Final year - Modern Languages and European Studies

Translation, Theory and Practice in Europe

The course focuses on approaches to the theory and practice of translation in Europe. The first semester of the course will address the main areas of debate in Translation Theory and Translation Studies, with a historical survey of key theoretical texts and comparative and contrastive analysis of translations into English. It will then cover key approaches, skills and resources available to the translator.

The second semester of the course will focus on independent translation project work from your main language into English. You will be expected to agree a project with your tutor, for which you will translate a text from your main language into English and provide commentary on the text either in the form of annotations or in a separate analytical essay. You will be expected to contextualise your project within the debates and issues discussed in the first semester, utilising the appropriate approaches and resources for your chosen text.

Fascism in Western Europe

This module aims to introduce final-year students to some of the essential debates on fascism in history and culture. The concept of fascism is a complex one. The expression is often used in a very loose way and so the introduction of the course will be devoted to trying to define what it means. This attempt at definition will explore differences between fascism on the Italian model, National Socialism in Germany and the authoritarian regimes of Vichy France and Franco’s Spain, which developed a complex relationship with the ‘fascist model’.

Students will learn about, and be expected to analyse, the main themes of fascism, which include its concept of state authority- sometimes combined with an inversion of traditional hierarchies, its promotion of a cult of the personality of the leader, its racism; its hostility to the Left; its use of mass mobilisation, its development of a model of a new form of virility and its glorification of violence.

Fascism will be analysed both through history and culture. Visual material (film and art) will be shown to examine whether the fascists had a particular concept of visual culture and how they used this for promoting their vision of society and for mobilising the masses. Although the main chronological focus of these classes will be on the inter-war period and the Second World War, there will be some discussion of how far-right groups have adapted a neo-fascist discourse in the post-war years.

Independent Study Module

This module enables you to do a piece of independent research on a European Studies topic of your own choosing. Under the supervision of a member of our staff you will write an extended essay on your chosen topic.

Assessment: one extended essay (word limit 6000 words)

Modernism in Europe: Image, Text, Sound

The module provides a deep understanding of Modernism as a European cultural movement and will cover aspects of theory, literature, art and music. It examines the nature and role of Modernism in early 20th C European Culture. Early sessions are devoted to theories of Modernism which will both place the movement in its historical and cultural context and lead to an understanding of the movement as part of a wider paradigm shift in Western science and culture at the beginning of the 20th C. During the rest of the module Modernism will be studied in relation to various areas of the arts (e.g. literature, theatre, music, art) and a range of themes (e.g gender, social class, geography, the avant-garde).

The Political Thriller on Film: Genre, Ideology, Emotion

Is it possible to articulate a political critique from within the mainstream film industry? Is genre film a suitable vehicle for progressive ideology? Can popular film be a means for political change? In this course such questions will form the basis of an analysis of the political thriller, a genre that has its roots in post-war American film noir and that emerged in Europe in the 1960s before expanding to become a global genre in the decades that followed. With its focus on conspiracies and imperilled investigators, the political thriller uses specific generic and narrative tropes to explore the political challenges of the modern world.

The first part of the course will be devoted to exploring three key theoretical concepts: genre, and the definition of the thriller; ideology, and how film can function politically; and emotion, and how film elicits an emotional response. These issues will be explored in relation to a range of films that serve as a context to the emergence of the political thriller and the debates it raised.

The second half of the course will be concerned with a case study of the political thriller proper, addressing its function in relation to the three theoretical concepts already outlined. The evolution of the genre will be explored in a range of national and political contexts that defined the second half of the 20th century: the rise of the Left in Europe in the 1960s; terrorism in the 1970s; America in the age of Watergate, Vietnam and the Kennedy assassination; South America and the resurgence of totalitarianism; corporate culture in the age of Neoliberalism; and globalisation and the War on Terror.




Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year, for instance because a member of staff is on study leave or too few students opt for it. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.