UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities


Dean's Strategic Fund 2022

28 April 2022

Congratulations to our colleagues who have been awarded bids by the Dean’s Strategic Funds Awards to support research projects within the Faculty.

ahead of the curve
The book's the thing: completion of the text and music for Man & God

Project Leader: Professor Michael Berkowitz

Collaborators: Leo Doulton and Jacob Dormann

Funds awarded: £5,000

Professor Michael Berkowitz and collaborators have been awarded funding to complete Man & God, this involves completing the dialogue, lyrics and music. A short film or presentation with (limited) musical accompaniment will be created. This will be the springboard for future production.

The Business of Linguistics

Project Leader: Dr Rachele De Felice

Collaborators: Kate Warwick – Founder, WordSavvy

Funds awarded: £3,135

Using language effectively is just as important in the workplace as in academia. Professionals often benefit from linguistics-by-stealth training. This project will show them how they are already using linguistic techniques and how rearranging their sentence structure, or rethinking the connotations of an adjective, can completely change the impact of their communication.

What is a studio anyway?

Project Leader: Emily Furnell

Collaborators: Emily Hawes (Early Career Fine Art Academic, Arts University Bournemouth)

Funds awarded: £5,000

‘What is a Studio, Anyway?’ is an ongoing project by artists and educators, Emily Furnell and Emily Hawes, which aims to open up a timely and collaborative discussion around the studio within contemporary art practice and art education. Since 2020, they have been researching the role of the studio, its relevance in academia and the professional field.

Edited volume Teaching and Learning Resources for Endangered Languages (Brill, 2022)

Project Leader: Professor Lily Kahn and Dr Riitta-Liisa Valijärvi

Collaborators: Foundation for Endangered Languages

Funds awarded: £3,960

Professor Lily Kahn and Dr Riitta-Liisa Valijärvi’s project is a peer-reviewed edited volume devoted to pedagogical resources for endangered languages.

The development of pedagogical materials is an essential component of endangered language revitalisation, yet there is very little academic research on this crucial topic. Their volume seeks to address this imbalance by examining endangered language pedagogical materials from around the world including traditional resources such as grammars, dictionaries, and textbooks, as well as new media such as online courses, apps, video games, etc. Chapters provide theoretical and applied perspectives, and consider Indigenous and other threatened languages from various regions of the world including the Americas, Australia, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia.

Fluke: the role of contingency in human history and biological evolution

Project Leader: Dr Brian Klaas

Collaborators: Dr. Richard Lenski (University of Michigan)

Funds awarded: £1,315

Dr Brian Klaas is exploring the concept of randomness and contingency as a causal driver of change – an idea that is central to historiography, politics, and other aspects of social research. Klaas is looking to draw links with the natural sciences and collaborate with Dr Richard Lenski. This grant would allow Klaas to develop research links with a top scholar in biology, bridging disciplinary divides with substantial potential for future research impact.

Together with Lorenza Mazzetti

Project Leader: Dr. Henry K. Miller and Brighid Lowe

Collaborators: Fórum do Futuro, Portugal; British Film Institute, London; MIRAJ (Moving Image Review and Art Journal)

Funds awarded: £4,989

Dr. Henry K. Miller and Brighid Lowe’s film Together with Lorenza Mazzetti, initiated with assistance from the Dean’s Strategic Fund (2017-18), will debut at Fórum do Futuro, an international festival in Portugal, in November 2022, and will then appear as part of a BFI touring programme and on DVD/Blu-ray, along with a significant lost film of hers which we rediscovered. In anticipation for this, the funding will support:

  • post-production – final edits/professional sound design/professional subtitling
  • research time and research visit to Rome that will lead to important further discoveries
E-Expert Seminar Series in Translation and Language Teaching

Project Leader: Dr Mazal Oaknin

Collaborators: Dr Alejandro Bolanos-García-Escribano (UCL); Dr Azahara Veroz-González (UCO, Spain); Dr Marga Navarrete (UCL); Dr Soledad Díaz-Alarcon (UCO, Spain)

Funds awarded: £5,000

The blended e-seminar Feminism and Gender Awareness in Modern Foreign Language and

Translation (11th May 2022) will put an emphasis on the liberating the curriculum; the aim is to further integrate and embrace inclusivity in the classroom, and so this e-seminar is one of the many steps undertaken towards the goal of enabling diversity and fostering equality. Leading speakers will introduce their field of expertise, from a feminist prism, and engage in pedagogy-focused discussions with researchers, lecturers, students and other members of the education sector, thus promoting interdisciplinarity and collaborative thinking.

Pilot of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Translation in online Teaching

Project Leader: Emmanouela Patiniotaki

Collaborators: Reena Babu, Michele Farmer and Ben Watson from the Digital Accessibility team in ISD, Martin Compton from UCL Arena, Jennifer Rode from the Disability Equality Implementation Group, Tim Neumann from IOE - Culture, Communication & Media, Abbi Saw, Faculty Learning and Technology Lead for Arts & Humanities

Funds awarded: £3,500

Remote emergency teaching has highlighted strengths of technology in education, including easier access to learning material with online teaching. Excessive cognitive load online has also brought forward the need for alternative formats of content, towards students’ engagement and wellbeing. However, online teaching can cause great anxiety to D/deaf and for hard-of-hearing students – a concern identified worldwide and currently researched.

We are hereby proposing a short-scale research on the satisfaction of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students during the last two years, and the tools they found most useful for equal access to the classroom content. We are also proposing a pilot with ASR during an online course, in order to investigate how such a solution could be suggested for implementation at UCL, to cater for the need to access auditory content that is otherwise inaccessible. We are hoping that a key output for the work will be practical guidance on the steps everyone can take to improve the accuracy of ASR.

Diversifying book spaces: New Futures, New Bookshops

Project Leader: Professor Samantha Rayner

Collaborators: Bookshop.org (Mark Thornton, UK Bookshop Partnership Manager); the Booksellers Association (Meryl Halls, Managing Director)

Funds awarded: £4,706.94

In 2021, Bookshop.org, the ethically conscious book-buying platform on a mission to support independent bookshops, and The Booksellers Association (BA) launched New Futures, a programme to foster new bookshops founded by entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities across the UK (black and other marginalised ethnicities, LGBTQIA+, working class, physically disabled, neurodiverse, sufferers of mental health issues and those with learning disabilities).

This project will enable us to partner with Bookshop.org to help support the promotion and launch of this new bookshop, giving the opportunity of a paid internship to a UCL student to engage with the bookseller, learning about and feeding back in a short report at the end of the internship what the specific challenges and needs are, and allowing discussions with all partners concerned to take place to see how elements learned from that launch process can be used to help encourage and support more diverse bookshops to become reality in the future.

Musicality and Cognitive Disability

Project Leader: Dr Sarah Richmond and Dr John Vorhaus

Collaborators: Prof Sebastian Crutch (UCL Dementia Research); Prof Adam Ockelford (Roehampton), Music

Funds awarded: £5,000

Dr Sarah Richmond and Dr John Vorhaus propose to make a documentary about musical opportunities for children with PMLD, collaborating with Professor Ockelford (Roehampton), a music educationalist who specialises in this area. This film will complement our earlier film as a resource for artists, teachers and educationalists with an interest in the arts and profound disability.

China and Sustainability: the challenges ahead

Project Leader: Dr Igor Rogelja and Dr Alessandro Spano

Collaborators: Dr Dini Sejko, University of Turin / Chinese University of Hong Kong

Funds awarded: £4,706.94

EISPS will organise two research events, a roundtable and a young researchers’ workshop, entitled ‘China and Sustainability: the challenges ahead’. Two interconnected themes will be explored:

  • The shift in China’s governmental policies from underpinning economic growth to supporting economic efficiency, distributive equity and sustainability (Day 1)
  • China’s global environmental impact and the Belt and Road Initiative (Day 2)
ECLECTIC (Exposing Children’s Lived Experiences, Co-produced Through Immersive Collections)

Project Leader: Dr Wendy Sims-Schouten

Collaborators: Professor Charles Agyemang, University of Amsterdam; Dr Caroline Bressey, Dr Ranjita Dhital, Professor Shirli Gilbert, Professor Ann Phoenix, Paul Weindling, Ms Sara Wingate-Grey (UCL); Ms Sonia Carr, CEO Wiltshire Racial Equality Council; Professor Rana Dajani, Hashemite University, Jordan

Funds awarded: £3,934.50

Against the backdrop of the rise in child refugees/migrants across the world, this pilot project aims to advance understanding of the transformative potential of curating children’s stories and experiences in accessible and creative ways to disrupt, counter, and draw critical attention to the impact and legacy of displacement. It does so by presenting contemporary children, as co-producers/researchers and experts, with former child refugees/migrants’ stories, memories and artefacts, exposing the lived experiences and legacies of two historic migration schemes (Kindertransport and Windrush). Centred on ‘things’, this project acknowledges objects, stories and artefacts as carriers of complex visual, material, cultural and social meanings generating multiple narratives and interpretations. This recognition demands embracing an interdisciplinary outlook and adopting a multiplicity of research methods, including visual methods and participatory research.

Widening Participation in Archives and Records Management

Project Leader: Hannah Smyth

Collaborators: Anna Sexton (Archives and Records Management Programme Director), Liz Bruchet, Hannah Ishmael, Elizabeth Lomas, Andrew Flinn, Alison Sizer

Funds awarded: £5,000

This grant will support a Summer School targeted at prospective applicants who struggle to gain pre-course work experience due to marginalization. The summer school will help participants to envision and understand their career options as well as familiarise themselves with the programme and its environment. This comes under the ‘Enabling diversity and fostering equality’ strategic aim.

Funding for widening participation projects such as this are currently limited to school-leaving students and undergraduate courses at UCL, however, we intend this pilot to be a case study for future research and funding for widening access in postgraduate study across our department. Linked initiatives include developing new bursary programmes to support under-represented students.

Stories of donors, parents, and children in Italy, France, and the UK 

Project Leader: Dr Beatrice Sica 

Collaborators: Lara Michelacci (Bologna), Ramona Onnis (Paris-Nanterre), Manuela Spinelli (Rennes 2) 

Funds awarded: £2,700

Stories of donor conceptions have become widespread in cinema, literature, and the media. These workshops start mapping this growing production of stories in Italy, France, and the YK and initiate a discussion between academic and non-academic participants to find common grounds and questions and to reflect on the power of stories across different sectors.

Teaching Classics through Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality

Project Leader: Dr Antony Makrinos

Collaborators: Abbi Shaw

Funds awarded: £2,500

Classics already engages with VR & AR in its archaeological research, teaching of ancient history, and public engagement with diverse communities, while companies such as Panolingo are developing VR applications to immerse users in animated worlds that offer language-learning scenarios. This project investigates ways in which ancient languages and literature can be taught through Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality.

Cross-fertilisations in life, literature, and films: stories of donors, parents, and children in Italy, France, and the UK

Project Leader: Dr Beatrice Sica

Collaborators: Lara Michelacci (Bologna), Ramona Onnis (Paris-Nanterre)

Funds awarded: £2,700

This project looks at literature, films, podcasts, and social media stories about donor conceptions in Italy, France, and the UK with the aim of mapping this growing production and creating a dialogue between literary historians, writers, journalists, doctors, and law experts involved with donor conceptions in various capacities. The project consists of three workshops (one in each country) to start a discussion between academic and non-academic participants with the aim to find common grounds and questions and to reflect on the power of stories across different sectors.

The Role of Emphasis in the Grammar of English

Project Leader: Professor Vieri Samek-Lodovici

Collaborators: Dr Karen Dwyer

Funds awarded: £400

This is an interdisciplinary research project involving SELCS and the English Department. The goal of the project is to further our understanding of the fundamental properties of the grammar of English. We investigate under which conditions the addition of emphasis enables the leftward shifting of a word.

Silences and Voids

Project Leader: Ms Carey Young

Collaborators: Dr. Danae Azari, Robert Lands (Partner, Howard Hennedy LLP), Modern Art Oxford

Funds awarded: £5,000

Part of Carey's solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford in 2023, Carey will develop a new series of text-based artworks which extend their research into legal language, contracts and the relations between law and politics. These works are conceived as legal instruments, taking the form of experimental contracts which involve and implicate the viewer, artist, gallery and maybe other parties.


Project Leader: Ms Carey Young

Collaborators: Professor Cheryl Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, approx 20 female judges, Modern Art Oxford

Funds awarded: £5,000

‘Appearance’ will be a video artwork by Carey which explores relations between law, women, power and representation, and which develops themes from 2017 video Palais de Justice (REF impact case study).