SAS Blogs | Supporting world-class research in the humanities

A PORT for Modern Languages


a port for modern languages

By Katia Pizzi

Welcome to a PORT for modern languages! This is your gateway to a vast and intriguing treasure trove of multi-lingual resources, from French to Spanish, from German to Polish, from Italian to Portuguese, from Russian to Lusophone, Czech and much more! Libraries, archives, culture and arts centres, schools, and a score of centres of cultural exchange and interaction both in the UK and in the wider world are within your grasp! This vast array of research opportunities includes funding opportunities and specific tuition on how to get hold of them.

Specifically, our material covers French, Italian, Spanish, German, Czech, Polish, Russian and Portuguese studies, and to some degree Francophone, Hispanic, Latin-American and Lusophone cultures as well. A PORT for modern languages provides links to and information about institutions, e.g. libraries, archives and museums with a focus on modern languages and cultures, as well as web-based resources. We give practical advice on access, facilities and usage, as appropriate. To access our resources, click on Here, a range of individual modules will give you access to options for different kinds of resources relevant for one particular language, e.g., simply open the ‘French’ book and a sub-menu for different kinds of French resources will be revealed.

All this material is conceived as free-standing self-study units but will also be of use to teachers, publishers, translators and others interested in the wider languages field. As a valuable support to face-to-face provision, a PORT for modern languages is more than a research training programme. It is a gateway to the world always within your reach. Please visit us on:

A PORT for Modern Languages is available from the PORT research training website alongside various other training skills resources. 

Legally navigating academic blogging and social media (Social Scholar – 29 April 2015)



This month at the Social Scholar seminar we will be joined by Dr Judith Townend who will be looking at social media and legal concerns. For full details check out our Event Page.

Title: Legally navigating academic blogging and social media

Speaker: Dr Judith Townend (SAS)
Time: Wednesday 29 April 2015, 1pm-2pm
Location: Room 246 (Senate House)

As per  usual we asked our speaker if they would answer a few questions for us.


Could you tell us about yourself?

I’m director of the Centre for Law and Information Policy at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; I joined the IALS/SAS in October 2014, and the Centre officially launched in February 2015 with an academic workshop and public lecture.

What are your views on the use of social media in academia and higher education?

I’m a great advocate of using social media to enhance academic work: at a research stage (for developing ideas, gathering data), as well as for sharing results and output with fellow scholars, practitioners with relevant interests, students and the wider public. Proponents of ‘open’ journalism have long recognised that sharing the journalistic process as well as the product can yield rich social rewards; this approach can be adopted in academia as well.

 What can we expect from you at the Social Scholar?

While social media tools are fantastically liberating for academic communication, users need to be aware of the legal and ethical context. Those trained in journalism or law will probably be aware of the most important media and communication-related laws, but my research suggests there are many bloggers and social media users who are uncertain about the boundaries of legitimate speech. What’s more, the complexity of UK media law (and high cost of resolving a civil dispute) makes it an uncertain environment for even the most experienced and legally astute. My contribution to the Social Scholar series will discuss the main legal issues for academic bloggers and social media users, point towards useful guides, and offer some thoughts on how legal resources and systems might be improved.

Judith Townend has also talked about communicating law and information policy for one of the public engagement case studies already posted on this blog (see here). To find out more about the seminar check out our Event Page. The seminar is FREE and open to all.

Introducing the SAS theme for Being Human 2015 – Hidden and Revealed



Working in the humanities means uncovering fascinating secrets and stories. It means challenging received ideas, and finding new perspectives on histories, cultures and languages. It means working with archives and collections, and gaining access to places, ideas and knowledge that are often off-limits and ‘hidden’ for the vast majority of people. In 2015, we want to share the excitement and intrigue of working in the humanities with the broadest possible public. In doing so, we also want to learn from them.

With this aim in mind, the theme that we have settled on for this year’s SAS and Senate House Library contribution to the Being Human festival of the humanities is Hidden and Revealed.

People are invited to respond to this theme freely and imaginatively. Possible points of departure however might include the capacity of the humanities to:

  • Reveal hidden and forgotten narratives, cultures, histories, and languages.
  • Reveal hidden spaces/places/locations.
  • Reveal new ways of understanding and probing difficult problems.
  • Reveal new ways of seeing, understanding, questioning.
  • Reveal new perspectives on life, death and other core aspects of ‘being human’.
  • Reveal and challenge secrets, censorship, and things that people would rather keep hidden!

The humanities have an immense capacity to explore and reveal the secrets of the human condition – the essence of what it means to ‘be human’. For the Being Human festival 2015 we want to celebrate the huge range of work that is being done in this field within SAS/SHL itself.



A number of direct opportunities to get involved with the Being Human festival will be revealed very soon. In the meantime if you have any programming ideas of your own please get in touch with Dr Michael Eades, Cultural and Public Engagement Manger and festival curator:

#PotW: The Life & Work of Jonathan Coe, 28 April



A Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing (BCCW) Symposium: The Life & Work of Jonathan Coe 

Featuring keynote speakers: Jonathan Coe (critic, novelist, and critic);  Vanessa Guignery (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon, & Member of the Institut Universitaire de France); and, Merritt Moseley (University of North Carolina Asheville).

This symposium features the work of Jonathan Coe, one of Britain’s most significant contemporary authors. His prize-winning work What a Carve Up! reaches the twenty-first anniversary of its publication which landmark this one-day event celebrates. Coe will offer a reading, a talk and answer questions from participants.

Jonathan Coe (critic, novelist, and critic)
Nick Bentley (Keele University)
Vanessa Guignery (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon, & Member of the Institut Universitaire de France) KEYNOTE
Rod Mengham (Jesus College, Cambridge)
Merritt Moseley (University of North Carolina Asheville) KEYNOTE
Emma Parker (Leicester University)
David Quantick (Author)
Philip Tew (Brunel University London)
Joe Brooker (Birkbeck College)
José Ramón Prado Pérez (La Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana, Spain)

Organizers: Prof. Philip Tew & Dr. Nick Hubble (Brunel University London)

When: 28 April 2015, 09:00 – 18:00

Where: Deller Hall (Senate House, basement), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Find out more and register here.

Doing Quantitative Research in the Humanities


SAS - Quantitative Methods

Data can be described as quantitative if it can be measured or identified on a numerical scale. Examples include length, height, area, volume, weight, speed, age, distance, cost and so on. However, not all data using numbers is quantitative: Datasets are often classified into categorical data, i.e. using numbers as descriptors. Arithmetic performed on the numbers describing categorical data would produce nonsensical results, for the same reason that you cannot add 6 Acacia Road to 12 Acacia Road to create 18 Acacia Road. Be wary, therefore, when you consider a dataset.

What exactly do the numbers represent? If your numbers answer a question beginning ‘how many’ or ‘how much’, you have quantitative data. If your numbers represent groups or classes, you have qualitative data expressed categorically. The appropriate analytical techniques will vary accordingly.

This new tutorial on PORT and developed by the School of Advanced Study, is designed to give you the ability to approach quantitative work with confidence, even if you have no prior statistical experience. It will provide a grounding in the collection and analysis of numerical data and give you the tools to report your own results and think critically about those of others.

The Quantitative Methods tutorial can be found on the School of Advanced Study PORT website alongside other online research training resources for humanities postgraduate and early career researchers.

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