Second-year PhD student Antonia Wimbush co-organised the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Postgraduate Study Day 2016, which was held on Monday 20 June at Westmere House.
The study day explored the theme of ‘(Be)longing in the Francophone World’ and brought together postgraduate researchers from across the UK and beyond working on identity, gender, exile, migration and belonging in a wide range of Francophone literature, films and culture. Dr Stephen Forcer, Head of the Department of Modern Languages, welcomed the postgraduate researchers before thought-provoking papers were given on ‘(Non-)Belonging and Exile’, ‘Gender and Belonging’ and ‘(Trans-)National Identities’. Dr Helen Vassallo, Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter, gave a fascinating keynote address, entitled ‘Exile and (Be)longing in Contemporary Francophone Women’s Writing’. She analysed the work of Algerian author Leïla Sebbar and Lebanese author, actor and playwright Darina al-Joundi. Dr Catherine Gilbert, Postdoctoral Research Officer at the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, School of Advanced Study in London, gave an insightful presentation on academic careers from an Early Career Researcher’s perspective.
The study day is a flagship event for SFPS and is held each year at different institutions across the UK. This was the first time that this prestigious event was held at the University of Birmingham, making the most of the wonderful facilities of the Westmere PGR Hub. The event was co-organised with Rebekah Vince, PhD student in French at the University of Warwick, and was kindly sponsored by SFPS and the CAL PGR Development Fund.
The event was a great success and sparked off lots of interesting and fruitful discussion about a theme which is of great relevance in today’s world.