Cultures, Languages and Linguistics

Censorship in Italian Cinema

Supervisor

Prof Bernadette Luciano

Discipline

Cultures, Languages and Linguistics

Project code: ART003

Project

Perhaps the most memorable scene from the famous Italian film, Cinema Paradiso, is a tear-jerking scene at the end of the film when the protagonist of the film, now a famous Italian director, discovers that his childhood mentor, a film projectionist, had saved him a box filled with all the film clips of kisses extracted from the films he had screened at the Cinema Paradiso. In Italy the first censorship laws on films date back to 1913 with the aim being that of prohibiting from screening and distribution those films that were deemed not acceptable for the public to view. In addition to total censorship, from the 1930s to the 1990s, a different mode of censorship prevailed, which consisted of cutting out parts of films deemed inappropriate and screening instead incomplete or indeed mutilated versions of the film. Filmmaker Irene Dionisio has retrieved ‘prohibited’ clips of major Italian films from the 1950s-1990s from Italian film archives, and reassembled them in her film, My only crime is to see clearly at night. This project takes Dionsio’s work as a starting point for an exploration of the impact of the censor’s cuts on original films and examines issues of censorship in Italian cinema, and on creativity more broadly.

Scholar’s Work

The student (s), depending on background and language skill will:

  • Through the reading of existing articles, book chapters, and books provide a summary of the main issues and drivers of film censorship in Italy
  • Summarise critical/theoretical materials on the relationship between censorship and art
  • Analyse Dionisio’s film, and the re-assemblage of the cuts
  • Analyse one or more of the cuts in the context of the originally distributed film. What does the cut give back to the film? What are the processes of editing archival materials to arrive at the final cut?

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The project is suited to students who are interested in issues of censorship and creativity, cinema studies, Italian cultural studies. Some understanding of Italian language, culture and film is desirable but not required.

Rediscovering Learner Autonomy in Chinese Language Learning: A New Zealand Story

Supervisor

Dr Danping Wang

Discipline

Cultures, Languages and Linguistics

Project code: ART005

Project

Nearly 90% of students give up learning Chinese after the beginners level. Many attempts to improve retention rates have failed to make much of a difference both in high school and university settings. This project will seek to explore the factors that foster learner autonomy in Chinese language learning and how to incorporate the principle of ‘learning to learn’ into classroom teaching in enabling leaners to reach the most advanced levels of language competence. Current theories and findings in learner autonomy research are not linguistically and culturally suitable to apply to Chinese language learning in New Zealand’s sociocultural context.

This project will adopt a narrative research design in ensuring a bottom-up approach in exploring the reality of the real-world phenomenon in Chinese language learning. Two groups of students will be recruited for this project: 10 successful learners from advanced levels of Chinese studies and 10 beginner learners at elementary levels of Chinese studies.

The project has two major research objectives:

  1. to understand how beginner learners of Chinese perceive their learning experiences
  2. to offer research-based evidence to foster learner autonomy in Chinese learning in New Zealand

Scholar’s Work

The scholar will assist the supervisor with identifying, collecting and categorising autobiographical learning stories of Chinese language learners. They will also help the supervisor in developing a literature review, database construction, data analysis, and writing research reports depending on the expertise of the summer scholar. The study includes three major pieces of work. In the beginning, the scholar will conduct a literature review of research on personal language learning history/stories. The second stage of the study involves intensive one-on-one interviews with students. The final stage involves data analysis and report preparation.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The research mainly involves producing a literature review, conducting interviews and qualitative data analysis. The applicant should have experience and skills in all or some of these duties.

As the study focuses on Chinese language education research, the applicant is expected to know basic Chinese in order to transcribe the participants’ interviews, in addition to being academically fluent and literate in English.

This project particularly welcomes applicants who are familiar with human research skills or are committed to becoming a language teacher.

Applicants who are familiar with qualitative research and are able to use EndNote and NVivo will be prioritised.

Other desirable qualities include meticulousness, a willingness to learn, and the ability to work independently.

Timing/Weeks

2 December 2019 – 21 February 2020

Researching English language teaching and learning practices in Vietnam

Supervisor

Assoc Prof Tin Tan Bee

Discipline

Cultures, Languages and Linguistics

Project code: ART008

Project

English language teaching and learning takes place in various diverse social settings. Many researchers have highlighted the need to explore local vernacular practices, in particular language teaching and learning practices in peripheral, under-resourced contexts. The present study investigates events in an English language classroom at a Vietnamese college, using ethnographic observations and interviews. The project describes local practices and affordances which have emerged and are acted upon by students and teachers to maximise opportunities for language learning. Although localised practices are idiosyncratic, they have coherence within the macrocosm of language teacher education. Vernacular practices and local knowledge are under-represented in both ELT theories and language teacher education. The findings of the study will help understand classroom teaching and learning practices of teachers and students in under-resourced language teaching contexts.

Scholar’s Work

The summer scholar will analyse the various interviews conducted with three teachers and sixteen students, eliciting their views of what happened inside and outside the classroom. The aims of the interviews are to find out about their various language learning and teaching practices employed to increase students’ interest and language learning. Most of the interviews have been transcribed and the summer scholar will help edit the interviews (which are already transcribed). The summer scholar will transcribe about 4 interviews with students, and analyse the data in both qualitative and quantitative manners. There will also be an opportunity to consult relevant literature and research methodology related to the topic of language teaching and learning.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

Desirable skills required for the project are:

  • Experience of speaking with and understanding non-native English speakers (e.g. elementary to pre-intermediate English language learners from Asian contexts). Knowledge of Vietnamese language/context (or a similar context) will also be an advantage.
  • Experience with under-resourced language teaching/learning contexts
  • Interest in diverse language learning and teaching practices
  • Good analytical skills and computing skills
  • Good command of writing skills

Timing/Weeks

The summer scholar will work between December 2019 and February 2020.

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) of German at University level

Supervisor

Dr Diana Feick

Discipline

Cultures, Languages and Linguistics

Project code: ART022

Project

With a strong tradition in Europe and in Australia, content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is a promising pedagogical approach for further developing multilingualism in tertiary education, for instance German as an academic language in New Zealand. Teaching academic content using the foreign language in language acquisition courses as well as in content courses is expected to foster both the learning of academic content, and the development of target language proficiency. In a different context however, the simple adoption of CLIL programs that have been successful elsewhere does not guarantee the same results.

This project investigates the course design, teaching materials and teaching practices for university German courses using the CLIL approach. It examines which context factors, teacher and student beliefs, classroom discourse features and pedagogic principles of CLIL are relevant for the successful adaption of this approach at university level.

The study will focus on two cases: a stage 3 German language acquisition course project on documenting and analysing linguistic landscapes in a German and a New Zealand city, and a bilingual content course on German language teaching and learning pedagogy. The expected findings will conclude with some recommendations of measures to foster CLIL at university level in New Zealand.

Scholar’s Work

The work of the scholar in the first stage will include searching through online databases for relevant literature on the research topic, and reading these sources. The work will also include retrieving texts from the library, and writing up a literature review on the topic. In the second stage the scholar will help to prepare the collected data for analysis. He/she will organise the data in an online database and will transcribe interview data, preferably using the transcription software F4. The scholar will also collaborate in transferring the collected data into a useable format using the software Excel. After the data preparation, the scholar will contribute to the data analysis. This includes coding the data using the analysis software MAXQDA. The scholar will be expected to contribute intellectually to the project, helping to identify relevant codes and categories, helping to guide the overall direction of the research.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The scholar must have a proficiency of German at the B1-B2 level of the Common European Framework of Competencies. The scholar must have an understanding of how library research is conducted, and how applied linguistic research is conducted. The scholar will preferably have basic skills in data transcription and qualitative data analysis. The scholar has basic knowledge of Excel.

Timing/Weeks

25 Nov-29 Nov. 2-6 Dec. 9-13 Dec. 6-10 Jan. 13-17 Jan. 20-24 Jan. 28-31 Jan (short week, Auckland Anniversary 27 Jan). 3-7 Feb (short week, Waitangi Day 6 Feb). 10-14 Feb. 17-21 Feb.

Exploring German Umlaut

Supervisor

Dr Jason Brown
Dr Diana Feick

Discipline

Cultures, Languages and Linguistics

Project code: ART031

Project Description

“Umlaut” in German is a phenomenon whereby certain word endings will force a vowel in the stem to become “fronted” (indicated by the umlaut marks over the vowel): Huhn ‘hen’ vs. Hühner ‘hens’. This change in pronunciation is triggered by the process of word formation. The constraints on umlaut in German are well-known, such as which word-parts trigger it, whether there can be any word-parts that get “skipped”, and what happens to vowels in particular positions of the word. However, this is largely understood about Modern Standard German; what is less well understood is what happens in other dialects.

This project aims to fill this gap by investigating these very same parameters across different dialects. For instance, what happens in Swiss dialects, where there is a different set of vowels, and no real standardization of spelling? The results of this study will help the field better understand how umlaut behaves as a linguistic phenomenon.

Scholar’s Work

The scholar will help to collect generalizations from various sources, including: online databases, grammars, dictionaries, and articles. The scholar will collaborate in organizing this data into a useable format. The work will include searching through online databases, searching through volumes that are dedicated to the topic, and reading sources on the topic. The work will also include retrieving texts on individual dialects from the library, including grammars and dictionaries, and noting generalisations found in those sources. Photocopying or scanning portions of these resources will also be a task of the scholar. The scholar will be expected to contribute intellectually to the project, helping to identify relevant dialects, helping to guide the overall direction of the research, and potentially co-authoring writing.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The scholar must have basic skills in linguistic analysis, ideally having had experience in morphology and phonology. The scholar will preferably have an understanding of how library research is conducted, and how linguistic research is conducted. It is highly desirable that the scholar have a basic understanding of German.

Timing/Weeks

Supervisors available Weeks 1-12.

Buffalo Bill in Germany: The William F. Cody Digital Archive

Supervisor

Dr Nicole Perry
Assoc Prof Jennifer Frost

Discipline

Cultures, Languages and Linguistics; Humanities

Project code: ART034

Project

The William F. Cody Archive is a digital archive that focusses on the life and times of one of the greatest American entertainers of the late 19th Century. Known around the world as Buffalo Bill, William F. Cody created an entertainment empire, which included some of the greatest performers from the American West and worldwide.

This project is responsible for the collection and interpretation of material on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in Germany and Central Europe from 1890-1906. The shows were enormously successful and Buffalo Bill was able to bring to his audiences an American Wild West that was both nostaglic and exotic, with the German audience members showing particular interest in the North American Indigenous performers. Consequently, this project is also associated with the “Disentangling the European Gaze” research hub in the Arts Faculty. At a time of heightened nationalistic tensions both in America and Europe, this project both examines and situates Cody’s influence and the influence and contributions of the Wild West to American nationalism at home and abroad.

Scholar’s Work

The scholar’s work will consist of transcribing and translating a collection of German newspaper articles from 1890-1910 reporting on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and the tours in German speaking countries and providing explanatory footnotes on the articles and the shows. The scholar will also contribute to a database on German writers from 1800-1890 who wrote about the American West. If there is interest on the part of the scholar, the scholar can also explore the creation and use of the digital archives.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

An excellent knowledge of German and English is required, together with translation skills. The scholar would have to have Stage III German (or excellent grades in Stage II) with a near native speaker command of English. Although a background in digital humanities is not required, it would be considered an asset.

Timing/Weeks

The supervisors are flexible and are willing to start in November and end early February.