physics of postcapitalism. I am fluent in French, Italian, and Spanish, and have competence in German: I would thus consider comparative projects across these languages. I am teaching with Dr. Gerald Moore on the final-year module Anthropocene Animals: Philosophy, Technology and the End of the World (FREN3401).
Dr Luke Sunderland.(On research leave in term 1, 2017-18). My work focuses on medieval French, Franco-Italian and Occitan literature, with particular interest in modern theoretical readings of medieval texts (using psychoanalysis, anthropology, postcolonial theory and political theory especially), as well as medieval translation and medieval politics. I have previously supervised dissertations on: gender in medieval literature (Marie de France, the Roman de Troie, Chrétien de Troyes); authorial identity in Adam de la Halle; repetition in the chansons de geste; cross-dressing in medieval texts; racial and religious identity in medieval travel narratives; postcolonial approaches to crusade narratives; Latin to Old French translation of hagiographic texts. I am familiar with medieval culture more widely and could potentially supervise projects bringing in medieval material in other languages (Latin, Italian, English especially), or interdisciplinary projects dialoguing with medieval history, visual culture, law, philosophy, theology or political theory. My final-year module is Rebellion, Feud and Crusade in Medieval Texts (FREN3361).
Dr Tom Wynn. My research focuses on eighteenth-century French theatre and libertine writings. In addition to publishing extensively on major figures such as Voltaire and the Marquis de Sade, I have published on less familiar authors (such as Hénault and Delisle de Sales) as well as, for instance, theatre decoration and film adaptation. I am interested in questions of authorship, performance practices, violence and ethics. I am happy to supervise on topics across seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French culture. I have supervised or currently supervise dissertations on Mlle Clairon and making a career as an actress in the eighteenth century; subjectivity and Marivaux; performance and theatricality in libertine novels; gender anxiety in Enlightenment France; Molière and parasitism; and Racine and mythology. My final-year module is Libertinage in Ancien Régime France (FREN3371).
Dr Caitríona Ní Dhúill.(On leave in 2017-18). My research is in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German and Austrian literature and culture. I have published on gender identity and gender theory; utopia and dystopia; biography and life-writing; and cinematic reworkings of fin de siècle prose and drama. I also have interests in critical theory and twentieth-century radical thought, with a particular emphasis on the utopian Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. I have supervised dissertations on Ingeborg Bachmann, Paul Celan, Elfriede Jelinek, Holocaust memoir, and silent cinema, covering questions of language and power, gender and identity, trauma and memory, and the politics of representation. I will consider supervising comparative work across French and German, depending on the topic. My final-year module is Life Writing, Writing Lives: Biography and Literature (GERM3221).
Dr Claudia Nitschke. My research focuses on political Romanticism, utopias in literature, concepts of war, fatherhood, sovereignty, and justice in German literature from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, but also in film. I am interested in sociological approaches to literature (or film) and its relation to historical, political, and philosophical questions. Previously, I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on the perception of gender, sexuality, and Berlin in Döblin's 'Alexanderplatz', representations of 'deutsche Türken' in the media (Fatih Akin), Feridun Zaimoğlu's 'Kanak Sprak', Jelinek's 'Die Liebhaberinnen' and gender, queer temporality in Tom Tykwer's films, love and Romanticism in Eichendorff. I am happy to co-supervise dissertations on European film. My final-year module is Doing the Right Thing: Concepts of Justice in Literature and Film (GERM3241).
Dr Dora Osborne. (On leave in term 1, 2017-18). My research looks at memory and trauma in literature and visual culture since 1945. I have a particular interest in the role of archives, museums and memorials in recent German memory culture and would be happy to supervise work related to this. I have supervised dissertations on Holocaust memorials in Germany, photography in recent German literature (Monika Maron, W. G. Sebald), Brecht’s Kriegsfibel, Väterliteratur and Vergangenheitsbewältigung. I would also be interested in supervising topics on recent film, especially documentary film. My final year module is Remembering the Holocaust (GERM3151).
Professor Nick Saul. (On leave Term 1, 2017-18) My research ranges from the Enliightenment, Romanticism and Classicism to nineteenth-century varieties of Realism, Modernisms and contemprary literature. In terms of themes I am currently very interested in science and literature, in particular literary responses to evolutionism (not only Darwin, also Goethe, Lamarck, de Vries and Stephen Jay Gould), also posthumanism (cyborgs, animal-human relations), eco-literature, vampirism, and contagionism and literature. I also research in intellectual history. I have supervised dissertations on Nietzsche and nihilism, Nietzsche and Faust, the physiognomics of vampirism, word and image in German Romanticism, and on Kleist and genre. I would be pleased to supervise work in any of these areas. My final-year module is Love & Death in Modern German Literature (GERM3181).
Professor Janet Stewart. My research is on nineteenth and twentieth century German and Austrian visual culture, literature and thought, with a particular interest in the early twentieth century. I have published widely on architecture, film, visual culture, cultural sociology, urban history and critical theory. I am currently developing my research interests in modernity and visual culture in a new context, connecting them to the emerging field of the energy humanities, with a specific focus on theoretical and cultural approaches to oil and its relation to cultural memory. I would be happy to supervise dissertations in any of these areas. Previous dissertations have focused on museum studies, contemporary art practice, photographic theory, critical theory, urban history and culture, film studies, cultural sociology, and cultures of energy. My final year modules are Revolution and the Image (GERM3261) and Modernism and Modernity in Vienna around 1900: Architecture, Literature and the Visual Arts (GERM3251).
Dr Simon Ward. My research is on visual culture and the urban environment in the twentieth century, on German travel cultures since the 1770s, and on twentieth-century German literature, with a particular focus on the post-1945 era, and the socio-cultural role of fiction. I would be happy to supervise dissertations in any of these areas. Previous dissertations supervised have focused on Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, WG Sebald, as well as cinematic topics (French New Wave, Italian neo-realism, Michael Haneke, Wim Wenders, Edgar Reitz, the presentation of history on film). My final year module is Revolution and the Image (GERM3261).
Dr Peter Baker. My research focuses on political theory and Latin American cultural production, especially that of the Andean countries. More specifically, I am currently researching on contemporary indigenous movements in Bolivia and recent debates on populism in both Spain and Latin America. I am especially interested in understanding the power and limits of narrative practices of resistance in times of globalisation, particularly those of traditionally disenfranchised populations. I invite dissertation proposals relating to topics in which I have expertise, including indigenous movements, populisms or any aspect of modern Andean culture. I would also invite dissertations working on any topic in Latin America or Spain with a focus on political theory, whether drawing from Marxism, post-Marxism, psychoanalysis and/or deconstruction. Aside from these topics, I have also taught on testimonio; mass culture and populism under Peronism in Argentina; and questions of memory in Spanish cinema about the Spanish Civil War. I would be happy to supervise anything related to these topics.
Professor Andy Beresford. (On leave Term 1&2, 2017-18) I work on early Spanish literature and art, and am able to supervise a range of literary topics, as well as art historical projects that focus on European production more broadly. My specific research interest is in the representation of the body and how it signifies, particularly when its borders are transformed or broken. I have published extensively on devotional representations, looking at the wounded bodies of Christ and the saints, but am also interested in questions of appearance, race, and identity more broadly. I am very happy for students to take forward ideas related to the subjects, texts, and critical approaches covered in my teaching at levels I and II, or to develop ideas related specifically to the content of my final-year module, Sex and Society in Spanish Literature to 1700. Recent dissertation topics include: ‘Self vs. Other: Postcolonial Theory and the Morenita’, ‘Nature Imagery in the Traditional Castilian Lyric’, ‘Sexually Empowered Women in the Hispanic Ballad’, and ‘Corporeality and Sanctity in the Legends of the Prostitute Saints’. My final-year module is Sex and Society in Spanish Literature to 1700 (SPAN3151).
Dr Marcela Cazzoli. I am a linguist specialising in syntax, language acquisition (first, second and bilingual), sociolinguistics and language contact in the Hispanic world. I am particularly interested in transnational language use, syntactic change and language policy in migration contexts. My research explores the interaction of language-internal, language-external and social factors in language change and development and has focused on the Spanish-English contact in the USA, Spanish and minority languages in Spain and Latin America, and the Welsh-Spanish contact in Argentine Patagonia. I am able to supervise a range of topics within these areas, as well as those related to my specialist final-year module. Recent dissertation topics I have supervised include: language choice and code-switching among Catalan-Castilian bilinguals, English as a status symbol in reggaetón, the myth of the Andalusian paradise, and the sociolinguistic impact of the Welsh language on Argentine Patagonia. My final-year module is Transnationalism and Linguistic Contact in the Hispanic World (SPAN3921).
Dr Santiago Fouz Hernández.My main area of study is contemporary Spanish film and popular culture. I specialise on issues of gender and sexuality, and especially on the depiction of men, masculinities, sex and sexualities on the screen. I am happy to consider proposals based on ideas covered in my teaching at levels II and III. These include: national identities, memory and nostalgia, gender and sexual identities, machismo, gender violence, the cinematic gaze, haptic visuality, eroticism, and the body. I would particularly welcome projects that explore texts of the democratic period, but I would consider earlier twentieth-century visual materials if relevant to my field of study. Your proposal can be based on a specific film director, actor or genre, but also on specific themes or theoretical approaches. Previous dissertation topics include: ‘Youth Culture in Spanish Cinema of the 1990s’; ‘Urban and Rural Spaces in Spanish Cinema’; ‘The Transformed Body in the Films of Pedro Almodóvar’; ‘Women in the Spanish movida’; ‘Gender and Power in Recent Spanish Cinema’; ‘Masculinity and Violence in Spanish Cinema of the Democratic Period’; ‘Female Solidarity and Sisterhood in the Films of Pedro Almodóvar’; ‘Recurring Motifs in the Films of Pedro Almodóvar’; and ‘National Identities in Contemporary Spanish Cinema’. My final-year module is Contemporary Spanish Cinema (SPAN3181).
Dr Melanie Henry. (On leave in 2017-18) My research focuses on early modern Spanish theatre and I am able to supervise a range of topics related to this field. I specifically research and publish on the drama of Miguel de Cervantes. My work engages with the representation of ideas of freedom and selfhood in Cervantes’s theatre as well as notions of theatricality in his prose. More broadly, I work on Golden Age drama and its relationship to the contradictory socio-cultural environment that informs it. I am generally able to look at material produced in Latin but have more limited expertise in this area. I am happy for students to take forward ideas related to the topics, texts and critical approaches I teach at levels I and II. My final year module is Tilting at Windmills: Cervantes in Context (SPAN3331).
Dr Francisco-J Hernández Adrián. (On leave in Terms 2&3, 2017-18). I am a scholar of the modern and contemporary Atlantic. My research interests include visual, gender / queer, and race theories of the Hispanic and Francophone Caribbean, with a particular focus on island studies, cultural and environmental transformation, and local / global ecologies. These broad research fields translate as related foci in Caribbean texts and diasporas (for example, the works of Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, or visual and performance artist Ana Mendieta); cinema and visual culture, with a strong focus on ‘Third Cinema’ and photography; Surrealism and other avant-garde movements; and the cultures of the post-colonial and ‘creole’ Atlantic. I am particularly interested in how Atlantic spaces and tropical environments are imagined and consumed as cultural artefacts. I find the wealth of connections and exchanges across littoral and insular locales in the Caribbean, the Americas, Africa, and the Canary Islands both extremely attractive and challenging as objects of study. In recent years, I have supervised undergraduate work on Latin American visual culture, Northern African immigration and race in Spain, and dictator narratives about the Dominican Republic. I welcome ideas to supervise projects that relate to or overlap with my research fields in interesting ways. My final-year module is Kino-Texts: Atlantic Avant-Gardes and Visual Cultures (SPAN3321).
Dr Manuel Hijano. My research deals with the production of historical discourse in the Iberian peninsula before 1500, but I have a wide interest in narratives (both written and visual), particularly those dealing with the representation of the past. I am very happy for students to take forward ideas related to the subjects, texts, and critical approaches covered in my teaching at levels I and II, or for students to develop ideas related specifically to the content of my specialist final-year module. Suggested areas that students might like to consider (but are certainly not limited to) include: historiography (medieval, modern, and contemporary); narrative discourse and the history of the novel; the use of the medieval past as propaganda in twentieth-century Spain; the image of the Middle Ages portrayed in contemporary popular literature and films. In addition to Spanish, I am generally able to look at material produced in Latin or in other romance languages, but have more limited research experience in those areas. Recent dissertation topics include: ‘Frontier and Alterity in the Castilian Epic’, ‘Narrative Patterns and Propaganda in Alfonso X’s Estoria de España’, ‘The Notion of Authorship in don Juan Manuel’s works’, ‘Dialogism and the Discourse of the Self in La Celestina’, and ‘Political Agendas in Anthony Mann’s El Cid (1961)’. My final-year module is Epic and Chronicle: The Writing of History in Medieval Spain (SPAN3221).
Dr Kerstin Oloff. (On leave Term 3, 2017-8) My research focusses on Caribbean and Mexican cultures. I am particularly interested in 'irreal' aesthetics, including monstrous, Gothic, marvellous and sci-fi aesthetics. I have written on the work of a range of writers, including Ana Lydia Vega (Puerto Rico), Marie Vieux-Chauvet (Haiti), Mayra Montero (Cuba/Puerto Rico), Junot Diaz (Dominican Republic/US), Juan Rulfo (Mexico), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico). I also have taught and supervised on filmic, artistic and visual production (Frida Kahlo; Cuban and Mexican film). In much of my work, I seek to engage with approaches that theorise the relation between culture and ecology. On a theoretical level, my approach is informed by Postcolonialism, Ecocriticism, Eco-feminism, Marxism and Feminism/Gender studies. Previous supervision topics have included: the body in the work of Frida Kahlo; monsters and Caribbean literature/film; representations of Havana; Cuban testimonial fiction and the question of subalternity; Dominican-Haitian relations in literature; Mexican muralism; Mexican literature since NAFTA. I speak Spanish, German and French and am happy to supervise across languages. My final-year module is The Cultures of the Hispanic Caribbean (SPAN3301).
Dr Yarí Pérez Marín.My main area of research is sixteenth and seventeenth century print culture in Iberia, Spanish America and Brazil, focusing on questions at the intersection of the history of science and medicine with literary studies. In my research, I consider the place of literature and historiography within colonial discourses and modes of artistic expression so as to better understand the relationship between the early modern subject and his or her representation on the page. My secondary research interest centers on contemporary Latin American film, particularly in a post 1990s context. I am happy to take on the supervision of dissertations that relate to the colonial/pre-independence period in Latin America, or that expand on the content I teach at levels I and II. Previous students of mine have worked on topics such as Jewish identity and the novel in nineteenth-century Yucatán, the portrayal of Afro-Brazilian masculinity in recent South American cinema, the notion of alterity in early European accounts of the Americas, and others. My final-year module is Representing Women: Sex and Power in Colonial Latin America (SPAN3311).
Dr Nicholas Roberts. (On leave in Term 3, 2017-18). My research interests are in the literature (poetry and prose), culture more widely, and politics of Latin America (c.1810 to the present). I am able to supervise a range of topics that fall broadly within these areas. I am happy for students to pursue dissertations that relate to the subjects, texts, and ideas covered in my teaching at levels I and II, as well as those related to my specialist final-year module. Suggested areas that students might like to consider (but are certainly not limited to) include: a variety of themes (writing/representation, resistance, violence, quests, poetic/national/political imaginaries, etc.) in major canonical authors in poetry and prose (Cortázar, Borges, Vargas Llosa, García Márquez, Carpentier, Puig, Rulfo, Neruda, Paz, Montejo, and others); questions relating to identity (in cultural production/political ideologies, etc.); popular discourses and cultures; the nature of being (ontology) and the self (especially in relation to heteronymic writing) in Latin America; modernism/ postmodernism/ poststructuralism/ postcolonialism in Latin American literature and culture. I can also supervise projects on the connections between European and Latin American literary currents and authors, especially in poetry. In politics, I welcome dissertations on issues such as dictatorship, violence, national political imaginaries, and the use of symbols/icons/myths in Latin America, with my specialism being Venezuelan politics. Recent dissertation topics I have supervised include: ‘Heteronymity in Latin American poetry’; ‘Violence in the short stories of Julio Cortázar’; ‘La novela indigenista’; ‘The Argentine Dirty War in literature and film’. My final-year module is Popular Culture in Latin American Literature (SPAN3231).
Dr Michael Thompson. I work on Spanish culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. My research focuses primarily on theatre and literature, particularly on censorship, the representation of history and memory, and cinematic adaptations of plays and novels. I also have an interest in translation studies, especially topics related to literary and theatrical translation, an area in which I supervise MA dissertations. I would be happy to supervise projects on topics across these fields, including Catalan culture. I have supervised undergraduate dissertations on topics such as: the history and memory of the Spanish civil war in contemporary Spanish and English fiction; the representation of collective memory in plays by Antonio Buero Vallejo; the evolution of the international iconic significance of Picasso’s Guernica; science and religion in the work of Azorín; gender in Lorca’s theatre. My final-year module is Modern Spanish Literature (SPAN3041).
Dr Annalisa Cipollone. I specialize in the literatures and cultures of the Romance Middle Ages, primarily Italian but also French, Occitan and Spanish; the reception of the classical and medieval tradition in the Renaissance and beyond; medieval visual culture; the chivalric tradition; 20th-century literature and culture, texts and transmission. I have publishes on Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Italian literature and culture before Dante and its relationship with the Occitan tradition, classical reception in Italian literature, the history of Romance languages, textual criticism, the theory and practice of intertextuality, cultural relations in 20th-century Italy. I have supervised dissertations on Giotto's iconographic programme in the Arena chapel in Padua, 15th-century Florence, Pirandello and humorism, Primo Levi’s Se questo è un uomo, the poetry of Tiziano Rossi (1935-). I am happy to continue supervising dissertations in any area of medieval and early modern Italian literature – including comparative projects on different Romance languages –, visual culture, Italian 20th-century literary culture. My final-year module is From the Middle Ages to Modernity: The World of Petrarch (ITAL3151).
Dr Stefano Cracolici. (On leave in Term 2, 2017-18)My main area of expertise is Italian early modern culture, broadly defined as the age spanning from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. In recent times, I have also developed an interest in the legacy of Rome as the global capital of the arts, with a particular focus on the worldwide dissemination of nineteenth-century Christian imagery through art, literature and silent cinema. Three main concerns have guided my research: (1) the enduring impact of the classical legacy on Italian literary and artistic heritage; (2) the art of conversation and its crucial role in establishing academic, courtly, religious and diplomatic networks; and (3) the interdisciplinary study of Italian visual arts in a global context, with a special focus on the history and theory of the emotions in their medical, religious and aesthetic inflections. Current projects include lovesickness and courtly culture; Caravaggio and visual agency; Arcadian taste and the European Grand Tour; and the nineteenth-century debate on sacred art in Europe, with a particular attention to the intellectual exchanges between Rome and the British Empire. I would be happy to supervise comparative dissertations in any areas related to the fields stated above across Italian, French, German and Spanish cultures, including Quebec and Latin America. My final-year module is Italian Cinema (ITAL3061).
Dr Dario Tessicini. My research interests encompass the Renaissance and the early modern period (approximately 1350-1650) and focus in particular on issues related to philosophy, science, religion, and their relations with classical literature, philosophy and arts. I am also interested in translation history, and in the transmission of ideas from classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. I am happy to supervise in any of the areas indicated above, from Dante’s philosophy and science, to Renaissance literature, politics and philosophy, such as Niccolo’ Machiavelli, Marsilio Ficino, Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei. My final year module is Science and Culture in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy (ITAL3161).
Dr Katrin Wehling-Giorgi. (On leave Terms 1&2, 2017-18) I specialise in twentieth-century and contemporary Italian narrative, with a particular interest in the intersections between psychoanalysis and literature, as well as gender studies and feminism. I am also interested in the period of European modernism, and more specifically in the notions of subjectivity and fragmentation, which I have researched extensively in the works of Samuel Beckett and Carlo Emilio Gadda. My more recent research has been on the literary and cultural portrayal of the mother figure, the mother-daughter and the mother-son relationship in twentieth and twenty-first century narrative and film, as well as notions of generational detachment. In this area in particular, I have worked on Elsa Morante, Goliarda Sapienza and Elena Ferrante. I have previously supervised dissertations on the neorealist writings of Calvino and Fenoglio and on the fairy tale in late nineteenth century literature. I would welcome projects that focus on any of the research specialisms mentioned above or comparative projects in any of these areas. My final year module is Writing the Modern Self (ITAL3171).
Dr Andy Byford. My main research interests are in the social and cultural history of Russia, with particular focus on the intelligentsia and the sciences in the 19th and 20th century. I am generally happy to supervise final-year dissertations that develop in greater detail various themes and issues that emerge from your study of Russian cultural history in such modules as Introduction to Russian History and Culture (RUSS1151), Reading Russian Literature (RUSS2231), St Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad (RUSS2261) and my final-year module, The Making of the Russian Intelligentsia (RUSS3391). You should assume, however, that for your dissertation you will need to expand beyond the primary and secondary source base covered in these modules.
Dr Alex Harrington. My main research and teaching interests are in Russian poetry from the eighteenth-century to the Thaw (from Gavrila Derzhavin to Iosif Brodskii), and especially the work of Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, and Osip Mandel'shtam. Current research projects focus on ways in which poets use layout to convey meaning, on the particular processes and factors that led to Akhmatova's canonical status in Russian and world literature, and on the phenomenon of literary celebrity/fame in Russia. Previous research has investigated the Dostoevskian contexts of Akhmatova’s poetry, explored ways in Akhmatova and Mandel’shtam constructed personal mythologies in the Soviet period, and examined various facets of non-official poetry production under Stalin. I have also written about some of the ways in which Russian poetry comes into contact with other media, such as painting and cinema. I would be happy to supervise a range of topics that relate to these areas. Suggested topics include: Russian literary fame, civic and/or public themes in the work of individual Russian poets, the development of, and versions of, the myth of the poet in Russian culture, and ways in which particular poets explore the 'look' of the text. I have previously supervised dissertations on Akhmatova and Shostakovich, historical themes in Akhmatova’s poetry, Pushkin and Chenier, Radishchev and travel writing, Maiakovskii’s suicide, and Solzhenitsyn’s self-fashioning. I will consider supervising comparative work across French and Russian, depending on the topic. My final-year module is The Poet and the State (RUSS3371).
Dr Viktoria Ivleva. (On leave in Term 1, 2017-18) My research interests include eighteenth-, early nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian literature and cultural history, cultural semiotics, history of cultural import, material culture and gender studies. I would be happy to supervise dissertation projects that develop from your study of Russian literature and culture in such modules as Understanding Russia: Arts and Ideologies (RUSS1171), Introduction to Russian History and Culture (RUSS1151), Reading Russian Literature (RUSS2231), and St Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad (RUSS2261). I also welcome comparative projects that focus on eighteenth-century French and Russian cultures, and early nineteenth- and early twentieth century English and Russian literature
Dr Dušan Radunović. (On Leave in Terms 2&3, 2017-18). My research follows two main directions. I work on Russian and Soviet cinema, with emphases on the social history of pre-Revolutionary cinema, Sergei Eisenstein, and the cinema(s) of the Caucasus. I also have a long-standing interest in the twentieth century critical theory, where my specific interests are the Bakhtin studies and Russian Formalism. I’d be very keen to supervise projects engaging with either of these two fields of study. I would especially look forward to supervising dissertation projects that in some way take their cue from undergraduate modules I have taught: Understanding Russia: Arts and Ideologies (RUSS1171), Russian and Soviet Cinema (RUSS2241), Reading Russian Literature (RUSS2231), and my final-year module Screening the Nation: Russian Cinema and the National Question (RUSS3411).