After the last two years, which had been largely defined by remote research, teaching, and learning, the start of academic year 2021-2022 marked a return to “residential” activities, which was met with a healthy mix of enthusiasm and caution. As much as we had longed for our usual way of interacting with each other on campus pathways, in our offices, in our classrooms, as well as in our much longed-for exchange programs in Aix-en-Provence, Bologna, and Florence, we were also wary of the still-present threat of the pandemic.
Letter from the chair
Thus, as we found joy in being able to meet our students face-to-face, an experience that is irreplaceable in the humanities and crucial for our language courses, we continued to connect virtually in some of our courses, day-to-day committee work, and events such as Circolo Italiano, the French Club, or via lectures and symposia. Via Zoom, we were able to host in our classes guest speakers from the US, France, and Italy who brought their expertise on how the French rediscovered the age-old tradition of mask making during the pandemic or on the use of inclusive language in French and Italian.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have come into focus this year, as reflected in the work of our dedicated committee and, increasingly, in our pedagogical activities. Resuming on-campus guest lectures and conferences was one of the highlights of this year, with the arrival of guests who presented on topics such as the relevance of Renaissance Studies for our times, Early Modern Italian and French art, language contact in Europe, Quebec French, and the works of Martinican writer Édouard Glissant, plus a guest musician-scholar who delivered a recital of pieces to tell the tale of a 17th-century transgender author. Our annual awards ceremony also capped off the resumption of a wonderful series of FRIT in-person events while allowing us to welcome students, their friends and families to celebrate together the remarkable accomplishments of our undergraduate and graduate students, to recognize the pedagogical excellence of one faculty member with the Trustees Teaching Award, and to salute the irreplaceable work and exemplary dedication of our graduate workers with whom FRIT stood in solidarity during the IUGWC-UE strike.
This summer is a busy a season which sees us resuming student activities such as the exciting Hutton Honors College program in Paris and our well-established Florence program. It is also a time when we develop our scholarly projects and attend international conferences, while being thankful for the contributions of each and every one of our extended FRIT family: alumni and current students, both undergraduate and graduate, current and emeriti faculty, and our wonderful staff. And we recognize that none of the numerous events and activities our department has led during this academic year, when the excitement of conducting and sharing research along with teaching and learning in person again was tempered by the complex challenges of the post-pandemic context, would have been possible without the expertise, dedication, and congeniality of our marvelous department administrator, Isabel Piedmont-Smith. Even as we are sad to see Isabel leave our department in pursuit of new endeavors, we extend her our warmest wishes of success and satisfaction in her future plans.