2019 Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture: Teaching ‘French’ in Brexit Britain – School of Languages and Cultures 2019 Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture: Teaching ‘French’ in Brexit Britain – School of Languages and Cultures

2019 Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture: Teaching ‘French’ in Brexit Britain

The 2019 Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture

Teaching ‘French’ in Brexit Britain

Speaker: Professor Julia Waters (University of Reading, UK)

Presented by the Department of French and Francophone Studies with support from the School of Languages and Cultures

In his 1992 Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture, ‘On Teaching “French”’, Ross Chambers remarks on the ‘unusually messy and uncertain’ situation of the discipline of ‘French’ at the time – a messiness and uncertainty that he links, variously, to the discipline’s traditional inclusion of both language and literature/culture; to the challenge posed to notions of the ‘canon’ by the inclusion of alternative, previously non-mainstream voices and genres; to the discipline’s openness to evolving, iconoclastic theories (notably, post-68 ‘French theory’); and to the general ‘messy state of the humanities as a whole.’

But even Professor Chambers could not have anticipated the unprecedented messiness and uncertainty that ‘Brexit’ – an as-yet mercifully uncountenanced phenomenon or word – would cause, 25 years on, to the teaching of ‘French’ and of Modern Languages in general, in the United Kingdom.

In this lecture, Julia Waters draws on over twenty years’ experience of teaching and researching ‘French’, to discuss the current crisis in language-teaching in the UK Higher Education system. Responding to the recent statement by the UK’s four national academies, ‘Languages in the UK: A Call to Action’, Waters argues for the need proactively to embrace the messiness and uncertainty of ‘French’, adapting texts, approaches and disciplinary boundaries in order better to meet the many challenges of our fast-evolving, interconnected world.

Professor Julia Waters is Professor of Contemporary Literature in French at the University of Reading (UK). She is the author of Duras and Indochina: Postcolonial Perspectives (Liverpool: SFPS Critical Studies, 2006) and recently published The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging (Liverpool University Press).

About the Sonia Marks Memorial Lecture

The Sonia Marks Memorial fund was set up in 1985 to commemorate the life and achievements of Sonia Marks, whose untimely death deprived the University of a much appreciated teacher and colleague. The fund provides for annual student prizes for students from the beginner language stream and a memorial lecture on some aspect of teaching in French Studies. The 2012 Sonia Marks Lecture featured Emeritus Professor Ross Chambers (University of Michigan at Ann Arbor) on the topic, ‘Learning from Teaching’.

More information

Contact: Dr Léa Vuong – lea.vuong@sydney.edu.au

The event is finished.


Apr 16 2019


5:00 PM - 7:00 PM


SSB Lecture Theatre 200
Social Sciences Building A02, University of Sydney


French and Francophone Studies

Other Organizers

School of Languages and Cultures

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