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Institute of Advanced Study

Postgraduate Participation

One of the core aims of the Institute of Advanced Study is to encourage Durham's research postgraduate community to engage with the work sponsored by the IAS. The Institute provides research postgraduates with a unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with some of the most distinguished scholars from across the world and to access to a wide range of events that allows them to examine for themselves the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary research. Postgraduates are encouraged to attend the extensive programme of IAS Fellows' seminars and Fellows' lectures.

Encouraging postgraduate involvement in the Institute's annual theme is a major ambition of the IAS. The Institute has established a small fund to support research postgraduates organising events of a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary nature (see IAS Research Postgraduate Fund and application proforma below). Funding for 2015/16 is now fully expended; however a call funding applications will be made in 2016/17 (in early September 2016) for future applications. In addition, each year the IAS organises events focussed on academic publishing for PGRs. This has taken the format of either a lecture or specific bespoke workshop focusing on either monograph or journal article publication and is aimed at postgraduates making the transition between a thesis and a publication, considering for example the factors involved in the decision between book and article publication, reviewing and understanding the pressures of supply and demand, together with changes in the economy of print publishing and developments in digital publishing and the changing the academic publishing landscape.

The IAS's theme for 2015/16 is Evidence (see: During the course of each thematic year, the IAS can offer limited funding for a small number of postgraduate events. The lists below highlights the Institues most recent themes in 2014/15 (Emergence) and 2013/14 (Light):


  • 'Narrative and Agency”' Workshop - 22nd – 23rd September 2016. Contact Marzia Beltrami (MLAC) for further information

  • ‘Identifying Identity’Tenth Annual Medieval and Early Modern Student Association (MEMSA) Conference - 14-15 July 2016. Contact Jenine de Vries for further information

  • 'Monasticism and the challenge of the world: the western monastic experience, c. 1050-c. 1250' Conference 21-23 September 2016. Contact Stephanie Britton or Rosalind Green (History) for further information

  • Water and Religious Life in Roman and Late Antique Near East Workshop - 23 March 2016. Contact Eris Williams Reed (Classics) or Stephen Humphreys (Archaeology) for further information. For further details, and to book a place on this workshop, please visit the Events Calendar

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, and 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.

Contact for more information about this event.

IAS Research Postgraduate Fund

The Institute has a small fund available to support the activities outlined above. In addition the IAS can provide seminar space for research postgraduate groups who have a multi-disciplinary remit (i.e. comprises researchers from more than one department) and small sums of funding for postgraduate researchers who are organising multi-disciplinary events such as conferences or workshops. (see below). To apply to this fund, please complete the this online form and submit no later than 30 October 2015. Applications after this date will not be considered. If you have any questions please contact Linda Crowe.



In 2007/08, under the auspices of the IAS, the online postgraduate interdisciplinary journal called Kaleidoscope.was established. The journal is designed to foster communication between postgraduates in different disciplines and to promote excellence in interdisciplinary research. Since 2013 the journal is jointly supported by Ustinov College, Durham's exclusive postgraduate college. The latest issue within volume five was published in November 2013 (see: current issue).

IAS-badged seminars as part of the Ustinov seminar series

Once a term the IAS sponsors a Ustinov Seminar, which takes the Institute's annual theme as the focus for its papers. This year's seminars will take place as follows:

  • tbc

Contact or

IAS Research Postgraduate Group

Working within the IAS is a postgraduate research group that meets regularly , to hold discussions about topics that interest them and will benefit from multi-disciplinary perspectives. The group is an excellent opportunity to engage with the leading edge research of the IAS, and to network constructively with other postgraduates approaching similar ideas from different disciplinary angles. The group also receives invitations to the weekly in-house IAS Fellows' seminars, as well as advance notice of IAS lectures and future IAS activities.

How to Engage with the Activities at the IAS

To participate in the IAS-badged Ustinov seminar, email:

To participate in the IAS Research Postgraduate Group, email Pauline Edmondson with a request to be added to the group's mailing list.

If you are interested in attending one of the IAS Fellows' seminars email Pauline Edmondson to reserve your place (see current seminar schedule)

To submit a paper to Kaleidoscope, email the Chief Editor at:

If you are a member of a multi-disciplinary research group that would like access to the seminar room at the IAS to hold a seminar or meeting, email Pauline Edmondson with your request.

The IAS is a space and resource to explore ideas. If you are a postgraduate researcher keen to explore ideas through a interdisciplinary lens with other postgraduate researchers at Durham then make contact with the IAS.

2015-16 Annual Programme: Evidence

A number of additional events have been added to this year's programme. There are also a small number of date or time changes. Please review the comprehensive Events Calendar for all current details.