Projects and grant capture

Our School is one of the country's top recipients of AHRC research funds and has earned well over £12 million in total grant income since 2008.

Among the most significant current examples of such projects are:

  • Professor Peter Pormann, 'Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms', funded by the ERC (€1.5m)
  • Professor Yaron Matras, 'Romani Project' (a multi-grant initiative drawing on income from the EU, the ESRC and the AHRC, totalling over £4 million)
  • Dr Peter Cave and Dr Aaron Moore, 'Remembering and Recording Childhood, Education, and Youth in Imperial Japan, 1925-1945', funded by the AHRC (£642,000)
  • Professor Thomas Schmidt, 'The Production and Reading of Music Sources', funded by the AHRC (£850,000)
  • Professor James Thompson, ‘In Place of War’ (a multi-grant initiative drawing on income from the AHRC and the Leverhulme Trust, totalling over £500,000
  • Professor Stephen Hutchings and Professor Vera Tolz, 'Reframing Russia for the Global Mediasphere', funded by AHRC (£885,125)

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Cross-Language Dynamics

This multi-disciplinary programme aims to develop new Modern Languages research paradigms capable of re-conceptualising the relationship between language and community for the benefit of a more open world.

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Poor Theatres: A critical examination of theatre, performance and economic precarity

This research explores the relationship between theatre, performance and poverty. It takes a historical perspective, and it also engages with contemporary theatre practitioners who are working with economically precarious communities. The website provides a platform for learning more about theatre projects that are embedded in social welfare or economic development initiatives, and theatre practice that deals with issues of economic security or economic justice.

The Poor theatres research project is led by Jenny Hughes (Senior Lecturer in Drama), working collaboratively with theatre practitioners and organisations and a postdoctoral researcher. The full title of the research project is 'Poor theatres: a critical examination of theatre, performance and economic precarity'. It takes place from February 2014 to January 2016, and is supported by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship [Grant Ref: AH/L004054/1].

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Mapping Literary Space: Italian Intellectuals, Literary Journals, Publishing Firms 1940-1960

Grant holders: Dr Francesca Billiani and Dr Daniela La Penna (Reading)
Funding agency: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of award: £191, 817
Research fellows or assistants: To be appointed

Summary of project

The project aims to conduct research on the patterns of organization, cultural activity, and aesthetic programme of literary intellectual networks in Italy in a period of Italian history (1940-1960) characterised by radical historical, political, social and cultural changes. It will do so through a detailed study of a range of literary journals, differing widely in life-span, geographical locations, political allegiances and aesthetic interests. This project builds on the hypothesis that periodicals in general, and elite in particular, have always serviced new writing; introduced readers to new artistic movements across continents; engendered debate; disseminated ideas; and more importantly sought to challenge settled aesthetic and cultural assumptions. This project, however, will not only look at the ways in which Italian intellectuals and writers traditionally verbalised cultural discourses and aesthetic concerns in elite journals in order to establish or counter forms of cultural hegemony; it will also assess and describe the ways in which intellectual networks used (a) literary journals to create sites for discussion and dissemination of their aesthetic, literary, and political concerns to national and transnational audiences, (b) how they sought to disseminate these ideas through strategic alliances with commercial and institutional outlets, such as emerging or established publishing houses of the day, and (c) how intellectuals and writers used literary journals to map their new public identity and define their own space for public intervention.

Publications and other outputs

  1. A series of inter-connected publications on literary journals and publishing houses in post-war Italy: one monograph, one edited collection and three articles.
  2. A database where detailed and rigorous information on the single journals and on the catalogues of the publishing houses can be cross-linked and will be made available.
  3. Two workshops to promote an international scholarly network on journals and publishers for further interdisciplinary investigations.
  4. Two exhibitions of rare printed material to engage the wider community on the role played by periodical communication and translators in fostering change and intervention.

Existential constructions: An investigation into the Italo-Romance dialects

Grant holder: Dr Delia Bentley
Funding agency: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of award: £535,927

Collaborating institutions

The project involves the collaboration with top dialectologists at eleven Italian Universities: Bergamo; Calabria; Cassino; Florence; Lecce; Naples Federico II; Padua; Palermo; Roma 3; Venice; Turin.

Summary of project

Our project provides an in-depth analysis of a multifaceted linguistic phenomenon (existential constructions) based on the novel evidence offered by an increasingly vulnerable language family, Italo-Romance. Existential constructions (e.g., 'there is hope') have long fascinated linguists of all theoretical persuasions. The bulk of the existing literature has focused on the Definiteness Effects, i.e., the restrictions on the principal participant ('hope', in the example provided above). In many languages, this can only be grammatically definite (e.g., introduced by 'the') under strict conditions. An example of this is the English structure 'there's the student', with unstressed 'there', which is only grammatical and sensible if 'the student' is intended as a member of a list, possibly the only one.

Our project sheds new light on the Definiteness Effects while also uncovering features of existential constructions which have so far been neglected. Building upon the work of the Stanford-Berkeley Existentials Group (Beaver, Francez, Levinson 2005, Mikkelsen 2002), we test the hypothesis that the Definiteness Effects derive from the interaction of restrictions on the subject of the clause. Our previous work (Bentley 2009, 2010) indicates that, in Romance, the restrictions on the subject constitute a markedness hierarchy whereby topicality combines with definiteness (identifiability and specificity). Thus, if the only participant of an event is not topical (i.e., it is not what the proposition is about and cannot be taken for granted) and lacks one or more of the other features, it is unlikely to be encoded as a subject. Rather, it will figure in an existential structure. Whereas cross-linguistically the Definiteness Effects are explained by the properties of canonical subjects, the manifestations of the Definiteness Effects vary in accordance with the language-particular treatment of subjects (position in syntax, cross-referencing or agreement on the verb, case...).

The Italo-Romance dialects offer an ideal basis to test our hypotheses, since they display a range of different diagnostics of subjecthood. We shall analyse the spread of the Definiteness Effects among these dialects, and how they correlate with the language-particular treatment of the subject. We shall also investigate further the rationale of the Definiteness Effects and how this compares with the semantic and pragmatic restrictions on the subject. The said dialects also offer evidence which suggests that there are significant features of existentials which have not yet received the due attention. In particular, the counterparts of English 'be' (from Latin ESSE/STARE or HABERE) and 'there' (ci, vi, ghe, n(d)e, (n)ke, ddoi...) can be neutral or contentful (e.g., deictic, indicating location, or evidential, indicating hearsay). The investigation of these forms will enhance the current understanding of the meaning / grammar interface in existential structures.

To collect our evidence we shall conduct extensive fieldwork in Italy, availing ourselves of the advice and the support of an international pool of experts in dialectology. Our objectives are both empirical (to create an atlas of the existential constructions of Italo-Romance) and theoretical (to shed new light on the discourse-semantics-morphosyntax interface in existentials). Our project will also have an impact outside the academic research community, in that it involves the creation of materials which will be used for didactic and other cultural purposes both in the UK and in Italy. With our research we thus aim to contribute to the preservation and the fostering of dialect culture.

Publications and other outputs

A downloadable dataset; an authored monograph; an edited book (the Proceedings of the Manchester Symposium on Existentials, June 2012); a collection of children's stories in ten Italo-Romance dialects (DVD and booklet of transcriptions).


Our project will have an impact outside the academic research community, in that we shall collaborate with cultural institutions which are committed to the preservation of dialect culture (for example, the Centro di Studi Filologici e Linguistici Siciliani, Palermo). In addition, we shall produce materials (a downloadable dataset and a DVD with recordings of dialect children's stories, accompanied by a booklet of transcriptions) which can be used for didactic and other cultural purposes both in the UK and in Italy. These materials will be distributed to universities, cultural institutions, and the local authorities of the areas where the fieldwork will have been conducted.

The project web site is available via the link below:

Mediating post-Soviet difference: An analysis of Russian television representations of inter-ethnic cohesion

Grant holders: Professor Stephen Hutchings and Professor Vera Tolz (Co-investigator)
Funding agency: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of award: £426,395
Research fellows or assistants: Dr Sue-Ann Harding

Summary of project

The project for which this award was won addresses Russian state television's approach to ethnic tension, combining the complementary expertise of Professors Stephen Hutchings and Vera Tolz, specialists in, respectively, post-Soviet media studies and ethnicity and Russian nation building. It will contribute both to our grasp of an urgent issue in transition countries, and to the study of the contemporary media's role in fostering community cohesion, explaining how one of the world's most complex societies confronts the dual impact of globalisation and post-imperial nation building. The project will break innovatory interdisciplinary ground, testing general conceptions of the media's nation building function within multicultural societies against the particular situation obtaining in contemporary Russia, where matters are complicated by (a) tensions underlying post-Soviet conceptions of multiculturalism, (b) the rise of post-imperial ethnic conflict and nationalist extremism, (c) recurrent suspicions of foreign interference, (d) struggles for the redistribution of resources among post-communist elites, and (e) the absence of effective consensus-building mechanisms.

Publications and other outputs

Project findings will be disseminated through a monograph, 3 journal articles, a journal special issue, an international conference and a downloadable dataset of news catalogue entries.


Knowledge transfer will consist of reports presented to relevant NGOs and government departments, including the Foreign Office, and a series of public debates involving academics and journalists from Russia and the UK.

The project website is available via the link below:

Queer cinema from Spain and France: Translation of desire and the formation of transnational queer identities

Grant holder: Professor Chris Perriam
Funding agency: AHRC
Amount of award: £225,741
Co-investigator: Dr Darren Waldron (leading on audience research)
Research fellow: Dr Ros Murray

Summary of project

Our project focuses on transnational sexualities, their representation in cinema, and how they are inflected when transmitted and viewed in different video media. We will be looking at Spain and France as sites of production, distribution and reception of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) films; we will also survey film festivals, audiences and video content consumers in Britain. Building on previous film historical work on the processes of transnationalization of cinema and on recent shifts in thinking about queer cultural identities, we aim to examine specific cases of the trans-European traffic of films and ideas about cinema as well as ideas about queer culture. One of our main questions is that of the translatability of formations of desire through the moving image and its associated processes, and we will be thinking though how the movement and reception of films and filmmakers across national, cultural and linguistic lines feed into the social construction of non-normative identities. So questions of audience and critical reception and cultural translation will be related to questions of taste, fantasy, desire and values; theoretical ‘readings’ of the films and associated processes of production and transmission are going to be underpinned and informed by an array of audience-research based interventions designed to map the responses of queer interpretative communities and their interaction with cinema, broadly understood.

As the project progresses, we will be analysing the existing corpus of films and (print and on-line) responses but, more importantly, tracking new productions, festival programming and DVD and on-line distribution trends. Above all we will be connecting with local LGBTQ communities, groups and audiences through collaborative volunteering, interviews, on-line questionnaires and blogs, festival-based presentations in France, Spain and Britain, and variants on focus group discussion.

We will be working in and out of Catalan, English, French, and Spanish, on a range of materials from radical documentary through popular short-format entertainments to feature-length dramas, on-line, off-disc, and in film theatres and archives.


As well as giving conference papers (two or three in each year of the project), and a range of local presentations and discussion groups, the team will be producing two monographs and seven peer-reviewed articles or chapters, keeping the project linked to unfolding theoretical debates and to the still fast developing field of queer cinema in Europe.


Our project is, obviously, concerned with audiences and individual subjects beyond a traditionally scholarly readership or specialist set of audiences. The planned festival-based presentations in France, Spain and Britain will target local audiences in a number of ways to further comparative debate within interested collectives on issues of queer identity and citizenship. Project-related screenings at Cornerhouse, Manchester and engagement with local LGBTQ groups and organizations at various sites in France, Spain and the UK will facilitate collaboration with broader programmes and campaigns concerning self-affirmation, community involvement and quality of life.

The grammar of multifunctionality

Grant holder: Dr Andrew Koontz-Garboden (PI) and Dr Yuni Kim (co-PI)
Funding agency: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of award: £165,987
Collaborating institutions: Dr Itamar Francez (University of Chicago) and Professor Chris Kennedy (University of Chicago)

Summary of project

The project explores the linguistic phenomenon known as multifunctionality, which occurs in language any time that a single element (whether a word or a unit smaller than a word) is used in more than one distinct context, as with, for example, the suffix --ka that appears on nouns in Ulwa to indicate possession. It appears not only on the possessed noun in a noun phrase like Andrew balauh-ka `Andrew's table', but also on adjectives, as in pau-ka `red'. If this happened only in Ulwa, we might rightly think it an accident, but there are a number of other unrelated languages that show the same kind of use of possessive morphology on adjectives, Hausa (Chadic; Nigeria), Huave, Moseten (Mostenan; Bolivia), among them.

We aim to show through the detailed study of multifunctionality in possessive morphology, that phenomena of this kind have been underappreciated and have serious consequences for formal linguistic architecture. We accomplish this through breadth and depth studies. In order to better understand its extent and variation, we cull the linguistic literature for additional instances of multifunctional use of possessive marking across languages, building a publicly-accessible wiki to display them and access them for our own purposes (and for use by anyone interested in the public, academic or otherwise). In order to understand the multifunctionality in greater depth, we undertake detailed fieldwork on it in Ulwa, developing an analysis of possession in the context of Ulwa grammar that has the multifunctional use of the possessive marker as one of its explananda. We then explore the consequences of this analysis, both internal to Ulwa, and crosslinguistically. Internal to Ulwa, we carry out additional fieldwork on constructions in the language that are related to adjectives, specifically comparative constructions (e.g., Kim is taller than Sandy) and degree-based constructions (e.g., Kim is 6 feet tall), since our analysis of possession with adjectives involves a treatment of them in Ulwa whereby they have a fundamentally different meaning from their English counterparts, thereby raising questions about the analysis of constructions involving them. Beyond Ulwa, we undertake detailed fieldwork on Huave and Hausa to better understand the nature of the multifunctional use of possession in these languages and the extent to which it can or cannot be analyzed similarly to Ulwa.

The project will demonstrate, through this detailed case study, the consequences of taking multifunctionality seriously in formal linguistic analysis. Beyond this, it also has implications for the understanding of the nature of possession and crosslinguistic variation in the nature of the use of possessive marking. It will further contribute valuable data and analysis to developing efforts to understand the nature of variation in adjectival semantics crosslinguistically. Additionally, the data collected on Huave and Ulwa, both highly endangered languages, will contribute to the documentation of these languages at the same time that they shed light on the nature of language more broadly.

Partial rhetoric: Florentine civic republicanism and the premodern state

Grant holder: Professor Stephen Milner
Funding agency: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of award: £85,493

Summary of project

This project seeks to examine the renaissance of rhetorical civic republicanism in late medieval and Renaissance Florence by placing it within the wider social context of the commune's verbal economy. The proposed output, a single authored monograph, seeks to question the democratic credentials of contemporary Republicanism by revealing the historical roots of its exclusivity and intolerance of difference. My principal thesis is that civic life in Florence was articulated in only two ways: as consensus, community and harmony or as strife and factionalism. The aim is to demonstrate that late medieval and Renaissance Florentine political culture had no means of conceiving internal conflict within the bounds of constitutional legality and was incapable of sustaining 'parties' in the modern sense. Such a reading ruptures prevailing discourses of deliberative democracy that trace their origins to Greece and Rome and, via the Italian city-states, to the Atlantic republicanism of modern day America. I argue that Florentine republicanism, with its exclusivity and intolerance of difference, is presented as pre-party and hence resolutely pre-modern.

Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space

The Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies (CTIS) has been awarded a large Research Grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. CTIS members Professor Mona Baker (Principal Investigator) and Dr Luis Pérez-González (Co-investigator) will work with Professor Peter Pormann (Lead Co-investigator, Classics and Graeco-Arabic Studies, University of Manchester) and Dr Saturnino Luz (Senior Research Associate, University of Edinburgh) on a 4-year project that will investigate two sets of interrelated issues:

  1. The historical evolution and transformation through translation of two constellations of key concepts in political and scientific thought that can often be traced back to the ancient Greek world, focusing on three historical lingua francas (Arabic, Latin and English) and seminal moments of change in the reception and reproduction of translated texts and their meanings by subsequent readerships.
  2. The ways and means by which civil society actors involved in radical democratic groups and counter-hegemonic globalisation movements contest and redefine the meanings of such cultural concepts today.

For both strands of analysis, the study will build large, diverse electronic corpora of Greek, Arabic, Latin and English and develop a range of open-source tools for corpus analysis and visualisation that harness the power of the computer to process, compare and visualise patterns across these very large textual repositories.

The project team will be supported by an Advisory Board consisting of Manchester-based academics: Dr Guyda Armstrong (Italian Studies), Professor David Langslow (Classics), Dr Maeve Olohan (Center for Translation and Intercultural Studies), Dr Matthew Philpotts (German Studies), Professor Myriam Salama-Carr (Center for Translation and Intercultural Studies), Professor Jacqueline Stacey (English and American Studies) and Dr Andreja Zevnik (International Politics).

The following positions will become available under this award:

  • PhD Studentship in Corpus-based Translation Studies and History of Knowledge Transfer in the 19th/20th Century (starting in September 2016, to be advertised shortly);
  • 2 Postdoctoral Research Associates (starting in September 2016 and January 2017).

Further information

If you would like to receive updates on the project activities and events, please contact Ralph Brown, quoting 'Genealogies mailing list' as the e-mail subject.

Reframing Russia for the Global Mediasphere: From Cold War to 'Information War'?

Grant holders: Stephen Hutchings and Vera Tolz
Funding agency: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of award: £885,125

Summary of project

An AHRC funded collaboration between the University of Manchester and The Open University, the Reframing Russia project provides new, inter-disciplinary insights into the post-Cold War global media environment through an in-depth case study of one of its most controversial actors, RT (formerly Russia Today). It investigates RT’s audience strategies, its ability to reshape journalistic value systems and its efforts to shape the post-Cold War world. The project analyses how RT’s broadcasting modes, social media engagement practices and institutional culture help to mediate and legitimise the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda and reshape Russia’s external image.

Project website:

The Leverhulme Trust

Regional language variation and the indexical field

Grant holder: Dr Erik Schleef
Funding agency: The Leverhulme Trust
Amount of award: £138,896
Research associate: Will Barras

Summary of the project

The main goal of this study is to determine how locality influences the composition of the indexical fields of a set of sociolinguistic variables. Linguists seek to gain a better understanding of what language users know and intuit about the social meaning of variable features in order to explain how they are used. Building on interview data collected in London and Edinburgh and complementing them with new perception data, this project applies the concept of the indexical field to regional variation in Britain. This concept can shed light on such variation by determining representations of potential social meanings of variable features. This project studies five sets of non-standard and standard linguistic features as used by adolescents in London and Edinburgh. It determines the features' variable social meanings in (1) perception tests, (2) focus groups, and (3) conversations, and triangulates these data to construct indexical fields for these features in both cities. This will provide a better understanding of stylistic and regional variation. It will explain the varying potential social meanings of these features and move the indexical field from a speculative construct to an empirically based framework.

Publications and other outputs

Project findings will be disseminated through conference presentations, three journal articles and a website for an academic as well as a non-academic audience. Impact on and engagement of non-academic audiences will include an information pack and a press release.

Bertolt Brecht: A life

Grant holder: Professor Stephen Parker
Funding agency: The Leverhulme Trust
Amount of award: £119,618
Collaborating institutions: Brecht Archive, Berlin and Brecht Research Centre, Augsburg

Summary of project

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is one of those rare iconic figures whose relentlessly energetic renewal of art, achieved through the extraordinary vitality of his iconoclastic challenge to the old, has left its indelible mark on modern theatre and poetry. In the decades after his death, Brecht's achievements came to be viewed alongside those of other modern icons such as Picasso in painting and Wagner in music. Their works and personalities have proved a source of enduring fascination and controversy, provoking responses that range from adulation to vilification. The fiercely competitive world of the arts market demands that their status should be subjected to regular scrutiny. No other iconic artist has attracted such extremes of adulation and vilification as Brecht. The enfant terrible of the Weimar Republic, he courted controversy with his aggressive attacks upon the 'bourgeois' institution of the theatre. He spent the Nazi years in exile as a bitter and outspoken enemy of the regime. In US exile he was viewed as an apologist of Stalin, in Moscow as a Trotskyist. In the Cold War, there was outrage in the Federal Republic of Germany when he opted for the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR). Brecht was boycotted in the Federal Republic, while East Berlin became the platform for Brecht's transformative impact on poetry and world theatre with the dazzling productions of the Berliner Ensemble.

Latterly, Brecht's reputation has been challenged on account of his exploitation of female collaborators and as a Marxist who opted for the failed GDR in the Cold War. These challenges to his reputation are the starting-point for my project, which will scrutinise Brecht's life and art afresh after the Cold War. In recent years, a new material base for research has been created in Germany with the 30-volume edition of Brecht's works, the two-volume chronicle of his life and the five-volume Brecht handbook. I aim to distil this and other materials into a new Life, which will strip away layers of ideological preconceptions, myths and legends in order to recover Brecht the artist and to re-evaluate his political positions. Particular attention will be paid to the pre-Marxist Brecht during his early years in Augsburg and Munich, when he revered the playwright and poet-performer Frank Wedekind and worked with the comic actor and writer Karl Valentin. These relationships and Brecht's early works reveal a vitalist, even Nietzschean, artist.

Recovery of that figure will be a key concern. By working against the grain of the 'inevitability' of his conversion to Dialectical Materialism, my study will engender a fresh emphasis upon such seminal artistic experiences. This emphasis yields a first working hypothesis to be tested in my study, namely that throughout Brecht's life the vitalist artist co-existed, chameleon-like, with the practitioner of the Marxist dialectic. This fresh emphasis will inform my understanding of the dynamic of Brecht's artistic trajectory. My aim, then, is to produce a biography in English that is at once up-to-date materially and conceptually, discriminating in artistic and political judgements, and apt to recover Brecht's beguiling personality.

Publications and other outputs

Preliminary studies dealing with Brecht's medical history are being prepared for publication. They will be followed by the publication of the literary biography in c 2013.

Alcoranus: the medieval Latin Qur'an

Grant holder: Dr Anthony Lappin
Funding agency: The Leverhulme Trust
Amount of award: £27,445

Summary of project

Edition and translation of Robert of Ketton's 1143 translation of the Qur'an, produced as the centrepiece of the Corpus cluniacensis for Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, whilst Robert was working, as he writes, "somewhere on the Ebro". This is the first surviving - and for some authors, the best - translation of the Qur'an, and gives an excellent insight into how 12th century Muslims understood their sacred text. Robert's translation remained, for several hundred years, the translation of the Qur'an for western readers, and was heavily annotated, both before its publication from Cluny, but also in the centuries after. It has not been edited since Bibliander's second printing of the text in 1550.

The Economic and Social Research Council

Variation and change in the vowel system of Manchester

Grant holder: Dr Maciej Baranowski
Funding agency: The Economic and Social Research Council
Amount of award: £82,272.42

Summary of project

The goal of the project is to elucidate of the mechanisms of language change and dialect differentiation by examining changes currently in progress in Manchester's vowels. This will result in the first systematic description of Manchester's accent, and will provide the basis for comparisons with other large urban centres of the UK. The study will investigate the patterns of variation within the community, i.e., the ways in which Mancunians' speech varies depending on age, gender, social class, neighbourhood, and ethnicity. It will be based on a sample of 132 speakers representing the socio-economic spectrum of the city across different generations and different neighbourhoods, including members of the two largest ethnic minorities in Manchester, South-East Asian and Black Caribbean. The informants' spontaneous speech will be recorded during interviews lasting one hour. This will be supplemented by the reading of a word list. The recordings will be analysed auditorily and acoustically. The measurements obtained through computer-assisted acoustical analysis will be subjected to a range of multivariate statistical analyses. Their results will help to assess the role of extralinguistic factors, such as ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, neighbourhood, and age, in the creation of the linguistic variation found in Manchester.

Whose social meaning? Age and the indexical field

Evidence from perception and conversational style in Manchester

Grant holder: Dr Erik Schleef
Funding agency: The Economic and Social Research Council
Amount of award: £79,931
Research associate: Michael Ramsammy

Summary of Project

This project investigates a selection of sociolinguistic variables in Manchester English. It explores their social meanings in particular in relation to the factor of age. Perception tests and focus groups will be used to uncover social meanings associated with variation in the t-sound in words like WHAT, the th-sound in words like THINK, the vowel in words like STRUT, the word ending –ING and the final vowel in words like CITY. Social meanings will shed light on how these variables are used by different age groups in Manchester. The perception and focus group data will then be complemented by conversational data in order to construct indexical fields for the variables under investigation. Indexical fields are visual representations of potential social meanings of variable features. They can be used to provide a summative explanation for age-related and stylistic variation in Manchester. This study seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the potential social meanings of a set of frequently occurring non-standard and standard linguistic features in Manchester and, by extension, what do their indexical fields look like?
  2. How does age influence the composition of indexical fields?

Publications and other outputs

Project findings will be disseminated through conference presentations, two journal articles, a press release and a website. The project team will also produce an information pack and organize a lecture series providing a general contribution toward raising awareness of the social meaning of vernacular variants and their differing interpretation by various groups of people.

Making Peacekeeping Data Work for the International Community

Grant holders: Professor Roger Mac Ginty, Dr Tanja Müller, Professor Bertrand Taithe & Dr Celia Russell
Funding agency: Economic and Social Research Council
Amount of award: £1,000,000
Research fellows or assistants: Dr Zuhair Bashar, Dr Allard Duursma & Dr Roisin Read

Summary of Project

HCRI hosts a major ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded study entitled 'Making Peacekeeping Data Work for the International Community'. The project will last three years from June 2014 and will look at how the UN can better interrogate the data that its peacekeeping missions collect.

Using incident data from the UN and African Union mission in Darfur, the project is concerned with the information gathering techniques that international actors have during missions, and how this information reflects (or does not reflect) the experiences of local communities. Professor Roger Mac Ginty is the Principal Investigator on this qualitative and quantitative project, and works alongside Dr Tanja Muller, Professor Bertrand Taithe and Dr Celia Russell.

The project involves fieldwork, the deep interrogation of an existing database, cooperation with the humanitarian policy world, as well as theory and concept building. The ultimate aim is to help the UN and other international organisations and humanitarian INGOs better use the data available for them to assist effectiveness.

ES/L007479/1 - Making Peacekeeping Data Work for the International Community.

British Academy

The Manchester digital Dante project

Grant holder: Dr Guyda Armstrong
Funding agency: British Academy
Amount of award: £7,498

Summary of project

The Manchester Digital Dante Project is a British Academy-funded collaboration between the Italian Department and The John Rylands Library.

This pilot project will digitize three culturally significant incunable editions of Dante's poem, the 1477 Venice, 1478 Milan, and 1481 Florence editions. Printed within four years of each other and produced at a time when editorial conventions in the new medium of print were still extremely fluid, these three editions express very different approaches to and intentions for Dante's poem in their format, layout, and accompanying paratexts.

Complete digital facsimiles of the three books will be prepared during the period of the project (February 2009- August 2010) and will then be made publicly available via a dedicated project website.

Dante studies in Manchester has a long and illustrious history within and beyond the University. Italian has been taught at the University since 1884, while the Manchester branch of the Società Dante Alighieri was founded in 1906 and was one of the first to be set up outside Italy.

The John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester, recently granted National Research Library status, has outstanding holdings in the early Italian print book, and its Dante collection is particularly renowned. The coverage of the holdings is exceptional: the JRUL holds 14 of the 15 editions printed before 1500, and in total, 39 of the 44 editions of the Divine Comedy printed in Italy before 1629, often in multiple copies, as well as editions of Dante's other works of the period.

The Manchester Digital Dante project therefore draws on our departmental heritage, our research expertise, and, most of all, on our historic collections of early printed Italian books in order to create an electronic resource with which to share these great cultural assets with the world.

Publications and other outputs

Digital surrogates of three incunable editions delivered via Luna Insight plus dedicated project website.

Palla Strozzi and vernacular oratory in 15th century Florence

Grant holder: Professor Stephen J. Milner
Funding agency: The British Academy
Amount of award: £7,072

Summary of project

This project will examine the phenomenon of vernacular speech-making practices within the Florentine commune during the first half of the fifteenth-century, with particular focus on the activity of Palla Strozzi (1372-1462) the richest of the city's oligarchs. Ever since Machiavelli, Palla Strozzi has been caricatured as a noble 'man of letters' whose aristocratic ethos of courtly aesthetics and love of manuscripts were trampled underfoot by the mercantile ethos of capital accumulation embodied by the 'arch-politician' Cosimo de' Medici who collected texts he could not, or did not, read. In focusing specifically upon Palla's interest and performance of vernacular oratory, the intention of this study is to take Palla as a prism through which to re-examine prevailing narratives of the so-called 'rhetorical renaissance' which have presented the revival as either a Latin-based philological enterprise carried out by humanists working in their private studioli and directed towards the stylistic emulation of classical forms (Kristeller 1961, 1965, 1979 & Witt 1988, 2003) or as the scribal activity of the city's 'civic-humanist' chancellors (Baron 1955 ff). The current project seeks to reassess both the terms of this enduring historiographical tradition as well as the enduring stereotype of Palla by using him as an exemplary case study in arguing for a more subtle understanding of the relationship between political engagement, the revival of interest in classicism, and the extent of its insinuation into the wider popular civic consciousness in Renaissance Florence through the spoken 'vernacular' word rather the written 'Latin' text.

Publications and other outputs

'"Le sottili cose non si possono bene aprire in volgare": Vernacular oratory and the transmission of classical rhetorical theory in the late medieval Italian communes,' Italian Studies 64.2 (2009), 221-44.
'Communication, Consensus and Conflict: Rhetorical principals, the ars concionandi and social ordering in late medieval Italy', in The Rhetoric of Cicero in its Medieval and Renaissance Commentary Tradition, ed. Virginia Cox and John O. Ward (Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 411-60