Our Mission

ILCS supports research in the integrated study of languages, cultures, and societies. Though its strengths reside primarily within the fields of French and Francophone, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American/Caribbean studies, it supports the transnational study of languages and cultures while seeking to advance connections with organisations that focus on cultural and linguistic experience in other global contexts. Its staff’s expertise bridges literary, historical, ethnographic, and digital research, with a particular emphasis on postcolonial and migration studies, and the environmental humanities. ILCS is an integral part of the School of Advanced Study which, through the collective work of its eight Institutes, promotes interdisciplinary research.

The role of ILCS is to:

  • promote the value and importance of the integrated study of languages, cultures and societies, and strengthen the position of the subject area within the wider Humanities.
  • shape the development of research culture in close collaboration with subject associations, AMLUK, the British Academy, the AHRC, and the UCML.
  • foreground the contribution of the subject area in addressing issues of societal concern and encourage researchers to consider the policy dimensions of their work.
  • convene strategically focused lectures, workshops, colloquia, conferences, and public engagement initiatives within and across languages and encompassing literary, cultural and societal research.
  • support and nurture postgraduate and Early Career researchers through expert PhD supervision and mentoring.
  • develop a cutting-edge research training series that responds to the needs of the subject community and supports the development of current and future generations of researchers.
  • enable researchers to collaborate in a wide range of national and international networks, within and outside academia.
  • ensure that research initiatives are connected across the educational landscape.
  • demonstrate research value to the wider public, through its visiting and funded fellowship schemes, through its conference grants, and through its publications series.
  • facilitate and build networks with citizen and community groups as well as with institutions across the GLAM sector.
  • advocate for greater inclusivity and diversity of representation and to support efforts to decolonise the disciplinary area in all our areas of work.

Our Vision

Our vision for the future is to build upon the past work of the Institute, its Centres, and the strength of its connection to subject associations to offer a bold and future-oriented definition of the subject area that speaks to global concerns and offers a clear rationale of its importance to the wider public.

The Institute has recently changed its name to the Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies (ILCS) following consultation with the subject associations that represent Modern Languages, Area Studies, and Linguistics. The new name has the advantage of better capturing the research and teaching that occurs across the UK in the disciplinary field. It aligns with subject benchmarking, reflects the increasing trend for university departments to move away from the name ‘Modern Languages’, and makes the subject area clearly identifiable to our colleagues across the Humanities and Social Sciences. It links the development of a specialist knowledge of the language(s) that are spoken in a given area with cross-cultural and real life concerns.

In 2021, the Institute created the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), which allowed for a substantial part of the Institute of Latin American Studies to move to the Institute after its closure. The interface between the Humanities and Social Sciences that defines the work of CLACS represents an extremely valuable resource for researchers across the broader disciplinary area, with the new name more fully capturing this vital work.

The revised name has the advantage of being a much more literal description of a subject area and of denoting a discipline that is wide-ranging, porous, and open to different emphases and inflections wherever it is practiced. It dispenses with any distinction between ‘modern’ and ‘community’ languages and better reflects the established fact that many university departments are increasingly offering an expanded range of languages from across the globe. It is likely to prove more effective in demarcating an area of the university that can be more readily understood, more inclusive, and the purpose of which is clearer; namely in providing a framework, with its constant reference to past experience, through which to address the most pressing challenges with which society as a whole is faced.

ILCS changed its name from the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) in October 2022. The IMLR was formerly known as the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies (IGRS), which was established in 2005 with the merger of the Institute of Germanic Studies and the Institute of Romance Studies, founded in 1950 and 1989 respectively.