Mid-Career Fellowship awards 2021

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Personalised’ education: Understanding its risks and advantages & increasing public awareness

Professor Sophie von Stumm

University of York, Professor, Education

Amount Awarded: £130,819.20

Children’s differences in school performance have pervasive long-term influence on their education, health, and wellbeing. Because school performance is predictable, for example from prior exam performance or family background, education can be ‘personalised’ to meet children’s differential learning needs. However, ‘personalising’ education necessarily requires selecting children into some and out of other learning environments, which stands against the principle of equal learning opportunities for all. To explore the risks and advantages of ‘personalised’ education from an interdisciplinary lens, I will write an academic review article and an objective policy brief. To initiate a broad discussion in society about the ethics and utility of prediction and personalisation in education, I will interview subject matter experts for a podcast series and publish a newspaper spread. To increase public awareness of the (dis)connect in education between equality of opportunity and equity in outcomes, I will co-develop a TV documentary on the topic.


Witness to Catastrophe: A Life of Sigrid Schultz

Professor David Milne

University of East Anglia, Professor of Modern History, School of History

Amount Awarded: £133,678.39

For William Shirer, the best-known journalistic chronicler of Nazi Germany, 'no other correspondent in Germany knew so much of what was going on behind the scenes as did Sigrid Schultz.' The British journalist Quentin Reynolds believed Schultz's incisive reporting for the Chicago Tribune made her 'Hitler’s greatest enemy.' Hermann Göring denounced Schultz as 'that dragon lady from Chicago.' Yet Schultz has largely vanished from historical view. This project is intended to supply the first published biography of this trailblazing journalist, based on her extensive, underexplored archive at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The first woman, in 1925, to become bureau chief for a U.S. newspaper, an ally to Gustav Stresemann, interviewer of Hitler, and prescient analyst of Nazism, Schultz overcame significant obstacles – as a woman in a male-dominated milieu; as a foreign journalist working a totalitarian state; and as an interventionist at an isolationist newspaper – throughout a remarkable career.


Knowledge Spillover and Individual Careers

Professor Uta Schönberg

University College London, Professor, Economics

Amount Awarded: £107,388.80

Workplace training is not only key in maintaining and enhancing workers’ skills throughout their career but may also lead to considerable spillover effects: If co-workers learn from each other on-the-job through social interactions, well-trained workers may lift the human capital of their less well-trained co-workers. The proposed research will provide novel evidence on such external effects of training due to knowledge spillover in the context of the German apprenticeship system, by focusing on the following research question: Do inexperienced unskilled workers earn higher wages, have better employment opportunities, and work in higher paying occupations and workplaces if they were exposed to more and better apprenticeship graduates early on in their career? As such, the proposed research will shed novel light on the potentially hidden costs of working-from-home arrangements which may deprive young workers from learning opportunities from colleagues, possibly harming their career prospects even in the long-run.


Towards an accuracy-first approach to judgment aggregation

Professor Richard Pettigrew

University of Bristol, Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy

Amount Awarded: £135,552.16

In this project, I bring a new methodology to bear on the problem of judgment aggregation, which asks how we should take the judgments of each member of a group and aggregate them to give the group’s judgment. How should we combine the conclusions of individual jurors to give the jury's verdict (List & Pettit 2004)? How should we aggregate the predictions of different climate models to give the ensemble’s prediction (IPCC 2010)? The new methodology is the accuracy-first approach to epistemology (Pettigrew 2016), and it promises to break a stalemate that arises from the axiomatic methodology that is currently used. It furnishes us with ways of measuring the accuracy of judgments, and explores how to produce collective judgments that are most accurate when measured that way. This project holds significant interest for policymakers and bodies, like IPCC, that produce summaries of expert judgment to guide policy decisions.


Cities, Productivity and Levelling Up

Professor Helen Simpson

University of Bristol, Professor of Economics, University of Bristol

Amount Awarded: £132,222.40

The Covid-19 pandemic could have long-term effects on where people in some occupations live and work, and on individuals' spending behaviour. These choices, as well as decisions by firms on what now constitutes the workplace, could have implications for UK cities and regional economic inequality. While the direct effects of the pandemic will likely amplify existing spatial inequality with already lagging areas falling further behind, a concurrent acceleration towards working, and spending, from home may also affect affluent cities and the extent to which they derive benefits from density. This project will use multiple data sources to map these trends and their impact on local economic performance, drawing out implications for the 'levelling up' agenda. It will produce research articles, briefings aimed at both the policy community and public audiences, and public talks, with the overall aim of bringing evidence to bear on policy towards spatial inequality.


Singularity Resolution and Explanation in Bouncing Quantum Cosmology

Dr Karim Thebault

University of Bristol, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science, Philosophy

Amount Awarded: £128,351.05

According to one family of scientific models the universe started with a ‘big bounce’ rather than a ‘big bang’. In a bouncing cosmology the universe has different ‘branches’, each starting with a common very dense ‘past’ region but ending in distinct ‘futures’. Despite their apparent strangeness, bouncing models may plausibly correspond to our actual universe. Bouncing cosmologies appeal to quantum physics to ‘resolve’ the big bang singularity. That is, they rely on a novel and untested application of quantum theory to the very dense early universe to account for the breakdown of classical concepts at extremely small cosmological scales. In the proposed research I will apply tools from physics and philosophy to analyse the foundations of cosmic singularity resolution and rival explanations for the flatness and homogeneity of the universe. This highly original interdisciplinary work will lead to major new insights into the foundations of cosmology and scientific explanation.


Lived Democracy: The Glossaries and Social Life of Deliberation in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia

Dr Charis Boutieri

King's College London, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Department of European and International Studies

Amount Awarded: £132,552.16

While all other states that experienced the Arab Uprisings in 2011 have lapsed into authoritarianism or protracted civil war, Tunisia has emerged as the most promising democratic experiment in the Middle East and North Africa region. Yet, ten years on, both policy and academia still grapple with the qualification of Tunisian democracy: Is it an enduring success or a partial and precarious development? The project redirects this quandary towards an empirical analysis of how the deliberative practices of a diverse Tunisian citizenry carve out collective visions on the ground and progressively forge Tunisian democracy. The project constitutes the first ever evidenced-based study of the social life of Tunisian democracy, which I label 'lived democracy'. An integral undertaking of this project is to advocate for a recalibration of definitions (and prescriptions) of democracy within institutions that operate in the field of international democracy promotion.


Deep(er) Learning of our Behavioural Evolution: Tracking Bipedalism and Predation in Terrestrial Primates

Dr Susana Carvalho

University of Oxford, Associate Professor of Palaeoanthropology, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography

Amount Awarded: £131,822.20

Bipedalism defines our lineage, implies a shift from arboreal to terrestrial life, and therefore new relationships between hominins and carnivores: how did “landscapes of fear” influence early hominin behaviour relative to bipedalism and carnivory? This question has yet to be answered by paleoanthropology; it requires integrative approaches using modern primates, fossils, and technologies that capture behaviour in new ways. I will use emerging technologies to record bipedalism and predation in a terrestrial primate, in landscapes similar to those where hominins evolved. I will capture behaviour with UAVs (i.e. drones) and use deep learning to ID species and count individuals so as to quantify intra- and inter-species interactions and space use. This integration of paleoanthropology, computer vision and ethology can revolutionise how we answer questions about our evolution. As part of the project I'll train the first Mozambican primatologists and palaeoanthropologists who will carry this line of research into the future.


Global remote working and wellbeing in multinational organisations: Sustainable solutions for the future of global work

Dr Kieran Michael Conroy

Queen's University Belfast, Lecturer in Management, Management

Amount Awarded: £70,788.00

Remote working is fast becoming the new normal for organisations in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. However, international management research overlooks the significant health and wellbeing issues that global remote workers confront. Global remote working involves individuals based in one country, but working for an organisation from another country, while coordinating operations across a multiplicity of global locations. Global remote working stretches the mental, social and physical capacity of individuals in organising spatially and temporally dispersed teams, travelling frequently to build networks or addressing a diverse range of cultural conflicts. Despite this, we have a limited understanding of how global remote workers experience and cope with these challenges. This research aims to unpack the health and wellbeing implications of global remote working and the structures or resources needed to sustain this type of global work. This project will develop high-quality outputs that engage practitioners, academics, policy makers and the wider public.


Unlocking the linguistic documentation of Huave: grammar, text, and community

Dr Yuni Kim

University of Essex, Lecturer in Phonology, Department of Language and Linguistics

Amount Awarded: £123,095.14

The Huave ethnic group of southern Mexico speak an endangered indigenous language which is unrelated to any other in the world, unique in its grammatical structure and the worldview it encapsulates. My project will advance language revitalisation efforts currently underway in one Huave community, where there is interest and urgency but few resources, by producing documentary, ethnographic, and pedagogical materials. Working with over 100 hours of audio recordings from my research with the elderly last speakers of the San Francisco del Mar dialect, I will write a reference grammar and create a collection of transcribed and translated recordings that will be freely available online. With input from local teachers, I will develop and disseminate vocabulary lists, grammar summaries, and conversation exercises that are suitable for both class sessions and independent learning to help preserve this unique and endangered language.


The Second Sex: A Philosophical Commentary

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick

University of Oxford (Regent's Park College), Director of Studies in Philosophy and Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy

Amount Awarded: £98,320.80

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) is widely hailed as a foundational text in Anglo-American feminist philosophy and theory. Its most famous sentence – “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” – is frequently invoked as a slogan for the view that there is a distinction between “sex” and “gender”. However, the word “gender” is never used in The Second Sex – and neither is this concept Beauvoir’s primary concern. My research argues on philosophical, historical, and linguistic grounds that the dominant anglophone reading of The Second Sex misunderstands Beauvoir’s central claims. Instead, I argue that The Second Sex can and should be read as a work of moral and political philosophy, engaging with questions of freedom and submission in the tradition of Montesquieu and Rousseau, as well as with post-Nietzschean discussions of moral formation, perfectionism, and the meaning of life—questions that are still relevant today.


Global Knowledge Production and Higher Education Reform in China

Dr Hyejin Ku

University College London, Lecturer of Economics, Department of Economics

Amount Awarded: £128,288.75

Scientific progress is more important than ever in tackling many challenges the world faces. Recently, the momentum for new developments has shifted eastward, in particular as China has dramatically expanded its scientific output. Today, China trails only the US as the world’s leading producer of high-quality scientific research. Understanding how China’s ascent has affected worldwide production of scientific knowledge is therefore of key importance and a topic that would conspicuously repay further and deeper research. To make progress, this project focuses on a major reform of Chinese higher education during the late 1990s and its causal impact on research productivity elsewhere, in particular in traditional research powerhouses such as the UK. The project will answer this question by exploiting patterns of research connections between universities and drawing on a large database of scientific publications spanning three decades, thereby advancing our understanding of the forces driving scientific discoveries in modern economies.


Things aren't what they used to be!' Nostalgia in the Long Fourteenth Century

Dr Hannah Skoda

University of Oxford (St John's College), Fellow and Tutor in History and Associate Professor in History, History Faculty

Amount Awarded: £148,822.50

The fellowship would be used to complete a monograph on nostalgia in the long fourteenth century. The fourteenth century is often labelled the century of catastrophe - punctuated by deadly outbreaks of plague, it resonates frighteningly with our own. Yet a fairer assessment describes profound socio-economic, cultural and political changes which transformed ways of thinking. Many contemporaries responded in profoundly nostalgic terms.

My work explores nostalgia across the social spectrum in fourteenth-century England, France and Italy. In many ways a cross-cultural concept, nostalgia was articulated in powerful, lyrical and often subversive ways in the fourteenth century. My study will shed new light on the later medieval period, and show how appeals to a past golden age formed hard-hitting and potentially constructive critiques.

The research will be disseminated via seminar and conference papers, and communicated to a wider audience in a series of podcasts and public site-specific lectures.


Seinn Coisrigte anns a’ Ghàidhealtachd an Iar agus 'sna h-Eileanan Siar | Sacred Singing in the West Highlands and Western Isles

Dr Frances Wilkins

University of Aberdeen, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, The Elphinstone Institute

Amount Awarded: £60,254.40

Scotland is home to an incredible wealth and variety of sacred song traditions with unique and multi-dimensional histories. In North-West Scotland, Gaelic psalmody is recognised as a highly stylised and unique vocal tradition, and there are numerous other practices making a profound contribution to the cultural life of those living in the region. As with the Gaelic language some of these traditions are considered in steep decline, and the clear lack of ethnographic scholarship suggests an urgent need for research in this area. Drawing on recent interviews and field recordings and placing contemporary sacred singing within a historical framework, the fellowship will enable me to complete a ground-breaking ethnographic study whilst developing significant public engagement and networking activities. What can we learn about a society through these traditions, and with the decline in everyday use of Gaelic, how might these practices be best supported as we move into the future?


Advancing the careers of women refugees in the UK: an intersectional study

Dr Dulini Fernando

University of Warwick, Associate Professor, Warwick Business School

Amount Awarded: £120,331.07

Most refugees find themselves in low-wage unstable employment regardless of skill-sets. The situation is worse for women who are depicted as requiring more 'on the job' support than men and having little aspirations for progression. Drawing on a combined methodology of spoken and visual accounts, the proposed study focuses on understanding how gender intersects with ethnicity, age and social class in skilled women refugees’ career accounts in the UK. Through an intersectional approach, the study aims to challenge the homogeneous representations of refugee women as a deficit category, illuminate diversity and agency in their career experiences and contribute knowledge to develop effective policies and interventions to support women refugees in employment. I will use this fellowship to achieve theoretical and methodological development in my research, and advance the field of study on women’s careers by exploring the role of intersectional identities in how women achieve career success in challenging circumstances.


Mobile Conversations in Context (MoCo)

Dr Caroline Tagg

The Open University, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)

Amount Awarded: £114,051.30

The central role of mobile messaging apps in everyday communication requires us to address the anxieties which commonly accompany mobile conversations. These are prompted by people’s lack of access to the physical contexts in which conversational partners are located. Mobile Conversations in Context (MoCo) reveals how the contexts in which mobile messages are sent and received shape the rhythm, nature, and perceived quality of people’s mobile conversations. The project draws on a survey, interviews and analysis of messages to understand how people manage multiple conversational threads across apps, how their online interactions interweave with daily routines and physical activities, and the impact that the shifting offline context has on their online engagement. Its findings contribute to contemporary scholarship regarding the fluid ways in which networked individuals move between multiple online and offline spaces, and has implications for alleviating anxieties as busy individuals draw on messaging apps to juggle competing demands.


The Entangled Enoch: Comparing the Uniquely Ethiopic and Slavonic Enoch Texts and locating them in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Professor Grant Macaskill

University of Aberdeen, Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy

Amount Awarded: £131,002.40

The Parables of Enoch and 2 Enoch are often regarded as witnesses to a highly distinctive “Enochic” strand of ancient Judaism, one that may have been influential on early Christianity. The significance of these two texts continues to be debated, however, because both are preserved only in later Christian contexts, in mediaeval Ethiopic and Slavonic manuscripts, respectively. Consequently, tracing their development back to their origins has proven challenging. This project will analyse evidence that has not yet been considered in these debates, a set of distinctive parallels between the books that are not shared with the demonstrably early Jewish Enoch material preserved in 1 Enoch. These parallels suggest that the works are more closely related to each other than to the primary Enoch writings. I will trace this relationship to the distinctive contexts of Lower Egypt and Syria, in the early Common Era, where Jewish and Christian cultures were entangled.


The poetics of Protestantism: understanding the circulation and significance of Protestant Latin verse, c. 1550-1620

Dr Victoria Moul

UCL, Associate Professor in Early Modern Latin and English, Greek & Latin / English

Amount Awarded: £124,373.30

The proposed programme will for the first time investigate the large quantities of distinctively Protestant Latin poetry of c.1550-1620, combining traditional archival research and analysis of largely unstudied material with a comparative approach, exploring parallels with the use of English, now an international language, in religious verse today. Neo-Latin poetry is frequently treated as monolithically “classical” in style (and often associated primarily with Catholicism), but the Protestant poetics of this period saw a marked transformation of style and genre. The project will map these developments in Protestant Latin verse from England, Scotland, France and the Netherlands, in which many of the same texts circulated widely, in order to transform our understanding of the literary culture to which figures such as Philip and Mary Sidney and Hugo Grotius belonged; while drawing upon modern poetry to enhance our understanding of the use of an international poetic language in relation to religious identity.


Re-thinking African Politics: Ideology, Political Thought and the Power of Ideas

Professor Nic Cheeseman

University of Birmingham, Professor of Democracy, International Development Department

Amount Awarded: £137,796.00

The political science literature on Africa has blossomed recently. Yet it continues to overlook an issue fundamental to a rounded understanding of how the continent works: the importance of ideas and ideologies, and how they inform political activity. Consequently, the continent’s rich intellectual traditions – and the thought leaders who gave rise to them – have been marginalised. This fellowship builds on Cheeseman’s prior work on leadership and the power of ideas to demonstrate how ideologies shape political developments, and amplify the voices of African intellectuals. It does this through collaborative engagement with contemporary African thought leaders and citizens via a new research network, podcasts, newspaper columns, three-part radio show and interactive website. This will lead to the publication of a book, research note, journal article, and collaborative special issue, encouraging further research and contributing to efforts to emphasise Africa as a place of intellectual creativity and knowledge production.


Between Revolution and Reform: Europe in the Eleventh Century

Dr Charles West

University of Sheffield, Reader in Medieval History, Department of History

Amount Awarded: £98,221.60

Many historians agree that the eleventh century was a transformational period in European history, but they disagree over the nature of the transformation. Some emphasise a social transformation (the Feudal Revolution paradigm), others a cultural one (the Church Reform paradigm). This project will broker the differences by writing a new history of eleventh-century Europe organised by scale, from the village through towns and regions up to Latin Christendom. It will also adopt an expansive definition of Europe, using its scalar approach to build Muslim al-Andalus and the eastern Roman empire into the analysis organically from the beginning. As part of the research, I shall record short interviews with experts across Europe and beyond, which will be made available in edited form for the general public. The project will result in a book for Oxford University Press and an open access library of podcasts on eleventh-century European history.


Corporation as a good citizen: foreign investor obligations towards local communities

Dr Mavluda Sattorova

University of Liverpool, Reader in International Economic Law, Law

Amount Awarded: £132,371.20

There is a growing acknowledgment that globalized trade will only be sustainable if states commit to distribute economic gains broadly. However, such recognition is still missing in international investment law and policy which regulates multinational corporations. International investment law vests multinational corporations with extensive powers, but can it reign in corporations to create an economic order that would work for the many, not a privileged few? Can international law hold Amazon, Shell and Google responsible to societies and populations where their profits are generated? This project will interrogate the legal and political economy barriers for holding multinational corporations responsible towards local communities. Drawing on legal history and novel empirical case-studies, the project will critically explore the idea that international law governing foreign investors can be redesigned to maximize the positive contribution that investors can bring to societies that host them.


Eating the Other: Ananda Devi and the Politics of Consumption

Dr Amaleena Damle

Durham University, Associate Professor in French, School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Amount Awarded: £123,722.67

Practices of consumption are integral to the making and unmaking of our cultural worlds. The ways we interact with food – how we produce, assemble, share, and consume it – have much to tell us about communities, cultures, and the exercise of power. This project deepens understanding of a world in crisis by tracing connections between colonialist legacy, capitalist excess, racism, gender inequality, and ecological catastrophe at the heart of global appetite, food pathways, and patterns of eating. Focusing on the distinctive literary landscape of leading francophone Mauritian author Ananda Devi, the project scrutinises representations of the everyday and the extreme, charting the implication of histories of the organisation of labour in sugar plantations in contemporary practices of eating and incorporation. It offers ways to rethink flows of consumption, from the local to the global, in a disenchanted, politically divided, and ecologically precarious world haunted by colonial and capitalist appetites.


Politics in times of crises: Economic downturns and the blurring of democracy.

Dr Ruben Ruiz-Rufino

King's College London, Senior Lecturer Comparative Politics, Department of Political Economy

Amount Awarded: £130,377.37

The Great Recession triggered, especially in Western Europe, the collapse of establishment parties and the rise of populism and technocracy. Is democracy in industrialised countries ready to bear the push of another financial downturn? To address this question, this research uses a mixed methods approach to analyse how the adoption and implementation of financial bailouts within the Eurozone affected both citizens and parties. Recently, citizens in bailout countries updated their belief about how democracy works which translated into a sharp decrease in their levels of satisfaction with democracy compared to citizens in non-bailout countries. Such attitudinal shifts also affected political parties. Establishment parties managing or implementing bailouts were severely punished by voters as parties chose economic responsibility before political responsiveness. This framework is the basis of a monograph which will serve to inform various audiences in our understanding about the tension between economic integration and political representation in Western democracies.


The value of public engagement: Assessing its contribution and cost to research and policy.

Professor Richard Watermeyer

University of Bristol, Professor of Higher Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Higher Education Transformations, School of Education

Amount Awarded: £129,459.26

The programme will identify how an academic research and policy-making community value public engagement as an undertaking that is promoted for its contribution to making 'better' research and 'better' policy. While a significant investment has been made by higher education funders and government alike in embedding public engagement as a core part of the research and policy-making process, there is scant evidence of its 'true' value as calculated by contribution and cost. Moreover, despite a sustained track-record of public engagement initiatives in universities and policy-contexts, signs of any significant and lasting culture-change are few and far between, and there would appear many more public engagement agnostics than true-believers. Notwithstanding, public engagement continues to feature prominently in the context of government sponsored public consultation and deliberation exercises and in research evaluation and accountability measures. Yet despite these various platforms, the value of public engagement remains highly contested and uncertain.


Collective Self-Defence in International Law

Professor James Green

University of Reading, Professor of Public International Law, School of Law

Amount Awarded: £131,199.90

Collective self-defence is a legal justification for the use of military force, where a state (or states) defends another from attack. A well-known example is the defence of Kuwait in 1991.

There has been very little consideration of collective self-defence in scholarship, meaning there remain significant uncertainties as to its operation in theory and practice. Preliminary research (Green 2017) indicates that commonly assumed criteria for collective self-defence may not, in fact, reflect customary international law.

Understanding what international law requires is crucial both to limit abuses of collective self-defence and provide governmental decision-makers with clarity about when they can act. For example, the legal uncertainty surrounding current US-led operations in Syria, purportedly taken in collective self-defence, has heightened tensions between the US and Russia, and underpinned controversial (more permissive) governmental interpretations of the law regulating military force generally.

This project will be the first ever comprehensive examination of collective self-defence.


Exit from International Organizations: The Politics of Membership Suspensions and Withdrawals

Dr Inken von Borzyskowski

University College London, Lecturer, Political Science

Amount Awarded: £136,003.27

State exits from international organizations (IOs) have increased public concern due to Brexit, the announced US withdrawal from the WHO, its threatened exit from NATO, and Mali’s suspension from the African Union. IO exit may have negative effects for the leaving state and global order, endangering peace and prosperity. This project examines the drivers and consequences of IO exit. The argument highlights that exit is driven by institutional design and states’ geopolitical influence, and that exit can generate economic and reputational costs. This project uses statistical analysis of original data of 350 exit cases worldwide and detailed case studies (e.g. UNESCO). As the first comprehensive account of IO exit across space and time, this project counters conventional scholarship, media accounts, and advances our understanding of international cooperation. Recognizing these contributions, the American Political Science Association granted a "Best Article Award" to early output from this project.


Literary composition and consumption in medieval Ireland and beyond: the case of Acallam na Senórach

Dr Geraldine Parsons

University of Glasgow, Senior Lecturer, Roinn na Ceiltis is na Gàidhlig | Celtic and Gaelic, Sgoil nan Daonnachdan | School of Humanities

Amount Awarded: £121,119.25

For good or ill, few medieval literary works inspire elite military units today. The Irish-language Acallam na Senórach (c.1200), however, provides the motto of the Irish Army's Ranger Wing. Furthermore, this tale of the legendary hero Finn mac Cumaill has shaped the collective imaginations of the Irish nation, and, transnationally, of Gaelic-language-speakers, through folklore, vernacular/Anglophone literature, music. Although acknowledged as a high water-mark of Gaelic literary achievement, no full-length study of the text has been published. The primary output is a monograph that elucidates the transformative influence of this c.80000-word saga, primarily in relation to the Finn Cycle of which it forms the first significant stage. Drawing on a neglected manuscript witness and investigating its focus on homosocial martiality as a reason for its enduring appeal, this study advances our understanding of this significant work. A comprehensive Public Engagement programme explores the Acallam’s afterlives: as art and as national/community self-fashioning.


Polyglot Century: the Culture of Informal Language Learning in Victorian Britain

Dr Alexander Bubb

University of Roehampton, Senior Lecturer in English, School of Humanities

Amount Awarded: £104,178.86

The nineteenth century saw the arrival of mass literacy in Britain, and the emergence of a thriving autodidact culture whereby people with limited formal education acquired knowledge using digests, encyclopaedias and ‘how to’ guides. One aspect of this self-education revolution that remains understudied is foreign language acquisition, via primers like 'Elementary Lessons in Chinese' (1887), or periodicals like 'The Polyglot Magazine' and 'The Linguist'. I propose to undertake the first thorough study of this material, using as a case-study one of its lifelong enthusiasts: Thomas Hardy. In a programme of public engagement, I will bring the testimony of the past to a modern-day conversation with contemporary language learners about their practices and motivations. The fellowship will result in two research articles and an open-access database, with the aim of facilitating widespread research into Victorian mass language-learning, and the changes it provoked in the cultural outlook of the reading public.

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