Modern and Medieval Languages

The Medieval and Modern Languages (MML) Tripos

There are normally about 20 undergraduates at Corpus reading a variety of European languages. Most take four years to graduate, spending their third year in a country of their choice as an English teaching assistant at a school, on a course at a foreign University, or in approved employment. The Part IA and Part IB system requires two languages to be read, and one or two in a mixture of options chosen by the student for Part II. Although many of our students continue with languages they took at A Level, most commonly French and Spanish, others are attracted by the possibility of starting something different – modern languages that may be taken from scratch include Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Russian and Spanish. A genuine enthusiasm for the country and culture is an important key to success. The Part IA and Part IB courses consist of practical language work and oral practice, plus the study of the literature or the history of the language, for each of the two languages. Language exercises continue in Part II, which also entails a selection of topics from a long list of options, including literature from the medieval to the modern periods, aspects of the history of languages, branches of linguistics and other courses of a comparative or inter-disciplinary nature, such as film. A further possibility involves reading languages for Part IA and Part IB, before switching to Law, Linguistics or History of Art, for example, for Part II.

What do we look for in MML applicants?

Through interviews and its selection of candidates, Corpus tries to assess linguistic aptitude as well as literary and cultural interests and general motivation. A short written comprehension test, with answers to be offered in a foreign language, deals with one language taken at A Level and to be read at University. In addition, a passage of literary or topical interest is set for reading and brief discussion, followed by a more general discussion during the course of the interview.

The departmental webpage has specimens of the admissions tests as well as the criteria used to mark them.

Why study MML at Corpus?

The College has excellent teaching provision in modern languages. At Corpus the Directors of Studies are Dr. John David Rhodes, University Lecturer in Film in the Department of Italian and Prof Emma Wilson, Professor in contemporary French literature and film. Dr. Rhodes’ and Professor Wilson’s presence at Corpus make the College especially strong in the study of modern European literature and culture, with an emphasis on film and the visual arts. The College makes arrangements for tuition in all languages, and students are actively guided to pursue study in all periods of European literature, according to their interests. Like all other colleges, only a limited number of languages and specialties are represented within its own Fellowship, but one of the attractions of modern language studies is the contact-time with a range of teachers at different colleges. Furthermore, the College employs a French lectrice, and native speakers are engaged for conversation practice. Generous travel grants for studies undertaken during the vacation periods are available. These factors make Corpus an intimate and supportive, but also dynamic and expansive college in which to study Modern and Medieval Literature.

Prof Emma Wilson
Emma Wilson researches the visual arts, film, gender and female writers. She is the author of Sexuality and the Reading Encounter (OUP, 1996), French Cinema since 1950: Personal Histories (Duckworth, 1999), Memory and Survival: The French Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski (Legenda, 2000), Cinema’s Missing Children (Wallflower, 2003), Alain Resnais (Manchester, 2006) and Atom Egoyan (Illinois University Press, 2009). Her volume Love, Mortality and the Moving Image appeared in 2012. She is currently developing a project about contemporary female artists and film-makers working in Paris.
Dr John David Rhodes
John David Rhodes works on European and American cinema, with a strong focus on Italian cinema and culture. He is especially interested in putting cinema into conversation with other artistic, cultural and material forms. Dr Rhodes offers supervisions on a wide range of topics in Italian, European, American and international cinema, in addition to aesthetic theory, queer theory, the history and theory of modernism in film, literature and the other arts, as well as other (often interdisciplinary) topics and areas.
Rhiannon Harries, Research Fellow in Modern Languages Rhiannon Harries is a Research Fellow whose research focuses on time, ethics and politics in contemporary European documentary film.
JW head portrait (2)Prof Joachim Whaley
Joachim Whaley’s research interests lie in German history, thought and culture from 1500 to the present day. He is the author of Religious Toleration and Social Change in Hamburg, 1529-1819 (CUP, 1985) and the editor of Mirrors of Mortality: Studies in the Social History of Death (Europa, 1981, Routledge, 2011). His latest book is Germany and the Holy Roman Empire 1493-1806, 2 vols (OUP, 2012), which covers virtually every aspect of German history from the reign of Maximilian I to the dissolution of the Reich in 1806. He is currently writing a history of German-speaking Europe from the later Middle Ages to the present day. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2015.
For further information, see:

Watch Corpus Fellow and Director of Studies Dr. Rhodes discuss the relationship between Italian Renaissance painting and cinematic space below.

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