Skip navigation to content

Current research seminars

2016/17 research seminar programme

Semester 2

For the information on past seminars, please visit our Seminar Archive.

Tuesday 28 March 2017
German Research Seminar
Dr Regine Straetling (University of Bonn)
The Bland and the Pale. Failures and Variants of Far Eastern Exoticism
Barthes’ notebooks from a three-week trip to Maoist China in 1974 document on nearly every page his boredom and frustration: besides its dogmatic political positions, China seems bland and indistinct to him. After Barthes’ return, his readers await in vain a book similar to L’Empire des signes, his celebrated essay on Japan. Was the trip then entirely void of any productive input for Barthes’ work? In a reading of some of his posthumously published writings, this paper seeks – via a detour to the reflections of the German poet Max Dauthendey on Japanese aesthetics – to identify the theoretical values of this seemingly failed trip for Barthes’ later work.
4pm, Buchanan room 216

Thursday 30 March 2017
Italian Research Seminar and screening
Marco D'Agostini (film director)

Film director Marco D'Agostini will be brainstorming with final year students in Italian on the relevance of the genre documusical in film making, and on the theme of film documenting the reality of minority languages and dialects.
2-3pm, St Salvator's Quad room 30

'All Roads Lead to Udine. SunsEurope: The Cultural Festival and its DocuMusical'. (Talk 5-5.40pm)
Film director Marco D'Agostini will talk on the experience of script writing and directing his documusical SunsEurope (2016) as a capturing poetic composition of SunsEurope, European Festival of Performing Arts in Minority Languages that took place in Udine in 2016.
Followed by discussion and projection of SunsEurope (55mins - English Subtitles).
5pm, Buchanan Building room 216

31 March-8 April 2017
St Andrews Festival of Translation

31 March-1 April, Byre Theatre
Two days of performances and workshops, plus an intermedial exhibition to last till 8 April

Monday 3 April, 8 pm, Byre Theatre.
The Flowerings of Evil
An evening of music and art inspired by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire

Wednesday 5 April, 2pm, Conference Room, Younger Hall
Translating for Singing: what, how and why?

Thursday 6 April, 7pm, School 6
Jennifer O’Meara (Film Studies) presents Lost in Translation
Read our Film Studies expert’s recommendations of films about translation

Friday 7 April, Gateway Boardroom
Scotland in Translation
A day of talks and readings, from Burns in French to Baudelaire in Scots to Chinese Makars

More information -

Wednesday 5 April 2017
Byre World Film Series
The Wonders (2014) - Alice Rohrwacher
7pm, The Byre Theatre

Thursday 6 April 2017
Valerie Heffernan (National University of Ireland Maynooth)
#RegrettingMotherhood in Germany:
Between Societal Taboo and Feminist Protest
In April 2015, an article from Signs made headlines in Germany and provoked a storm of controversy in mainstream and social media that lasted several weeks. The #RegrettingMotherhood debate in Germany – so-called because of the many tweets that used the English-language hashtag #RegrettingMotherhood to highlight their contribution to the ongoing debate – illustrates the intense public interest in motherhood in contemporary Germany. This paper analyses how the debate played out and uses the controversy to raise some broader questions about the meaning of motherhood in the contemporary era.
5pm, Buchanan room 216

Tuesday 12 April 2017
Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and Eastern European Studies (CRSCEES)
Andrei Kurkov (author of Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev, among other writings)
In conversation with Emily Finer (University of St Andrews)
4.30pm, Byre Theatre

Wednesday 12 April 2017
Byre World Conversation Series
Contemporary Russian Poetry in conversation with Stanislav Lvovsky
6pm, The Byre Theatre

Wednesday 19 April 2017
Byre World Literary Café Series
Rwandan Stories of Change presents
Readings and Q&A with Véronique Tadjo
Award-winning author of As the Crow Flies (2001), The Shadow of Imana, Travels in the heart of Rwanda (2002), The Blind Kingdom (2008), Queen Pokou (2009) and Far from my Father (2014)
All welcome
Free event but please reserve tickets at or phone 01334 475000
Further information email:
8pm, The Byre Theatre

Thursday 20 April 2017
Prof. Bill Burgwinkle (Cambridge)
“Thirteenth-century troubadour poetry and the rise of post-evental thinking”
The importance that is claimed for troubadour poetry often involves its status as the 'first': first vernacular lyric poetry preserved in Europe; earliest vernacular poetry composed by a woman; earliest preserved melodies for a 'secular' composition; first explicitly non-religious verse, and plenty of it (some 2500 songs from a period of roughly a century); first to deal almost exclusively with love and the erotic without offering apologies.  That this material has survived, was copied in luxury manuscripts, was imitated widely, and still resonates is amazing and I do not question that; but that is not what most interests me most about this production or this phenomenon.  Instead, I want to look at fin'amors as a sample of discourse or a discursive formation (à la Foucault), and read it as emerging from an 'event' (à la Badiou).  It is when that discourse founders, when the rituals which uphold these beliefs begin to weaken and cracks appear in the notion that there can be just one account of that event---that is when things get most interesting.  For that we should look to the borders of Occitania, in what is now northern Italy and Catalonia.  It is in those regions and in some of the poets who hailed from the Piedmont, Genoa, and South of the Pyrenees that we find some of the most intriguing material and it is on those spaces and poets that I will focus in this paper.
5.15pm, Buchanan room 216

Tuesday 25 April 2017
Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and Eastern European Studies (CRSCEES)
Iryna Clark (University of St Andrews)
‘Mediating “Civil Society” in the Belarussian Press: The Colour Revolutions’
5pm, Buchanan Building room 216

Thursday 27 April 2017
Arabic Public lecture and book launch
Raymond Scheindlin
Vulture in a Cage: Poems by Solomon Ibn Gabirol
Author and translator Raymond Scheindlin will present his new book, Vulture in a Cage, and the eleventh-century poet at its center, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, one of the most celebrated poets and philosophers of the medieval Judeo-Arabic Golden Age. The author of delicate and intimate devotional poetry that holds an honored place in the liturgies of many Jewish communities, Ibn Gabirol also wrote personal poetry, in which he speaks of his intellectual ambitions and his frustration at having to live among the unthinking; laments his ailments and his social isolation; praises his friends and savages his enemies. Dr. Scheindlin’s new book emphasizes this personal aspect of Ibn Gabirol’s poetry with translations that read like poetry while hewing closely to the meaning of the poet’s words. In this talk, he will illustrate various aspects of Ibn Gabirol’s poetic persona by reading and commenting on selected poems.
Raymond P. Scheindlin is professor of medieval Hebrew literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, where he received his training in Hebrew literature. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University for his dissertation on an Arab poet from Muslim Spain. In addition to his research on medieval Hebrew poetry in its Arabic and Islamic background, Scheindlin has published many translations of the great poets of the Judeo-Arabic Golden Age, especially in his books Wine, Women, and Death; The Gazelle; and The Song of the Distant Dove. He has also published an annotated verse translation of the Book of Job. A former provost of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Scheindlin is a former Guggenheim fellow; a former Cullman fellow at the New York Public Library; and recipient of the cultural achievement award of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
6pm, The Byre Theatre, Studio

Tuesday 2 May 2017
Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and Eastern European Studies (CRSCEES)
Shaun Walker (The Guardian Moscow Correspondent)
‘The Long Hangover: memory and revolution in Ukraine and Russia’
Shaun Walker is Moscow Correspondent for The Guardian. He has worked as a journalist in Moscow for more than a decade. His book, The Long Hangover, will be published by OUP in autumn 2017. Shaun Walker spent most of 2014 in Ukraine, witnessing the Maidan Revolution in Kiev, the annexation of Crimea and the uprising in East Ukraine. This talk, and his upcoming book, will explore the role of history and memory in these events.
5pm, Buchanan Building room 216

Wednesday 3 May 2017
Byre World Film Series
Wild Tales (2014) by Damián Szifron
7pm, The Byre Theatre

Thursday 4 May 2017
Professor Alan Knight’s (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
'"Forjar Constitución": The Making and Meaning of the Mexican Constitution of 1917'
5pm, Buchanan room 216

Tuesday 23 May 2017
Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and Eastern European Studies (CRSCEES)
Katya Rogachevskaya (Lead Curator East European Studies at the British Library)
‘Revolution on Display: 1017 at the British Library’
5pm, Buchanan Building room 216

Friday 26 May 2017
Public Lecture
The University of St Andrews Cultural Memory Research Group presents:
Prof Alison Landsberg (George Mason University)
Title to be confirmed
5pm, Parliament Hall