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Two theme Leadership Fellows announced

Date: 11/07/2012

Leadership Fellows have been announced for two of the AHRC's themes - Digital Transformations and Translating Cultures. They are Professor Andrew Prescott of King's College London for the Digital Transformations theme and Professor Charles Forsdick of the University of Liverpool for Translating Cultures.

The Leadership Fellows will provide intellectual and strategic leadership for the further development of the themes and will work closely with senior AHRC Programmes staff to develop partnerships within and beyond academia.

The Digital Transformations theme is exploring areas in which arts and humanities researchers are undertaking new and innovative research using digital technologies. Imaginative use of digital methods is reshaping our understanding of such fundamental issues in the arts and humanities as authorship, space, materiality and identity, and research questions in the arts and humanities are posing new challenges to engineers and scientists which will help generate the technologies of the future.

Professor Andrew Prescott said: 'One of my most vivid memories is of the first time I saw the World Wide Web in 1993. I knew immediately that this would profoundly change everything I had learnt as a humanities scholar. My career has been bound up with the exploration of these changes ever since, and I am delighted and honoured to have this opportunity to work with the AHRC, its award holders and external partners and stakeholders to help ensure that the arts and humanities are at the forefront of our emerging digital cultures. I fervently believe that the arts and humanities have the vision and imagination to help ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of digital innovation and that the arts and humanities will play a central role in the digital economy.'

Translating Cultures will address issues of substantial policy relevance in areas such as cultural exchange and diplomacy, multiculturalism, tolerance, identities and migration, explore issues such as youth language and online language, and promote opportunities for researchers in all these fields to work across language areas and across disciplines.

Professor Forsdick said: 'The Translating Cultures theme underpins much of the innovative and important work that students and researchers are currently conducting in the arts and humanities. It provides scope for exploration of a range of subjects characterized by historical depth, geographical breadth, cultural diversity and conceptual complexity. Perhaps most importantly, Translating Cultures will stimulate arts and humanities scholars to pursue our active and critical engagement with the hypercomplexity of the contemporary world. Questions of translation, translatability and - equally, if not more importantly - untranslatability have wide-ranging implications, socially, culturally and politically, and I hope that the theme will as a result attract considerable attention within and beyond the academic sphere. I am looking forward to working with other award holders, AHRC staff and a wider community of scholars and other key partners to develop the theme and achieve this aim.'

Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of the Research at the AHRC, said: 'The AHRC's Digital Transformations and Translating Cultures themes have evolved significantly since the original consultation with the research community took place in 2009. Through the support of their respective Theme Advisory Groups and the ongoing engagement from researchers across a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, both themes are moving forward on a series of challenging intellectual agendas. These appointments will enhance the potential for the themes to generate new narratives around core questions, seek out further research opportunities and renew the dynamic nature of the academic, collaborative and partnership working made possible through such approaches. We're really looking forward to working with Andrew and Charles over the coming years in supporting their specific theme and the collective research strength of all our themes.'

It is expected that appointments to the Care for the Future and the Science in Culture themes will be made in the autumn.

Identified through the Future Directions consultation in 2009, the AHRC's themes provide a funding focus for emerging areas of interest to arts and humanities researchers.

Notes to editors

Professor Andrew Prescott is Professor of Digital Humanities and Head of the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London. He was formerly a Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library, where he played a leading role in the Library's pioneering Initiatives for Access programme and co-ordinated the Library's involvement in the award-winning Electronic Beowulf project. Professor Prescott has also worked in digital humanities centres at the Universities of Sheffield and Glasgow, and was Pro Vice-Chancellor and Librarian at the University of Wales Trinity St David. He is currently Chair of the Network of Centres in the UK and Ireland, a consortium of leading digital humanities centres.

Professor Charles Forsdick was appointed James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool in 2001 where he is currently Head of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. He is a strong advocate for the centrality of Modern Languages to arts and humanities research, and is a specialist in the cross-disciplinary fields of travel writing, slavery studies, postcolonial literature and colonial history. He has been a visiting professor in Paris, Barcelona and Melbourne, and was awarded a British Academy Senior Research Fellowship in 2004 and a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2005 for his contribution to Modern Languages. He has served on the executive committees of the Association of University Professors and Heads of French and the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies, and is currently President of the Society for French Studies and became a Fellow of the Academy of Europe in 2011.

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