What follows is a brief account of exciting events run in April 2019 resulting from an ongoing collaboration with Dr Daniel Finch-Race, University of Bristol (#TeamFinchetti). Many of these events were fostered by Transferre.
We would like to start by expressing our gratitude for all the support we received from ‘Language Acts and Worldmaking‘ within the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Open World Research Initiative, as well as the Bristol Poetry Institute, the Centre for Material Texts, and the Faculty of Arts at the University of Bristol, and the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New England, Armidale.
The series of events in April 2019 started with our joint participation in the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes at the University of Southampton (#SDNSouthampton2019), where we presented on our forthcoming double issue of the Society’s journal, Dix-Neuf, on ‘Ecoregions’, including contributions from scholars in six countries.
Our panel was on the topic ‘Ecology’ in the long nineteenth century. It was chaired by Elisabeth Plas, Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle
The speakers were: Alban Stuckel (Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon) who presented a paper entitled ”L’écologie dans le XIXe siècle français : une question littéraire avant d’être scientifique ?’. He was followed by Martin Mees (Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles), who discussed ‘Éléments pour une écologie poétique à l’âge romantique. Nerval et ses « Vers dorés »’
We closed the panel by talking about some of the theoretical framework underpinning our “Ecoregions” special issue of Dix-Neuf:
Daniel Finch-Race (University of Bristol) and Valentina Gosetti (University of New England, Armidale): ‘Discovering Industrial-Era France’s Ecoregions’
After the conference, on Thursday 11 April, we moved on to Bristol (UK) for a day of exciting free events about exploring connections between Europe and Australia. Our starting point was the investigation of parallels in environmental concerns since the Industrial Revolution, when there was a significant increase in travel and cultural exchanges. The interactive activities provided opportunities to appreciate how Australia, the Francophone world, and the UK have long had much in common.
10:00-12:00: SS Great Britain – discussion of Franco-Australian perspectives with video contributions from Australian researchers, followed by an exploration of the venue, renowned as ‘one of the most important historic ships in the world’. In-person speakers included James Boyd (Brunel Institute), Philip Kent (University of Bristol), and Christie Margrave (Australian National University). Video-based participants included Natalie Edwards (University of Adelaide), Christopher Hogarth (University of South Australia), Gemma King (Australian National University) and Ben McCann (University of Adelaide). We would like to express our deep gratitude to all speakers.
14:00-15:30: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery – tour with curator Jenny Gaschke and local artist Alice Cunningham.
16:00-17:30: University of Bristol Theatre Collection + Library Special Collections – showcase of rare materials with Jill Sullivan (Archives Assistant), and Michael Richardson (Special Collections Librarian).
On the following day, Friday 12 April, we held a free event at Bristol Central Library about how cultural heritage and diversity are rooted in the words that make up our world. We invited people to have fun with languages from varied parts of the world, some on the verge of vanishing forever. The attendees heard the work of leading French poet Michèle Métail in French, Italian and English, and saw “poems for the wall” translations curated by renowned Bristolian poet Rogan Wolf.
11:00-12:00: Roundtable discussion on translation with Michèle Métail, with the participation of Nina Parish (University of Bath).
12:30-13:30: Multilingual poetry translation event and performance
Here is a small video excerpt of this unforgettable experience:
The word “voyage”, transplanted in some of the lesser-spoken languages of Europe thanks to Twitter submissions we received, travels around as we read.
Particularly touching was a piece of feedback from a young student who was in Bristol to learn English:
“I’m from Brazil and I’m learning the idiom English. But was perfect this moment for me! Thank you for the representation about this poem. […] This experience I will talk about for all my family and my friends when I come back to Brazil. Thank you!”
“I would like to have a kind of experience in Brazil I never had this moment with poems with three idioms different in my country. It was amazing! Thank you!”
This is the kind of transformative effect regarding inclusion that we set out to foster. Other attendees commented:
“English is too familiar to me – an Anglophone from birth… the French is sinuous, musical, enchanting; the Italian urgently appealing to the ear. Loved the unrolling scroll plus its icons.”
“A a thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating round table”
“a brilliant multilingual poetry event …which included an extraordinary trilingual reading of Michèle Métail’s DÉDALE- VOUS ÊTES ICI”
“Different reading vehicles – Rouleau – book – IPad
Different textual experiences / sounds
- Mother tongue
- Second language
- Language with some knowledge
Listening for different things, understanding different things
In-between languages Place without memory
Silence moment of tension and attention”
The experience continued in Milan with an invited talk on ‘Le “Ecoregioni” dell’Ottocento francese fra geografia, cultura e tattiche autoesotiste’ at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in discussion with Marisa Verna and in the company of various members of the Dipartimento di Scienze linguistiche e letterature straniere, including Elsa Bolchi, Vittoria Prencipe and Davide Vago, who kindly organised the event. The attendees appreciated the approachability of the discussion, which was aimed at an audience beyond academia and at fostering multidisciplinary perspectives on the theme of “ecoregion”.
All of these events have fostered a broad spectrum of exchanges and new avenues to explore in the range of publications that we are preparing for a variety of audiences. You can follow the progress of the project on Twitter via #TeamFinchetti and @GosettiV.
If some of this inspires you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.