fall2020 News: Hispanic Studies

Conversatorio with Eduardo Lalo and students of Indigenous Cultures

This fall, Hispanic Studies’ newest faculty member, Dr. Carlos Rivera, Conversatorio with Lalo - Rivera class - Fall 2020organized a conversation with the author and indigenist activist Eduardo Lalo for his students of HISP390. Students first read his novel Historia de Yuke (El Yunque rain forest in Puerto Rico) and then had the opportunity to ask the author about his book. A video of the conversation can be viewed here: 

fall2020 News: Hispanic Studies

Zombies, Ghosts and Videos

Zombies y Fantasmas - Gaytan Cuesta - Fall 2020 In Dr. Gaytan Cuesta’s Fall 2020 class “Zombies, Ghosts and the End of the World in Latin American Film and New Audiovisual Media” students created video-essays. These are stored at the Media Center and can also be seen on the YouTube channel “Butaca Abierta” at:

fall2020 News: Hispanic Studies

Students Tell Ghost Stories in Spanish

Imágenes de la actividad de cuentos de fantasma - Fall 2020 - aIn the class of Elementary Spanish (HISP 103), Doctora Gaytán Cuesta organized a Gost Tour in Spanish with her students! The students had costumes and gave a complete tour of Colonial Williasburg’s most haunted places, including the Wren Building, Tucker, the Sunken Gardens, Kimbal Theater, The WytheHouse, the Public Gaol and the Market House. They learned about the legends of Lucinda, the pirate Blackbeard and t
he ghosts of Bruton Parish.
Following socio-distancing measures, those who couldn’t attend in person did a Flipgrid assignment. See the videos here:


fall2020 News: Japanese Studies

Every Day an Adventure: Studying Abroad at Akita International University

Caleb Rivers

2020 Fall Caleb photo1There is not a moment that I don’t think fondly of the time I spent at Akita International University (AIU). I originally went to AIU to strengthen my Japanese language skills, but the experience became so much more. The Japanese students and international students always stood beside one another and helped lift everyone to their greatest potential.

My first roommate was a Japanese student from Osaka. He offered insight into aspects of  Japanese culture that aren’t discussed in the classroom and always invited me to events with his friends. Even simple, casual conversations with him helped my Japanese language skills.
Affordable travel allowed me to spend approximately one week in Tokyo during Christmas. Initially, I was a little scared to wander around Tokyo’s most popular areas, but after finding my confidence in both my independence and my Japanese-language ability, navigating was rather easy.

Some of my most valuable experiences came from volunteering at elementary schools in Akita. Because Akita is a rural area, traffic from international travel is low. However, the children at the schools knew a surprising amount about American culture and English. It ignited my passion for helping others, and that will remain with me forever. 2020 Fall Caleb photo2

Overall, my time in Akita was indescribably magical.  Everything I learned about Japan at William & Mary came to life. It was unique to both my scholastic and life experience, so every day felt like an adventure. The friends and experiences I gained during the era will stick with me forever. To those who provided me with this opportunity: I extend my gratitude. I can’t thank them enough.

fall2020 News: Japanese Studies

Academic, Professional, and Personal Growth Abroad

Kelly Shea

2020 Fall Kelly photo1After studying the Japanese language for several years at William & Mary, I was fortunate to expand upon my learning at Keio University. I couldn’t have asked for a better study abroad experience. I learned alongside many older classmates who were in Japan to work and sought to improve their Japanese language skills. This shared mindset and environment allowed for an immersive experience in and out of the classroom.

Living in a tight-knit international dorm in Yokohama provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with international students. I shared a suite with a Japanese student and a Chinese student.  We enjoyed day trips, cooking nights, and evenings out in Tokyo. Equally distant commutes from my dorm to central Yokohama and central Tokyo allowed me to explore both cities with ease. My Japanese friends often showed me their favorite places.

2020 Fall Kelly photo2I was also fortunate to travel outside of Tokyo to the surrounding prefectures and southern Kanagawa, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Okinawa, and Kyoto. Fukuoka marked my first trip alone after about two months in Japan. I was nervous, but it turned out to be one of my favorite trips and cities there.

My most valuable experiences were the ordinary ones: attending classes and university events and trying out various circles. I also interned three days each week at a non-profit centered around strengthening Japan-U.S. relations, which gave me insight into life in a Japanese office.

Studying abroad brought to life the lessons I learned in class about the Japanese language and culture, and I recommend the program to anyone with an interest in Japan. The connections I made and the experiences I had while at Keio will continue to shape my path going forward.

fall2020 News: Italian Studies

A Successful Semester for the New Italian Club

By Isabel Conti ‘22 in consultation with Alyssa Glauser ‘22 and Judith Tauber ‘21

Despite the constraints of a remote semester, William & Mary’s newly created Italian Club has Italian Club-pistacchio (1)grown and had great success in providing students with conversation hours, cooking lessons, and cultural activities over Zoom. We were able to provide students with an opportunity to practice Italian in a more casual setting and we hope that these conversations foster a sense of community and give students a chance to get to know one another even in a remote-learning environment. Academically, we also strived to deepen the students’ understanding of classroom material and enrich the learning experience with culture-focused lectures and club meetings.

We hosted a variety of events this semester, from game nights to lectures. In describing our goals for the club, we placed particular emphasis on conversation hours, in which we discuss more casual topics and explore Italian language and culture. These conversations are divided by level, and focused on current course material. While we provide starting questions, our goal is for conversation to arise naturally, and to give students a space to talk about their hobbies and interests in Italian. We also continued the Casa Italiana tradition of hosting cooking classes. We made Italian dishes, such as pasta al pesto, and had (remote) meals together. Our club meetings also consisted of different cultural activities, such as a game night and discussions of Italian music and current events. 

The Italian Club also wishes to extend great thanks to the speakers who were able to join us this semester to provide their perspectives and expertise. Giulia Falistocco, a PhD student at the University of Perugia, shared her work on the conception of the 1970s in Italy through contemporary Italian novels. Professor Giovannuzzi of the University of Perugia gave a presentation on Italian poetry of the 1970s and the role of generational differences, the focus of his latest volume, Dittico. We were also thrilled to welcome back Chiara DiMaio and Antonella Nicholas, both of whom have been involved with the Italian program here at William & Mary, for their perspectives on cultural differences between the United States and Italy. 

The Italian Club plans to continue operating remotely during the spring semester, so as to make our activities as accessible as possible. We look forward to resuming our conversation hours, cooking classes and other cultural activities, as well as possibly adding movie nights to our schedule this spring. We also plan to welcome Italian Club interest meeting picProfessor Patrizio Ceccagnoli of Kansas University, an expert on Futurism, for a guest speaker presentation. 

We extend our gratitudine to Professoressa Mattavelli and the Italian program, whose support, advice and aid in advertising have helped make this semester such a success! Grazie mille also to our peers who supported us by contributing their enthusiasm and insight to our events rendering our conversations and meetings fun and stimulating. We know we all came away inspired.

Italian Club events will resume in the new semester. Buone vacanze e buon capodanno

fall2020 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Congratulations to our December Graduates!


As the semester draws to a close, the Program in French & Francophone Studies salutes graduating major Manon Diz and graduating minors Michael DeMatteo, Margaret Lawrence, and Mariana Erana Salmeron. We are very proud of your diverse accomplishments and know that you will fare well in the years to come. Félicitations!


Manon Aigues MortesManon Diz: “I think one of the saddest parts of finishing up my undergraduate studies at William & Mary is the fact that I won’t be having any more French classes! When I look back on my years as a French student here at W&M, I am blown away by how much everyone in the department (students and faculty alike) have helped me grow, and I will always cherish the connections I’ve made through my French studies. While I do not yet have set plans, I am considering TAPIF and pursuing a Master’s degree in ESL/Bilingual Education in the near future, both of which would allow me to continue using what I have learned as a French major!

Michael DeMatteoMichael DeMattteo: “When applying for college I knew William & Mary was where I wanted to go. French […] was an integral part of my identity here on campus. I lived in the French House my sophomore year and enjoyed cooking and preparing French pastries from my time living in France and apprenticing under a French pastry chef in high school. I was a private tutor in the Williamsburg community for French and mathematics, helping fellow W&M students and high school students prepare for advanced French courses  and SAT II subject tests. Upon graduation, I will be working for CapCenter LLC as a product analyst in their digital department.”

MargaretMargaret Lawrence: “I am a recent graduate of the College, majoring in Chemistry and minoring in French and Francophone Studies as well as Biochemistry. This summer, I will begin my studies at medical school and I am so delighted  to embark on my lifelong dream of becoming a physician. It is my plan to specialize in one of the subsets of primary care medicine so that I may practice in under-served rural, urban, and international communities. I am confident that my education at William and Mary will serve me well as I pursue these endeavors and I look forward to using my French language skills in abroad settings.”

MarianaMariana Erana Salmeron: “Hello, my name is Mariana and I am a graduating senior. I majored in Global Studies (Europe) and minored in French. I come from a very international background so it was a wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Strasbourg, France, through the IFE program. For my last semester I was a Teacher Assistant in a French 101 class, which was such a joy. It was a great experience since I am interested in the education sector and I am applying to graduate programs in that field.”

fall2020 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

A Spectacular Project

Paul Hardin_1“Who has the right to script their own story?” This is the question that French and Music double-major Paul Hardin has been asking himself for over a year now, as he fine-tunes the script of Spectacular, a musical theater production which he hopes to see performed on campus by the end of his senior year. The idea was born in a COLL 100 seminar which Paul took during his first semester on campus: having always had a passion for drama and history, he enrolled in Prof. Pacini’s “Spectacular Politics” course on political theater and the theatricalization of politics in early modern France. Here Paul discovered Le Cid, a classical tragedy by Pierre Corneille (1636), and he was moved by the cheerless destiny of a princess whose personal happiness has to be sacrificed to the social duties associated with her rank. The plight of this noblewoman inspires the plot of Paul’s new musical, which he sets a full century later, in 1745, when notions of individual rights and hopes of personal fulfillment are finally emerging.

Spectacular follows the intertwined ambitions and desires of a provocative young playwright (Nicolas) and a newly married (fictional) princess, future queen of France (Léonore). The Dauphine, as she is called, is inspired by the revolutionary theater she sees: she who had grown up watching Corneille’s Le Cid now finds a much more exciting behavioral model in Nicolas’ Pygmalion. In fact, just like Nicolas and his inevitably censured work, she too is fighting to assert her own agency and to script her own life. All this provides plenty of emotional drama, but, as the title suggests, Spectacular is also rich in meta-commentary about theater and the inspiration it provides. This argument is strengthened by Paul’s understanding of the work of French historian Jeffrey S. Ravel, who has traced the emergence in the eighteenth century of an increasingly autonomous and demanding French theater public. Spectacular thus weaves an important third character into its story: a rowdy Parterre (personification of the pit) who contests royal authority and the conventions it upholds. Monarchic policing notwithstanding, the Parterre too develops a voice and agency of its own, in this case to criticize and then select the royal theater’s repertoire.

Paul started work on the script for Spectacular during an independent study with Prof. Pacini in the Spring of 2020. He has now completed and workshopped the full text through a theater-writing class led by Prof. Tanglao-Aguas in the Department of Theater, Speech and Dance, and over the course of next year he will be working with Prof. Hulse in the Music Department to compose the musical score. Why do all this work? Paul explains: “I always like sharing stories that people haven’t necessarily heard of — and doing it in through the medium of my choice: that’s something that I’m really passionate about. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have such showy material: it makes for great musical theater.”

fall2020 News: Russian Studies

Student-run newspaper Gazeta 2020

This Fall, our student-run newspaper Gazeta published two successful issues online. Follow the link and enjoy reading!


fall2020 News: Russian Studies

Russian Music Ensemble: Fall 2020 Pop-up Performance

On 31 October 2020, the Russian Music Ensemble, Gallery Players, and Middle-Eastern Music Ensemble held a Pop-up Performance. The event was well attended, and the audience enjoyed a wonderful musical performance. russ ensemble

fall2020 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Kudos to our Teaching Assistants!

Every year a group of advanced students is invited to serve as Teaching Assistants (TAs) for our FREN 101-202 language classrooms. These students — typically majors in French & Francophone Studies — enroll in a department-wide foreign language pedagogy course (MDLL 401) and conduct observations of professional instructors in action. They also meet every week with the French Language and Tutoring Program Coordinator, Professor Angela Leruth, who provides guidelines and suggestions for how to create tailored activities for the next Friday’s review class. The TAs design their own activities to reinforce the week’s most important grammar, vocabulary, and culture points, and they often add in a game or song to share their love of Francophone music.

Screen Shot 2020-11-13 at 11.50.02 AMScreen Shot 2020-11-12 at 2.37.16 PM This year’s French TAs are Manon Diz, Caitlin Glauser, Sally Mullis, Mariana Erana Salmeron, and Tristan Ramage. When asked to share their thoughts about this experience, they commented on the excitement of “getting a peek behind the curtain to see what goes into planning a lesson.” They clearly enjoyed learning how to integrate culture and language teaching, and more generally they spoke of the pleasure of helping — and connecting with — other students across language and spatial barriers (unfortunately their teaching is all remote this semester!).

2020 has been a particularly challenging year as our TAs have had to overcome both the technological and the pedagogical difficulties of teaching over Zoom. They have had to find replacements for the traditional white board (students need to hear and see new language structures) and they cannot count on the usual visual cues that accompany and support classroom communication. Given the number of students in their classes, the TAs cannot even see everyone’s face at the same time!

Ultimately, however, the TAs agree on the value of the experience and of the skills they have acquired. The work has certainly been a useful grammar review for them, but it is also a meaningful way “to give back to William & Mary.” Furthermore, as one TA put it, “I definitely think that there are transferable skills.” Being a TA has taught them to manage their time and to create a lesson plan or presentation that is clear and flows well. It offers good practice in public speaking. Other useful skills include flexibility and quick-thinking (“being able to think on your feet”), and the ability to connect and develop relationships with people even without a fully shared common language (even FREN 101 is taught in the target language). These skills will serve our TAs well, whatever the professional path they end up choosing: they will be at ease in a classroom, but also know “how to engage a board, engage a client.”

We wish them all the best!

fall2020 News News: French & Francophone Studies

A Virtual Fête de la Recherche

Fête de la Recherche_1Just like our students’ research, the Fête de la Recherche goes on!


Once again, a highly motivated group of seniors organized, publicized, and graciously hosted this signature event of the French & Francophone Studies Program. The 2020 Virtual Fête was a unique opportunity for students, faculty, and alumni to hear about research recently conducted during a class trip to Guadeloupe; a summer study program in Montpellier; a semester course on campus; and two year-long honors thesis projects. This year’s program also included a conversation with alumna Laura Wagstaff Henderson (’09) who spoke eloquently about the many ways in which the research she did as a French & Francophone major has benefited her professional life. It was incredibly nice to see her again!

Program Highlights:

  • Manon Diz, “Contested Memories: Reimagining the Colonial Narrative of Slavery”
  • Sophia Morakis, “Modern Museography: An Analysis of the Exhibit Measure and Control”
  • Helen Heaton, “The Oppression of Women under the Vichy Regime”
  • Nori Thurman, “The Elite Advantage: The Past, Present, & Future of How Élitisme Républicain and the Baccalauréat Contribute to Educational Inequality in France”
  • Sally Mullis, “Des Oiseaux Spectaculaires: Birds Imagined, Observed, and Discovered in French Court Culture under Louis XIV”

Sally Mullis and Kelly Sherman did a wonderful job introducing our speakers over Zoom, and Jamie Holt designed our beautiful poster. We are similarly grateful to Maddie Turner who organized a Study Abroad Fair in association with this event.