Medieval Scholar Joins Faculty as Visiting Professor

The Department is pleased to welcome Lucas Wood as a Visiting Assistant Professor for 2015-16. Professor Wood received his PhD in French from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, completing a dissertation entitled “Allegory Effects: The Romance of Redemption, the Redemption of Romance, and the Queste del Saint Graal. Before coming to IU, Wood served as Lecturer in the Department of French & Francophone Studies at Pennsylvania State University (2012-13) and as Junior Research Fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Culture of Durham University, UK (2013-15).

Professor Wood’s publications include articles in French Forum, Medium Aevum, and the Romanic Review, as well as a chapter on the Queste del Saint Graal in Murder Most Foul: Medieval and Early Modern Homicide (Larissa Tracy, ed., Boydell & Brewer press). He also has a wide range of teaching experience, including Sex, Gender & Identity in the Middle Ages & Renaissance at Durham, Paris: Anatomy of a City at Penn State, and French language courses. Here at IU, he is teaching F361 La France medieval (à 1500) and F300 Reading & Expression in French. This young scholar is indeed a welcome addition to our community!

Professors Receive NEH Grant for Summer Institute

Professor Eileen Julien and a team of faculty collaborators from three universities have received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of nearly $200,000 for a summer institute in 2016 entitled "Arts of Survival: Recasting Lives in African Cities." Professor Oana Panaïté, also in our department, is a collaborator on this important enrichment opportunity for twenty-five college and university professors. The other team members are Professors James Ogude (Research Fellow, University of Pretoria, South Africa), Akin Adesokan (Department of Comparative Literature and the Media School, IUB), and Grace Musila (English, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa).

The project explores contemporary urban culture and arts in African and African diaspora cities--Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, New Orleans and Port-au-Prince. These cities share African "roots," but are distinctive because of the unique "routes" that subsequently shaped them: landscapes and histories; multiple languages; waves of immigrants who brought and continue to bring their labor, culture and creativity; and the sometimes tragic events, both “natural” (hurricanes and earthquakes) and man-made (political violence and legacies of colonialism and slavery), that these cities have undergone. Says Julien, “Our goal is to examine how art engages the political and social hierarchies embedded in these cities and often recasts marginal or precarious lives into lives that exceed their constraining structures.”

The Department congratulates Professor Julien and her team for this prestigious award! View a complete list of NEH grants awarded this summer.

Pi Delta Phi Chapter Installed at IUB

The Department of French and Italian is the proud location of the newest chapter of the French national honor society Pi Delta Phi. The Omicron Upsilon chapter was officially installed at IU-Bloomington on Friday, April 3 in the University Club, in the Indiana Memorial Union. Pi Delta Phi Vice President and IU alumna Olga Amarie (PhD ’11) conducted the installation. Professor Barbara Vance, Director of Undergraduate Studies in French, planned and organized the chapter installation, and identified students who met the membership criteria. Thirty-two students were initiated into the organization as the first class of honorees in the new chapter.

Pi Delta Phi is the oldest academic honor society for a modern foreign language in the United States, founded at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1906. It is comprised of more than 370 chapters and is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and endorsed by the American Association of Teachers of French. Its purpose is to recognize outstanding scholarship in the French language and its literatures, to increase the knowledge and appreciation of Americans for the cultural contributions of the French-speaking world, and to stimulate and to encourage French and francophone cultural activities. The current president of Pi Delta Phi is Professor Scott Fish (Augustana College).

Department Mourns the Passing of Mark Musa

Professor Mark Musa in 1983
Photo credit: Indiana University Archives

We are saddened by the passing of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Mark Louis Musa in Mallorca, Spain on Dec. 31, 2014. Professor Musa was a world-renowned scholar of Dante whose critical editions and translations are essential reading in the field of medieval Italian studies. He was a professor in the Department from 1965 to 1999.

Mark Musa earned an undergraduate degree at Rutgers University in 1956, where he studied with poet and literary critic John Ciardi, under whose tutelage he translated and published a new version of Dante's Vita Nuova, an edition that has been continuously in print since its appearance in 1961. Musa completed his doctorate in Italian Studies in 1961 at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Leo Spitzer, Charles Singleton, and Anna Granville Hatcher before coming to Indiana University in the same year. In 1965, Musa founded the Indiana University Bologna Consortial Studies Program, which continues to offer students an enriching study abroad experience to the present day, and it was under his guidance that the Italian doctoral program was first established on the Bloomington campus.

Professor Musa received a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy (1956-58) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1971), as well as Indiana University's Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring Award in 1996. During his long and productive career, he became known as one of America's most skillful translators and critics of Italian literary classics, including not only the Vita Nuova but also Dante's Divine Comedy, Petrarch's Canzoniere, Boccaccio's The Decameron, Machiavelli's The Prince, The Italian Renaissance Reader, and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, some of which were products of his collaboration with other Indiana University colleagues. His books were published by major university and commercial presses, including The Viking Press, Penguin, Norton, Oxford University Press, and Indiana University Press. For his fine work on Dante, he was awarded the "Fiorino d'oro" ("gold florin") by the city of Florence, Italy.

Thanks to Peter Bondanella, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, for the obituary.

Research Group Works on Occitan Roman de Flamenca

Flamenca Corpus

A group of six scholars from the Department of French & Italian and the Department of Linguistics have launched an online database of the corpus of the 13th-century Old Occitan Romance of Flamenca. The digital project has two purposes: as material for linguistic research, and to aid in broader studies in linguistics and Occitan culture. The result of this work in progress can be seen online: First, through the interactive database with parallel glossary and comments, and secondly through the ANNIS web-search engine. Though now very limited in use, Occitan was a thriving language of southern France (Provence) in medieval times. It is best known as the language of troubadors, who wrote and performed lyric poetry set to music, often with themes of courtly love and chivalry.

At present, the project team is comprised of doctoral student Olga Scrivner (French Linguistics/Computational Linguistics), who bridges the two departments involved; doctoral student Eric Beuerlein, Adjunct Assistant Professor Devan Steiner, and Associate Professor Barbara Vance from the Department of French & Italian; and Associate Professor Sandra Kübler and doctoral student Michael McGuire from the Department of Linguistics. They are working with the freely available 1905 edition of the Roman de Flamenca by P. Meyer and the English translation by E.D. Blodgett from the University of Alberta. Scrivner semi-automatically annotates the Occitan data and maintains the interactive website and the online search engine. Steiner and Beuerlein assist Scrivner with the manual correction of scanned text, part-of-speech tags, and syntactic parsing. McGuire provides correction for the French translation and also extracts glossary items. Vance and Kübler provide the graduate students with guidance on the project.

The original Roman de Flamenca manuscript is preserved in the Bibliothèque Municipales de Carcasonne (France). This past summer, Scrivner introduced the corpus to the 11th Congrès de l'Associacion Internacionala d'Estudis Occitans in Lleida, Spain by presenting a linguistic pilot study based on the corpus and co-authored with Blodgett, Kübler, and McGuire.

Department Welcomes Vincent Bouchard

Vincent Bouchard

The Department of French & Italian is pleased to welcome Vincent Bouchard as a new Assistant Professor in the French/Francophone Studies program. Bouchard is a specialist in Francophone media and cultural studies, including both cultural and technical aspects of media and focused on the cultures of Francophone Africa and North America. He earned a PhD in comparative literature from the Université de Montréal and a Doctorat en études cinématographiques et audiovisuelles at the Sorbonne nouvelle, Paris III, both in 2006. Bouchard joins us after five years in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. We expect his work will find resonance in the new IU Media School within the College of Arts and Sciences, which was launched on July 1, 2014.

Professor Bouchard’s book Pour un cinéma léger et synchrone à Montréal! was published by Septentrion University Press in 2012 and deals with the aesthetic, institutional, and technical development of film in Québec during the late 1950s and 1960s. In collaboration with Germain Lacasse (Université de Montréal) and Gwenn Scheppler, he has co-directed an issue of the scientific journal Cinémas (Le bonimenteur et ses avatars, Cinémas, vol. 20, n° 1, 2010), and the book Pratiques orales du cinema (Editions L'Harmattan, Paris, 2011). With Fabrice Leroy, he also co-directed an issue of the scientific journal Études Francophones focused on Québec (UL-Lafayette, vol. 5, December 2010). Bouchard’s most recent publication, about the Quebecois novelist, political activist and filmmaker Hubert Aquin, appeared in the journal Québec Studies this year.

H. Wayne Storey Awarded NEH Grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced on July 21 that Professor H. Wayne Storey has received a grant of $275,000 over three years for “The Petrarchive Project: An Online Edition of 366 Poems by Petrarch.” The project is a collaboration with John A. Walsh, associate professor of library and information science in the School of Informatics and Computing.

Originally funded in 2013 with an IU New Frontiers grant, the NEH project focuses on the preparation for publication of a digital, “rich text” edition of Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, also known as the Canzoniere, that incorporates the complex visual poetics and book design that were integral to the poet’s techniques and the meaning of his poems. The edition will include an apparatus of variants, manuscript facsimiles, commentary and supporting material in English and Italian. While known as the poet credited with developing forms such as the sonnet and the sestina, Petrarch was also a scholar whose long years of study and annotation of classical works gave him unique views on the preparation and material construction of books. The Petrarchive Project will bring a fuller picture of Petrarch’s work to scholars worldwide.

PhD Candidate Participates in Monkey-Themed Conference in France

Kate Bastin outside the gate of the Château de Chantilly

Kathryn Bastin, a PhD candidate in French Literature in the Department of French & Italian, participated in the international conference “Singes et Singeries à la Renaissance” organized by the 16th-Century Workshop of the Université de Paris-Sorbonne on March 15, 2014. Bastin, who is currently finishing her year as a College of Arts and Sciences dissertation fellow, was among a select few scholars, mainly from Europe, to participate in this “Journée d’Études,” which took place at the Château de Chantilly north of Paris, known for its two monkey-themed rooms, the grand singerie (1737) and petite singerie (1735). In French, singe means both monkey and ape, and singerie can mean both monkey business and monkey room. Bastin’s PhD dissertation title is “Humanity in Play: Man Meets Monkey in Ancien Régime France,” so the conference was right up her alley.

At the conference, Bastin delivered a paper entitled “Les pièges de l’imitation: Ésope à Versailles,” that focused on the Labyrinth at Versailles, which was in existence approximately 1675 to 1775 and included 39 fountains with animals from Aesop’s fables, among them six monkeys. She explains that in French cultural history “we see a treatment of the monkey and ape as a figure that holds a mirror for the human in the Renaissance and the early modern period: the monkey allows man to behold himself.”

Bastin was particularly excited to visit the Château de Chantilly’s famous singeries, painted by Christophe Huet, as she will analyze them as part of her dissertation. Although the focus of the conference was on an earlier time period than her own research, Bastin noted the importance of “considering precursors to what I am studying, and how these anterior notions of the monkey and ape shaped the Old Régime treatment of the simian.” In today’s world of scientific understanding regarding our evolutionary precursors, the Renaissance attitude toward simians is indeed a fascinating topic.

Students celebrate commencement at FRIT reception

Italian students with Professor Massimo Scalabrini

Associate Professor Massimo Scalabrini (Director of Undergraduate Studies in Italian), Brandon-Lee Dayton, Athena Weber, and Margaret Uland at the commencement reception

On May 9, students, their families, and faculty members of the Department of French and Italian and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese gathered for our annual joint reception for graduating seniors in the State Room East of the Indiana Memorial Union. 24 French majors and 10 Italian majors either graduated from IU-Bloomington this May, or will graduate at the end of the summer. Among those in attendance was Hayleigh Elmore, who finished her BA in three years and has been hired by Teach for America to teach French next year in her home town of Dallas. Adriana Giuliani has just completed both a BA in Italian and a BS in microbiology, and she recalled fondly her year in Bologna, where she not only participated in the IU study abroad program but also completed an internship at the Hospital Bellaria. She is off to medical school at Ohio State in the fall, but plans to keep up her Italian skills by working on translations of poems and prose writing left by her late nonna (grandmother).

Several graduates plan to return to Europe to teach next year. Hayley Connizzo (BA in French and International Studies) and Brandon-Lee Dayton (BA in French, Italian, and Linguistics) will both participate in the TAPIF program, through which Americans serve as English teaching assistants in French middle schools and high schools. Meanwhile, Margaret Uland (BA Italian and Psychology) will be teaching English in Italy next year, at a high school in Busto Arsizio in Lombardy.

We wish all of our graduates the best of luck as they embark on new adventures post-IU!

PhD Candidate Hired by University of the West Indies

Jason Siegel

Jason Siegel, a PhD candidate in French linguistics, has been hired as a Junior Research Fellow in Lexicography at the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill in Barbados. Starting in January 2014, he will be taking charge of the Centre for Caribbean Lexicography, a small, international research center whose goal is to enable publication of lexicographic material (including terminology guides, bilingual dictionaries, differential dictionaries, and glossaries) of Caribbean language varieties. He will be responsible for promoting studies of three categories of languages: 1) Caribbean varieties of European languages, like Cuban Spanish or Martinican French, 2) Caribbean creole languages, such as Papiamentu, Jamaican Patwa, or St. Lucian Creole and 3) endangered languages of the Caribbean indigenous populations, such as those spoken in Belize or the Guianas.

This position complements well the lexicographic work Siegel has done on Louisiana French for a dictionary co-edited by Rudy Professor Emeritus Albert Valdman and Associate Professor Kevin Rottet. He also spent several months in French Guiana in 2011 working on lexicographic analysis of Guianese French Creole, so the position at UWI is a good fit for him. Siegel is currently writing his dissertation on code-switching between Haitian Creole, Guianese Creole, and French.

In addition to his duties at the research center in Barbados, he will also be teaching a linguistics course each semester at UWI. He is excited to start his new job and also about the location: “The campus is only a few blocks from the Caribbean Sea,” he says, “Perfect for those days when I just need to get out of the office for a little while.”

FRIT Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

This fall we welcome two new faculty members to the Department: Cara Takakjian and Kelly Farmer. Ms. Takakjian is a Visiting Lecturer in our Italian language program. She joins us from the PhD program at Harvard University, where she recently defended a dissertation titled "The Italian Graphic Novel: Reading Ourselves, Reading History." Her research and teaching interests include language and literature, particularly Italian popular culture, and film and modern literature with a focus on youth and other subcultures.

Ms. Farmer, who is a doctoral candidate in French linguistics at IUB, joins us as a Visiting Lecturer in our French language program. She is working on her dissertation titled "A diachronic study of sociopragmatic interrogative variation in French films from the 1930s to the present day" under the direction of Professor Julie Auger. She has many years’ experience teaching French at the secondary and college levels, and she served as editorial assistant for the journal Studies in Second Language Acquisition during the last two years.

Assistant Professor of French Publishes First Book

Nicolas Valazza

Assistant Professor of French Nicolas Valazza has published his first book Crise de plume et souveraineté du pinceau - Écrire la peinture de Diderot à Proust with the distinguished French press Classiques Garnier. The work explores the development of French art criticism as a literary genre, in light of the emerging paradigm of sovereignty of painting. The thesis at the core of the book is that the fall of the ut pictura poesis regime, which was governing the classical relationship between painting and literature until the second half of the 18th century, represents a critical moment in the discourse on art—corresponding to the birth of art criticism with Diderot—while causing a proliferation of new literary forms in the 19th century.

Annual Awards Ceremony Celebrates Achievements

Undergraduate student awards winners Naama Levy, Ellie Berry, Maria Walker, Jacob Ladyga, Katy Vaughn, Abigail Silbert, Susan Swanson, and Blake Steiner

French and Italian faculty and students gathered at the Herman B. Wells House on a sunny afternoon April 5 for the annual departmental awards ceremony. 17 students received awards for academic merit named after distinguished former faculty members and friends of the Department, one student was inducted into the Gamma Kappa Alpha Italian honorary society, and two Associate Instructors received special recognition for teaching excellence. The Department’s seven undergraduate majors selected for Phi Beta Kappa this semester were also recognized for their achievement, and the annual Trustees Teaching Award was given to Associate Professor of French linguistics Kevin Rottet. For a full list of award recipients, please see our awards page for undergraduates and graduate students.

After the awards were presented, family and friends joined in for coffee and sweet treats. The faculty members present agreed that there were many talented nominees this year, and it was difficult to choose even though 17 awards were available. We are indeed proud of our students who have excelled in their classes in the Department, as they are both a pleasure to teach and an inspiration to their peers.

Graduate Students Awarded Fellowships

Dissertation fellowship recipients Mary Migliozzi and Kathryn Bastin

The College of Arts and Sciences has awarded two of our advanced doctoral students dissertation fellowships for 2013-14 in the amount of $20,000. Mary Migliozzi, a student in Italian, received the Dissertation Completion Fellowship with the expectation that she will finish and defend her dissertation before the end of the summer 2014. She is working on a dissertation entitled “The Politics of Regional Language: Dialect Literature in Italian Periodicals During Fascism” under the direction of Professor Andrea Ciccarelli. Kathryn Bastin, a student in French literature, received the Dissertation Year Fellowship for her work on a thesis titled “Le singe est-il toujours singe?: Monkeys and Apes in the Grande Siècle and the Age of the Enlightenment.” She is working with two co-directors, Professors Hall Bjørnstad and Guillaume Ansart. We are proud that this is the second year in a row that two of our students have received College dissertation fellowships. Carla Bicoff (Italian) and Jennifer Betters (French linguistics) received the awards last year.

The Department of French and Italian has also rewarded a promising PhD student with a departmental fellowship. Georgy Khabarovskiy has received a Grace P. Young Fellowship to attend the Dartmouth Summer Institute in French Cultural Studies in June-July 2013. The Institute, now in its 11th year, aims to revitalize and enrich the teaching of French language, literature, and culture, and its theme this year is “Culture and Gastronomy.” Khabarovskiy, who plans a dissertation on the topic of travel narratives, looks forward to a summer experience that is beneficial both to his teaching and his research, as he makes connections with scholars from the US and France.

Graduate Student Nicole Burkholder Publishes Article

An article by first-year graduate student Nicole Burkholder (French literature program) has been published in the online French journal Transitions. The article, entitled "Penser le contresens avec Cyrano de Bergerac," examines the role of the dream in Cyrano's novel Etats et empires du soleil. Specifically, it considers how three of Cyrano's characters, in refusing to assign meanings to their dreams, commit the ultimate contresens. They forego an interpretation only to precipitate the realization of their nightmares, demonstrating that sometimes a dogmatic refusal to interpret is the greatest misinterpretation. This article is part of Nicole's ongoing engagement with the subject of dreams in French literature.

Transitions is a journal edited by Hélène Merlin-Kajman from the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, who was a visiting professor at IUB in Spring 2012.

Hendrickson Awarded Weathers Fellowship

Ryan Hendrickson, a doctoral candidate in French linguistics, has been awarded the departmental Gertrude F. Weathers Fellowship for dissertation research for Spring 2013. Hendrickson (MA French Linguistics, 2010) is working on a dissertation tentatively titled "The Liquid Consonants in Picard." The Picard language is closely related to French and is spoken as a minority language in the northern French provinces of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy. Hendrickson has studied the language as a research assistant for Professor Julie Auger and has already completed one chapter of the dissertation under Professor Auger's direction. The fellowship is named for Gertrude F. Weathers, an IU alumna and long-time teacher of French in Indiana public schools.

FRIT Congratulates its Graduating Seniors

Graduating Italian majors Abigail Silbert, Greg Attra, and Sam Park. Next to Sam is his girlfriend Rosella, whom he met while studying abroad in Bologna last year.

The Department of French and Italian once again partnered with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese to celebrate our graduating seniors at a reception the day before the spring commencement ceremonies. On May 3, 2013, State Room East of the Indiana Memorial Union was adorned with vases of roses and lilacs, and also with the smiles of students finishing their BA degrees. Among the attendees were our Directors of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Eric MacPhail and Associate Professor Massimo Scalabrini, who wished the students well in a brief program during the event.

Abigail Silbert, Sam Park, and Greg Attra sat together and reminisced about the Bologna overseas study program, which all three participated in during 2011-12. Abby will be teaching high school English in the Lombardy region of Italy next year, while Sam has applied to an MA program at the University of Gastronomical Sciences in the town of Bra, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Greg has a job lined up with Senator Angus King in his home state of Maine this summer, and he plans to pursue a degree in public service and social policy analysis at the Muskie School of Public Service of the University of Southern Maine.

French graduates Eleanor “Ellie” Berry and Bailey Hacker will both be teaching English at secondary schools in France next year through the French government teaching assistant program, while Jessica Johnson is looking forward to returning to francophone Africa, specifically Senegal, where she studied on IU’s Dakar program in Summer 2011. She has been admitted to a dual MA program in African Studies and Public Affairs at IUB for next fall.

In all, 30 French majors and 9 Italian majors are set to graduate this month. Congratulations to all our graduates. May your knowledge of French and Italian enrich your lives for years to come!

French Student Wins National Essay Contest

Will McHenry, a senior Hutton Honors College student majoring in French, has won the annual Women in French essay contest for the best undergraduate essay on French literature. His essay, titled "Corps emprisonnés et langage surveillé : Le parodique comme subversif dans Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement d'Assia Djebar," examines how Algerian novelist Djebar uses parody as subversion in her book Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (published in 2002). McHenry developed the essay as part of an individual readings course with Professor Oana Panaïté of the Department of French and Italian in Fall 2011.

French literature written outside of France, particularly in the area of North Africa known as the Maghreb, captured McHenry's interest a few years ago. When he signed up for the individual reading class with Prof. Panaïté, he originally planned to focus on literary translation, but after reading Djebar's novel for the second time (in preparation for translation), he was struck by the literary themes and became more interested in literary criticism and analysis of the work. He read several theoretical works by modern and contemporary experts in the field of literary criticsm and began to explore the representations of the body and sexuality, uses of speech and language with a text, specifically within Women of Algiers. Professor Panaïté was so impressed with the final essay that she recommended Will submit it to the Women in French contest.

Women in French is an group of scholars who wish to promote research on women writing in French, on women in literature and culture of French expression, and other domains of feminist literary criticism. It is affiliated with the Modern Language Association.

Reception a Fun Send-Off for Graduating Seniors

French BA graduates Olivia Stidham and Allison Billows

This year the Department of French and Italian once again co-hosted a reception for graduating seniors in the Indiana Memorial Union the day before spring commencement ceremonies, Friday May 4. The reception was held in collaboration with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, so students of various romance languages mingled with family, friends, and faculty members and enjoyed sweet treats in the State Room East. All students slated to graduate in May and August 2012 were invited (20 in French and 10 in Italian).

Among the attendees were two friends from the Italian program, Stefanie Orlowski and Jessica Wehr, both of whom participated in the Bologna overseas study program in Spring 2011 and plan to return to Italy soon. Stefanie will start the Middlebury College Italian MA program in June, first with classes in Middlebury, Vermont, and then in Florence. Jessica, this year's Mary V. Lèbano Prize winner, has applied to teach high school English in Lombardia as part of an exchange program.

From the French program, attendees included Sarah Chestnut and Alexandra Moxley, who chatted with Professor Hall Bjørnstad. Sarah, an alumna of the High School Honors Program in Brest (Bretagne) plans to pursue graduate study in education, and Alexandra will be teaching as part of the French government's teaching assistants program in Montpellier next fall. At another table, Olivia Stidham, one of this year's Grace Young Undergraduate Award recipients, also expressed her excitement at being selected as a French teaching assistant through the same program. She will be located in the Nancy/Metz area in northeastern France. Her friend and fellow French BA recipient Allison Billows plans to pursue a certificate in ESL (English as a Second Language) to follow her own path back to France. Both students participated in the semester study abroad program in Aix-en-Provence, which was a "cultural eye-opener," according to Allison.

We wish all our students the best of luck as they pursue jobs or further education after graduation!

Albert Valdman receives Médaille d'Or du Mérite Francophone

Dean Larry Singell, Hilde Valdman, Albert Valdman, Jane Robert, Consul Graham Paul, and Interim Provost Lauren Robel

Graham Paul, the French Consul General of the Chicago Consulate, visited the Bloomington campus on Monday, April 16 to celebrate the latest honor to be bestowed upon Rudy Professor Emeritus Albert Valdman, the Médaille d'Or du Mérite Francophone. This honor is given by La Renaissance Française Delegation of the United States and was presented by the Delegation's president, Jane Robert. IUB Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Larry Singell also participated in the ceremony, which took place in the Federal Room of the Indiana Memorial Union. The event was followed by a reception attended by about 45 colleagues, friends, and students of Professor Valdman.

La Renaissance Française is a public non-profit organization benefiting from the patronage of the President of the French Republic. It was founded by French president Raymond Poincaré in 1916 with the mission of promoting French culture throughout the world. The US delegation was founded in 2009, and his Excellency François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, serves as its Président d'Honneur. Albert Valdman is professor emeritus in the Department of French and Italian and in the Department of Linguistics. He is founder and director of the IU Creole Institute and editor of the journal Studies in Second Language Acquisition. He has been for many decades a leader in the field of French language education and in the study of French as spoken outside of France, especially in Haiti and Louisiana.

Annual Awards Ceremony celebrates academic excellence

Undergraduate awards winners (left to right): Margaret Uland, Kimberly Long, Olivia Stidham, Kevin Gardner, Elizabeth Shariat Panahi, Miranda Hoegberg, Andrew C. Johns, Jessica Johnson, Jessica Wehr

Students and faculty of the Department of French and Italian gathered at the Wells House on Friday, April 6 to recognize outstanding academic achievement of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as excellent classroom teaching by AIs and faculty members, in its annual departmental awards ceremony. Chair Andrea Ciccarelli served as master of ceremonies, and various faculty members took turns presenting the student awards, which made up the bulk of the program. About 70 students, faculty, and friends attended the ceremony, which concluded with the annual Trustees Teaching Award which goes to one FRIT faculty member each year. This year Associate Professor of French Linguistics Julie Auger was chosen by her colleagues to receive this prestigious award.

As usual, Professor Margot Gray was adorned by a festive hat while presenting the Grace P. Young Undergraduate Awards, which this year went to Olivia Stidham, Jessica Johnson, and Andrew Johns. Professor Gray's hat was a nod to the namesake of this award, Grace P. Young, who taught French at IU from 1917 to 1956 and felt a hat to be an essential part of her teaching attire. Professor Emeritus Edoardo Lèbano again presented the Carol Brush Hofstadter Memorial Scholarships, saying with grace and good humor that this proves he is still alive and kicking. After the ceremony, attendees enjoyed coffee, petit fours, and personal congratulations from their peers in the sunny banquet room of the Wells House.

Albert Valdman receives lifetime achievement award

Albert Valdman (center) with research collaborators and teachers in Haiti, 2007. To Prof. Valdman's left is Solfils Telfort, now an MA student in French at IU.

At the annual meeting of the Society of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics in January 2012, Rudy Professor Emeritus Albert Valdman was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the field of creole studies. The SPCL is an international scholarly association regrouping world-wide specialists of pidgin and creole languages. Professor Valdman is the founder and director of the Indiana University Creole Institute, and he retired from the Department of French and Italian and the Department of Linguistics in 2004. He also received a lifetime achievement award from the Haitian Studies Association in 2009.

The SPCL award recognizes the important contribution of the IU Creole Institute to research on French-based creoles, especially those of Louisiana and Haiti, and to the preparation of teaching and lexical resources for these languages. Most instructional programs in Haitian Creole in the United States, including that of the State Department Foreign Service Institute, use materials prepared by the Creole Institute. Several former Creole Institute research assistants now lead Haitian Creole programs across the nation; for example, Ben Hebblethwaite (PhD French, 2007) at the University of Florida, Nicolas André (MA French, 2008) at Florida International University, Tom Klingler (PhD French, 1992) at Tulane University, Marc Prou at the University of Massachusetts, and Jacques Pierre at Duke.

Hélene Merlin-Kajman joins FRIT as visiting professor

The Department of French and Italian is pleased to welcome Hélène Merlin-Kajman as a visiting professor for the second eight-week session of Spring 2012. Professor Merlin-Kajman comes to IU from the Université de Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle and is also a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. She is a leading scholar of French 17th-century studies, and her research brings a rigorous and sensitive philological engagement with literary texts to bear on wider philosophical, historical and political questions. Among her research publications are La langue est-elle fasciste? Langue, pouvoir, enseignement (Paris, Seuil: 2003), L'absolutisme dans les lettres et la théorie des deux corps: Passions et politique (Paris, Champion: 2000) and Public et littérature en France au XVIIe siècle (Paris, Les Belle Lettres: 1994). She is also founder and director of the online journal In addition to her scholarly career, Professor Merlin-Kajman is a novelist and has published five works of fiction, including Rachel (Paris, Minuit: 1981) and La Désobéissance de Pyrame (Paris, Belin: 2009).

While at IU-Bloomington, Professor Merlin-Kajman will teach two courses: F451 "Sorcellerie, magie et littérature" and F630 "Le rôle public des émotions." She will also be a featured keynote speaker in "The Language of the Baroque: An Interdisciplinary Conference Between Literary Historians and Musicologists," to take place Saturday, April 14 in the Walnut Room of the Indiana Memorial Union.

Mickel honored with Palmes Académiques

Officier Emanuel Mickel with Attaché culturel adjoint Jean-François Rochard

Professor of French Emanuel Mickel received one of the highest French academic honors on Thursday when the cultural attaché of the French Consulate in Chicago bestowed up him the designation Officier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques. In a ceremony attended by friends and colleagues in the Federal Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, Professor Mickel's long and productive career as a scholar of both medieval and 19th century French literature was reviewed and extolled by Jean-François Rochard of the French Consulate. Indiana University Provost and Executive Vice President Karent Hanson, Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Larry Singell all praised the work of Professor Mickel in furthering the study of French literature and culture here at IU for over forty years. Chair Andrea Ciccarelli also praised Mickel as a pillar of the department, citing his leadership as chair 1984-1995 and again 2009-2011.

Mickel is the author of six books including Eugène Fromentin (G. K. Hall, 1982) and Ganelon, Treason and the "Chanson de Roland" (Penn State University Press, 1989), and he is also editor of several works, including the immense 10-volume Old French Crusade Cycle (University of Alabama press, 1977-2003, co-edited with Jan Nelson). He was invited as Visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge (UK) in 2006 and has served as chair of 19 PhD dissertation committees. We are pleased to congratulate Professor Mickel on the well-deserved honor of the Palmes Académiques.

Erin Patrick Receives Outstanding Young Alumni Award

We congratulate Erin Patrick (BA French and Political Science, 1998), who has been awarded the Outstanding Young Alumni Award by the College of Arts and Sciences Alunni Association. She is head of the Fuel and Firewood Initiative of the Women's Refugee Commission, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children, and young people who are refugees. In particular, the Fuel and Firewood program helps refugee women obtain access to safe cooking fuel and works to mitigate safety and health risks associated with the collection and use of firewood. Ms. Patrick has made a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of our most vulnerable global citizens through her work with the WRC, and she well-deserves the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Three students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

The Department of French and Italian congratulates three French majors recently inducted into the "Gamma of Indiana" chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Sarah Chestnut (Religious Studies, French), Katelyn Colvin (French, English), and Melissa Thompson (French), along with 136 other inductees, were celebrated at a banquet held in Alumni Hall on December 6. These may be familiar names to friends of the Department, as all three students have previously won departmental honors. Sarah Chestnut was awarded the John K. Hyde Award at the annual departmental student award ceremony on April 8, 2011. Melissa Thompson and Katelyn Colvin both received Grace P. Young Undergraduate Awards for excellence in French studies at the same event.

Phi Beta Kappa is one of oldest and most respected academic honor societies in the United States. Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, it has chapters at 280 American colleges and universities. The "Gamma of Indiana" chapter was founded at Indiana University over 100 years ago.

Team of FRIT faculty and students participate in 5K run

The "We are F(R)IT" Team: Back row - Professor Emeritus Oscar Kenshur (CMLT), graduate student Mark Black. Second row - Joseph Kenshur, Professor Margot Gray, graduate student Krista Williams, graduate student Amy Conrad, Professor Oana Panaïte, Craig Dethloff. Front row - Graduate student Michael Dow, French Visiting Lecturer Rebecca Petrush. Not pictured: Graduate student Amber Panwitz and alumna Kate Miller (PhD '11).

The Department of French and Italian proudly continued the tradition of fielding a team for the annual Jill Behrman 5K Walk/Run sponsored by IU Recreational Sports. The team from the Department called itself "We are F(R)IT" and included graduate students Michael Dow, Amy Conrad, Mark Black, Amber Panwitz, and Krista Williams, as well as Professors Margaret (Margot) Gray and Oana Panaïté, and Visiting Lecturer Rebecca Petrush. Professor Gray was joined by her husband, Professor Emeritus Oscar Kenshur from the Department of Comparative Literature, and her son Joseph Kenshur. Professor Panaïté was joined by her partner Craig Dethloff, who is Chief of Staff for the IUB Faculty Council. Rounding out the team was alumna Kate Miller, who received her PhD in French linguistics this summer and now holds a tenure-track faculty position at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.

This 5K walk/run was established twelve years ago in honor of Jill Behrman, an IU student and employee of Recreational Sports, who went missing while on a bike ride in May 2000. Three years later, her body was found in a southern Indiana field – she had been murdered. The IU community keeps Jill's memory alive through this annual event, which includes a competitive 5K run and a 1 mile walk for families and those not quite as F(R)IT.

This year, we are happy to report two top finishers from the FRIT team. Rebecca Petrush, who is Acting Director of the French Language Program this year and also a PhD candidate in French linguistics, placed first in her age group, as did Margot Gray, a tenured professor who specializes in 20th and 21st-century French literature, especially women authors. Félicitations!

Michael Berkvam Memorial Fund Established

The Department is pleased to announce the creation of a new fund through the IU Foundation to support graduate students in French and Italian, the Professor Michael Berkvam Graduate Student Fund. This fund was established by Michael Berkvam's widow, Mirka Berkvam, in memory of her husband, a faculty member in the Department of French and Italian from 1971 until his retirement in 2006. Although Professor Berkvam started his scholarly career in the field of 18th-century French literature, mainly Voltaire, he later turned his emphasis to the literature and cinema of France during and after World War II. Thus, in awarding funds from the new IU Foundation account, preference will be given to students studying French film in its literary cultural context or contemporary French fiction.

The Department is grateful to Mirka Berkvam for carrying forward Michael's deep dedication to his students in this way. We will miss Michael for his wit and wisdom, his lively intellect, and his dedication to teaching.

Passing of Michael Berkvam

Michael Berkvam passed away on August 21, 2011 in Bloomington after a short illness. He had been very active since his retirement in 2006, and he was scheduled to teach a course on recent French writing by women for the Hutton Honors College this fall. Professor Berkvam received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 18th century French studies, and joined the Department of French and Italian at IU as a Lecturer in 1971. He was appointed Assistant Professor after completing his PhD in 1973. After having worked and published on 18th century literature, mainly Voltaire, and on the cultural aspects of the French Revolution, he turned his scholarly attention to the culture and literature of France during and shortly after World War II. Professor Berkvam's lengthy volume Writing the Story of France in World War II: Literature and Memory, 1942-1958 was published by the University of the South Press in 2000, the same year he was promoted to Full Professor. The monograph deals with the cultural and political interpretation of WWII in the French novel of the 1940's and 50's. Professor Berkvam was one of the most beloved and appreciated teachers in the College of Arts and Sciences, as his affiliation with the Hutton Honors College and his two Teaching Excellence Recognition Awards show. He will be greatly missed. Online condolences may be made to the family at A memorial service celebrating the life of Michael Berkvam will be held on Saturday, September 24, at 1:00 pm in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana Memorial Union on the Indiana University-Bloomington campus.

New French Cinema Scholar Joins Faculty

Brett Bowles joins the Department of French and Italian as an Associate Professor in Fall 2011. He received his PhD in French civilization from Pennsylvania State University in 1998, served as Assistant and Associate Professor at Iowa State University 1998-2005, and most recently was Associate Professor of French Studies at the State University of New York at Albany. Professor Bowles' primary research field is twentieth-century social, political, and cultural history through film (fiction and documentary). He is author of Marcel Pagnol, forthcoming this year in the French Film Directors series from Manchester University Press, and editor of Cinema, Society, and Politics in France and Germany, 1930-1945, due for publication by Berghahn Books in 2012. Professor Bowles has a wide range of teaching experience, from an undergraduate class in French composition to graduate seminars on the French New Wave. In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of several important scholarly journals, including Modern and Contemporary France (North American Editor), French History, and French Historical Studies.

Welcome New Visiting Faculty

In Fall 2011, we welcome several new visiting faculty to our French and Italian programs. In French, Marc Schachter (PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz) joins us as Visiting Assistant Professor. Professor Schachter is the author of Voluntary Servitude and the Erotics of Friendship: From Classical Antiquity to Early Modern France (Ashgate, 2008) and comes to IU after several years at Duke University and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Joining our French language program team as Visiting Lecturers are Audrey Dobrenn and Marie-Line Brunet, but advanced doctoral students at IU completing their dissertations in French literature. In Italian, we also welcome two new Visiting Lecturers: Karolina Serafin (PhD, University of Warsaw) and Anthony Nussmeier (ABD, Indiana), who will help coordinate our Italian language program.

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