SMLC Newsletter Issue 14, Winter Edition 2020

Published: 14 December 2020

A warm welcome to the winter 2020 edition of our newsletter from our SMLC's new Head of School Professor Stephen Forcer.

As incoming Head of School it is a great pleasure, and a privilege, to welcome you to the 2020 SMLC newsletter. I have hugely enjoyed getting to know students and colleagues, and indeed Glasgow and Scotland.

I will spare you a long commentary about the challenges of 2020, which are self-evident and real. Suffice to say that I have been immensely and consistently impressed by the hard work, mutual understanding and good humour shown by staff – academic and in Professional Services – and students during the lockdown, as we pursue our mission in languages and cultures. I also wish to thank all the janitors, cleaning staff, security officers and other colleagues who have worked to keep our building safe for those colleagues who have needed to use it.

This session we welcome several new members of staff to the School, with introductions later in the newsletter. Thank you to everyone who has helped new colleagues, including myself, settle in. In the newsletter we also remember two former members of staff, Dr Geoff Woollen and Dr Peter Davies, who sadly passed away recently.

Supported by royal academies of science, medicine and engineering, the British Academy has this year underscored the vital importance of languages and cultures to education, research, and national wellbeing generally. And during the lockdown huge numbers of people have turned to language learning, reading, music, song, dance, and other aspects of the arts and humanities for pleasure, inquiry, and distraction and solace. More than ever, languages and cultures are a force for good. This is also reflected in our research, where scholarship in comparative literature, translation and cultural studies is increasingly accompanied by work on live issues in a range of areas including pedagogy, language use and policy, human rights (migration, refugees, asylum seekers, reparatory justice and slavery), and global challenges including social violence.

This is a packed newsletter, reflecting some but by no means all of the work and activities by over 100 staff and around 1,000 students. Rather than try to summarise the newsletter, I simply invite you to read through it. Do feel free to get in touch if any of the items stimulate an idea or a question, or if you have a news item you’d like to suggest for future announcements and newsletters (we are looking at a ‘live’ news section for the SMLC website as a complement to the annual newsletter). Meanwhile I am grateful to all the staff who have contributed to the various items of news set out in this edition. A special thank you to Carolyn Donaldson for collating, editing and presenting the text, ably assisted by Paul Bishop and colleagues in the web team.

Hard work can be satisfying but it also demands energy and commitment. As with performance in music, sport, or any other endeavour, intense work requires serious rest – as we break for the vacation I hope that you will be able to take time away from work and study for other things, and I very much look forward to continuing to work with everyone in the School in January.

In the meantime I wish you, your families and friends a very happy and restorative Christmas, and a peaceful and healthy new year.

Stephen Forcer

Professor of French, and Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures

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First published: 14 December 2020

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