Newton International Fellowship Awards 2022

Dr Mara Nicosia and Dr Alberto Rigolio

NIF22\220071

The Syriac Rhetorical Tradition between Greco-Roman paideia and Arabic Aristotelianism

Durham University

Award value: £115,500.00

My project aims to reshape our understanding of Syriac intellectual culture by investigating its engagement with late antique paideia (i) and with Aristotelian rhetoric (ii). Classical texts such as Isocrates, Plutarch and Themistius were available in Syriac translation from as early as the fourth-fifth centuries CE, but it is yet to be ascertained how Syriac Christians used these texts and how the curriculum of Syriac rhetorical studies emerged. I intend to achieve this goal through the first systematic study of Antony of Tagrit’s Syriac treatise “On Rhetoric” (ninth cent.). Antony, a teacher of rhetoric, was the first Syriac scholar to articulate rhetoric as an academic subject; his comprehensive treatise demonstrates engagement with the Syriac classics (Ephrem, Jacob of Serug), secular Greco-Roman culture (Homer, Plutarch, and the progymnasmata), Christian rhetoric (Gregory of Nazianzus) – but also with Aristotelianism more broadly. My study of Antony’s treatise will be necessary to reconstruct both the curriculum and the functioning of Syriac rhetorical teaching, but it will also be a crucial addition to our understanding of Aristotelianism in the broader context of Byzantium and Islam. The first part of my project aims to reconstruct Antony’s classroom, its curriculum, models and exercises, and its engagement with late antique paideia. The identification of Antony’s sources will provide unprecedented insights into the material that circulated in late antique schools across language boundaries (Greek, Syriac, Arabic). This work will enable me to investigate the complex relationship between Syriac rhetoric and Aristotelian rhetoric in the broader context of Byzantine and Islamic Aristotelianism, which will be the subject of the second part of the project. In part 1, I intend to carry out a close textual analysis of Antony’s treatise, its sources and its uses. This will be a pioneering study and a considerable advancement on existing scholarship. In part 2, I intend to use the technical vocabulary of rhetoric to assess the level of independence or reciprocal influence of the Syriac rhetorical traditions and Aristotelian rhetoric in Arabic. This work will build on the methodology that I have developed during my PhD and will transform Syriac rhetoric by showcasing the linguistic strategies (loanwords, calques, secondary formation, neologisms, etc.) employed by each tradition to create its technical vocabulary, testifying to the history of the circulation of words and philosophical concepts.


Dr Daniel Ferguson and Dr Joachim Aufderheide

NIF22\220137

Virtue and Method in Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics: An Intellectualist Approach

King's College London

Award value: £104,229.00

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has been the widely studied source for his ethical views. But this is not his only substantial ethical work. In his Eudemian Ethics (EE) Aristotle likewise tackles important questions such as, “What is happiness?” or “What is virtue?” He furthermore attempts to answer these questions in a methodical, systematic way. Despite this, however, scholars have not appreciated the EE in its own right until recently. If it has been considered at all, it has been more frequently used as a (dubious) tool for interpreting the Nicomachean Ethics. Because of this neglect, Aristotle’s main theses in the EE remain poorly understood. To remedy this, for my dissertation I developed the first comprehensive Intellectualist interpretation of the EE. According to this view, happiness in the EE is simply the intellectual activity of the “contemplation of God”—the contemplation of philosophical and scientific truths and explanations. For my next project, I wish to study the topics of virtue and method in the EE from my Intellectualist perspective. Aristotle offers a theory of character virtue in the EE and makes remarks that gesture towards a theory of the intellectual virtues. One part of my project will be to interpret these theories from my Intellectualist vantage point. This will involve tackling questions that my Intellectualist account gives rise to. E.g. How can Aristotle plausibly say that all of his virtues aim at promoting the contemplation of God? And why must the person who achieves happiness have all the character and intellectual virtues if happiness is just one kind of virtuous activity? Nobody has tried to answer these questions about the EE. But they are, as I see it, precisely the questions that ought to be asked of Aristotle’s Eudemian theory of virtue. The second part of my project will be to examine how Aristotle approaches ethical questions and what form he thinks answers to such questions take. Our understanding of Aristotle’s method (broadly construed) depends on our understanding of how he answers the aforementioned questions. What, for example, does ethics look like when the contemplation of God is the primary source of value for other goods? And how does Aristotle proceed throughout the EE to hit upon his accounts of things like happiness and virtue? My Intellectualist approach, which makes novel claims about Aristotle’s answers, will also likely result in an alternative interpretation when it comes to questions of method as well.


Dr Gabriel Bayarri and Dr Ainhoa Montoya

NIF22\220263

Discourse Polarisation: The Memetic Violence of the Latin American Right-Wing Populisms

School of Advanced Study, University of London

Award value: £119,250.00

In recent years we have seen in Latin America the emergence of populism, the advances of right-wing radicalism and the resurgence of extreme nationalism. This project aims to analyse the memetic communication of some of the most representative leaders of Latin American right-wing populist parties and how this communication exacerbates political polarisation and violence. Memes, through their simple and humorous discourses, legitimise forms of violence against political opponents, normalising and consolidating political polarisation. The objective of the project is twofold: first, to investigate how these discursive representations contribute to legitimising political violence against opponents, whom they stereotype, despise and dehumanise in order to construct them as “enemies”; second, to understand the lessons that the Latin American region brings to the analysis of global right-wing populisms and authoritarian political expressions. The project spans politics, media studies, and social anthropology. Building upon previous research I have conducted on the importance of political polarisation through memes, this study becomes particularly important as right-wing populisms — which have been mostly studied from an Anglo-Eurocentric perspective — are increasingly building ties with other regions, including Latin America, which require novel approaches. Based on a combination of digital research, online focus groups and short-term fieldwork, the project will: 1) detect the connotative and semantic dimensions that are related to the legitimisation of violence; 2) synthesise the main categories found in the memes studied through grounded theory; and 3) analyse the explanations of different segments of sympathisers of right-wing populism regarding the emotions and ideas that the memes elicit for them. The research outputs include: 1) the organisation of a virtual conference entitled “Social Media Communication and Right-Wing Populisms in Latin America and Beyond”; 2) two papers presented at international conference; 3) an edited book emerging out of the aforementioned virtual conference on right-wing populism, political polarisation and inclusive communication (Routledge); 4) a single-authored article to be published in a reputed Latin American journal (ÍCONOS Revista de Ciencias Sociales, FLACSO Journal); 5) an article co-authored with the Co-Applicant published in a reputed anthropology journal (Political and Legal Anthropology Review-PoLAR); 6) and two public-facing articles that disseminate research findings beyond academia (The Conversation; Open Democracy); 7) A dataset for potential research reuse. Overall, this project will provide an understanding of the global rise of right-wing populisms and authoritarian expressions without losing sight of regional histories and idiosyncrasies, while enabling comparison and tracing connections with its European manifestations.


Dr Julia Aramendi and Dr Amélie Beaude

NIF22\220310

Exploring locomotor and biomechanical diversity in the hominin fossil record based on long bone external morphology

University of Cambridge

Award value: £119,250.00

Because of their degree of preservation and potential in identifying new species from our family tree, teeth and cranial remains have long been the centre of attention in human evolutionary studies. As such, the rest of the skeleton is often ignored, especially when the remains appear in an isolated fashion or are highly fragmented. However, the postcranial skeleton is particularly relevant for understanding many behavioural and social aspects in our ancestors, and there is still much work to do in order to decipher postcranial variation throughout human evolution. The present project focusses on the analysis of key postcranial skeletal adaptations during different stages of human evolution between 4Ma and 40ka in different geographical areas in East and South Africa, and Eurasia. The main objective of the project relies on the study of long bone morphology to tackle long standing questions about the origins of some of the cornerstones of humankind (e.g., bipedalism, toolmaking). For that purpose, questions related to biomechanics, modularity & integration, and ecomorphology will be addressed by exploring the link between form and function in long bones, as well as the existing morphological relationship among limbs and within different regions of specific long bones. The study relies on a novel technique that combines cutting-edge methods to analyse the external morphology of the humeri, radii, femora and tibiae of living primates (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, macaques, modern humans) and fossil hominins (Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo) on the basis of digitised 3D models. The technique was tested during the applicant’s PhD and combines use of fixed and sliding landmarks, which altogether provide a detailed descriptive tool aimed at overcoming some of the difficulties resulting from the discovery of isolated, usually incomplete long bones in an increasingly complex evolutionary picture. Geometric morphometric studies will be performed upon the morphological data stored in the landmark configurations, followed by the application of multivariate statistics and artificial intelligence algorithms. The combination of these techniques and the additional calculation of shaft cross-sectional biomechanical properties will not only provide insights into morphological diversity in the samples under study, but it will also help comprehend the biomechanical significance of such variations. Hence, the present project based on the further development and application of a novel method to the study of the postcranium of extinct and extant primate groups is expected to contribute new evidence to the ongoing discussions about hominin palaeobiology, behaviour and locomotor diversity.


Dr Simone Toji and Professor Abdoumaliq Simone

NIF22\220344

Reconsidering urban narratives in Brazil: Central areas in São Paulo as problems and potentialities”

University of Sheffield

Award value: £119,250.00

Since the 1980s, when the central areas of São Paulo were abandoned due to other areas in the city being elected for financial, corporate and administrative operations (Frugoli Jr. 2000), the city centre in São Paulo has been continually rendered as an ‘urban problem.’ To ‘solve’ the ‘problem’, projects of ‘revitalization’ and ‘renovation’ have been implemented by several administrations over the decades. However, scholars and civil society have been continuously criticizing these urban interventions as acts of gentrification, in which the most vulnerable are thoroughly disregarded (Frugoli and Sklair 2009). The proposed project interrogates the characterisation of central areas of São Paulo as ‘urban problems’ by focusing on the complex network of actors involved with the local garment industry, showing how the informal and precarious dynamics of the latter have shaped the city centre historically and contemporarily. Combining a thorough literature review of historical and scholarly accounts with fieldwork observations, the project seeks to make ‘legible’ the everyday city (Amin and Thrift 2002) that emerges from the impermanent interrelations between migrants, entrepreneurs and suppliers of the clothing manufacturing, district and municipal authorities, as well as unions and local non-governmental organizations. In acknowledging the routines of the working poor and lower-middle-class residents of two neighbourhoods, Bom Retiro and Brás - in their journeys facing marginalization, economic uncertainty, and transient opportunities in São Paulo - the research will reconsider urban narratives that have overlooked these dynamics as legitimate urban processes. The project will provide insights into questions of migration, popular economies and urban intervention.


Dr Ben Fried and Dr Andrew Nash

NIF22\220506

Migrant Editors: Postwar Migration and the Making of Anglophone Literatures, 1967-1989

School of Advanced Study, University of London

Award value: £119,139.00

‘Migrant Editors’ will investigate the postwar transformation of London's publishing houses and magazines by immigrants from the wider Anglophone world. It will be the first book-length work to address this subject with the comparative scope and editorial focus that its actors and texts demand, illuminating migration’s galvanizing impact on artistic creativity and institution-building. How did immigrant-led publishing institutions develop through the decades of decolonization and shape later twentieth-century fiction, both British and more broadly Anglophone? Drawing on extensive archival research and original interviews, I will study the creative impact of four migrant editors and their institutions—Margaret Busby’s Allison & Busby publishing house, Sonny Mehta’s Picador fiction imprint, Carmen Callil’s Virago Press, and Bill Buford’s Granta magazine—on writers who span the diversity of English literatures, from Buchi Emecheta to Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie to Kazuo Ishiguro. ‘Migrant Editors’ will extend from the founding of Allison & Busby to the establishment of Granta Books, engaging with contemporaneous theorizations of migrant cultural production and contemporary theorists of world literature. In particular, I will build upon Stuart Hall’s reflections on the hybrid nature of diasporic identity, analysing mediation—between home and metropolis, text and institution—as a process that characterizes both the migrant experience and the editorial function. Throughout, I will address the creative consequences of migration—inseparable from embedded factors of race, gender, and class—for the works and their editors, exploring intersections and deviations across London’s literary communities. This project will result in a monograph, two academic journal articles, public engagement across several platforms, and an international conference on the theme of ‘Migrant Cultural Institutions’. By reshaping our understanding of the institutional background powering the postwar expansion of literatures in English, ‘Migrant Editors’ will shed new light on canonical authors, foreground a neglected dimension of British immigrant life, and help to define the emergent academic field of the Global Anglophone.


Dr Fabrizio Ansani and Professor Maria Fusaro

NIF22\220522

The Medieval Origins of Raw Materials Diplomacy: Saltpeter Trade between Italy and England in the Late Fifteenth Century

University of Exeter

Award value: £119,250.00

The main goal of this proposal is to completely revise the dynamics of late medieval war economy. It aims at a reinterpretation of strategic raw materials as marketable goods, providing a review of their commercial viability and business performance, trade regulations and incentive structures. This will be done by concentrating on the procurement of saltpeter, the irreplaceable, rare, and expensive component of gunpowder, indispensable for waging war at the time of the so-called ‘artillery revolution’. Focussing on the consistent trade flow between Renaissance Italy and Tudor England, the project will revise the conception of strategic materials in the fifteenth-century, demonstrating how contemporary governments differentiated military goods from industrial commodities. It will show how considering a commodity as ‘critical’ influenced the behaviour of authorities, thus demonstrating that policymakers developed and implemented an idea of military logistics diametrically opposite to the improvised strategies pursued by medieval commanders: the first Offices of Ordnance, established contemporaneously in Naples and London, were indeed the direct result of this rationalized planning. The project will also stress the late medieval origins of the cooperation between private commercial firms and states in providing equipment for the new standing armies. It will therefore analyse how merchant-bankers and craftsmen profited from, and served well, the realization of governmental grand strategies, detailing the crucial role played by these groups in helping rulers access larger pools of critical materials – assets which were no less important than financial revenues. The project considers ambassadorial negotiations as state interventions in the market, tracing the roots of the present-day ‘raw material diplomacy’ and highlighting the effects of the economic interdependence between fifteenth-century European powers.

English and Italian documentary evidence will be analysed through methodologies proper to the history of economics, war, and institutions, with the aim of offering a comprehensive view of a multifaceted subject – the centuries-old quest for strategic supplies – whose history is yet to be written. The detailed assessment of these data will form the basis of a monograph focused on fifteenth-century saltpeter exports from Southern Italy to England, Portugal, and Burgundy aimed at the 'New Studies in European History' series published by Cambridge University Press. The monograph will also reassess the early history of gunpowder technology, proving how the exploitation of a domestic source allowed a rapid advance in artillery weapons across medieval Europe.


Dr Liran Samuni and Dr Catherine Hobaiter

NIF22\220640

Chimpanzee Cultures: social learning and tool-use flexibility in savanna chimpanzees

University of St Andrews

Award value: £118,692.00

Cultural practices and the ability to manufacture and use tools are hallmarks of human societies, and until just a generation ago were considered the answer to the question of what makes us humans. To explore human behavioural uniqueness, we often rely on comparative studies of our extant relatives, especially chimpanzees, who show a variety of tool-use behaviours and a diversity of potential cultural traits. To identify cultural practices within a population, it is important to consider both the social and ecological impacts on behavioural expressions. However, given the time-intensive and detailed observations needed to inform cultural practices, studies investigating both the social and ecological drivers of tool use expressions simultaneously in multiple chimpanzee groups are rare. Here, I propose to study the cultural and ecological influences of a recently described tool-use behaviour - underwater algae fishing - in six chimpanzee groups living in the savanna environment of the Moyen Bafing National Park, Guinea. Algae fishing tool-use behaviour is ideal to address questions on cultural evolution, as it offers the rare opportunity to examine the impact of the social and physical environment on tool use ontogeny and expression. The ecology of algae fishing sites is temporally variable due to changes in water depth and algae availability, offering the opportunity to inquire whether individuals maintain group-specific variations despite the necessity to continuously adapt tool use behaviours to the changing environment. Further, since algae fishing locations are frequented by multiple individuals at once and repeatedly over time, detailed cross-sectional data can be collected and optimized using standardized camera trapping methods. Using camera trap footage collected over a 3-yr period and across 30 algae fishing sites, I will study within and between-group variation in tool use techniques and tool materials, the ontogeny of tool use behaviour, and the impact of tolerance on the successful acquisition of tool use. I will explore these tool use aspects while accounting for water depth, algae location, and availability of tool materials. Together these objectives will allow me to examine the existence of cultural traditions and the role of social learning mechanisms in the acquisition of skilled tool use, a prerequisite of cultural evolution as a conduit to understand the evolutionary pathway of human material culture.


Dr Nadezhda Mamontova and Professor Jonathan Oldfield

NIF22\220691

'Soviet Underground’: The Geopower, Resource-Making, and Relational Ontologies of Volumetric Cartography in the Arctic

University of Birmingham

Award value: £114,205.50

Geological knowledge as an instrument of power has recently gained attention in social sciences. Research has proposed the concept of geopower to explore the relationship between geological processes and (geo)political actions. Geontopower is exercised through both research and policy regarding resource extraction. Yet most of the research has focused narrowly on neoliberal forms of governance and their critique, overlooking Soviet experiments with geological matter, distinct geo-political policies and practices which continue to impact current political debates and strategies. This research intends to examine the role of geological maps in the production and conceptualisation of ‘resources’ in Soviet Russia, with the focus on the debates among leading Soviet geologists on the essence of geological matter and the ways of its cartographic imagination. It further discusses the relations between mapping and geopower regarding how disagreements in interpretations of the earth history, based on country-specific regimes of geological knowledge production, have stimulated recent debates over the borders, resources, and power control in the Arctic. In particular, this research will show how different regimes of geological knowledge production in tandem with environmental security and protectionist discourses affect current Arctic international policies, and what role geological maps play in this process. At a theoretical level, this research engages with the ‘geological turn’ in social sciences which calls for critical reconsidering the role of geological imagination in social processes. It is based on documents stored in the Russian archives, revealing the evolution of the notion ‘resources’, developed by Soviet academic and state agencies, and the analysis of state orders, strategies and protocols over the Arctic development and resource protection. Understanding how the notion of ‘resources’ is framed in different political and metrological regimes is relevant to a wide range of energy security, environmental and social questions we face as a result of the long-term history of resource exploitation in the Arctic.


Dr Leo Townsend and Dr Nat Hansen

NIF22\220695

Having Our Say: The Pragmatics and Politics of Group Speech

University of Reading

Award value: £107,130.00

Social groups of various kinds have the capacity to perform speech acts: they can recruit an individual to speak for them, or they can rally behind a unified message. When the company spokesperson announces its divestment from fossil fuels, or the protest group demands equal pay for all, these speech acts of announcing and demanding are attributable to the group itself, and they normatively commit the whole group, not simply the individuals involved in their production. It is the company that needs to follow through on its announcement, and the protest group that needs to demonstrate entitlement to its demands. Moreover, just as groups of various kinds are capable of performing speech acts, so too can this capacity can be impeded: group speech can be silenced, distorted or not given due consideration. For example, a group’s spokesperson might be threatened or intimidated into silence, or the demands of the protest group might be dismissed out of hand, because of the social identity of its members. Such cases are apt to be described as genuine injustices; it is not simply that group speech goes wrong, but that the group itself is wronged in the exercise of its linguistic agency. This research project is a systematic exploration of the pragmatics and politics of group speech—of what it takes for groups to speak (“pragmatics”), and how the speech of certain groups may be systematically empowered or disempowered (“politics”). The project aims to develop a broadly Austinian account of group speech, and use this account to characterise practices of group silencing and collective communicative resistance—that is, ways in which certain groups’ efforts to perform certain speech acts are unjustly disabled or dismissed, and how groups can seek to counteract such injustices. In the course of doing so, the project highlights real-world practices of group silencing that take place within legally-required consultation processes between States and Indigenous and rural communities, and examines some of the ways that these communities have sought to resist such treatment.


Dr Carlo Bottaini and Dr Dirk Brandherm

NIF22\220821

From Boom to Bust on the Atlantic Fringe – copper supply networks in the Irish Later Bronze Age

Queen's University Belfast

Award value: £119,250.00

For the entire duration of the Bronze Age (c. 2500-800 BC) metallurgy provided one of the most significant drivers for both technological and societal change. The ubiquitous and growing demand for copper, when copper ores only occur in some closely circumscribed geographical areas, shaped new exchange networks and established new communities of practice. Over the course of the later 3rd to early 1st millennia BC, exhaustion of some of the existing copper supply sources and the opening up of others led to periodic changes in regional and inter-regional socio-economic interactions. Often these changes in copper supply patterns align with wider transformations in the archaeological record. For Britain, the outline of these developments is now reasonably well understood, but the same does not hold true for many other parts of Atlantic Europe. For the Later Bronze Age of Ireland in particular, we still lack reliable data that could provide us with insights into changes in copper supply patterns. What we do know is that Irish copper sources dominated the supply of that metal across the British Isles for much of the Early Bronze Age, but that with the exhaustion of the respective ore bodies and concomitant decline of Irish copper mining, Ireland lost its position as a net exporter of copper and from the mid 2nd millennium onward would have had to import most of the copper feeding its domestic metalwork production. This is despite the fact that metalwork production and consumption continued to increase throughout the Irish Later Bronze Age. The present project aims to address this gap in our understanding. It will establish the sources of the copper consumed in Ireland after the island lost its role as the main supplier of that metal in the British Isles, and on this basis will reassess the island’s changing role in wider regional and inter-regional socio-economic interactions. The project will also provide a more reliable chronological framework for Irish Later Bronze Age metalwork and the copper supply patterns underpinning its production, which in turn will allow us to assess how changes in these patterns relate to other transformations in the archaeological record, concerning population density, land-use and settlement structures, as well as the emergence of powerful chiefdom-type polities that controlled crucial economic resources and trade. In doing so, the project will facilitate the placing of these developments in a wider Insular and European context.


Dr Taarini Mookherjee and Dr Mark Burnett

NIF22\220414

Shakespeare, India, Diaspora

Queen's University Belfast

Award value: £119,250.00

Despite its ubiquity in cultural studies, diaspora is a term infrequently employed in the flourishing fields of Global and Indian Shakespeare criticism. Yet some of the most globally visible adaptations of ‘Indian’ Shakespeare have been conceived of, funded by, or performed in the diaspora. In this project, I will be mobilizing theories of diaspora as a lens for the analysis of Indian Shakespeare adaptations in the UK, USA, and Canada, three countries with prominent and markedly different South Asian diasporic communities. These adaptations raise questions about nomenclature: how should we designate productions that resist neat categorization? What literary, cultural, and social milieu(s) should we draw on in our analyses? And what avenues of analysis do they offer for broader questions about the relationship between diasporic audiences and national identities? I argue that diasporic theory offers a useful vocabulary for analyzing these Indian Shakespeare adaptations for three reasons. First, while the diasporic context necessarily takes us beyond the physical boundaries of the nation-state, it remains inescapably linked in affective, political, economic, and social modes to the homeland. Therefore, by focusing on the Indian diasporic adaptations of Shakespeare, we can explore the ways in which these works respond to and reformulate the idea of the Indian nation. Second, as a liminal condition that is defined by loss, the diasporic experience affords an effective framework for thinking through the multiple histories of migration, legacies of colonialism, and intersections of global capital today. Finally, the diaspora offers a paradigmatic model for a theorization of adaptation; to be a member of a diasporic community is to literally inhabit a space of adaptation in which different languages, histories, and cultures intersect. In this project, I draw on a range of different genres and media to develop an expansive and grounded argument that moves beyond a nation-based approach to Global Shakespeare. Among my samples are Rajat Kapoor’s theatrical experiments with Shakespeare and clowns (2009–), the RSC’s Indianized 'Much Ado About Nothing' (2012), and 'We That Are Young' (2017), Preti Taneja’s diasporic and intertextual feminist rewriting of 'King Lear'. Over the course of the two-year fellowship, I plan to complete my second monograph, 'Shakespeare, India, Diaspora', convene an international symposium at Queen’s University Belfast, and co-edit, with Prof. M. T. Burnett, a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin on the topic of ''Shakespeare, Diaspora, and Performance, that will expand on the theories and practices excavated in the monograph.


Dr Benedetta Luciana Sara Carnaghi and Dr Helen Roche

NIF22\220373

Making Fun of the Fascists: Humour Against the Leader Cult in Italy, France, and Germany, 1922–1945

Durham University

Award value: £118,989.65

In 1925–1926, as the world’s first fascist dictatorship consolidated its power, there were four high-profile attempts on the life of the Duce, Benito Mussolini. As I show in my award-winning paper ‘Mussolini’s Four Would-be Assassins: Emergency Politics and the Consolidation of Fascist Power’, each attempt failed. Fascist propaganda responded to these assassination attempts by celebrating Mussolini’s bodily power and highlighting the contrast between the Duce’s virility and the weaker bodies of Fascism’s defeated enemies. This aspect of the ‘liturgy of fascism’ (Emilio Gentile) is well known. The starting point for my postdoctoral project is an examination of its unintended consequences: discourses celebrating the leader’s body provoked mockery by the regime’s opponents. Humour against the cult of the leader became a form of resistance to authoritarianism. Over time, jokes about the Duce evolved into but one part of a wider culture of using humour to undermine the regime’s authority and legitimacy. Examining the uses of humour in combatting European authoritarianism before and during the Second World War, ‘Making Fun of the Fascists: Humour Against the Leader Cult in Italy, France, and Germany, 1922–1945’ will provide the first monograph-length study of humour as a common strategy of resistance in Fascist Italy (1922–1945), Nazi Germany (1933–1945), and Vichy France (1940–1944). Based on archival records held principally in four countries (Italy, Germany, France, and Britain), it will combine the methodologies of comparative, micro, and ‘Alltagsgeschichte’ (everyday history), with those of the history of emotions. Fascist leaders present a fictitious narrative of imminent collapse, promising an imminent new order. By arguing that humour is a tool to deconstruct this fictitious narrative that fascist propaganda built around the cult of the leader, I will make a substantial contribution to all the fields whose methodologies I employ and to the history of authoritarianism more generally. The project is also grounded in an interdisciplinary theoretical approach pertaining to the theory of humour as resistance. Among others, Sigmund Freud develops this theory in his ‘Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious’, where he argues that the function of humour is to release excess energy. Freud viewed humour as the highest, most mature defence mechanism. My project contributes to the field by grounding such a theory in the lived experience of people under authoritarian regimes.


Dr Luciana Mabel Cordo Russo and Professor Helen Fulton

NIF22\220099

Charlemagne in Wales: The Transmission, Reception, and Translation of Charlemagne Narratives in Medieval Wales

University of Bristol

The legend of Charlemagne is one of the most popular sources of narrative in the Middle Ages, and one which substantially contributed to the configuration of medieval European culture and identity. Although a significant corpus of Charlemagne texts circulated in Wales, inspiring a series of translations in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, this material has received comparatively little attention and is still poorly known. This project thus intends to fill this gap in knowledge by systematically studying for the first time all the Charlemagne material produced in Wales with the aim of elucidating how Charlemagne texts were transmitted, translated, rewritten and interpreted for their new Welsh audiences. In addition, it will further our understanding of the place of Welsh texts within wider British and European networks of texts related to the legend of Charlemagne in north-western Europe, simultaneously providing insights on their connections, shared common elements and idiosyncrasies. The Charlemagne material comprises not only a cycle composed of four popular Latin and French texts translated into Middle Welsh, but also the little-studied Kedymdeithyas Amlyn ac Amic (The Friendship of Amlyn anc Amic). Moreover, all the references in thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth-century Welsh poetry will be identified and examined, since they offer valuable clues to the reception of the Charlemagne legend and the access to French-language material. The objectives of the project will be accomplished by the study of the textual transmission and material context of the tales (including new work on little-explored Welsh manuscripts), the formal and thematic comparative analysis of target and source texts, the analysis of the strategies of translation, the identification, where possible, of patrons, translators, and audiences, and the examination of the place of the Welsh texts within broader insular and European literary traditions. The project's global approach and multiple levels of analysis (philological, material, textual, historical) will be implemented by way of an innovative multidisciplinary methodology combining new methods in philology and manuscript studies, a linguistic-pragmatic approach for the identification of syntactical and stylistic patterns in the process of literary transfer, narratology, and medieval translation, framed in cutting-edge theoretical developments within the fields of comparative medieval literature, linguistic approaches to translation, and translation studies.

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