The year we are leaving behind has tested our skills and determination in countless ways while reaffirming our dedication to our research and teaching missions. More than ever, our courses on French and Italian languages and Francophone and Italian literatures, media, and cultures have offered multifaceted windows on the world thanks to innovative and exciting topics such as "Black Paris," "Race, Immigration and the Pandemic: French Perspectives," "Tales in a Time of Plague," "The Good Mothers: Women in the Mafia and Antimafia," "Cloak and Dagger," "Humour and Wit in the Italian Renaissance," and "New Italian Identities," to name a few.
In August 2020, we had the pleasure of welcoming Jeffrey Lamontagne (PhD, McGill 2020), who joined our faculty as an Assistant Professor of French Sociolinguistics. The fall semester also offered us the opportunity to organize a special event in collaboration with the College's Walter Center for Career Achievement to spotlight our department and showcase some of our recent alumni who shared their experience with current and prospective students.
Unfortunately, our students were unable to study abroad in 2020-21, but we have been heartened by the recent news that they should be able to resume deeply formative sojourns in our Aix-en-Provence and Bologna programs in Fall 2021.
The extraordinary history and current prestige of our French programs were recognized by the French Embassy in the US by being awarded the title of Centre d'Excellence de l'Ambassade de France aux États-Unis, a rare distinction only bestowed upon 24 universities in the country.
Social distancing, virtual and hybrid learning, travel restrictions, and increased personal burdens did not dampen our commitment to teaching nor hinder our ambitious scholarly agendas, as was also evidenced by the rich discussions and significant decisions regarding the post-pandemic future of our department which occurred during a faculty retreat held in March 2021. During the spring semester, IU launched its online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in French, a program spearheaded by our department which enables French high-school teachers in Indiana and beyond to complete and enhance their professional training.
The acme of the events hosted by our department in virtual format was undoubtedly our bi-annual Graduate Student Colloquium. Organized around the topic of "Closeness in Distance," it gathered an impressive roster of talks by MA and PhD students from US and international universities in Francophone and Italian Studies and French Linguistics, while featuring a memorable keynote lecture delivered by the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg, as well as talks by scholars Carla Calargé and Amanda Dalola.
It must be underscored that, throughout this entire year, our graduate students, particularly those who have been serving in teaching and service positions, have demonstrated a highly inspiring combination of resilience, creativity, and professionalism. Last but not least, our department has been able not only to meet but also exceed all the challenges raised during this entire period thanks to the expertise and steadfastness of our department administrator, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, who recently celebrated 25 years in the Department. Thanks to her as well as the rest of our staff, faculty and students, FRIT is able to emerge stronger and passionately reassert its vocation for the languages, humanities, and a meaningful 21st-century college education.