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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Postgraduate Research Feedback Session

15th June 2016, 15:00 to 17:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study , Marzia Beltrami, Yazid Haroun (School of Modern Languages and Cultures)

This event is open to research postgraduates, academics across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities

This two-hour session is the second of a series of termly meetings that aim to share good practice and promote collaboration among postgraduate research students across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The sessions will provide a friendly, interdisciplinary setting in which academics and research students from across the Faculty meet up to discuss and give oral feedback on work-in-progress authored by research students. Each session will discuss the work of up to two research students. After briefly introducing their work, students will take comments, suggestions and questions about their written work from those in the audience (who will have read it in advance). Each student will have a few minutes at the end to respond to comments or ask for clarifications. The length of the pieces of work to be discussed will be between 3,000 and 5,000 words. These could be an extract from a chapter of the student’s PhD thesis, a conference paper or an article (work-in-progress in all cases). Light refreshments (tea/coffee) will be served.

In this session, two students from the School of Modern Languages and Cultures will present work from their PhD thesis.

Marzia Beltrami’s work sample is entitled Plots as maps and plots as trajectories: a work in progress’.

Yazid Haroun’s work sample is entitled 'Thus Spake Interpellation, or Translation and Ideology’.

Reading material for this session will be circulated by email by Wednesday 1st June for those who register for the event. Capacity at this event is limited to 30, and registration is essential. To register follow this link.


  • Marzia Beltrami

Marzia Beltrami's doctoral research aims to explore the spatial dimension of narrative understanding, focusing in particular on the macro-structural element of plot. In order to pursue and substantiate such theoretical investigation, she draws on textual analyses carried out on the novels of three contemporary Italian authors, Alessandro Baricco, Andrea Camilleri, and Italo Calvino. In this paper Marzia Beltrami considers only the two first authors of her broader project, seeking to highlight the elements of continuity between the two cases.

How do we make sense of a narrative as a whole? How do we move from comprehending sentences, to periods, up to outlining characters and scenarios, until we finally “understand” a story? Her underlying argument is that the way readers make sense of stories is strongly connected to how individuals make sense of a space. The paper expands on this idea and suggests that narratives may rely on different strategies of sense-making, which can in turn be epitomised by different spatial ways to conceptualise plot. As to her first case study, Baricco’s 1991 novel City, she contends that plot works as a map to guide the reader’s way-finding, and therefore sense-making, through the interlaced storylines that compose the narrative; this is prompted by the title itself, which indeed works as a cognitive metaphor rather than as a thematic pointer (as mostly argued by critics). In her second case study, Marzia Beltramifocuses on Camilleri’s series of novels (1994-onwards) centred on the figure of Inspector Montalbano and she advances the hypothesis that, in crime fiction, plots work instead as trajectories within the virtual space conjured up by the investigation.

Far from rejecting the importance of temporality, her investigation rather seeks to re-evaluate spatiality not only as an object of narration but as a crucial dimension in the process of understanding. Without arguing that such space-oriented approach should be always the most effective for any narrative, it is however enticing to explore to what extent it can be fruitfully articulated in relation to a number of very different cases, in order to test its theoretical soundness and flexibility.

Keywords: narrative understanding, plot, space, cognitive mapping, crime fiction

  • Yazid Haroun

We have a special perception about how the concept of ideology is addressed in Translation Studies (TS) so far, and upon some reflections, we can see that the term, ‘ideology’ has been reduced to its political aspects. Hence, a passing remark is, all it requires to be given, that ‘ideology’ as a political set of ideas is used in a generic sense in which it stands in virtual correspondence to politics.

This paper argues that the concept of ideology encounters serious difficulties in TS, and in order to appreciate them, it is necessary to expound the concept more fully by introducing Althusser’s notion of interpellation. What we learn from Althusser is that societies are made of complex relations, and only through these relations, individuals emerge as subjects. Individuals do not determine their practices; rather their practices determine their conditions of existence. In fact, every individual, in our case, a translator, exists in a web of complex social relations which they produce the material conditions which s/he, as a subject, has to act upon. Althusser has been particularly concerned with the way ideology manifests itself upon society, how it operates and subjects individuals to its rules. His work offers us the possibility to question the recruitment process that precedes the translation practice, for instance: how does an individual become a translator? What makes an individual suitable for the translational task? We have given an active concern, in the paper, to Quran translators of the 21st century to show how this notion of interpellation can significantly contribute to broadening the discussion of ideology in TS.

Keywords: ideology; interpellation; Quran translators, state apparatuses.

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