Georgi Andreev, Vice-President of Plovdiv University for International relations Nadya Cherneva

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The Paisii Hilendarski University of Plovdiv

English Studies in Bulgarian Higher Education: Focused and Comparative Perspectives

Welcome addresses
Georgi Andreev, Vice-President of Plovdiv University for International relations

Nadya Cherneva, Vice-dean of Philology faculty for International relations

Saturday, 11 October
Panel organiser and leader: Ludmilla Kostova, University of Veliko Turnovo
The panel will examine the relationship between “canon” formation and the production of academic curricula in English studies in Bulgaria and Romania against a broad socio-cultural background comprising factors such as the penetration of the English language into both countries, Bulgarian and Romanian constructions of Anglophone cultures and British, American and other identities, interpretive and evaluative responses to literary texts and cultural phenomena generated within Anglophone contexts. Special attention will be paid to power relations in the two educational contexts and the acquisition, distribution and re-distribution of cultural capital through the appropriation of elements from Anglophone cultures and/or the regulation of external influences by local administrative bodies.
Panel participants:
Bob Owens, Open University; Joan Swan, Open University; Adina Ciugureanu, Ovidius University, Constanta; Mihaela Irimia, Bucharest University; Yordan Kosturkov, Plovdiv University; Vesselin Budakov, Sofia University; Gergana Apostolova, South Western University; Ludmilla Kostova, University of Veliko Turnovo; Petya Tsoneva, University of Veliko Turnovo; Pavel Petkov, University of Veliko Turnovo; Richard Freed, Lexington KY/University of Veliko Turnovo; Boryana Bratanova, University of Veliko Turnovo
Discussion will focus on the following broad areas:
9. 30 – 11. 00

  1. Penetration of the English language into Bulgaria and Romania (19 – 21 cc.); factors conditioning the study of English; “British” versus “American” English; “canonization” of particular teaching methodologies and the production of academic curricula;

Ludmilla Kostova, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: Introductory remarks

Joan Swann, Open University, UK: 'Canonical' and 'non-canonical' Englishes

Mihaela Irimia, University of Bucharest & Adina Ciugureanu, ‘Ovidius’ University, Constanta, Romania: English in Romania: A short diachronic view and a synchronic evaluation

Gergana Apostolova, South Western University, Bulgaria: Methodologies of teaching English and the production of academic curricula in Bulgaria

Yordan Kosturkov, Plovdiv University, Bulgaria: Methodologies of teaching English and the production of academic curricula in Bulgaria

Boryana Bratanova, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: Case study: the changing perspective of teaching English grammar in Bulgarian higher education

11. 30 – 12. 15

  1. Reception of Anglophone literatures in Bulgaria and Romania: major tendencies and forms of literary appropriation; literary histories and periodization; canonization of Anglophone authors/literary texts;

W. R. Owens, Open University, UK: Literary canons into academic curricula

Ludmilla Kostova, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s ‘belated’ reception of British literature and the process of literary canonization: some case studies

Yordan Kosturkov, Plovdiv University, Bulgaria: Translations of British authors and their incorporation in the curricula: cultural policies

Adina Ciugureanu, Ovidius University of Constanta, Romania: Canons and curricula in the Romanian context.
12. 15 – 13. 00

  1. Anglophone literatures in Bulgarian and Romanian pedagogic contexts: literary texts as a means of language acquisition; literary texts as a means of acquiring knowledge about Anglophone societies and their history; forms of literary canonization within pedagogic contexts and the production of academic curricula.

Ludmilla Kostova, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria and Vesselin Budakov, Sofia University, Bulgaria: Introductory remarks

Yordan Kostiurkov, Plovdiv University, Bulgaria, and Ludmilla Kostova, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: Marco Mincoff, History of English Literature, vols. 1 & 2: genre, point of view, chronological organization, links to literary-historical trends in the Anglophone world, pedagogic spin-off (e. g. survey courses, strategies promoting “distant” reading).

Mihaela Irimia, Bucharest University, Romania, and Adina Ciugureanu, ‘Ovidius’ University, Constanta, Romania: English-speaking literatures in the Romanian academe, from pc imported literary histories to autochthonous anthologies and courses of lectures

14. 00 – 15. 00

  1. Attempts at changing the face of English studies in the Bulgarian and Romanian contexts: CULTURE/CULTURES rather than EngLit and theoretical linguistics. Introduction of popular culture, film studies and postcolonial theory. Academic and creative writing.

Joan Swann and W. R. Owens, Open University, UK: ‘English’ in the UK

Richard Freed, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: ‘English’ in the US

Ludmilla Kostova, Petya Tsoneva and Pavel Petkov, University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria: Evaluating the “cultural turn” of the 1990s.

Mihaela Irimia, Bucharest University, Romania, and Adina Ciugureanu, ‘Ovidius’ University, Constanta, Romania: Britishness, cultural identity, contextualization

Saturday, 11 October

Receptions/Interfaces/Circulations and Scholarship

Panel leader and organiser: Madeleine Danova, Sofia University

This panel will be addressed to research in Bulgaria (and, as before, to some extent in Romania and the UK) at the level of academic publications, scholarly exchanges and discussions, the role of professional and governmental and external bodies that facilitate and fund research, research resources and collaborations, provision for publishing and dissemination, etc. To a significant extent it may be expected that research and scholarship relevant to English Studies in an ordinarily non-Anglophone context like Bulgaria’s would be actuated by the circulation and reception of critical discourses and texts; by flows and interpenetration across linguistic boundaries; by the interfaces that exist between different cultural forms and media; etc. – both between Bulgaria and ordinarily Anglophone contexts and Bulgaria and other ordinarily non-Anglophone contexts. Again, both historical patterns and current practice within the discipline in Bulgaria may figure here.

Maya Pencheva, Head of the English and American Studies Department, Sofia University

Official and ‘unofficial’ resources in English Studies in Bulgaria
Madeleine Danova, Sofia University

The Retrainees’ Program in English at the English and American Studies Department at Sofia University
Julia Stefanova, Fulbright Commission in Bulgaria, Sofia University

The Fulbright Commission and the English and American Studies Department at Sofia University
Tsvetomira Venkova, Sofia University

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the English Studies in Bulgaria: Opportunities for Research and Academic Exchange
Ludmila Martanovschi, Ovidius University, Constanta

Professional Associations and Publications for English Studies in Romania


Sunday, 12 October

Pedagogic Practice and the Classroom
Panel leader and organiser: Milena Katsarska, Plovdiv University
This panel will focus on the conceptual principles and pragmatic realities that pertain to the delivery of English Studies curricula/programmes in Bulgarian (and always Romanian and UK to some extent) Higher Education. This could include discussion of how the institutional arrangements for teaching and learning English Studies is organised in Bulgaria (in terms of assessment, degree structure and progression within programmes, entry requirements and exit prospects and careers, student and teacher experience, etc.); what conceptual frames apply to face-to-face teaching and learning, or broadly in the ‘classroom’, in Bulgaria (so, the classroom as an institutional space with power relations, as an intellectual space following certain notions of deliberation and transmission, as a microcosm of broader social and cultural relationships, etc.) insofar as this pertains to English Studies; and so on.

Suman Gupta (OU); Lubo Terziev (SU); Ann Hewings (OU); Alexandra Bagasheva (SU); Milena Katsarska (PU)

The panel on Pedagogy and the Classroom is positioned towards the end of workshop activities. At that stage workshop participants would have acquired a sense of a) the overall content structure of English degrees in Bulgaria (and Romania) b) historical developments and transformations within the discipline on the level of content, curricula, scholarship, etc. c) canonical texts d) ‘internal’ and ‘external’ influences, such as the Fulbright commission, for example; among others. The overall aim of this panel is to invite contributions from every participant in the workshop, contributions stemming from personal professional experience of teaching English Studies in a range of ‘classrooms’, i.e. Linguistic, Literary, Culture Studies, Translation, etc. and in a number of specific contexts, i.e. pertaining to location, institution, degree level, time-frame.
Milena Katsarska, Plovdiv University
Introduction: Students reflections on Classroom experience in English Studies in Bulgaria
Based on the project-related activities last year (the conducted Student survey), I will do a brief introduction into the make up of the student body studying English at the three universities, students’ interests, expectations, and career aspirations and their comments when interacting with the English Studies degree in Bulgaria.
Suman Gupta, Open University
The English Studies Classroom
I will speak briefly, and in a very general way (without focusing on specific institutions or sessions), on my recent experience of sitting in on English classes (both Literature and Language) in three Bulgarian universities. I will first introduce the objectives of these observation sessions, and the manner in which they were organised. Second, I will reflect on the nuances of being an observer for research purposes, and the ways in which that may clarify or complicate the space of the classroom and pedagogic practices relevant to English studies. And third, I will consider the ways in which, within my limited experience, the discipline of English seemed to me to be understood in terms of teaching practice. In particular, I will ponder the manner in which the discipline was accommodated within the Bulgarian context in these sessions, if at all.
Lubo Terziev, Sofia University
The Literature Classroom within English Studies
The talk will focus on a feasible combination between a range of concerns and approaches in the EngLit classroom. Here are some of the questions that will be posed:

  • Is EngLit about making them think; or is it about making them feel; or is it about making them better individuals?

  • Should we encourage students to identify the world of literature with their own lives?

  • How can/should history and politics be incorporated in an EngLit class?

  • Should the pleasure of reading a literary text be suppressed or promoted?

  • How could theory contribute to a Literature class?

In my short talk I will draw upon my experience as a teacher of 18th Century and Romanticism at Sofia University. It seems to me that before we focus on how we do things in an EngLit classroom, we should figure out what the raison d'etre of the whole thing is. The question of the agenda of a core course in English Literature offered to non-native speakers of English has been on my mind over the last few years. I will just share my concerns with you.

Alexandra Bagasheva, Sofia University

Studying and Teaching Linguistics at the English and American Studies Department at Sofia University
I will briefly review the overall Linguistics module in the BA degree at the Department of British and American Studies at Sofia University. I will focus on the emergent necessities to

create a hybrid-like subject of General English Linguistics, which is grossly impoverished in terms of the framing of general linguistic theories and models and restricted in its representation of the English linguistic realities. I will discuss how the classroom practice drastically changed when the teaching of the introductory course in General Linguistics was incorporated in the department. I will touch upon the difficulties students encounter due to the lack of uniformity of the background theoretical bases adopted in each of the separate disciplines comprising the Linguistics module. I will share my concerns about the need of a more pronounced focus in the nature of the modules and the need to reduce its theoretical load and orient the courses towards current English linguistic practices.

Ann Hewings, Open University
Recently I have begun thinking about the disciplinary differences for our students of moving between the epistemological frames of English language and English literature. I can bring experience of how language study is conceptualised within an ‘English’ degree in the UK and some of the problems that causes for students moving between a language and a literature focus.

Sunday, 12 October
English Literature Studies in Comparative Perspective
Panel leader and organiser: Cleo Protohristova, PlovdivUniversity
This panel will seek to address

a) constructions and shifting paradigms of comparative literature (generally) as conceptualized, conceived of and practiced in Bulgaria;

b) the institutionalisation of comparative literature (from a historical as well as present day viewpoint) through scholarship and courses, such as Western European Literature, among others;

c) the space and articulation of the location of English Literature Studies within that comparative literature paradigm; and

d) the comparison of English Literature Studies space within that comparativist paradigm with German, French and other Literature Studies.

Rumiana Stancheva, Sofia University

Преподаването на английската литература в контекста на българското гимназиално образование. Компаративни аспекти.
Изучаването на литература в гимназията помага за формирането на характера, но и за изграждане на социални и политически представи. Докосването до чуждите литератури привнася и различието, дължащо се на чуждата среда и културна традиция. Опознаването на Другия, позволява по-задълбочено осмисляне на собствената идентичност, в сравнителен план.

В случая с английската литература, макар че Шекспир се е превърнал в каноничен автор за българските учебници, по-нови автори рядко се включват в гимназиалните учебници. Все още недостатъчно представена е литературата на модернизма, на ХХ век и изобщо на западните автори. Сред европейските писатели се забелязва запазено предимство за френски и немски писатели, съобразно с разбиранията на ХІХ и началото на ХХ век. Английската литература, нито американската, все още не е достигнала съответствие с водещото си място като изучаван в България език. Най-модерните текстове от английската литература са на Даниел Дефо, на Байрон и на Шели. Докладът предлага съотношения, по които да се уравновеси чуждестранният литературен материал, с оглед на английската литература.

Teaching English Literature in the Context of Bulgarian High Schools:

Comparative Perspectives
High school study of literature fosters both character development and the construction of social and political views. In the process of engaging with foreign literatures pupils develop an awareness of difference which stems from a different context and cultural tradition. Knowledge of the Other contributes to the deeper understanding of one’s own identity in a comparative perspective.

When we consider English Literature, even though Shakespeare has become a canonical figure for textbooks in Bulgaria, more contemporary writers are rarely included in high school textbooks. The literature of Modernism, of the 20th century and, more generally, of western writers is insufficiently represented. Among European writers we can note the long-term dominance of French and German authors, in accordance with views dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Neither the study of English literature, nor American literature for that matter, corresponds to the degree to which the study of English as a language dominates in Bulgaria. The most contemporary texts of English literature belong to Daniel Defoe, Byron and Shelly. The presentation offers ratios to balance foreign literature in view of English.

Iskra Nikolova, National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts
Презентацията разглежда значимата роля на британистиката като интегрален компонент от курса по Западноевропейска литература в НАТФИЗ „Кр. Сарафов”. Тя фокусира върху междукултурните, интердисциплинарни и интермедиални аспекти на заниманията с английска и британска литература в процеса на обучение на студентите по сценични и екранни изкуства, театрознание и кинознание. Изследва се функционалната връзка на тези занимания с формирането на общи, „преносими” умения у студентите, а също и със специфичните им професионални потребности, интереси и дейности. В този контекст се посочват и анализират някои подходящи учебно-образователни стратегии и практически методологически подходи.
The presentation investigates the significant role of British Studies as an integrative component of the Western European Literature curriculum at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, Bulgaria. It focuses on the intercultural, interdisciplinary and intermedial aspects of British Literature Studies for students of Stage and Screen Arts, Theatrology and Filmology. These studies are functionally related to the development and enhancement of the students’ generic, transferable skills; they are also relevant to their specific professional interests, needs and activities. Some appropriate teaching/learning strategies and practical methodological approaches are presented and examined within this context.
Ognyan Kovachev, Sofia University
Изучаване на готическия роман в съпоставителен план.

Въпроси на превода и канона
В този доклад ще споделя своите наблюдения и опит от изследването и преподаването в България на британския готически роман като литературно и естетическо явление. Изучаването му в плана на сравнителното литературознание има редица предпоставки. Най-очевидната и същевременно най-абстрактната е асиметричността на поставения проблем, произтичаща от дисконтинуитета между предмета и контекста на разглеждането, поне на пръв поглед. Тя предполага епистемологична нагласа към миналото, различна от тази в традиционния праволинеен исторически разказ. Друга предпоставка е преносът на един от най-характерните жанрове на британското късно Просвещение/ранен Романтизъм в коренно различна темпорална, езикова, териториална, културна, историческа и т. н. среда. Най-активни посредници в този пренос са преводът, читателската и критическата рецепция, и академичното изследване. Вследствие на различията в сродството у нас се наблюдават особени естетически, оценъчни и мисловни реакции/предразсъдъци спрямо жанра, друг състав и порядък на неговия канон, (не)възможни съотнасяния с родната литература и др. Тези особености неизбежно предпоставят една обратна перспектива на изследване, аналогична на тази в постмодерните или постколониалните подходи.

Третото основание е иманентно разнородният контекст на първородния готически роман (1764-1820). Той обхваща плетеница от теми като архитектурата, историята, рода и произхода на нацията, сънищата, свръхестественото, възвишеното и ужасното, гения, природата и знанието, погледа и другите сетива. Четвърта предпоставка е критическата, академичната, каноничната, естетическата и социологичната преоценка на готиката, успоредно с утвърждаването на неоготическата култура в Америка и Западна Европа през последните петдесетина години. В България процесът на „готицизиране”, подобно на много други, започна едва след 1990 г. Ще се спра по-подробно на два негови аспекта: възприемането и преобразуването на жанровия канон, както и преводимостта и/или криворазбирането на основни произведения и понятия в готическите изследвания. Надявам се така да допринеса за тяхното по-функционално разбиране и ефективно прилагане както в българския, така и в съпоставителен контекст.

Studying the Gothic novel in Comparative Perspective.

Canon and Translation.
In this presentation I will share my personal professional observations and experience of researching and teaching the British Gothic novel as a literary and aesthetic phenomenon in Bulgaria. There are a number of factors involved for study of the Gothic novel within comparative literature studies. The most obvious and at the same time most abstract is the asymmetry of the subject matter which is rooted in the discontinuity between the subject of study and its context, at first glance at least. It presupposes an epistemological aptitude towards the past, away from the traditional linear historical story line. Another factor is the transference of one of the most characteristic genres of British late Enlightenment/early Romanticism to a fundamentally different temporal, linguistic, territorial, cultural, historical, etc. context. The most active mediators in this transfer are translation, readers’ and critical reception and academic research. Due to differences in kinship we can note a number of particular aesthetic and evaluative reactions/prejudices in thinking about the genre, a different constitution and system of its canon, (im)possible comparisons with local literature, etc. These particularities inevitably require a reverse perspective of study, analogous to that of postmodern and postcolonial approaches.

The third reason is the immanently heterogeneous context of the ‘original’ Gothic novel (1764-1820). It encompasses an intricate web of themes, such as architecture, history, origin of kin and nation, dreams, the supernatural, sublime and horror, genius, nature and knowledge, the gaze and the senses. The fourth aspect lies in the critical, academic, canonical, aesthetic and social revaluation of the Gothic in parallel to the consolidation of Neo-gothic culture in America and West Europe during the last fifty years.

In Bulgaria, the process of ‘Gothicisation’, similarly to a number of other processes, began only after 1990. I will focus in more detail on two of its aspects: the reception and transformation of the genre canon and the translatability and/or misreading of core works and terms in the study of the Gothic. I hope that in this way I will contribute to their more functional understanding and application both for the Bulgarian context and in a comparative perspective.

Vitana Kostadinova, Plovdiv University

English literature in Comparative literature textbooks: Romanticism

In this paper I would like to examine presentations of English literature in three academic textbooks of Comparative literature. The Bulgarian academic reception of English literature, outside English studies programmes, is a largely unresearched area and I cannot offer an overview of the whole; instead, I am proposing an outline of a fraction: versions of English Romanticism in Mitov and Peshev's "The literature of Western Europe from the French Revolution to the Paris Commune", Cleo Protohristova's comparative analysis of West European literature and Simeon Hadzhikosev's "West European literature", part 3. On the one hand, I would be interested in the assigned significance of English Romanticism when contrasted with German, French, or Italian Romanticism. On the other hand, it would be intriguing to compare discussions of English Romanticism from a comparative (European) perspective to discussions of the period and its literature within English studies and the ensuing hierarchies of authors and works.

Cleo Protohristova, Plovdiv University

Изложението представя началните стъпки на университетското преподаване на английска литература в България, осъществени в рамките на изнасяните от професор Иван Шишманов курсове по обща и сравнителна литературна история. Специално внимание ще бъде отделено на курса, посветен на литературата от ХVІІІ век, тъй като той е най-добре документиран, а и същевременно дава най-добри възможности за осмисляне на спецификите в представянето на английската литература спрямо литературата на Просвещението в останалите западноевропейски страни.

Конкретният курс се разглежда както в собствената му структурираност и съотносимостта му с основния академичен проект на Иван Шишманов, така и в перспективата на неговата нормозадаваща роля, предпоставила устойчив програмен модел, който в една или друга степен продължава да бъде валиден и в актуалните университетски практики.

The Pre-History of Higher Education English Studies

in Bulgaria: the Academic Project of Ivan Shishmanov
My presentation will focus on the initial steps of English literature university teaching in Bulgaria within the frame of the series of lectures in general and comparative literature history conducted by professor Ivan Shishmanov. I will focus in more detail on 18th century literature course since it is best-documented and gives sufficient material for considering the particularities of representing English literature vis-à-vis the literature of the Enlightenment in other West European countries.

The course in question will be rendered within its own structure as well as in relation to the academic project of Ivan Shishmanov and its normative status, a status that has perpetuated a stable programme model, which in a number of ways is still valid for contemporary Higher Education practices.

The workshop is part of the Network project: English Studies in East European Higher Education and is supported by the Leverhulme Trust and the Open University, UK

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