Faculty Profiles Fall 2020 News: Hispanic Studies sidebar

Meet new professor of Hispanic Studies: Dr. Carlos Rivera Santana

Prof. Carlos Rivera Santana - Fall 2020This fall, we had the chance to catch up with a new professor in the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures: Dr. Carlos Santana Rivera. Dr. Rivera is a U.S.-Puerto Rico native who has been
working for the last several years at the prestigious Center for Puerto Rican Studies in New York. We asked him about his first semester here at William & Mary, his research, his classes and his hopes for future work on campus and in his field.


How has it been for you W&M this semester? 

I have been really happy to be at W&M because W&M and the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures values innovative ideas in teaching and research. For instance, last semester I was teaching two courses on Indigenous worldview perspectives, with a focus on Indigenous philosophy and culture. And the fact that this course even exists and receives institutional support is wonderful because, to start with, it is not common for such a course to be taught outside of Anthropology. Second, because in some circles it is a radical idea that there exists such a thing as ‘indigenous philosophy’. But to put backing behind exposing these ideas to students in the classroom, and of course in my research, is amazing.


What were the courses you were you teaching last semester?

I was teaching two versions of the same topic. The first was a COLL 150, “Indigenous World Cultures”. That version of the class was writing-heavy. It was an examination of international indigenous worldview perspectives focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean. Well, to be fair, it’s an approach to indigenous perspectives, because what those perspectives and philosophies are, cannot be taught per se, if anything passed on. The other class I taught was HISP 390, “Global Indigenous Cultures”. It was focused on Indigenous philosophy (heavier in content) and its expressions in cultural production. We looked at how indigeneity has been represented in LA and Caribbean cultural production for hundreds of years through the examination of art, a novel, oral history, essays, music and so on.


What were some stand-out moments of your classes?

One positive thing about teaching the classes was that, in teaching a portion of the course online this semester (mix modality), I was able to invite three guest speakers (and this fulfilled those 5 extra hours we had to add to our syllabi. Two were from the Caribbean (from Puerto Rico) and one from Australia. The first person was a prominent writer (Eduardo Lalo, and the novel students had to read was Historia Yuké). The novel was about the significance of El Yunque Rainforest to Indigenous people in Puerto Rico (Borikén) throughout history. So, the students read Lalo’s book and then had a conversation with him. It was like a book club that led to meeting the author. And it was a great event because it started not with Eduardo Lalo speaking, but with students asking questions(you can see a video of this “Conversatorio with Eduardo Lalo”). The second speaker was the Indigenous activist Pluma Bárbara. This was also a great experience and students were really grateful for the grassroot political work that she does and both of our guest were really impressed with our Hispanic studies students and how engaged in the work our students were. These conversations were in Spanish. The third speaker was an Indigenous Australian author and he spoke about cultural appropriation and the craft of writing. After that third one, students had to produce something creative (poetry, an op-ed, or a narrative story) so they could have concrete questions about writing and navigating cultural appropriation. I have ideas about how to adjust aspects of the course in the future, but overall, I’d say students appreciated it especially the diverse array of guest speakers. In the future, I’ve considered having a poetry slam be the culmination of such a course, something I’ve done in the past and it works beautifully as a celebratory ending to the semester.


What is the focus of your research?

The area I work in is called Decolonial Aesthetics (DA) and Indigenous studies. DA isn’t a new thing. The phrase was coined some time ago by LA theorists. I’m building on their framework by analyzing works and speaking to the artists that I think are doing the work to recast indigeneity and blackness and the varying complexities of identity, history, nationalism, race and racism today, but beginning from the emotions provoked in by aesthetics.

In my PhD thesis and more extensively on my book Archaology of Colonisation: From Aesthetics to Biopolitics, I looked at the way that colonization, and its main tools (the discourses of race and racism), took root in the Caribbean and then in Latin America. I begin with the premise that racism and concepts of race are initially created not through written discourse or history, but through aesthetics, i.e. imagery including art. From a simple perspective, 80 or 90 percent of Europe during the time of colonization could not read. But you have to be able to conceptualize someone before you can justify or rationalize behaviors toward them. So, imagery had a principal role in doing this and in disseminating, perceptions, affectations, knowledge, and discourses at large about people. So, yes, I looked at the way that colonization utilized imagery in the first 100 years (1492-1599) to depict Indigenous and Black peoples.

I focus on aesthetics because we have done good work in cultural studies so far in examining the construction of race and in challenging colonial narratives in history, anthropology and so on. We have not done enough work on this using visual imagery. In other words, we conceptualize racism very rationally, but I think the heart of this work on (de)colonization is affective, and that the affective is efficiently generated aesthetically, through imagery. In other words, I think that concepts of race began in the way that Black and Indigenous peoples have been depicted visually and affectively: not in terms of beauty, but in terms of ugliness and monstrosity. In order to justify the atrocities of colonization, they had to be founded on a dehumanization of its victims, casting the ‘other’ from a frame of “the monstrous” and speak to the viewer’s emotions.

My current work also focuses on the aesthetic. But instead of using it to understand how race and racism were constructed, I am examining how the aesthetic is used to contest race and racism and how it is used to construct counternarratives to the ongoing problem of colonization. I think there is more work to be done in the realm of the affective in order to counteract that aspect of race and racism, that part that has to do with the mobilization of emotions, about conceptualizations of beauty and ugliness, and art has a lot to say about that.


What classes will you teach next semester?

I am teaching Introduction to Hispanic Studies (HISP 240) with Professor Terukina. I’m also teaching Arte y Descolonización en Latino America (HISP 250) which looks at the way that art in all of its manifestations (performance art, muralism, street art, contemporary art) has had a role in expressing anti-colonial messages. In the class, we aren’t romanticizing the art. We are also looking at it critically too to see how art produced during colonial times depicted Indigenous peoples and peoples of color at large, and to see how imagery contributed to crafting and constructing racism and the concept of race. I’m really excited about the fact that we are having at least one invited speaker. She is an artist and an expert in mural and street art in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.


What would be a dream course you would like to teach?

I would do a course that has a study-abroad component that looked at formations of identity, race and colonization in art in Latin America and the Caribbean, focused in Puerto Rico. We would go to Puerto Rico and visit museums, artist workshops, galleries, festivals and other off-the-beaten track places (I know the island really well). It would be like a literal and figurative road trip, living an experience of history and culture through the art. We would be traveling around the island, but also the artists would take us through the conceptual trajectory of their individual pieces and their collective productions as well.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2019 fall2019more

MLL Welcomes Professor Paul Vierthaler to the Chinese Studies Program

In fall 2019, Dr. Paul Vierthaler joined MLL’s Chinese Studies program, and we asked him some questions about being a professor of Chinese Studies:


How did you become interested in Chinese?

When I was deciding what I wanted to study in college, I really wanted to learn a language that had a lot of utility that a lot of people spoke. Growing up in southwest Kansas, there were not many language options in high school, but when I headed to the University of Kansas I was delighted to discover that they offered Chinese. I did not start with a fundamental interest in the language per se, nor I did anticipate this would be one of the central choices that would shape my career. While at KU, my interest in China rapidly developed, so to further my language skills, I spent my junior year abroad at the Associated Colleges in China study abroad program in Beijing. The immersive experience of acquiring the language and living in Beijing were enough to convince me to return to China after graduation. I lived in China for several years before going to graduate school, and I began studying classical Chinese at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming. This was my first sustained encounter with classical literature, which I rapidly became enamored of. This then led me to the decision to go to graduate school so I could study and teach classical Chinese literature and culture professionally.
What is the focus of your research?

The broad focus of my work centers on fictional literature written in the Ming dynasty in China (1368 to 1644). I am currently working on a book that analyzes how historical stories are told in untrustworthy media (novels, dramas, and unvetted historical texts) written during the late Ming and early Qing (1500 to 1700, roughly speaking). The thirst for information on recent events resulted publishers producing a high volume of works to meet the demand, and they really influenced how people saw their past. This publishing trend meant that a fair number of these works were of relatively low literary quality, making them arduous to read. As such, I use large digital collections of historical texts and study them with techniques developed by computer scientists, linguists, and even biologists. My research also extends in this computational direction, and I am interested the application of machine learning, natural language processing, and big data analytics to cultural datasets.


What kind of classes do you like to teach best?

I’ve been fortunate to teach a wide variety of courses, and they all tend to be rewarding in their own ways. Introducing students who’ve never read a Chinese book to the Water Margin, working through a complicated passage in the Zhuangzi with advanced students, and teaching students how to program are all extremely rewarding. This being said, my favorite classes are those intermediate classes where students have moved beyond the basics of Chinese studies and are seeing the vast possibilities of the field for the first time. It is very difficult to beat the sense of discovery in the first seminar after that intro class that blends new literature with new methods to engage with materials at a deep level for the first time. I also love to teach methodologically focused classes and lab sessions where the main focus is building computer tools for studying Chinese literature.


What do you think of William & Mary so far?

Coming here has been a wonderful experience! My students in particular have been amazing. They are deeply engaged with the course material, have been eager to discuss in class, and always ask incisive questions. The research environment here is also top-notch. I’ve found that there is a lot of support for research of all sorts, and particularly for research that encourages student involvement! This support has allowed me to start the new MLL digital humanities lab, which is getting off the ground early in the spring semester, and I am really looking forward to guide MLL students in research projects that they help design.

Faculty Profiles fall2019more News: German Studies

Prof. Leventhal Makes the Case!

Professor Robert Leventhal, Program Director of German Studies and Judaic Studies, has just published a book on the genre of the “case study,” looking at its origins in 18th-century Germany and tracing its evolution through Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories and up to modern-day pop culture. W&M sat down with Professor Leventhal for a book chat.

Faculty Profiles fall2019more News: German Studies

MLL Welcomes Professor Robin Ellis to the German Studies Program!

In Fall 2019, MLL’s German Studies Program welcomed a new faculty member, Dr. Robin Ellis. We asked her a few questions about being a Professor of German Studies at W&M:

1. How did you become interested in German?

I don’t have German heritage, but I do have a family connection to Germany: my mother lived in West Germany for many years, and I was born in West Berlin. We lived there until I was three, when we moved to California. English is my native language, but I learned some German from family friends, neighbors, and daycare. In the U.S., I promptly forgot everything I’d learned, so my mother enrolled me in Saturday morning German school. At the time, I did not think this was so great, but I begrudgingly atteEllis_Global Voices Picturended until I could switch to German classes at my high school. In college I started taking German literature and film classes, and two study abroad years in Berlin (one my junior year and one right after college) sealed the deal. That’s when I became interested in literature by Turkish-German writers such as Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Feridun Zaimoğlu.

2. What is the focus of your research?

Today my research still involves migration and the negotiation of various borders, but I approach these issues through the lens of translation. My book project deals with fictional interpreters in literature, film, and theater, and it examines interpreting as an embodied act of translation. I’m interested in the tensions and possibilities that arise when a human individual is employed as a supposedly neutral medium of communication. For example, when two people communicate through an interpreter, they have to trust that the interpreter will relay their messages accurately and won’t intervene due to a secret allegiance or other ulterior motive. Fiction provides the opportunity to explore anxieties about potential betrayal, as well as a way to imagine alternative forms of linguistic encounter and exchange.

3. Have you ever worked as a translator or interpreter yourself?

I’ve only dabbled in literary translation, although I’d like to do more in the future. As for interpreting, not at all! Part of my fascination with interpreting comes from how unbelievably complex a process it is—interpreters must be skilled linguists and virtuosic performers. I am frankly in awe of both their amazing cognitive powers and their ability to perform under intense pressure!

4. What kind of classes do you like to teach best?

I enjoy teaching a variety of classes at different levels: Research seminars offer a great opportunity to think deeply about a particular topic, but I also love the fun and excitement of working with students in the earlier stages of language learning. In its best moments, foreign language learning opens up new perspectives not only on the new language and culture, but also on your own native language and culture, too. As for particular class sessions, some of my favorites involve teaching poems. Poems prompt us to concentrate intensively on what language can do, while thinking collaboratively and building on each other’s insights. Each person brings a unique background to their reading and will see different things in a poem. You never know whose question about a particular word or line will open up a whole new perspective.

5. How would you describe your approach to German Studies?

Two things especially important to me are 1) attention to linguistic specificity and 2) a commitment to diversity, anti-racism, and decoloniality. First, it’s important to recognize that what we call things matters, and that language shapes our realities in powerful ways. There’s a difference, for example, between “overcoming” (bewältigen) the National Socialist past and “working through” it (aufarbeiten).

Second, it’s crucial that scholars and instructors in German Studies continue to diversify our field and the voices that we amplify. As we move beyond ethno-national models of what counts as “German,” we also highlight transnational connections and questions of global relevance, such as the legacies of European colonialism. In my class on “Minorities in Germany,” for example, we examined connections between German colonialism and National Socialism, as well as anthropological models of European superiority and constructions of Germanness as whiteness—two ideas rooted in the colonial period that continue to resonate into the present.

6. What’s your favorite part of campus?

I still have some exploring to do, but so far, my favorite discovery has been the bird-watching armchairs at the back of Swem’s first floor. When I sat down in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, I was delighted to find binoculars and bird guidebooks there. What a great space to take a break!

Faculty Profiles News: Chinese Studies Spring 2019

Professor Yanfang Tang will retire by the end of Spring 2019.

Professor Yanfang Tang will retire by the end of Spring 2019.  We will miss her!

Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles News: Chinese Studies Spring 2019

Professor Calvin Hui has received a prestigious American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship

Calvin Hu Profile Image

Another good news! Professor Calvin Hui has received a highly prestigious American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellowship to finish his book project entitled _Useless: Fashion, Media, and Consumer Culture in Contemporary China_. This book draws on film and fashion to track the emergence of consumer culture in China’s encounter with global capitalism. The first part stages an analysis of a commodity chain of fashion involving production, consumption, and disposal. The second part focuses on the representations of fashion and consumption in Chinese cinema in the 1960s (the socialist period), the 1980s (the economic reforms period), and the 2000s (the globalization period). Such portrayals help decipher the symptoms of otherwise imperceptible contradictions of contemporary China. The third part discusses labor and waste as the repressed undersides of consumption. This research demonstrates the relevance of cultural studies, western Marxism, and post-structuralist theory in investigating Chinese visual cultures.

See ACLS website:

Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles News: Chinese Studies Spring 2019

Professor Calvin Hui has received tenure and been promoted to Associate Professor of Chinese Studies

Calvin Hu Profile Image


Good news! Professor Calvin Hui has received tenure! He will be Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at William and Mary beginning in fall 2019!

See his faculty profile:


Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles Jefferson Award News News: German Studies News: Hispanic Studies sidebar Spring 2019

MLL Receives Both 2019 Jefferson Faculty Awards

MLL is honored to have received both of the 2019 Jefferson Faculty Awards. Silvia Tandeciarz, Chair of MLL and Professor of Hispanic Studies, is the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, and Jennifer Gülly, Senior Lecturer and MLL Associate Chair of Departmental Affairs, has received the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award. The award ceremony took place on January 31st, and both will also be recognized at the Charter Day celebrations on February 8th. In her acceptance speech, Gully emphasized the potentiality of the foreign language classroom to foster a critical view of students’ o

wn language and culture, and the rewards of the hard work that students put into language learning every day. Tandeciarz spoke about the legacy of Perón’s populist politics in Argentina and what we might learn from it for the future of higher education in the United States:

“We face extraordinary challenges and also some uncertainty about what the future of higher education holds, and these challenges are not divorced from those posed by the rapidly changing structural, economic, social, and political conditions manifesting in our country and, indeed, across the globe. And yet, as we stand on this threshold, I want to direct our attention to the tremendous opportunities this moment also holds. WE are the ones, after all, whose labor will determine how to pave a way forward: and I trust that we will do so together, by continuing to defend the values we hold dear, by working for greater inclusion, representation, and equity, and by recognizing the vital role institutions of higher learning can play in a healthy, thriving democracy.”

Tandeciarz (middle) with President Rowe and Teresa Longo, Director of The Charles Center.
Jennifer Gülly
Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles Jefferson Award News: German Studies Spring 2019

Jennifer Gully receives the 2019 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award

Jennifer Gully, Senior Lecturer of German, received the 2019 Jefferson Teaching Award at a ceremony on January 31. The Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award is a tribute to several members of the faculty who influenced and encouraged Thomas Jefferson. The award is intended to recognize today’s teachers on the faculty. It is made annually to a younger teaching member of the William & Mary community who has demonstrated, through concern as a teacher and through character and influence, the inspiration and stimulation of learning to the betterment of the individual and society as exemplified by Thomas Jefferson. Continue here

Jennifer Gülly

Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles Jefferson Award News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2019

Silvia Tandeciarz receives the 2019 Thomas Jefferson Award

SPRcropSilvia Tandeciarz, Chair of Modern Languages & Literatures and Professor of Hispanic Studies, received the 2019 Jefferson Award at a ceremony on January 31. The Thomas Jefferson Award is given each year to a member of the William & Mary family for significant service through his or her personal activities, influence and leadership. Read about Prof. Tandeciarz’ research, teaching, and service here._PYM0897_PYM0894_PYM0889

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: Hispanic Studies

Welcome New Faculty: Rachel Varra

How has your first semester at William & Mary been?

It’s been fantastic. Everybody assured me I’d be amazed by the students, and it’s true. It’s tough to learn the new ways of an institution but the students have made it easy: they are highly engaged, on the ball, insightful … I know I can come to the classroom with new ideas and they can think through a problem on the spot, in class discussion. They are remarkable.

Also, the colleagues have been great here, genuine in their offers of support. So many people have come forward and offered their piece of support from their expertise. From all these individual people, I as a newcomer have cumulatively been offered a lot of time and expertise. There’s a generosity of spirit here.

How did you become interested in linguistics?

My family was Spanish-speaking. I heard it growing up, and my first spark of interest in language was when I started seeing bilingual speech practices on TV (in particular The Cosby Show where the mother spoke Spanish on the phone to her friends – I realized what she was doing was worthy of notice). I was young, but that stayed with me. I ended up going to Puerto Rico, to where my grandparents had returned. I saw things that explained to me why my family did what it did and I wanted to communicate with them to find out more, but they were losing their English and I didn’t really speak Spanish. So at 14, I started taking formal Spanish classes in high school (I had been taking Latin before). In college, I planned to go into business but I had some internships that made me realize that business wasn’t for me. I loved languages and found out there was a field called linguistics, and I ended up majoring in Spanish. In my last year of college I got into research and decided to apply to grad school. It was a natural progression, over many years, but the spark came early, from that TV show.

What type of classes do you enjoy teaching the most?

I like keeping my fingers in a range of classes, both highly theoretical and applied ones. They have a lot to offer to each other. I like teaching classes that have a defined goal, where the student produces something creatively that can be applied to the world, where the student can have a sense of accomplishment. For instance, in a class like Teaching Methodologies – students create a personal portfolio, and learn how to plan lessons; concrete and usable products are produced. I also enjoy bringing to bear the findings of linguistics to applied fields like teacher training.

In general, I like teaching classes where students to do their own creative research that would fit into the 3-month span of the semester. (This is actually a feature that I like to incorporate into linguistics and upper level Spanish classes.) I ask students about the questions they want their project to answer and consult individually with them on these projects during the semester.

What I want to work on next is developing training modules and resources for the students who in the future will be working with me in my language lab: Interviewing persons, maintaining social media, data analysis, … Students come with different areas of interest, so developing materials particular to the ways in which they will participate with me is where I’m focused now.

What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?

My focus is on Spanish in the U.S. and how it changes when it comes into contact with English, either with monolinguals in a community or within the individual. My past research has dealt with lexical borrowings and the extent to which they appear in speech and how they are distributed. What are the chances that these borrowings become a part of the language and are not seen as borrowings anymore? It’s also about who would practice these borrowings, and the perception of what types of individuals would engage in language mixing. For example., middle class Spanish speakers in New York City engage in more borrowing than the working class, and of course the second gen more than the first. For my current research, I am working on Spanish in eastern Virginia. I am interested in an understudied aspect regarding the system of prepositions and how it changes when it comes into contact with English. I want to look at change in the semantics of these systems. Do these changes also subtly communicate something about identity? I expect that Spanish here changes more in unconscious ways, and possibly less in terms of borrowed lexical items.

Any advice or words of wisdom for students starting Spanish this year?

Language learning is a lifelong practice and takes a lot of time. Also, human beings are amazing: when we ask a question earnestly, we get an answer. Any question a person asks will get answered. So I tell my students: Keep asking questions. An answer may come after many hours or years of pursuing it, but an answer always comes.


Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Welcome New Faculty: Vanessa Brutsche


Welcome to our new faculty member Vanessa Brutsche, Visiting Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies with a specialization in the intersections between spatial theory, the politics of memory, and historical violence in French and Francophone literature and cinema. Her broader interests include 19th–21st century literature, film history and theory, Holocaust and memory studies, and theories of space, place, and geography.

What have you most enjoyed about the courses you’re teaching at William and Mary so far?

 This semester I’m teaching FR393, “Flânerie on Film: Urban Space in French Cinema,” which explores not only various representations of the modern city inbutschex200 French cinema, but also how cinema has been used at times to critique or theorize new forms of urbanism and the changing politics of space. I’ve especially enjoyed the opportunity to visit so many historical moments (from the late-19th century to the present) and read different kinds of texts with this class, including cultural history, sociology, philosophy, and critical theory.

Of course, one of the best parts of teaching this class is getting to rewatch the films – ranging from avant-garde, surrealist films to classics by major filmmakers like Renoir and Godard. I find it thrilling that films made decades ago can still feel radical to students watching them for the first time, even though we live in such a media-saturated culture. That defamiliarization of what we are surrounded by every day – moving images – can lead to truly exciting and productive class discussions.

I’m also currently teaching Intermediate French (FR201). The thing I enjoy the most about teaching at this level is getting to witness the students’ progress – which happens so quickly! – especially because they are typically so focused on getting through the semester that they don’t realize how far they have come. It’s exciting to hear their use of the language get progressively more sophisticated.

Now that you’ve been here a few months, how has your time at William and Mary been so far? 

My time so far has been wonderful! everyone is incredibly welcoming. I’m continuously impressed with how open, inquisitive, and talented the students are, and the motivation they bring to the classroom. I’m also very much enjoying being a member of the Modern Languages & Literatures Department, in which there is such a strong sense of community across the diversity of languages and cultures represented.

How do you approach teaching cinema and film to students who have never taken a course on it before? 

I try to strike a balance between introducing the vocabulary and methodological tools that are specific to the study of cinema and addressing the analytical questions that advance our class discussions. In my current course on cinema and urban space, this has been somewhat facilitated by the fact that we began with the first films produced in France (by the Lumière brothers in the 1890s) and have progressed through film history more or less chronologically. Seeing how certain techniques develop as the technology advances and as filmmakers experiment with the medium allows a lot of formal qualities to stand out in early cinema that we otherwise take for granted in more recent, narrative cinema – like the effects of montage, or how our point of view is constructed by framing and camera movements.

What are your current research projects?

As a literature and film scholar, I specialize in modern and contemporary France, with an emphasis on 1945 to the present. My current research focuses on the intersections between critical theories of space and the memorial legacies of historical violence. The book project I am working on explores how the language of what was called the “concentrationary universe” appears in texts and films to describe the conditions of modern life, at a moment when France’s urban landscape was undergoing massive changes. Overall, my work is dedicated to understanding the ways in which writers and filmmakers refused to allow the camps to be remembered solely as a thing of the past, closed off in space and time, and instead insisted on the political and ethical urgency of continuing to grapple with the phenomenon of the camps.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: German Studies

Welcome New Faculty: Anna Horáková!

Anna Horáková joined our faculty this fall. I asked her a few questions about her research and her teaching:

How did you become interested in the field of German Studies? When did you start learning German?

I was born in Brno in what back then was Czechoslovakia, about eighty miles away from Vienna. When I was born, however, the two cities were divided by the Iron Curtain, which of course also divided Czechoslovakia from Germany, so the German language and German-speaking culture were both quite close and very far. To me they represented a parallel world. IMG_9334But the real interest in German Studies began for me when I started pursuing my undergraduate degree in England. During my studies there I became acquainted with aesthetics and continental philosophy, and realized that German – with its language, literature, and philosophy – stood at the crossroads of my interests.

Tell us something about the main focus of your research, and why you think it is relevant for today?

My research looks at poets and artists whom one could call dissidents under the really existing socialist conditions of East Germany. What I found in archives and in interviewing these authors – most of them are still alive – is that while they were not singing the country’s praises and, in fact, often experienced state repression, they did not necessarily wish to abolish the East German project wholesale and were interested in the horizon of possibilities it had opened up. By this I mean that they saw in the socialist project a potential to build a society that would combine active solidarity with the possibility of individual fulfillment. The reason why this is compelling for us today is because we need to remind ourselves that the way we organize our life in common is not the only way possible. There is a widespread concern about the state of the world today and the direction that the economy is taking, including how it affects social and environmental conditions. Personally, I don’t believe in things being determined to have failed from the beginning, and that it is more interesting to interpret a phenomenon from a dynamic perspective, rather than its end.

What are some of the favorite topics you like to teach? How do you explain German culture to your U.S. students?

Generally, I try to get a variety of students in U.S. institutions acquainted with thought patterns with which they are not necessarily familiar. However, I don’t view teaching modern languages and literatures as bringing one culture to another, but as opening up a space where the language and culture of German-speaking areas provide a gateway to the multiplicity of voices that can be heard within it. For instance, I often assign works by German-speaking authors who write in German but who were born elsewhere, such as authors with migration backgrounds or from German-speaking minorities outside of the German-speaking countries – and thus push us to reconsider what we may have come to expect of German literature and culture. In other words, it’s not all sauerkraut and beer!

What do you think about W&M so far?

It’s a wonderful place to work! Collegiate, friendly, and supportive, with fantastic students who care about what they study, not to mention our beautiful campus. Recently I discovered the trails around Lake Matoaka and I can’t wait to see the forest in different seasons!

Thank you, Anna!

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: Japanese Studies

Meet Daniel Johnson, New Faculty in Japanese

1) Johnson photoDaniel Johnson received his PhD from the joint program in East Asian Cinema at the University of Chicago in 2015. He previously taught at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His research interests include the relationship between language and popular media in Japan, and the perception of vitality in the moving image. His work has been published in journals such as Japanese Studies and Games and Culture.

For the fall semester of 2018 Dr. Johnson will teach the course “Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature” and two sections of “East Asian Cinema.” His literature courses examines the relationship between the human body and issues of identity, technology, and sensory perception, while the two sections of East Asian Cinema are focused on “Youth Culture” and “Transnational Cinema.”

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: Hispanic Studies

Welcome New Faculty: Angélica Serna Jeri


Welcome to our new Faculty member, Angélica Serna Jeri, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies. Professor Serna Jeri is a Peruvian scholar specializing in the indigenous cultures of Latin America. Among her research interests are the colonial archive, biopolitics, material culture, and its circulation in the emergence of Quechua writing.

How your first few weeks have been at William & Mary?

What stands out to me has been the chance to meet scholars and teachers across the sections of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature. It has been a very welcoming experience—I think having the chance to talk with my new colleagues and learn about their projects both in talks as well as in the context of small, informal gatherings has helped to make me feel like part of this very diverse community of scholars. About the students, I can only say how impressed I’ve been by their curiosity and motivation. They have fearlessly jumped into new material—and in a second language—bringing fresh and new questions into the discussions. Their spark makes the classroom enjoyable and stimulating, and there is always space for incorporating multiple points of views.

What are you teaching this year?

I am teaching HISP 208, “La imaginación cultural: arte y literatura en el mundo hispano-hablante,” a class that introduces students to strategies for reading texts critically, covering the main critical approaches to the study of literature and cultural production in the Hispanic world. I am also teaching HISP 290, “Las lenguas indígenas y sus hablantes” a class that focuses on the role of indigenous languages and their speakers in the literatures and cultures of the Hispanic world. A fundamental goal in this class is to learn about the continuities and ruptures between the pre-Columbian past, the colonial experience and the present. 

What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?

My research focuses on the intersection of indigenous studies, literature, and visual and material culture, with a geographical focus on the Andean region. I study the material aspects of writing in indigenous languages from the Hispanic world in order to shed light on issues of indigenous agency, coloniality, subalternity and the role of indigenous speakers in the production of literary and cultural artifacts. Currently, I am working on an article about the role of Quechua speakers in the development of cartography in the Andes. The processual aspect of cartography and its simultaneous representation of space and language has fascinated me since I started to study literature.

What classes will you be teaching next semester?

I will be co-teaching HISP 281, “Introduction to Hispanic Studies,” with Prof. Sylvia Tandeciarz. The course will introduce students to critical and analytical practices that will allow them to develop their own understandings cultural production such as narrative, film, oral tradition, and material culture. I’m excited to have the chance to guide students as they learn to approach such forms in a sophisticated fashion that takes into consideration their historical, social, political, and intertextual situation.

Any advice or words of wisdom for students starting Spanish this semester?

You certainly can’t speak a language without the grammar, but the grammar isn’t everything either. As you use a new language—whether to read texts, collaborate with native speakers, or even just to watch TV—making sense of words most of the time calls on knowledge of cultural and historical background. Think about learning Spanish as learning not just a language, nor even a single culture, but as a complex history of interactions through which cultures, identities, languages and art forms emerged and transformed.


Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News News: Hispanic Studies

New Faculty Profile: Matteo Cantarello


Welcome to our new Faculty member, Matteo Cantarello, Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies with a specialization in crime fiction in contemporary Mexican and Italian literature, especially the cultural representations of organized crime, violence, and youth cultures in urban spaces and on the border.

How your first few weeks have been at William & Mary?

The first weeks have been great. To be honest, I did not sleep much at the beginning as everything was new and I was very excited at the idea of becoming familiar with the school, the department, and of getting to know students and colleagues. In line with this, by now I am sure that many in the department have noticed my addiction to coffee. These past two weeks have been much better. After six years in a city like Baltimore—which I love—Williamsburg is allowing me to continue my work at a faster pace but in a more relaxing environment.

What are you teaching this year?

I am teaching three classes in the fall and three in the spring and my teaching will be equally distributed between language, culture, and literature. I am really thankful for such an opportunity. It will allow me to have classes very different from one another and lots of students with distinct interests and expectations. Thanks to this, I will be working on adopting new teaching strategies and on selecting class materials in line with the taste and pre-existing knowledge of the student population. I just hope that my classes will not be on the opposite sides of campus!

What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?

The core of my research analyzes fictional representations of phenomena of organized crime. I work mostly on Mexico and Latin American productions but, at the same time, I keep an eye on Italian literary and filmic fictions. The scope of my research is twofold: first, I work to demonstrate why and how fiction can be so powerful and efficient in describing organized crime phenomena. Second, I aim at inserting these fictions into a broader discourse: that of national identity and national culture. Right now, I am converting my dissertation into a monograph and I am in the preliminary stage of my future project, The Expendables: Women, Adolescents, and Latin American Organized Crime.

What classes will you be teaching next semester?

Next semester I will be teaching intermediate Spanish, Issues in Mexican Culture, and Literary Criticism. I am thrilled to teach three classes so different from one another because I will be able to enjoy three audiences with completely different expectations. It will be challenging, but I am going to enjoy the whole spectrum of opportunities a literary scholar has, as I will combine languages, cultures, and literature.

What would be your dream class to teach and why?

Last year, at Johns Hopkins University, I was awarded a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship that granted me the opportunity to teach a course of my own design. In “Transatlantic Mafias: Organized Crime in Mexico and Italy,” students read Mexican and Italian fictions that portrayed literary representations of organized crime. It was terrific to see how enthusiastically students reacted to the ideas I had in mind. They truly enjoyed the possibility to read in parallel novels belonging to two different literary traditions. I think that, as a scholar, this is what I enjoy the most: finding similarities between cultures and literary traditions even if they are separated by continents or oceans. I hope that such an opportunity could happen again soon.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: Hispanic Studies

New Faculty Profile: Davinia Pastor Pastor


Welcome to our new Faculty member, Davinia Pastor Pastor, Visiting Lecturer of Hispanic Studies with a specialization in linguistics and second language acquisition. Among her research interests are the interaction between language and society and the teaching of Spanish language through cultural production.

Can you tell us a little about where you come from and how you are adjusting to Williamsburg?

I am from a city called Sant Vicent del Raspeig (Alicante, Spain). There I studied my BA in English Studies and my MA in Teaching English as a foreign language. At the University of Barcelona (Spain), I did a second MA on Applied Linguistics and Language Acquisition in Multilingual Contexts.

In relation to my international experience, I decided that I needed to explore what was happening outside Spain and I moved to Penn State University (USA) where I worked as a Spanish teaching assistant and I did graduate studies in Hispanic Linguistics. I also worked in Aberdeenshire (Scotland) as a Spanish language assistant. Most recently, I worked in Madrid (Spain) at the Ministry of Education from the Government of Spain at the Department of Foreign Languages.

So, as you can see, for the last couple of years, I have been in different places all around the world and that is what I am going to try to transmit to my students: you need to live abroad, to go away from your comfort zone so as to discover a new whole world of opportunities, people, and different ways of understanding the world.

How your first few weeks have been at William & Mary?

I think the word that summarizes my first weeks is “chaos”. I moved from Alicante (Spain) to Williamsburg a couple of days before the classes started, so I was just running around the campus trying to get everything done on time. Despite this, now that I am in my fourth week, I think I am starting to feel more like at home and trying to enjoy every step of this crazy adventure.

What are you teaching this year?

During the Fall 2018, I am teaching three different courses: Elementary Spanish (HISP 102), Combined Beginning Spanish (HISP 103) and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (HISP 207). In Spring 2019, I am going to be teaching two courses of Intermediate Spanish (HISP 203) and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (HISP 207) again.

What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?

During the last 5 years, the main focus of my research was language attitudes (minority vs. majority languages) and bilingual/plurilingual educational systems in the Valencian Community (Spain). So, as you can imagine, all the aspects of the interrelation between language, society, and culture are important for my research

Any advice or words of wisdom for students starting Spanish this semester?

Learning a foreign language is a long adventure that entails investing a lot of time. But as I said, it is an “adventure”. A language is not just a system to transmit ideas but also a way of looking and understanding the world that is around us. A language is history, folklore, media, culture, expressions, feelings and a long etcetera. So to those of you thinking about starting to learn Spanish, I would say “go ahead because it is going to be an amazing experience that would make you see your native language and world in a different way”.

If you could teach your “dream course,” what would that look like?

When I think about this question, two possible courses come up to my mind. The first one would be based on the importance of language attitudes to learn and to speak a foreign/native language and how different elements affect those language attitudes. The second dream course would be based on teaching Spanish culture from Spain through TV shows, movies, music and pieces of news.

Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles News: Arabic Studies Spring 2018 Spring 2018 More

Stephen Sheehi (Arabic Studies) receives the Arts & Sciences 2018 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence

sheehi_12092014492Informed by a genuine pleasure in academic dialogue, Professor Sheehi’s teaching engages the nuances of identity and opens the door for his students to develop new and productive ways to think about the complex history of the Middle East. With great energy, intellectual playfulness, fresh ideas, and humor, he consistently leads civil discussions about highly contentious political issues. Students praise his “well-rounded” and confounding approach, with one writing, “The entire focus of this course was to complicate our perceptions … I am walking away from class enlightened and confused.…”

His teaching draws on an active record of research and publication, with three books published since 2014 (two more are forthcoming) on topics including translation theory and colonialism, the history of photography in the Arab world, psychoanalysis, Islamophobia, race, and class. All of which provide a fertile bed of knowledge for his wide-ranging courses about, for example, Arab visual culture, the Arab American experience, the culture of Arab food, and the trajectory from Orientalism to Islamophobia. Together these courses offer students spaces to explore the historical and cultural history of the Arabic world, and, crucially, the relationship of the United States to that world.

It is fitting that he now be recognized with the Arts & Sciences 2018 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.

Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles News: Hispanic Studies sidebar Spring 2018 Spring 2018 More

John Riofrio (Hispanic Studies) recognized with the Arts & Sciences 2018 Faculty Governance Award

John 'Rio' Riofrio Assistant Professor in Hispanic Studies
John ‘Rio’ Riofrio
Assistant Professor in Hispanic Studies

Since joining the faculty in 2009, Professor Riofrio has contributed in vigorous and consequential ways to matters of governance before the faculty. His persistent voice for academic rigor, interdisciplinarity, and creative approaches helped to shape the new College Curriculum, followed by insightful service on various implementation working groups, culminating in his appointment as an inaugural fellow in the Center for the Liberal Arts. Charged with inspiring colleagues to imagine and contribute entirely new courses, this “first wave” of CLA Fellows also helped to shoulder the many administrative processes involved with moving from the conceptual stage to a functional, working general education curriculum.

He has served as director of Latin American Studies in the Global Studies Program and was recognized in 2016 for interdisciplinary innovation with selection to a Taylor Reveley Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Study. He has also been a leader in campus initiatives to address sensitive issues of inclusion and climate, including service on the University Diversity Committee, the Provost’s Committee for Latino Recruitment, the President’s Task Force on Race and Race Relations, and, currently, the President’s Implementation Team for Campus Race and Race Relations Policy.

For his many contributions, it is fitting that Professor Riofrio be recognized with the Arts & Sciences 2018 Faculty Governance Award.

Faculty Profiles News: French & Francophone Studies sidebar Spring 2018 Spring 2018 More

Maryse Fauvel (French and Francophone Studies) Retires

Grad 25 LargeMaryse Fauvel, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, retires this year after more than twenty years of teaching at W&M. During her tenure at W&M, Professor Fauvel published Exposer “l’autre”. Essai sur la Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration et le Musée du quai Branly (2014); Tâches d’encre, Maryse Fauvel, co-author, Heinle Cengage (2011); A vous de voir ! De l’idée au projet filmique (2010); and Scènes d’intérieur: Six romanciers des années 1980-1990 (2007). She has inspired her students through her innovative teaching, especially her focus on students’ writing. A fierce advocate for the faculty of MLL, she served as Chair of the department from 2013-2017. In addition to her research and scholarship, Maryse was extremely active in faculty service and governance at the University. Maryse championed student-centered learning and challenged her students at every point to become critical thinkers and polished writers. She will be sorely missed!

Faculty Profiles News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2017 More Spring 2018 Spring 2018 More Uncategorized

Professor Nathan Rabalais (French and Francophone Studies) publishes book of original poetry

Prof. Brett Brehm sat down with Nathan Rabalais to talk about his new book of original poetry in French, Le Hantage: un ouvrage de souvenance, just published by Éditions Tintamarre.


BB: I’m intrigued by the play of text and image in this book. Could you tell us how you conceived of that interplay?

NR: I think I’ve always been in touch with the visual aspect of art. Even when playing or writing music, I often imagine shapes, colors, or different contours when performing or thinking about themes and structure. This was just a great way to do it in a very explicit way and have the images accompany chapters and certain poems. It was also an opportunity to work with my brother, David, who is a fantastic photographer.

BB: Are there particular poetic traditions from which you are drawing here? Who and what were your main sources of inspiration for these poems?

Jacques Prévert has been a big influence on my style from the beginning. I’d like to think I emulate him in sort of a ‘false simplicity’ – using short and musical phrasings that often hide more complex plays on words or internal rhymes. But since I mostly write in Louisiana French, I think I’m influenced on a deeper, less obvious level by a lot Louisiana poets who paved the way for writing in our French (Deborah Clifton, Jean Arceneaux, Kirby Jambon and others).

BB: Could you tell us about the particular poetic language you are using here, and perhaps how that language relates to place?

NR: This book is very much rooted in Louisiana – in the language, the images, and overall esthetic. I try not limit myself to strictly oral style of Louisiana French, since the way I speak is a product of my whole experience with French (in Canada and France). I do love finding inspiration in the Dictionary of Louisiana French (2010) and finding words that remind me of my childhood or words I’ve never seen. I think we can do these words honor by reviving them and using them in new poems. To me, that’s the best way of appreciating immaterial heritage and culture – to keep using it and make it relevant.

BB: I’ve never heard the word ‘hantage’ before… is it a Louisiana French word?

I actually made this word up! It’s based on hanter (to haunt, frequent, return). There is a word in French hantise that has a similar connotation, but I’ve noticed that Louisiana French has a certain affinity for using –age at the end of verbs to make them nouns. For example, I’ve heard words like parlage (speaking), dormage (sleeping, slumber). It’s fascinating. And since my book is about how memory is processed, often without our even choosing to process it, I organized the book into chapters, each one related to a step of that process. That’s why there is a lot of imagery of waves and water in the book; it becomes a symbol of memories or feeling coming and going in their own time.

BB: Merci, Nathan!

NR: Merci à toi!

Faculty Profiles News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2018 Spring 2018 More

Professor Jonathan Arries (Hispanic Studies) Retires after 23 Years of Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching

Jonathan and SilviaJonathan Arries has been an inspiration to everyone in MLL and the W&M community. He has been called a “pedagogical frontiersman” and described as “restless, adventurous, unafraid to take risks and enthusiastic about charting new curricular paths.” His energy and vision have, in fact, transformed our community. He is retiring after 23 years of research, teaching, and service to W&M and the greater community.

More than 20 years ago, Jonathan took his freshman seminar students to the Eastern Shore to visit medical clinics serving thousands of Spanish-speaking migrant farmworkers laboring there each summer; and he went on to develop the course in medical interpretation and 4-week, residential summer externship program for undergraduate students who have been providing their services to migrant laborers ever since. This is but one example of many: as the Sharpe Professor for Civic Renewal, Jonathan developed W&M’s CPAL program (Community Partners for Adult Literacy), a student-run tutoring service; over the years he supervised small teams of student-researchers in Central America—initially in Honduras, and more recently in Nicaragua—and partnered with native Managua-based elementary school teachers working in low-income school systems; and when Latin American Studies created the Border Program, he jumped in, teaching “Field Research in the Borderlands” and leading teams of students along with faculty in Philosophy and Anthropology to investigate issues related to the cultures of immigration, displacement, and human rights abuses. Last, but not least, Jonathan’s intrepid nature led him across campus to work with the School of Education long before interdisciplinary cross-school initiatives were being championed by the administration. As co-founder, with Katherine Kulick, of the department’s program for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), he built a minor that awards dual certification in ESL (English as a Second Language) and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), and that has served both School of Education Master’s students and undergraduates seeking that certification.

The depth and breadth of Jonathan’s contributions in faculty governance over the years is truly inspiring. In addition to assuming the coveted role of Hispanic Studies Program Director several times, he served on some of the most labor-intensive committees in the department, chaired its Personnel Committee, and contributed to the critical work of the College’s Judicial Council, Committee for Academic Status, International Studies Committee, and the Faculty Assembly.

In recognition of Jonathan’s deep and abiding contributions to undergraduate education at William & Mary, he was appointed University Professor for Teaching Excellence and the Robert F. Sharpe and Jane A. Sharp Associate Professor of Civic Renewal and Social Entrepreneurship. Most recently, in 2015, Jonathan was honored with the distinguished Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching. A

This article has been excerpted from Silvia Tendeciarz’s remarks at Jonathan’s Retirement Party at the Muscarelle Museum of Art on May 2, 2018.

Faculty Profiles News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2018 More Uncategorized

Bienvenue! Welcome, Prof. Déborah Lee-Ferrand!

We are happy to welcome our new colleague Déborah Lee-Ferrand to our department! We sat down with her to hear about her exciting courses and research, including her new course “Food for Thought” and her dissertation. Bienvenue!

Faculty Awards Faculty Profiles News: Arabic Studies Plumeri sidebar Spring 2018 Spring 2018 More

Stephen Sheehi receives 2018 Plumeri Award

Stephsheehi_12092014492en Sheehi, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Chair of Middle East Studies, Professor of Arabic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, has received the 2018 Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, celebrating exemplary achievements of William & Mary faculty in teaching, research, and service.

Prof. Sheehi’s work meets at the intersection of cultural, visual, art, and social history of the modern Arab world, starting with the late Ottoman Empire and the Arab Renaissance (al-nahdah al-‘arabiyah). His scholarly interests include photography theory, psychoanalysis, post-colonial theory, Palestine, and Islamophobia.

Prof. Sheehi’s forthcoming book, Camera Palaestina: The Seven Photography Albums of Wasif Jawhariyyeh (University of California Press, forthcoming) is co-authored with Salim Tamari and Issam Nassar. His contribution to the book, “On the Emergence of a Palestinian Spectator,” reevaluates the relationship between the Palestinian and the photographic archive, between the colonized and the colonizer and between the settler-Zionist and the native Palestinian. This research also serves as the theoretical foundation for a larger and broader, single authored book project, entitled Decolonizing Photography.

Prof. Sheehi is also writing along with Dr. Lara Sheehi, Psychoanalysis under Occupation. The research is an exploration of the intersubjective experience of Palestinians living under violent and violating Israeli occupation as interpreted not only by Palestinian psychoanalysts but cultural “workers,” artists, and film-makers. An early sample of the project can be found in Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. Prof. Sheehi has received a NEH-FPIRI Fellowship to research the topic in Palestine in 2018.

The Arab Imago: A Social History of Indigenous Photography 1860-1910 (Princeton University Press, 2016) is Prof. Sheehi’s most recent book. It is a ground-breaking study on the history of photography in the Arab world. The research is the first to comprehensively research native studios in Alexandria, Beirut, Cairo, Jaffa, and Jerusalem as well as early Hajj photography in al-Hijaz during the late Ottoman period. In doing so, the book investigates and theorizes the relationship between indigenous photography, social transformations and the creation of modern Arab society in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine before World War One.

Prof. Sheehi’s most recent book is Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2011). The book examines the rise of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments in the West following the end of the Cold War. Sheehi analyzes the relationship between United States foreign and domestic policies, cultural representations, and political discourses in mainstreaming of Islamophobia. The book has been translated into Arabic as al-Islamufobia: al-Hamlah al-idiulujiyah dud al-Muslimin translation by Fatimah Nasr (Cairo: Dar al-Sutour, 2012).

Foundations of Modern Arab Identity (University of Florida, 2004) is Prof. Sheehi’s first book, offering a new paradigm for thinking about the 19th century Arab Renaissance or al-nahdah al-`arabiyah. The book discusses how reformers such as Butrus  al-Bustani, Salim al-Bustani, Farah Antun, and Jurji Zaydan offered a powerful cultural self-criticism alongside their advocacy of Arab “progress and civilization” in the face of European imperialism. In doing so, these Arab intellectuals established the epistemological foundation for Arab modernity that would always gauge their “failure” and “success” against ideals of colonializing Europe.

Prof. Sheehi has published in a variety of venues on Middle Eastern photography, art, literature, and intellectual history in venues such as Third Text, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Critical Inquiry, The British Journal of Middle East Studies, Discourse, The Journal of Arabic Literature, Alif: Journal of Compartive Poetics, Critique, Jouvert, The Journal of Comparative South Asian, African, Middle Eastern Studies and Encyclopedia of Islam along within a number of other books. He has published commentaries in Psychoanalytic Activist, Common Dreams, Mondoweiss, Jadaliyya, and al-Adab.

Faculty Profiles News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies at MACLAS 2018

By Christina Baker and Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra

The Mid-Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies (MACLAS) is an interdisciplinary professional association that promotes and develops interest in Latin America studies. Held in 2009 at William & Mary, Hispanic Studies has often had a strong presence at this yearly event in the form of Faculty and Student presentations. For the 2017 conference, Professor Baker attended the conference with two Monroe scholars. The experience was not only enriching for her as a faculty member, but also for the students. Being able to showcase their original research and dialogue with other scholars and students, allowed them to embody William & Mary’s rhetoric of supporting undergraduate research. For this 2018 conference, at Mulhenberg College, Professor Baker and Professor Sanchis-Sinisterra devised a two-semester initiative to select and prepare students for the conference. These two panels were extensions of two new and original courses offered through Hispanic Studies: HISP 320: Mujeres detrás de la cámara and HISP 390: Queer Latinidad. The five students who participated in MACLAS this year are deeply invested in the discipline of Hispanic Studies, having conducted coursework, study abroad and research in the field. This was, though, the first conference for all the participants.

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In the months leading up to the event, both Prof. Baker and Prof. Sanchis-Sinisterra mentored the students by offering to read their papers, brainstorm ideas, assist with research, and practice presentations. This support allowed the students to feel confident in their ideas and the validity of their research interests. During the conference, both panels had robust audience attendance, ranging from 8-10 conference attendees. Post-panel discussions were riveting conversations about the students’ work and suggestions on how to pursue it in the form of publications or future conference attendance. Brenna Cowardin said, “This was my first conference, and I am so incredibly grateful for the experience. I presented my paper in Spanish which was significantly more stressful than if I would have in English. That being said, it was also significantly more rewarding. I was so pleased when afterwards professors from other universities congratulated me on my presentation, and I felt so validated in all of the research and preparation I had done to get to that moment. Thank you so much!”

William & Mary panels were divided between the two conference dates, March 9thand 10th, 2018. Both Prof. Sanchis-Sinisterra and Prof. Baker arrived the night prior with all of the students. The two groups had a wonderful dinner together, bonding over the long drive to Pennsylvania, nerves about presenting, and excitement about their topics. Fortunately, both panels were scheduled in the afternoon so that the students could attend other panels, network, and feel comfortable about what being at a conference entailed. Madison Tate said, “I would say that it was really nice to get to experience what it’s like to present at a real conference, since this trip was my first time doing so. Also it was great to have the chance to learn from other students from different states and schools who are interested in the same topics that we are.”

The Friday panel was entitled “Chronopolitical Mappings of Queerness: Cartographies of Belonging Across Latin/x America,” and included the following series of talks:

“Erotohistoriographies of Selenidad: Queer Memory and Performance Practices,” Christina Baker (Visiting Assistant Professor)

“Géneroquir or Genderqueer: Imperialist and Linguistic Considerations of Otherness in Latin/x America,” Diana Weyandt (Hispanic Studies Major)

“Super(queer)oes: Latinas that Save the World,” Madison Tate (Hispanic Studies Minor)

“Queer Bodies of Color as Sacred,” Rebecca Bermudez. (Latinx Studies Major)

Please reference the video mash-up of the four presentations and photo gallery to see and watch the amazing work of these students.

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The Saturday was titled “Female Directors Changing the Climate: Latin America and Latinas in the U.S,” and included the following talks:

“Challenging Traditional Femininity in La teta asustada y XXY” – Brenna Cowardin (Hispanic Studies Major)

“The Shadow of the Patriarchy is Long: The Masculine Gaze in La niña santa” Sarah Malks (Hispanic Studies Major)

“Against Romantic Love: An Analysis of Mosquita y Mari by Aurora Redondo,” Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra (Visiting Assistant Professor)

Please reference the video mash-up of the four presentations and photo gallery to see and watch the amazing work of these students.

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Scholarship and community are words that could quite well summarize what this experience meant for both Professors and students. This is what being part of William & Mary means: a deep love for knowledge in an atmosphere of sharing and connection; the final word being gratitude towards those who made it posible.

*This conference was made possible by the generous support of Dean Donahue and the Annual Fund. Additional support came from the Charles Center and Latin American Studies.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2017 More Featured News: French & Francophone Studies

New Book: Michael Leruth, French and Francophone Studies

leruth_mIn this video, Prof. Michael Leruth talks to us about his latest book Fred Forest’s Utopia: Media Art and Activism published, this year by MIT Press.

As mentioned on the MIT Press webpage, Prof. Leruth “shows that Forest chooses alternative platforms (newspapers, mock commercial ventures, video-based interactive social interventions, media hacks and hybrids, and, more recently, the Internet) that are outside the exclusive precincts of the art world. A fierce critic of the French contemporary art establishment, Forest famously sued the Centre Pompidou in 1994 over its opaque acquisition practices. After making foundational contributions to Sociological Art in the 1970s and the Aesthetics of Communication in the 1980s, the pioneering Forest saw the Internet as another way for artists to bypass the art establishment in the 1990s. Arguing that there is a strong utopian quality in Forest’s work, Leruth sees this utopianism not as naive or conventional but as a reverse utopianism: rather than envisioning an impossible ideal, Forest re-envisions and probes the quasi-utopia of our media-augmented everyday reality. The interface is the symbolic threshold to be crossed with an open mind.”

In this video, Prof. Michael Leruth talks to us about his latest book Fred Forest’s Utopia: Media Art and Activism published, this year by MIT Press.

As mentioned on the MIT Press webpage, Prof. Leruth “shows that Forest chooses alternative platforms (newspapers, mock commercial ventures, video-based interactive social interventions, media hacks and hybrids, and, more recently, the Internet) that are outside the exclusive precincts of the art world. A fierce critic of the French contemporary art establishment, Forest famously sued the Centre Pompidou in 1994 over its opaque acquisition practices. After making foundational contributions to Sociological Art in the 1970s and the Aesthetics of Communication in the 1980s, the pioneering Forest saw the Internet as another way for artists to bypass the art establishment in the 1990s. Arguing that there is a strong utopian quality in Forest’s work, Leruth sees this utopianism not as naive or conventional but as a reverse utopianism: rather than envisioning an impossible ideal, Forest re-envisions and probes the quasi-utopia of our media-augmented everyday reality. The interface is the symbolic threshold to be crossed with an open mind.”


Faculty Profiles Fall 2017 More Featured News: French & Francophone Studies

New Faculty Profile: Brett Brehm, French and Francophone Studies

Brett fall %2717 website photoWelcome to our new Faculty member, Brett Brehm, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies with a specialization in 19th Century French Studies. His current research focuses on the history of color photography and its connections with literature and the visual arts. Brett is also  working on a book project, “Kaleidophonic Modernity: Sound, City and Technology.” For the full details, please watch his video interview below.





Faculty Profiles Fall 2017 More Featured News: Chinese Studies

New Faculty Profile: Michael Hill, Chinese Studies

New Faculty Profile: Michael Hill, Chinese Studies

Nicole Cook (International Relations and Chinese, 18’)


michael hillWelcome to William and Mary! Now that you’ve been in Williamsburg for a few months, how has your time been so far?

I’ve been having a great time! I have two really excellent classes this semester, a senior seminar and a course on Chinese pop culture. One of the reasons why William & Mary is so attractive is the great students. For example, in my senior seminar, I have 13 students who are able to work with pretty difficult materials in Chinese language. Their ability to work with the material is really exciting to me. It makes it really fun to teach.

Do you mind telling me a little about your career before coming here? What inspired you to begin studying Chinese?

I started Chinese in my sophomore year of college. At that time, I decided I was either going to study Chinese or Russian, and decided I would try Chinese. I had a great first teacher and was hooked! I took some time off between undergraduate and graduate school to not only work, but also to go to China. I made my first trip in 1997 a couple years after college. After that, I started undergraduate school at Rutgers University and finished at Columbia University. In between, I also spent time working at a translation company. The job involved translating things between Chinese and English that were not very exciting, like contracts, financial documents, and pharmaceutical packaging. This was an especially valuable experience as part of what I study is the history of translation between China and the West. I then worked at the University of South Carolina for 9 years before coming here.

You mentioned your research in the history of translation. Is that your primary focus of research? Do you have other projects you’re working on now?

Both my PhD dissertation and the first book I wrote were about Lin Shu, the first major translator of Western fiction into Chinese. He didn’t know any foreign languages but still managed to work with speakers of English and French to translate works into Classical Chinese. That was a really fun project because many of his translations changed quite a bit from the original to the Chinese translation.

More recently, I began leaning Arabic for my current research, which is on the history of cultural relations between China and the Middle East (late 19th century through the 1950s). Last academic year, I had a fellowship with the American Council of Learned Societies that allowed me to work at the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress. This gave me a unique opportunity to work on collecting sources for my project.

What classes will you be teaching next semester?

In the spring, I’ll be teaching a survey class on 20th century Chinese literature in English and a COLL150 class called “What is China?” The freshman seminar is based on the title of a book I’ve translated by a scholar named Ge Zhaoguang, which is scheduled for publication in January 2018. The book is interesting in the way it talks about different perspectives on Chinese history and major questions in Chinese history. So, for example, what is territory in China? The answer changes depending on if we study the past 1,000 years, 2,000 years or 5,000 years.  He does a really great job of talking about a wide variety of materials so it should be fun to discuss with students.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for students who are currently studying Chinese?

Stick with the language – it’s a long road, but it really pays off. I also encourage students to spend an extended amount of time in the language environment, whether that’s a summer, semester, or even, if possible, a year after graduation. If you go to China within a couple years of graduation and spend time there, you can really get your language skills up to a high level. Then, you have this tool that you can take with you anywhere in your career.

Thank you very much for your time!


Faculty Profiles Fall 2017 More News: Hispanic Studies

New Faculty Profile: Noel Blanco Mourelle, Hispanic Studies

This year, we are excited to welcome Dr. Noel Blanco MNoel Blanco Mourelleourelle to join the Hispanic Studies Program. Dr. Blanco Mourelle is an Assistant Professor, coming to us from Columbia, where he finished his Ph.D. in 2017. We sat down with Dr. Blanco Mourelle to get to know him, his research, and his teaching a little better.

How do you feel teaching at William & Mary

I feel it is a great and unique experience. Part of what makes students so great here is that their intellectual abilities are not paired with cynicism about the world. They have a very specific and incredible ability to engage with the class material. It is so refreshing and wonderful to see that they are empathetic and connected.

What are you teaching this year?

I am teaching a medieval studies course, HISP 324, which explores the notion of nations without borders. The course explores Medieval Iberian cultures across geographic territories or religious beliefs. It also adds a linguistic dimension to the notion of nationhood. This all makes students reflect upon the fact that the cultural tapestry of Medieval Iberia is made of people across Christian, Jewish and Muslim practices writing in a variety of languages. This sort of cross-pollination is what makes this specific period so special.

I am also teaching an introduction to literary criticism course, HISP 208. This is a very special class that allows students to progress in their critical thinking skills as well as language domination. They progress from poems to short stories to novels, allowing them to very tangibly measure their development; they see their reading and discussion skills develop into powerful arguments throughout the course of the semester.

In the Spring I will be teaching a COLL 150: Waiting on the End of the World and a Masterpiece seminar on Cervantes. That course will cover, of course, Don Quijote, but it will also include some of Cervantes’ lesser-known works, and I am very excited about it.

If you could teach your “dream course,” what would that look like?

Well, my upcoming COLL 150 course is pretty close to my dream course. This course is looking at the notions of the apocalypse and our human obsession with finitude. I’m designing the course around the idea that one day our species might end and the way that that anxiety plays out in social fears and discourses of perish. More than that, through these fears, there is a contradiction between humans as conceived as the center of our own world and the fact that it very well might not be. I am always interested in issues-driven courses as opposed to specific traditions or styles.

In the future, I would like to cover other issues like the question of conversion through lenses like juridical and anthropological points of view in the Iberian archive. I would also love to teach a future course on the Inquisition.

Do you have any plans for supporting student research?

One of my fields of research and training is the history of the book. The book being tangible and I have already taken students to the archives here in Swem. I like to take them once or twice a semester to go through special collections and start to consider the materiality of the past. But I am very interested in, and hopeful that I can, take them to the National Library and other special collections in this area. I think working with archives offers a complex and nuanced version of the past. I mean, it is great to see the nice and tidy book that comes from Penguin Books USA, but it’s amazing to see the way, for example, Don Quijote was read over the centuries. It is so different to see the notes and the editions change over time.

What is your current research project?

My current project is about learning technologies in between the Iberian Medieval period and Early Modern period. I am dealing with two issues, the first being something I would call a question about political theology. I am considering the struggle to separate the temporal and religious powers in society and how that difference plays out in intellectual and pedagogical culture. The second part of this project considers how specific medieval intellectual techniques are re-purposed in the Early Modern period to achieve the expansion of the empire. This is really about situating the Iberian experience within a Global Context of New Spain, the Counterreformation and other impactful events.

Can you tell us a little about where you come from and how you are adjusting to Williamsburg?

I am used to moving around. I completed my undergraduate degree in Spain, at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. There, bachelor degrees are five years, so I did my study abroad during my fourth year. I spent the year in Italy, in a town called, Bologna, and it was an absolutely transformative and mind-blowing experience. Because of that, I always, always, recommend to my students to do a study abroad. When I cam back to my university, I just knew I needed to continue my studies within this setting of intercultural exchanges. So, I completed my Master’s degree in Paris and then decided to do my Ph.D. in the United States. I applied to graduate school without really knowing how it was, since I had never even been to the U.S. before. Actually, my first time was coming as a prospective graduate student! I decided to go to school in New York, at Columbia University. I feel super lucky to be here in Williamsburg. I love it here at William & Mary. Everyone asks if I have had trouble adjusting, but I would not say so. It feels very nice to be here.

Thanks, Dr. Blanco Mourelle. We look forward to seeing you around campus more this Fall! 

Faculty Profiles Fall 2016 Issue News News: Japanese Studies

Meet Tomoyuki Sasaki, New Faculty in Japanese

sasaki photoThis past fall, Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki joined the Japanese program as an Associate Professor. We spoke to him recently about his research and teaching.

Q: Professor Sasaki, Welcome to William & Mary. I hope you are enjoying the campus and getting to know the town of Williamsburg. You started at W&M this August. Do you mind starting by telling us a little about your career before coming to W&M?

A: Sure. I earned my PhD in history at the University of California, San Diego, with focus on modern Japanese history. After that, I taught at Kalamazoo College in Michigan for one year as a visiting assistant professor. Then, I moved to Eastern Michigan University, where I spent six years, teaching courses on Japanese, East Asian, and world history.

Q: So you are trained as a historian. Can you talk a bit about your research?

A: Yes. Since I started my career as a scholar, I’ve been interested in relations between the military and civil society in the modern state—how the military, as an organization with the right to exercise physical violence, normalizes its presence in a democratic state. I used post-WWII Japan as a case study. Postwar Japan established a so-called Peace Constitution, renouncing war and banning the nation from possessing any type of war potential. But it also developed large-scale armed forces, called the Self-Defense Forces. Because of the gap between the constitutional ideal and the actual presence of a military organization, postwar Japan has actively contested the meanings of the military, so it presents a very interesting case. I deal with this topic at length in my book, Japan’s Postwar Military and Civil Society: Contesting a Better Life, which came out last year.

Q: What is the main argument of your book?

Sakaki bookcoverA: In the book, I focus on the Cold War period between the 1950s and 1980s. For Japan, as for many other industrialized countries, this was the time of high-speed economic growth. Japan’s high-speed economic growth is well-known worldwide, but it didn’t resolve many of the problems immanent to capitalism, such as unemployment, underemployment, and the economic gap between social classes as well as the gap between the city and the countryside. The SDF played an important role in alleviating these problems by offering employment for working-class men and using the labor of these men for the development of communities in the countryside, that were experiencing financial hardship. By looking at this role, I wanted to demonstrate how the SDF established itself structurally within Japan’s capitalist economic system and how this led to the consolidation of an intertwined socio-economic relation between the military and civil society.

Q: Any advice for students studying about Japan in particular and East Asia more broadly?

So much information on Japan and East Asia is available in America. Many people have fixed ideas about Japan and East Asia even before coming to college. In college-level education, I think, it’s essential to question what you know, to consider self-reflectively and self-critically how those ideas and understandings were shaped, and to become aware that there are many ways to conceptualize the object of your study.

Q: What courses will you be teaching at William & Mary?

A: In Spring 2016, I’ll be teaching two courses. First, Introduction to Japanese Studies. This course will introduce students to various methodologies, concepts, and theories crucial to the study of Japan. It’s a perfect course if you’re thinking of minoring in Japanese Studies. The other course is Japanese Cinema. We will deal with twelve films produced in the post-WWII period and examine the significance of these films within the historical contexts of US occupation, high-speed economic growth, social movements, and so on. During this period, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, there were so many great directors, actors and actresses, and screenwriters—it was a difficult task for me to select just twelve films; fun, but difficult. Anyone interested in Japan, Japanese films, and films in general is welcome.

Q: How do you spend your free time? Have you explored Williamsburg?

Watching old Japanese films always relaxes me. I also enjoy walking through colonial Williamsburg and petting the horses there. I’ve also been exploring some of the great restaurants in Richmond, too.

Thank you, Professor Sasaki. It was a pleasure talking with you.