Funded projects

Surrey is a world-class, research-led university, committed to research excellence. We are running a number of funded research projects in literature and languages.

Current projects

This project is a University Global Partnership Network (UGNP) bi-lateral research collaboration between the University of Surrey and the University of São Paolo (USP). It follows on from the Transnationalism, translation, and travel in literary and cultural studies (TRANS) project which ran from 2012-2013. Led by Professor Bran Nicol (Surrey) and Prof Sandra Guardini Vasconcelos (USP), the Novel transmissions project will bring together researchers from Surrey’s LitPo group and Mobilities centre, and colleagues in the Departamento de Letras Modernas at USP to analyse the category of ‘the global novel’, using Brazil – and the way this nation has functioned as a point of reception, origin, and passage, for the circulation of novels in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries – as an in-depth and unique case study.

Further information

Dr Lucy Bell is the Principal Investigator on this AHRC-funded (Overseas Development: Global Challenges Research Fund) project. Her Co-Investigator is Dr Alex Flynn, of the University of Durham.

Editoriales cartoneras (‘cardboard publishers’ or ‘waste-picking publishers’) are independent micro-publishing projects that make books out of recycled cardboard. These books, which range from children’s literature to experimental fiction, are sold in a wide variety of Latin American contexts at affordable prices, in an explicit attempt to widen access to literature. This publishing movement first began in Buenos Aires in the wake of the 2001 economic crisis, during which unemployment rates soared, leaving marginalised residents of the city to seek alternative means of supporting themselves and their families. Many took to the streets to become cartoneros (‘cardboard collectors’ or ‘waste pickers’), sorting through the city’s daily waste, picking out the metal, glass, paper, and cardboard to sell for recyclingIn 2003, the founding members of Eloísa Cartonera (including now well-known writer Washington Cucurto) began buying cardboard from the cartoneros at five times its market value to produce hand-painted books. Since then, the movement has spread across and beyond Latin America, adopting a variety of forms in different local contexts. 

Dr Bell’s and Dr Flynn’s collaborative, transnational and multi-disciplinary AHRC project takes a fresh look at cartoneras in Mexico and Brazil, exploring how new relations, communities and meanings are created by the transformation of recycled cardboard into low-cost books in contexts marked by political, economic and environmental precariousness. By combining anthropological methods with literary, cultural studies approaches, the researchers will analyse how the publishing practices and the published text itself enact new models of social transformation and creative practice. This research builds on Lucy Bell’s research in Latin American literary and cultural studies, and on her existing work on cartoneras, which has already led to several conference papers and two publications: an article in the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies and an essay in a co-edited volume entitled Literature and Sustainability (Manchester University Press). Possible future directions include an application for AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact to strengthen links and foster collaborations between different cartonera projects across Latin America, as well as between these projects and related activities in the UK (e.g. the Writing Wrongs project). By facilitating the development of transnational networks, this research will foster not only South-South cooperation, but also enable UK communities to learn about and from the Global South about creative responses to economic, environmental and political crises.

Further information

Professor Diane Watt has been awarded international network funding by the Leverhulme Trust for this project.

Further information

Professor Diane Watt has been awarded a major research fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust for this project.

Further information

Completed projects

Rosina Marquez-Reiter and Anna Charalambidou were awarded a grant from the AHRC and the Higher Education Academy to organise a symposium on interculturalism, at Surrey, in July 2014.

This exciting event, entitled ‘Ethnolinguistic minorities in the UK and beyond: encouraging research led teaching’, brought together eminent intercultural communication scholars, students and members of the public working on/interested in ethnic and linguistic minorities in the UK and beyond. It discussed practical tools and strategies of effectively feeding the latest research findings on the subject into learning and teaching in HE institutions across the country.

Doris Dippold
Funded by: AHRC
Duration: February 2011 - August 2011
Lead partner: University of Surrey, UK
Project partners: University of Wales (Newport), University of the West of England, University College London (UCU)

The project is going to investigate how internationally operating small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) see linguistic and intercultural barriers affecting their ability to trade abroad or with international clients. The team of researchers will work in collaboration with the Surrey and Bristol and South Wales Chambers of Commerce and a sample of SMEs in southern England and South Wales. The project will also explore how businesses and universities can collaborate to apply academic research into practice and meet the needs of SMEs in relation to intercultural trade.

Previous investigations on language skills and intercultural competence for businesses have shown that businesses loose trade because they lack language expertise or do not have the necessary intercultural competence and awareness. This has a marked impact on economic growth: it has been estimated that as much as 21 billion pounds annually are lost annually because UK SMEs are unable to engage fully in foreign markets, and that adopting a corporate policy emphasizing these skills could result in businesses achieving 44.5 per cent higher export sales.

A survey and interviews with SME managers will be carried out to explore in detail the barriers to international trade UK SMEs feel they face in relation to language and intercultural communication skills, what existing corporate strategies they have in place to deal with them and what support they need to meet training needs. Moreover, we will also attempt to differentiate markets in which English poses a barrier to trade from those in which it does not.

The findings of this research will be used to identify areas in which SMEs need support and ways in which universities can collaborate with SMEs. The results of this survey will be fed back to the public and the business community through a dedicated website, a twitter feed and a networking event that will bring together SMEs, business intermediaries (e.g. Chambers of Commerce etc.) and researchers in business studies, language and intercultural studies. They will also feed into the development of the Export Communications Review (ECR) and the training programme for language consultants working with UK export SMEs.

Constance Bantman
Funded by: British Academy
Duration: February 2010 - March 2013

This project, based on archival research in Britain, France and the Netherlands, explores the transnational connections of three famous French anarchist militants, Jean Grave, Charles Malato and Louise Michel (c. 1870 - c.1940). Through these examples, the unexplored international ramifications of French anarchism will be highlighted, evidencing strong links with Britain, Italy or the United States, routinely stretching as far as Australia or Japan. This investigation aims to provide a case study on the international dissemination of political ideas through informal personal networks and go-betweens. The recurring national focus of studies on the French movement will also thus be questioned. The tensions between the pacifist internationalist project of anarchism and the realities of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and pro-military convictions within the movement will also be brought to light through these three complex, often ambiguous militant itineraries.

TRANS was a University Global Partnership Network (UGNP) bi-lateral research collaboration between the University of Surrey and the University of São Paolo (USP). The project examined literary, linguistic and cultural movements relating to the phenomena of travel, translation, migration, mobility and diaspora through an interdisciplinary lens drawn from expertise in literary and cultural studies, languages and translation. It united three researchers from Surrey (Prof Justin Edwards, formerly of the University of Surrey, Professor Margaret Rogers, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Surrey, and Dr Ana Claudia Suriani da Silva, formerly of the University of Surrey) and three from USP (Professor Sandra Vasconcelos, Professor John Milton, and Professor Laura P Zuntini de Izarra), and worked to provide cultural insights on pertinent issues in the world today.

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