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Our research in French, Italian, German, and Spanish engages with real-world concerns such as the effect of conflict, migration, and climate change on diverse communities across the globe.

We explore these issues and their representations through a variety of scholarly, practice-inspired, and archive-based approaches.  

Our multidisciplinary research investigates the role of languages in shaping the complexity of human experience. Our researchers engage with the practice and the study of translation across cultures, media, and book markets.  

Our teaching is informed by our impactful research and global advocacy.

Areas of research

Our cross-disciplinary areas of strength include: 

  • migration, diaspora, and intercultural studies 
  • transnational intellectual and cultural history (1800-present) 
  • translation and publishing histories 
  • representations of conflict, hybrid identities, and communities in film, literature, theatre production, and the media 
  • war studies, peace building, political justice 
  • nationalisms and citizenships 
  • children’s literatures and histories 
  • discourse analysis and linguistics 
  • disability studies 
  • education and philosophy.

Research in French studies

The research interests of our staff are wide and varied, covering the areas of history/politics and literature/cultural studies. 

Research in German studies

The main strands of our research in German studies include German film, East German studies, and German political and media discourse.

Research in Italian studies

Current strengths include Italian literature (1800-present), history of the Italian language, translation studies, linguistics, and publishing history.

Research in Spanish and Latin American studies

This research covers not only the cultural production of the Iberian Peninsula but also Latin American and Caribbean nations and their sociocultural realities.

Research impact

As a community of researchers, we are fully committed not only to investigating global challenges, but also to informing political and public debate on potential responses, and advocating for policy change. 

Research centres

Our department is the home of the East German Studies Archive, the largest of its kind outside Germany. Several of our researchers engage with the world-leading archives, which are held at the University’s Special Collections. We regularly use these unique resources in our teaching. 

We contribute to and support several university centres, including:

Research excellence

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment (REF 2014), we ranked joint 4th in the UK for impact and 5th for research intensity. 98% of our research is of international standing.

Research grants

  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation for Latin America and the Caribbean, NERC Discipline Hopping for Environmental Solutions, 2022, CI: Dr Catriona McAllister and Dr Cherilyn Elston.
  • Colombian Diaspora: Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice, Participatory Research, Research England, 2022-23, PI: Dr Cherlyn Elston.
  • Spatial repertoires of linguistic and cultural mediation in asylum and social integration processes, You(via)Me – University of Thessaly, 2022-23, CI: Prof Federico Faloppa
  • Confronting hate speech with young people: Düsseldorf, Palermo, Reading, Düsseldorf Municipality, 2021-22, CI: Prof Federico Faloppa
  • Conflict and Hate Speech in Bosnia-Herzegovina, GCRF Strategic Fund – Equitable Project, 2019-2021, PI: Prof Federico Faloppa
  • Philosophy’s Others: Sarah Kofman and Barbara Cassin, Society for French Studies Prize Research Fellowship, 2021-22, PI: Dr John McKeane.
  • Oscillating objects: material cultures and senses of belonging, Council for British Research in the Levant and the British Academy Knowledge Frontiers Symposium Application, 2020-21, PI: Dr Marjorie Gehrhardt.
  • Knowing the Nazis, Inside and Out: Anti-Fascist Publishing in Austria, Germany and Great Britain (1927-1940), 2020-23, British Academy, PI: Dr Ellen Pilsworth.
  • Erasmus+ KeyCo System KA204: Strategic partnership for Adult Education, 2020-21, PI: Prof Federico Faloppa.
  • Trauma, Tradition, Treason: Screening War Film in the GDR, Leverhulme Trust, 2020-21, PI: Dr Ute Wölfel.
  • Virginia Woolf and her Italian Readers, Horizon 2020 MCSA-Individual Fellowship, 2019-21, PI: Prof Daniela La Penna. Fellow: Dr Elisa Bolchi.
  • British Novels for European Readers, European Novels for British Readers: A Working Hypothesis for the Anglo-Italian Case, British Academy Visiting Fellowship, 2018-19, host: Prof Daniela La Penna. Fellow: Dr Sara Sullam.
  • Media Use and Representation Among Migrants: Developing a New Agenda, ESRC Impact Accelerator Fund, 2018-19, PI: Prof Federico Faloppa.
  • MultiMind: The Multilingual Mind, MSCA ITN Horizon 2020, 2018-22, CI and WKP Lead: Prof Federico Faloppa
  • Becoming Latin-American: Children, Education and Citizenship, Institute for Modern Languages Studies Conference Fund, 2018, PI: Dr Catriona McAllister.
  • Children’s 1968, LE STUDIUM / MSCA Research Fellowship, 2016-17, PI: Dr Sophie Heywood.
  • The Listening Zones of NGOs: languages and cultural knowledge in development programmes, AHRC, 2015-2018, PI: Prof Hilary Footitt.
  • Beyond Havana and the nation? Peripheral identities and literary culture in Cuba, Leverhulme Trust, 2014-2017, PI: Prof Par Kumaraswami.
  • Diasporic Literary Archives: Questions of Location, Ownership and Interpretation, Leverhulme Trust, 2012-2014, CI: Dr Sophie Heywood and Prof Daniela La Penna
  • Mapping Literary Space: Italian Intellectuals, literary journals, publishing firms 1940s-1960s, AHRC, 2012-2015, PI: Prof Daniela La Penna