Commencement weekend in Bloomington was almost back to normal this year, with Kirkwood Avenue bustling as graduates and their families and friends celebrated. A few pandemic-induced differences included that downtown restaurants had much more outdoor seating, with several blocks of Kirkwood between the Sample Gates and the courthouse blocked off to car traffic. Also, only graduating students were allowed to actually be at the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies (May 7 and 8, respectively), so that social distancing could be respected. Students who technically graduated in 2020 were invited back to campus to walk with “pomp and circumstance” in the commencement ceremonies held in Memorial Stadium.
The Department of French and Italian is incredibly proud of our graduating students who persevered during the pandemic and completed their degrees. Through canceled overseas study programs, hundreds of hours in Zoom classes, no Spring Break, and regular COVID-19 mitigation testing, these students showed grace under pressure and succeeded in difficult circumstances. We invite you to watch our commencement video and then read more about our graduates below.
Bachelor of Arts
Sixteen students completed the BA in French or Italian this spring, and we are excited as they mark this important milestone and move on to their next adventures in life. The range of subjects in which our students earned double majors and minors shows their broad scope of interests and expertise. Since we were unable to celebrate with them in person at our usual commencement reception, we hope more than ever that they will stay in touch and let us know where their French and Italian studies take them!
||Italian, International Studies
||French, International Studies
|Nicholas Di Brita
||French, International Law + Institutions
||French, Philosophy, Comparative Literature
||French, Gender Studies
Master of Arts
This year, we celebrate ten M.A. students finishing their degrees, an even greater accomplishment since more than half their time in our program was during a pandemic. In the Italian M.A. program, Lucia Casiraghi, Nicolò Salmaso, and Alvise Stefani were all stuck in Italy in Fall 2020, unable to return to campus due to travel restrictions, but they have now successfully completed their degrees, and each one will continue in our Ph.D. program. Jonathan Hall received the M.A. degree in French/Francophone Studies and will also continue doctoral studies in the Department, with a focus on Renaissance/Early Modern studies. Shane O’Bannon is completing the M.A. degree in French Instruction as well as an Area Certificate in College Pedagogy, and he has a job lined up at a nearby charter school for 2021-22, teaching French and math. Five students have completed their M.A. degrees in French Linguistics: Arielle Roadman and Scott Kunkel (both Dual Master’s students in the Linguistics Department), Lee Killey, Clara Miller-Broomfield, and Jenica Jones. Arielle, Lee, and Clara will all continue their doctoral studies in FRIT, while Scott and Jenica pursue further academic study elsewhere.
When asked about their memories from the program, this year’s graduates reflected on the compelling content of coursework, the cameraderie among graduate students, the learning experience and fantastic support they received as Associate Instructors. Arielle summed up her two years of Masters work with the following thoughts: “I’ve made some good friends here, the cohorts are a pretty tight knit community. Grad school is hard, but we make it through together.”
Lee talked about his positive experiences both as a teacher and as a student. “The highlights of my time here so far have been teaching in our program because our Course Supervisors /Coordinators do a FANTASTIC job of always helping out the Associate Instructors,” he said, going on to list a few of his favorite French linguistics classes. Through an intensive two year program made all the more challenging by the pandemic environment, our M.A. cohort has overcome the adversities of the moment and is moving onward with an enriched sense of purpose.
Doctor of Philosophy
In Spring and Summer 2021, we celebrate the completion of the PhD degree by six students: Francesco Samarini and Marzia Bagnasco in Italian Studies; and Renata Uzzell, Kelly Kasper-Cushman, Laura Demsey, and Martin Maillot in French Linguistics. Renata and Kelly were already wrapping up their studies last summer, so we featured them on these pages last May. In Fall 2020, Sara Dallavalle, Carlotta Vacchelli and Luisa Garrido Báez also completed their PhDs, all in Italian Studies. For the other students, we summarize their work and future plans below.
Francesco Samarini defended his dissertation, entitled Philip Roth e l’Italia, in March and will graduate in May. He is grateful for the dedicated support of his dissertation director, Andrea Ciccarelli, as well as the department faculty and staff during his time at IU. Francesco is beginning his summer embarking on new research in Geneva, Switzerland, studying a collection of early modern books with the generous support of a Fondation Barbier-Mueller research fellowship. In Fall 2021, Francesco will begin a new appointment as a lecturer at Dickinson College.
Earlier this May, Marzia Bagnasco defendend her dissertation, A Disputed Country: Italy, Migrants, and National Identity in Contemporary Films and Documentaries, under the tutelage of dissertation chair Colleen Ryan, and she plans to receive her degree in July. She is proud to have completed the doctorate, overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, after four years of unforgettable teaching and learning experiences in Bloomington. In keeping with the central themes of the dissertation, Marzia currently teaches Italian to immigrants in Turin, and she plans to further develop a career as an intercultural educator and translator for Italian film festivals.
Laura Demsey plans to defend her dissertation and earn her PhD in French Linguistics this summer. Her topic is Contact, Shift, and Structural Change in Franco-American New England, and her dissertation chair is Kevin Rottet. She has accepeted a position at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as Teaching Associate Professor of French, to begin in August.
After completing a year as teaching fellow in the Preparing Future Faculty program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Martin Maillot plans to defend his dissertation in August. He is also a student in French Linguistics, and his thesis is entitled Quand les politiciens prennent la parole: A Study of Linguistic Variation in the Speech of French Politicians. His dissertation co-chairs are Julie Auger and Barbara Vance.
Congratulations to all!