Celebrating 50 years of Catalan at Bristol
10 September 2015
To mark the 50th anniversary of the teaching of Catalan at Bristol, Dr Sally-Ann Kitts, Director of Catalan Studies, has been invited by the Catalan civic organisation, Omnium Cultural, to be their guest for the National Day of Catalonia (La Diada) events on 11 September.
Catalan Studies began at Bristol in 1965 – at a time when it was banned in Catalonia by the fascist Franco regime – after the appointment of Catalan poet and essayist Dr Antoni Turull (1933-1990). The programme has been directed by Dr Kitts since 1990 and supported financially and culturally with a grant from the Autonomous Government of Catalonia.
Around 50 Bristol students a year now learn Catalan, and last year the School of Modern Languages appointed a Bristol Catalan alumnus and expert in Catalan socio-linguistics, Dr James Hawkey, to a Lecturership in Linguistics, providing an opportunity to further expand the Catalan programme.
Dr Kitts will be one of 27 international visitors, including French sociologist Alain Touraine, Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh and English journalist Suzanne Moore. The programme of events includes meeting the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, and talking to members of political and civic organisations both in favour and against independence.
The National Day of Catalonia commemorates Catalonia’s troubled past, specifically the date in 1714 when Catalan troops were finally defeated by the armies of King Philip V of Spain and Catalonia lost all of its ancient rights and legal privileges. However in recent years La Diada has also become a day of mass peaceful protest when Catalans take to the streets to show their support for the creation of an independent Catalan state within Europe.