2011 News Archive

Erin Patrick receives Outstanding Young Alumni Award

We congratulate Erin Patrick (B.A. 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.

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 Ph.D. 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!

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 Ph.D. 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 pdcfuneralchapel.com. 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 Ph.D. 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 (Ph.D., 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 (Ph.D., University of Warsaw) and Anthony Nussmeier (ABD, Indiana), who will help coordinate our Italian language program.