New academic year

New beginnings are a chance to take stock, to look back over the past year and look forward to the next one.

As I take up a professorship at the University of Birmingham, the past few months have been busy with moving house, finishing my book typescript, and tying up loose ends as I finished my post at the University of Sheffield. But amongst the busy day-to-day matters, two areas have stood out:

1. Modern Languages is still a buoyant area. Despite statistics of declining numbers of students studying GCSE and A-level languages, all of the applicants I have spoken to over the course of the admissions cycle have shown passion, dedication, and commitment to learning and developing their language expertise. Often in conjunction with other subjects such as Business, Politics, Philosophy, English, or History. They sense the opportunities that a languages degree opens up for them, and they are right.

2. Baudelaire is still a big hit. In 12 months researching intensively on the Baudelaire Song Project, we have uncovered thousands of song settings of his poetry in multiple languages right across the globe, from Norwegian death metal to world premiere performances of a new set of French mélodies. The project still runs for another three years as both I and the team move to Birmingham where it is clear new collaborations are already opening up.

There is much to be excited about for the year ahead, meeting and working with new students and colleagues, delivering new modules on French poetry and performance, coaching new cohorts of singers, and starting research for my next book as my latest one enters production with OUP. Busy times, but that’s proof enough that Modern Languages has much to offer as a profession.

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