News News: Hispanic Studies

Interview with Rebeca Pineda Burgos, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies

Dr. Rebeca Pineda Burgos was hired as an Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies in the Fall of 2021. We recently had some time to catch up with Dr. Pineda Burgos to find out about her work and her experiences in Williamsburg.

What are you teaching this year?

In the fall, I taught Combined Beginning Spanish and Topics in Advanced Spanish Composition and Grammar. In the Spring, I’ll be teaching Advanced Spanish Composition and Grammar y Culturas de in(ex)clusión en el mundo hispánico.

Tell us more about your research and what are you working on right now.

My research focuses on how contemporary cultural objects such as novels, film and visual art can be used to understand sociopolitical reality. My dissertation focused on how these objects reflected, interpreted and contested chavismo and Venezuelan sociopolitics. One of the most interesting things about this work is how cultural productions can not only reflect or contest realities, but produce new narratives and ways of being that are not pushed as part of dominant politico-ideological discourses in a place.

Right now I’m preparing conference presentations and proposals. As I move forward in my work, I find myself drawn to contemporary philosophy and ethics, and how phenomenological experience creates contested readings of ideologized traditions of believing and knowing.

What would be your dream class to teach and why?

A dream course would be one based on my research where I can develop an exploration of philosophical narratives through contemporary cultural artefacts. The class would be a practice and exploration of how to use cultural productions to “read” these narratives through the artefacts, including film and plastic arts.

Finally: How have your first few months at William & Mary been?

Great! It’s a big change from New York City, and especially New York under COVID. What stood out first was the community of colleagues in the Hispanic Studies Program and in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department. They have been so welcoming and “warm” is the word that comes most to mind. Also the students. They are super engaged, intelligent and interested. For many of my students this semester, this was their first experience taking a face to face university class (due to COVID), and they were nervous. In some ways, we were in a similar situation, since I was new at W&M this semester too. (these were my first classes at W&M too). There were other new colleagues in the program with me this semester, and having other colleagues who are new here too has helped us to become fast friends.

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Chinese Studies News News: Chinese Studies spring2021more

Chinese Studies Professor and Alumni Become 2021 Wilson China Fellows

The Chinese Studies program is delighted that two of our alumni, Emily Matson ’12 and Auston Strange ’12, are joining current Associate Professor Emily Wilcox as Wilson China Fellows! Prof Wilcox taught both Matson and Strange while she was a visiting assistant professor at William & Mary.

Emily Matson holds a Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of Virginia.

Austin Strange holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University and works at the University of Hong Kong.

Prof. Wilcox recently rejoined the department as an Associate Professor of Chinese studies after teaching at the University of Michigan.

You can read more about Wilcox, Matson, and Strange’s wonderful accomplishment in the recent write up by the University.


News Spring 2021 Uncategorized

MLL Successfully Prepares Students for Fulbright Scholarships!

At the core of W&M’s mission lies the objective to “cultivate creative thinkers, principled leaders, and compassionate global citizens equipped for lives of meaning and distinction.” It is with great excitement that, year after year, MLL witnesses our students flourish and build bridges domestically and at a global scale.  This is especially evident in W&M’s extremely successful record with the Fulbright Program.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman established the Fulbright Program in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II, to “to increase mutual understanding, and support friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” As it celebrates its 75th anniversary, the program operates in 160 countries, and “funds American citizens to study, conduct research, or teach English abroad.” Fulbright Scholarships are highly selective – 39 awardees have served as heads of state or government; 60 have received Nobel Prizes – and W&M students do extremely well when it comes to snagging them. This award cycle, eight W&M seniors and recent alums have received an award, and six additional ones have been selected as alternates. Of the 12 students identified, 8 have majored in MLL or RPSS, and 3 further students have taken advanced coursework with us.

In Modern Languages and Literatures, we are proud to contribute to our students’ success. Our language classes empower them to effectively engage in cross-cultural communication by meeting people in their own idiom. Our cultural studies classes challenge our students to understand with nuance and analyze with cultural sensitivity the stories and the worldviews of the communities with which they’ll work. Congratulations!

News News: Chinese Studies News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2021

Collaborative Translations and Epochal Transformations, East and West

AlfonsoXDuring the 12th and 13th centuries, Toledo, Spain, became a neuralgic center for the production and dissemination of knowledge in Europe.  As part of what came to be known as the Renaissance of the 12th Century, the collaborative translations carried out in Toledo by Jewish scholars, Mozarabic Toledans (Arabic-speaking Christians), and Christian intellectuals from all over Europe made available to the Latin West key texts by Hippocrates, Aristotle, Euclid, Galen, and Ptolemy, among others, that would make possible the foundational works by Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon.

LinShuQuijoteWhile the collaborative translations in medieval Toledo fundamentally changed the Latin West, the translations of Western classics into Mandarin carried out by Lin Shu (1852-1924) and his “factory of writing” transformed modern Chinese culture and offered new ways to imagine Chinese national identity.  Lin Shu, however, represents the case of a translator who was not versed in other languages, and hence depended on over 20 different bilingual assistants.  This collaborative system allowed Lin Shu’s “factory of writing” to offer Chinese versions of almost two hundred classics of Western fiction, including Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Oliver Twist (1837-9), and, via an English translation, of Cervantes’ Don Quijote (1605).

LinShuIncLin Shu’s Don Quijote was a great editorial success. Recently, the Instituto Cervantes published a Spanish rendering of Lin Shu’s version.  Given the occasion, BBC Mundo interviewed Prof. Michael Gibbs Hill, specialist in Lin Shu’s work, and author of Lin Shu, Inc.: Translation and the Making of Modern Chinese Culture (Oxford UP, 2013).  Prof. Hill explains that Lin Shu’s collaborative methodology was not uncommon at the time, and that it allowed him to make authors like Dickens and Tolstoi available to Chinese readers.  Lin Shu’s “factory” was so efficient that it produced around 180 titles over 20 years.  And while the Quijote translation seems to be rather ‘faithful,’ Prof. Hill explains that Lin Shu would sometimes introduce deliberate changes.  For instance, his version of Dickens’ Oliver Twist underscores a very negative image of England in order to suggest that, by identifying its ailments, literature could transform and better a society.  Despite his success, Lin Shu eventually came to be seen as too commercial, and too conservative by his younger readers.

The full note from BBC Mundo is available in Spanish.

Prof. Hill has published translations of Ge Zhaoguang’s He wei Zhongguo?, and of the introduction to Wang Hui’s Xiandai Zhongguo sixiangde xingqi.

News Spring 2021

Decolonizing the Humanities Project

The Decoloning Humanities Project (DH) at W&M provides a forum “to learn from, interact with, and collaborate with academics, artist, musicians, performers, journalists, intellectuals, activists, public figures and community organizers.” In close collaboration with colleagues from Modern Languages and Literatures and the department’s Bellini Lectures, the DH Project celebrated various eveAmerica can (We) be Born Again (2014) by Diógenes Ballester. Image courtesy of the artist. nts this semester.
These included faculty discussions with Professor Stephen Sheehi (DH Faculty Director, Arabic Studies), an invited lecture with the distinguished Professor of Philosophy Linda Alcoff (Hunter College & The Graduate Center), and a poetry event. The poetry event, moderated by Professor Emily Wilcox (Chinese Studies), featured international poets Juana Iris Goergen and Azad Ashim Sharma. An additional poet, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, performed a collaborative bilingual reading together with Professor Silvia Tandeciarz (Hispanic Studies). The DH project/Bellini Lectures brought together faculty from various departments in the Arts & Sciences, graduate and undergraduate students, and alums, in order to rethink the structures of settler colonialism.
Image: America can (We) be Born Again (2014) by Diógenes Ballester. Image courtesy of the artist.

Graduates 2020-2021 News News: French & Francophone Studies spring2021more Uncategorized

Félicitations, Class of 2021!

Congratulations to our splendid graduates, all majors in French & Francophone Studies:

Class of 2021

Jutta Appiah, Elizabeth de Jager, Manon Diz, Emily Foster, Danielle Grae, Justin Kaley, Zoe LeMenestrel, Noelle Mlynarczyk, Sally Mullis, Tristan Ramage, Monica Sandu, Lou Sheridan, Nori Thurman, Maddie Turner, and Madeleine Walker.


Graduates 2020-2021 News News: French & Francophone Studies spring2021more Uncategorized

Well-Deserved Honors



Justin portraitJustin Kaley, “Le mollétisme comme paradigme : le déclin et l’avenir en doute du Parti socialiste de France” (High Honors)




Sally Mullis portraitSally Mullis, “Des Oiseaux Spectaculaires: Birds Observed and Imagined in French Culture under Louis XIV” (Highest Honors)




Nori ThurmanNori Thurman, “La Noblesse de Diplôme”: Evolution of the French Baccalauréat as an Instrument of Elite Selection (High Honors)



News Spring 2021

MLL Research Showcase II: Honors Theses

In the second of two undergraduate research showcases, MLL students introduced their Honors Theses to an audience gathered in a Zoom room on Friday afternoon, April 23. This was a very special cohort, in that almost all of the students had conceived of their projects and the research involved before the pandemic began and travel to archives and field sites, and even interlibrary loans, become difficult or impossible. Students had to reconceptualize their topics and their methodologies, but the results were astounding. In eight presentations from across the department, we heard in-depth studies on the socio-cultural context of politics from the French Revolution to 1970s Italy to present-day Andalusia and China, and the socio-political background of such cultural phenomena as exotic birds at the court of Louis XIV, higher education in France, soccer fandom in Germany, and wallpaper patterns in the Chinese export industry. Students also spoke about their motivation to take on intense research projects, the difficulties encountered along the way, and how they intend to use the knowledge and skills gained in the future. Congratulations to the 2021 MLL Honors Students!

Justin Kaley: “Mollétisme as a Paradigm: the Decline and Future of the Parti socialiste de France”
Emma Burleigh: “Wielding a Double-Edged Sword: China’s Soft Power via U.S. Confucius Institutes Amidst the Proliferating ‘China Threat’.”
Nori Thurman: “The French Baccalauréat as an Instrument of Elite Selection: Past, Present, and Future.”
Judith Tauber: “Hegemony and Revolution: the Red Brigades between Violence and Consensus.”
Sally Mullis: “Des Oiseaux Spectaculaires: Birds Observed and Imagined in French Culture under Louis XIV.”
Daisy Garner: “Mehr als ein Spiel: Far-Left and Far-Right Football Subcultures in Germany.”
Beau Nardo: “Andalusia in Layers: Reconciling Andalusian Identity with Spain and Europe.”
Hannah Sanner: “Structured Fantasy: The Translation of Chinese Motifs in Exported Wallpaper.”

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2021

Sharon Philpott receives the W&M Alumni Medallion

Sharon Philpott, class of 1985 and Accounting major, receives the 2021 W&M Alumni Medallion.

GV - Spring 2021 - 2018 HISP 150 Freshman Seminar - in fron tof Puerta de AlcalaIn 2010, Sharon generously helped establish the Philpott-Perez Faculty-Student Research Endowment, which has since that time permitted the undertaking of several initiatives by Hispanic Studies faculty in support of undergraduate research. With her support, students have been able to tra2018 HISP 150 Freshman Seminar - 12 of 14 studentsvel abroad and conduct research abroad in Guatemala (with Prof. Tandeciarz), to the Basque country (with Prof. Buck) and to Madrid, Spain as part of a freshman seminar during Spring 2018 (with Prof. Cate-Aries), among other places.


Mary Trotto, one of the graduating students who travelled during spring 2018 offered some reflections on the experiences that the Philpott-Perez Endowment helped make a reality:

GV - 2021 Spring - Philpott article
Mary Trotto – 2018 Freshman Seminar trip to Spain

“I still think of the Imagina Madrid seminar’s trip to Spain as the greatest opportunity I had at William and Mary! This trip was the first opportunity I ever had to leave the U.S., and its accessibility in helping students to experience a trip to another country was a formative part of my becoming a Hispanic Studies major and pursuing a research project on Francoism in Cádiz the following summer. This trip was truly remarkable in how it let us students experience firsthand what we had been reading about all semester, and it really opened my eyes to the benefits of international experiences and studying another country’s history and culture.”

The class’s story map of the trip is located here.

Additional ways that Sharon’s contribution has supported student research and international experiences can be found here:

The full story of Sharon Philpott’s award reception is here:

More about Sharon can be viewed here:

News News: Chinese Studies News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2021

Research Labs in MLL? Yes!

Most of us do not think of the humanities when they hear the word “lab”. A research lab conjures up images of bunsen burners and beakers, microscopes and white coats, and perhaps various signs warning of fire hazards and chemical spills posted inside and out. But those who attended the first of two MLL Undergraduate Research Showcases, part of W&M’s “April is Undergraduate Research Month,” could hear all about labs in Modern Languages and Literatures. Paul Vierthaler, Assistant Professor in Chinese Studies, and Rachel Varra, Assistant Professor in Hispanic Studies and in Linguistics, gave us an overview of what their labs look like, and of the kind of work students do in those labs. Like any lab, there is a lot of equipment: computers that are more powerful than your regular laptop, specialized software, recording devices, but also: mini-fridges and sofas. Students spend a lot of time in these spaces. Much of the wdatlasork they do is inherently collaborative – a somewhat unusual approach to research in the humanities. Prof. Vierthaler’s students spoke about bringing ideas for data processing to him and developing and workshopping apps; another group of students is creating a game to help raise awareness of human trafficking. Prof. Varra’s students are interviewing Spanish speakers in the community and learning how to transcribe recordings and compile a corpus. The lively discussion and the numerous questions from the audience prove that interdisciplinary work – with Data Science and with Linguistics in these cases – and collaborative forms of research are of great interest to students.

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2021

W&M Students continue work on declassification of U.S. and Argentinian government documents; New publication by U.S. government

GV - 2021 Spring - NSA article - newspaper
The largest government-to-government declassification project in US history began under U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2016 and was continued by President Donald J. Trump. But W&M students and faculty had been engaged in related archival work on campus, in Washington, D.C., and in Argentina for over a decade under Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies Silvia Tandeciarz, Associate Professor of History and Latin American Studies Betsy Konefal, and National Security Archive analyst Carlos Osorio.

GV - 2021 Spring - NSA article - ArgentinaProtests
Throughout that time, students interning with the National Security Archive in D.C. or participating in W&M’s La Plata study-abroad program have sifted through both U.S. and Argentinian documents to learn more about what happened in Argentina during the dictatorship and what role the U.S. may have played. The Argentinian government has already used some of that work in its prosecution of accused perpetrators of human rights abuses.  This latest publication offers insight into what the US government knew about the coming coup–the story of a coup foretold.  The publication was covered in all the main news outlets in Argentina and was paired with a Briefing Book published on the NSArchive website the day prior to the 45th anniversary of the coup.

JGV - 2021 Spring - NSA article - orge_Rafael_Videla_Oath
GV - 2021 Spring - NSA articleYou can find more information on our Study Abroad program in La Plata here, and a heartfelt testimony from a participating student here.

Other stories about the W&M internship with the National Security Archive can be found here.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2021

Professor Root & student mount installations at Muscarelle

Screen Shot 2021-02-19 at 1.49.05 PM  Professor of Hispanic Studies Regina Root, her students, and Director of Collections & Exhibitions Melissa Parris mounted three separate installations of paintings at the Muscarelle Museum of Art between 2017 and 2018. The first was an unofficial installation in the Herman Graphic Art Room at the Muscarelle, which allowed Root’s students to study them. After a semester of study, the paintings were installed in the Sadler center and then moved to the second floor of the Earl Gregg Swem Library where they are currently on view.  Read more about it at

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.


Fall 2020 News News: Hispanic Studies

Prof. Greenia Receives Commendation from Virginia General Assembly

Professor Emeritus of Hispanic Studies George Greenia, recently received a  from the Virginia General Assembly, introduced by State Senator Monty Mason. What makes this award extra special is the fact that Monty Mason was once Prof. Greenia’s student in 1985-86 and took Spanish classes with him here at W&M!

Prof. Greenia joined the Modern Languages and Literatures Department in 1982 after receiving his PhD from the University of Michigan. One of his areas of expertise is pilgrimage studies, and at W&M he has led students on many Summer Study Abroad trips to Santiago de Compostela, the famed pilgrimage route. But Prof. Greenia’s activities don’t stop there. The Commendation lists, among others, these achievements:

“WHEREAS, a tireless advocate of LGBT students at The College of William and Mary, George Greenia spent many years as the faculty facilitator of the Gay Student Support Group; in 2006, the William and Mary Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae Association presented him with the Founders’ Cup for Outstanding Lifetime Service to the Gay and Lesbian members of The College of William and Mary Community; and WHEREAS, in 2007, George Greenia’s promotion of Spanish history and culture saw him knighted by order of King Carlos I of Spain and awarded the Order of Isabel the Catholic, one of Spain’s highest honors; and WHEREAS, George Greenia’s many other recognitions include a lifetime achievement award from American Pilgrims on the Camino, and the William & Mary Diversity Leadership Award from the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity; a longtime supporter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, he is the recipient of its President’s Award and Judith F. Krug Medal …”

Congratulations, Prof. Greenia!


Faculty Awards News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020

Silvia Tandeciarz is Chancellor Professor of Modern Languages & Literatures

This spring, Professor of Hispanic Studies Silvia Tandeciarz was appointed Chancellor Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures. Prof. Tandeciarz has served as Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures for several years, and is also part of many initiatives on campus. She is the founder of the William & Mary National Security Archive Project and the author, most recently, of Citizens of Memory: Affect, Representation, and Human Rights in Postdictatorship Argentina (2017). Congratulations!

Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Italian Studies Spring 2020 More

Italian Studies Graduates 2020

Congratulazioni to our Italian Studies graduates:

Tianyi Vanessa Cai (Art & Art History Major, Italian Minor) – recipient of the Italian Studies Book Award

Tyler Cox-Philyaw (History Major, Italian Minor)

Kathryn Donati (English Major, Italian Minor)

Marisa Lemma (Government Major, Economics Minor, Italian Honorary Minor)

Zoe Nelson (Government Major, Self-Designed Italian Major) – recipient of the MDLL Outstanding Achievement in Italian Studies

We wish you all the best for your future endeavors!

Italian Studies 2020

Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Italian Studies Spring 2020 More

A Special Commencement for Italian Graduates

By Prof. Monica Seger

This year’s spring commencement was, like so many things right now, quite different than usual. Rather than gathering on campus with friends and colleagues from throughout Modern Languages and Literatures for a department-wide ceremony, students and faculty in Italian Studies celebrated from afar with a Zoom commencement of our own. Just before 2:00pm on Saturday, May 16, we checked our hair, made sure that at least the top half of our outfit was presentable, grabbed a glass for a virtual toast at ceremony’s end, and sat down in front of our individual computer screens throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. Although different and distanced, the ceremony that followed turned out to be incredibly special.

Ambassador Varricchio

This was in no small part thanks to our keynote speaker: His Excellency Armando Varricchio, the Ambassador of Italy to the United States. Just one week before the event, Italian Instructor Rita Paolino had a brilliant idea: as long as we were using the remote platform for our commencement, why not reach out to the ambassador’s office with an invitation? Like the rest of us, he would simply need to connect online rather than travel to Williamsburg. It was thanks to such remote connectivity, for example, that we were also able to welcome students’ far-flung family members, as well as a few of our beloved alumni. Declaring tentar non nuoce (it doesn’t hurt to try), we issued the invitation and were surprised and delighted to be met by an enthusiastic yes.

Not only did the ambassador stop by our virtual commencement to wish our graduates well, he delivered a heartfelt address then stayed with us until our virtual toast and final farewells. Along with 30 or so other attendees, he listened attentively as we thanked our teaching assistants; recognized members of Gamma Kappa Alpha, the National Italian Honor Society; paid tribute to our International Fellow, Chiara di Maio; and celebrated each of our graduating seniors in turn: Tianyi Vanessa Cai, Tyler Cox-Philyaw, Kathryn Donati, Marisa Lemma and Zoe Nelson. While the whole ceremony was an intimate and festive tribute to the accomplishments of our students and the benefits of studying another language and culture, Ambassador Varricchio’s address was undeniably the highlight. Effortlessly combining ceremonial gravitas with a friendly élan, he spoke of William & Mary’s tradition of Italian Studies dating back to Thomas Jefferson; of the deep ties between North America and Italy; and of the inspiration to be found in studying Italy’s deep cultural traditions from Dante to Fellini.

Cheers ItalianPerhaps most significantly, Ambassador Varricchio spoke directly to our graduating seniors, recognizing their accomplishments and encouraging them to seize the potential for progress and positive change, even in challenging times. It was an unforgettable way to end this unprecedented academic year, and a truly special experience through which to mark the impressive undergraduate career of our graduating students. We wish them all the best as they move on to exciting next steps, including teaching appointments, research fellowships, and graduate study, and we thank the ambassador for his generosity of time and spirit. Here’s to continued cross-cultural learning and to future collaborations, whatever the platform!

Watch the Ambassador’s remarks here.

Alumni Updates: Italian Studies Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Italian Studies Spring 2020 More

Italian Senior Spotlight: Zoe Nelson

Zoe Nelson (Government Major, Self-Designed Italian Major ’20) shares her experience in the Italian Program over the past four years. In bocca al lupo per il futuro, Zoe!

Zoe Nelson«The Italian Department’s smaller size was a fantastic fit for me, as it allowed for me to form meaningful individual relationships with other Italian Studies students, along with all of the Italian professors. My professors’ expertise and their supportiveness empowered me to learn so much more about Italian language and culture than I could have anticipated upon arriving at William & Mary. Under their guidance I was so grateful to have the opportunity to work as an Italian tutor, spread my love of Italian through being a teaching assistant, and create multiple independent studies. I feel so grateful that I had professors who were so invested in both my intellectual growth and me as a person, and who spent so much time and effort helping me with one-on-one meetings to practice speaking Italian and figure out my future career path. In particular, looking back on my four years in the department, my fondest memories include experiencing Professor Mattavelli’s infectious joy for Italian during my first semester of college, the pride of the first time I was able to read a novel in Italian with the help of Professor Seger, and my weekly individual meetings with Professor Ferrarese during my last independent study. After graduation I am moving to Boston to do psycho-oncology research on how to better help patients and their families from a psychological point of view. I plan on continuing to incorporate Italian into my everyday life as much as possible, and look forward to meeting new friends there with whom I can speak Italian! Grazie mille per tutto!»

Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Italian Studies Spring 2020 More

Italian Senior Spotlight: Tianyi Vanessa Cai

Vanessa Cai 1

Tianyi Vanessa Cai (Art & Art History Major, Italian Minor ’20) shares with us her special relationship with Italian language and culture. Grazie Vanessa!

«Being a violin player and a fan of the virtuoso Niccolò Paganini, I registered for an Italian class when I entered college hoping to learn more about the language and its culture. The class was so engaging that I decided to continue despite the initial challenges.

I spent a summer in Florence in 2017. Florence is like a living dream. I fell in love with the feeling of randomly wandering around the city — the golden sunshine, talented street artists, pigeons, and gelatos keep reminding me of the beauty in life. Taking art history classes in museums and churches provoked me to declare my major in Art & Art History, and incited my interest in Renaissance Art. Subsequently, I did an independent study on Sandro Botticelli’s painting Primavera in Galleria degli Uffizi.

Last summer I went back to Italy, and did another program in Siena. The surreal experience of Palio (the biannual horserace) left with me unforgettable memories. Living in a contrada, going to contrada dinners, and standing among the heat on Piazza del CVanessa Cai 2ampo with numerous ardent spectators, I was amazed by the Sienese’s passion for preserving such a Medieval tradition.

The study of Italian language opened a brand new door to me by bridging me with people and culture from another part of the world. I have met countless amazing people in Italy who are still inspirations in my life in various aspects.

I am grateful for my four years with the Italian Department at W & M. The professional and caring professors have introduced me to Italian cultures from a diverse perspective, and have shaped me into a more mentally mature individual.»

Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020 More

Margot Baden Receives 2020 Japanese Book Prize

Margot Baden, the Modern Languages and Literature Book Prize winner for overall excellence in the Japanese Studies program, has displayed exemplary academic and extracurricular achievements. A Japanese Studies and International Relations double major, she strives to deepen her understanding of Japanese culture, history, language, and politics. Ms. Baden decided to pursue Japanese Studies after participating in High School Diplomats, a program that brings together students from the U.S. and Japan. She served as a leader of William & Mary’s Japanese Cultural Association since her freshman year and studied abroad at Keio University in Tokyo, one of her most rewarding opportunities. Today, she is one of the first graduates of William & Mary’s Japanese Studies program and will relocate to Japan to work as a JET Assistant Language Teacher. She later hopes to facilitate cross-cultural connections between the U.S. and Japan. We wish Ms. Baden the best in her future endeavors.

Congratulations, Margot! おめでとうございます!

Margot Baden
Margot Baden

News Spring 2020

Language Houses During the Corona Closure

MLL’s unique Language Houses, a foreign-language immersion experience right on our campus, had to close down after Spring Break just like all other residential buildings. Daily life in another language, the countless small exchanges and learning moments that occur as students interact with each other and with the respective International Fellow, came to a halt. However, not all activities had to be cancelled! After a short adjustment, our Fellows began offering conversation hours and grammar tutoring via Zoom, and organized film watching events, game nights, and cooking evenings, all done remotely but sustaining the language learning community nonetheless. zoomgame

Live cooking classes, e.g., taught us that our cultures have more in common than we may think. A student shared the recipe for Indian Rice Pudding, or “rice phirni/kheer”, to show its similarity to “horchata.” There was also a “trilingual” tomato sauce pasta class, co-hosted by the Italian and Hispanic Houses, at which the IFs introduced students from different programs and learned comparative vocabulary. At several cooking evenings, students’ family members helped out, sometimes tasting  and judging a course. And best of all, we got to meet not only each other’s family members, but also the family pets!convozoom

Here some pictures. Enjoy!Austin Miller's Athena

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020

Japan Studies Announces 2020 Kinyo Awards

At its year-end graduation and awards ceremony, the Japanese Studies Program announced the recipients of the Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William & Mary’s Japanese language program, as selected by our senior lecturers, Ms. Tomoko Kato and Ms. Aiko Kitamura. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them ever since. This year’s recipients are:

  • at the 100 level, Grace Liscomb;
  • at the 200 level, Gokul Achayaraj;
  • at the 300 level, Jackson Lawson; and,
  • at the 400 level, Julia Wright.

These students have demonstrated extraordinary diligence and accomplishment in Japanese language study over the past year. This year’s ceremony was held over Zoom, due to the COVID-19 emergency, but that did not dim the celebratory spirit; and all four winners were able to join us for the presentations and receive the congratulations of their instructors, classmates, family and friends. Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work!


Graduates 2019-2020 News News: Russian Studies Spring 2020 More

Congratulations to RPSS Major Grace Kier

Grace Kier ’20 is among a select group of 12 students nationwide to receive a prestigious 2020-21 fellowship to the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP). Congratulations, Grace! So well deserved!

Full story…Grace Kier

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020 Summer 2020

Summer ’20 Student research – Ixil speakers

Sydney Hamrick will conduct research this summer on an indigenous language of Guatamala: Ixil (pronounced: “ee-sheel”). She is working with Dr. Rachel Varra (Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures and Linguistics Program).

Sydney Hamrick
Sydney Hamrick

Graduates 2019-2020 News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2020 More

Congratulations to French and Francophone Studies Major Kristen Popham!

Kristen Popham ’20 (double major in French and Francophone Studies and Government) has been awarded the prestigious Lord Botetourt Medal, which was established in 1772 “for the honor and encouragement of literary merit.” The link to the full story can be found here:,-staff,-students-during-virtual-ceremony.php#bot

Congratulations, Kristen!! Bravo!

Faculty Awards News News: French & Francophone Studies News: German Studies Spring 2020

3 MLL Faculty Receive Diversity Recognitions 2020

W&M’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion has recognized three MLL faculty this year for their “outstanding work as an advocate of diversity and inclusion”: Katherine Kulick (French and Francophone Studies, TESOL), Magali Compan (French and Francophone Studies), and Jennifer M. Gülly (German Studies). Congratulations! You can read what others have said about their efforts, and also see who else has won a recognition award this year. More here.

Faculty Awards Featured News News: Russian Studies Spring 2020

Bella Ginzbursky-Blum Receives National AATSEEL Award for Excellence in Teaching

CBella Ginzbursky Blumongratulations to Bella Ginzbursky-Blum, the recipient of 2020 National AATSEEL (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages) Excellence in Teaching Award! Professor Ginzbursky-Blum is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. She teaches Russian language classes at all levels, and also enjoys teaching classes on Russian literature and, especially, on the Russian Fairy Tale Tradition.

So well deserved!

Full story…

Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies fall2019more Featured News News: Alumni News: Hispanic Studies

W&M Graduate and student of Spanish pays it forward


Lamar Shambley (class of 2010) and founder of Teens of Color Abroad
Lamar Shambley (class of 2010) and founder of Teens of Color Abroad

Lamar Shambley (’10) founded Teens of Color Abroad which helps students of color in high school study abroad. See the full story here.

Fall 2019 News News: Hispanic Studies

Meet Six Hispanic Studies Majors Initiated into Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

2019 PBK initiates

During the American Revolution, five students at the College of William & Mary founded Phi Beta Kappa.  They believed that a new nation required new institutions – cultural as well as political – and they were committed to intellectual fellowship shaped by the values of personal freedom, scientific inquiry, liberty of conscience, and creative endeavor. Their legacy, more than 240 years later, inspires today’s students to pursue these same values through a 21st century education in the liberal arts and sciences.

–The Phi Beta Kappa Society,
Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious university academic honor society in the United States, with more than 290 chapters nationwide, and whose members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 41 Supreme Court Justices, and more than 140 Nobel Laureates. The main selection criteria for student members are exceptional academic achievement, curricular breadth, and scholarly initiative in the liberal arts at William & Mary and strong support from faculty members.  More specifically, ideal qualifications include intellectual honesty and curiosity, careful scholarship, creativity, good character, and a commitment to the life of the mind. The selected students comprise no more than seven percent of each year’s graduating class.

The Society’s historic origins are located in the heart of William & Mary. PBK’s very first meeting, comprised of five W&M students, took place on December 5, 1776 in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia. Two hundred forty-three years later, on December 5, 2019, W&M’s Alpha Chapter of PBK initiated fifty-one outstanding undergraduates as new members; a second round of selection and initiation of new members will be held in the spring.

Six of the 51 initiates are Hispanic Studies majors who offer these reflections about the opportunities and transformative experiences they found in our academic and cultural offerings:


Nicole Fitzgerald (Dobbs Ferry, NJ; Hispanic Studies (HISP)/Finance, ‘20): “I came to William and Mary knowing I wanted to pursue a Hispanic Studies major, and I feel so lucky to have had the support of such amazing faculty.  I had the opportunity to study abroad twice in Cádiz, Spain and in Barcelona.  The combination of my liberal arts background that I gained from Hispanic Studies, in combination with my business major is sure to serve me well in the future. After graduation I will be working in New York at a knowledge search firm called AlphaSights.”

Philip Grotz (Culpepper, Virginia; HISP)/Neuroscience, ’20): “Through the Hispanic Studies Department, I was able to study abroad in Cádiz, Spain, where I performed independent research on the fusion of jazz and flamenco music styles. Following completion of a course in Medical Spanish Interpretation, I obtained a position working as a medical interpreter on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I was able to use the cultural background and ethical guidelines I learned in the class to directly facilitate communication between patients and healthcare providers, gaining clinical experience that I expect to be valuable to the career that I plan to pursue as a medical physician.”

Megan Leu (Sudbury, Massachusetts; HISP/History ’20): “A degree in Hispanic Studies has provided me with incredible opportunities that I know will continue to shape my professional pursuits in years to come.  I studied abroad in Argentina, where I lived with a host family and worked as an intern for a human rights organization that did memory work relating to the military dictatorship. Upon my return, I began working with the National Security Archive analyzing declassified CIA, Department of State, and FBI records for evidence of human rights abuses in Latin America, and I also started an internship for the Department of State looking at Spanish-language news sources for information on Mexican cartels to write brief summaries for the U.S. Ambassador. After graduation, I hope to integrate my degrees in History and Hispanic Studies and continue to do meaningful work that reaches people in Latin America.”

Kiera McKay (Fair Haven, NJ; HISP/Physics ’20): “Bilingualism has long been one of my personal values and goals and going into college I knew that I would never stop taking Spanish classes and working towards fluency. The Hispanic Studies program has helped me improve my Spanish, but it has also given me so many wonderful opportunities to learn, grow, and expand my horizons. I lived in the Casa Hispánica for two years, which led me to meet so many wonderful friends while finding language immersion on campus. I studied abroad in Cádiz, Spain the summer after my sophomore year and the experience was wonderful, both for my language proficiency and my sense of belonging in the world.”

Carrington Metts (Wilson, NC; HISP/Physics ’20): “In my time in the Hispanic Studies program, I’ve had the opportunity to spend several weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. I also spent a semester abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. While on campus, I’ve spent three semesters living in the Casa Hispánica and have taken a wide range of courses, with a particular emphasis on linguistics. I have applied for a job improving Spanish literacy in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps.”

Johanna Weech (Vienna, Va.; HISP/International Relations ’20): “I became involved in human rights, transitional justice, and memory studies research, after studying abroad for a semester through W&M’s La Plata, Argentina program. In November 2019, at the NECLAS conference (New England Council on Latin American Studies) in Mystic, Ct., I presented a research paper “Guatemala’s National Police Archive and the Politics of Documenting Terror” on a W&M faculty/student panel, along with Professors Betsy Konefal and Silvia Tandeciarz, about memory work in Argentina and Guatemala.”

fall2019more News News: Hispanic Studies

Welcome Dr. Julia de Leon Hernandez!

Dr. Julia de Leon Hernandez

Dr Julia de Leon Hernandez recently joined the faculty of Hispanic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. We are so pleased to have her!





How was your first semester at William & Mary?
Excellent. I have felt very welcomed and part of a community since day one. My colleagues are wonderful and. It has given me the feeling of having known each other for some time, rather than just a couple of weeks.


What are you teaching this year?
I mainly teach language and culture classes: HISP 103, HIS 203, HISP 305 and HISP 208.


What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?
My work is in the area of Gypsy Studies and at an intersection with Urban Studies and Racial Studies. I approach these principally through non-fiction and visual texts, as for example through documentary cinema and photography.

My current work focusses on the racialization of Spanish territory, since the beginnings of capitalism in Spain at the end of the 50’s and beginning of the 60’s, and as a consequence of the speculations about the value of national territory and as the outcome of discriminatory public housing policies.

My research focusses on journalism, photography, non-fiction short film from the period transition in Spain, at the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s.

I’m currently working on publishing my doctoral work with a Spanish press.


What classes will you be teaching this Spring?
In the spring, I teach HISP 208 and HISP 208.


What would be your dream class to teach and why?
I am conceptualizing and excited to teach a class about the representation of the gypsy in Spanish literature and film from the end of the 15th century to today, but which focusses principally on their representation in films of the 20th and 21st century.


fall2019more News News: Hispanic Studies

Welcome to Dr. Andrea Gaytán Cuesta!

Dr. Andrea Gaytán Cuesta

Hispanic Studies welcomes Dr Andrea Gaytán Cuesta, who recently (re)joined the W&M community as a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. We interviewed Dr. Gaytán Cuesta about her first semester back with us!



What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?
In my research, I explore three versions of apocalyptic imaginaries (the end of the world) in Latin America: Eco-apocalypse, Socio-apocalypse and Techno-apocalypse. My research argues that representations of the end of the world in the Latin American city such as chronicle, short story, poetry, theatre, comics and film are not only unveiling and prophetic of a disastrous condition, but perform acts of resistance against neoliberal policies imposed from the 1980’s to the current days. Thus, an earthquake can unmask Mexican corruption, zombies can be depicted as heroes and warrior citizens (instead of monsters and invaders), and the destruction or glitch in a movie can break us from technological dependency.

Currently, I am both finishing my dissertation and an article for a publication on Mexican Zombies, particularly the figures of Aztec Cannibals and Narcozombies. I am passionate about my research, which is also fun!


How your first few weeks have been at William & Mary?
My first weeks were full of excitement and joy, knowing that I am coming back to a place that I love so much. I was longing for the great conversations and environment of William & Mary, and walking through Colonial Williamsburg and the campus brought back many memories of when I worked as a Language House Tutor at La Casa Hispánica. I have reconnected with old friends and met new faculty that are also excited for this new adventure. Although seven years have passed since I taught here for the second time, the good energies and intelligence—typical of of William & Mary students—remain the same, but with new context, technology and ways of socialization


What are you teaching this year?
I am teaching a course on Latin American Cinema called “Cuerpos que cruzan: Fronteras en el cine latinoamericano del siglo XXI” [Crossing Bodies: Borders in Latin American Cinema of the XXIst Century] where we approach different contemporary films through the lens of Border and Embodiment theory. Borders can be crossed not only geographically but also metaphorically, and while reading the body as a text and the film as the skin of this text, we approach the body as affected by the movies, when we sense fear, disgust, thrill, joy, sorrow. Through different genres, mostly body genres as melodrama and horror, but also documentaries, science fiction and indigenous cinema, we try to draw a map of what constitutes the map of contemporary Latin-American cinema and what are the voices of the current representatives of filmmakers in the region. We have analyzed different movies that talk about cyborgs, migration, zombies, ghosts and in general, the Latin-America youth. I am very proud of this course, where the students have actually submitted abstracts for the conference of the Northeastern Modern Languages Association, to take place in Boston, next year. This is a great opportunity for them to experience life as scholars and to show their work to an international community of specialists.

The second course I am teaching is Cross-Cultural Perspectives In(Ex)clusión: Buscando terreno común en las culturas hispánicas [In(Ex)clusion: Looking for common ground in Hispanic Cultures). This is a 207 course inspired by the fabulous work of Doris Sommer in “The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities”, that includes examples and the roles of cultural agents in Latin America in changing the world. We explore readings of literature, comics, and films related with issues as disabilities, social exclusion and discrimination, illness, race, ethnicity gender, and how artistic interventions improves the relationships in Latin America.


What classes will you be teaching next semester?
I will be teaching a course on Literary Criticism (HISP 208), that combines literature, cinema and music, and I will be teaching an Intermediate Language course of Spanish (HISP 203). I look forward to working more with the community and doing cultural activities that integrate the language-learning environment and interaction with immigrant population of Latin America in Williamsburg.


What would be your dream class to teach and why?
A class that would focus on my expertise, Apocalyptic Imagination in Latin America: Narratives of Destruction and the End of the World, would be a topic that I will love teaching in the future, probably next year. I am also interested in teaching a class focused on Zombies, on digital destruction and experimental cinema, videogames, ecocriticism and lately I have been thinking about a class in documentaries and music, particularly Rockumentaries in Latin America and Spain, as well as videoclip industry (reggaeton, cumbia and other type of music).

fall2019more News News: Italian Studies

Italian Faculty-Student Research Project at ACTFL

In the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, advanced language students have had the opportunity to work as Teaching Assistants for many years. The assistantship model has changed since its inception but the unique role of undergraduate TAs in language classes remains a key feature of our department. Professor Mattavelli, who became interested in teacher preparation and mentoring during her graduate studies, has been training and supervising undergraduate teaching assistants since her first year at W&M. This experience has been very positive and fulfilling. The undergraduate TAs with whom she had the pleasure to work are really extraordinary and embody very positive examples for students in beginning classes.

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.12.16 PMScholarly research on undergraduate teaching assistants is still rather scarce and focuses mainly on peer-teaching in fields other than foreign languages (with the exception of some studies in German and Spanish). Professor Mattavelli decided to explore the topic more in depth and submitted a proposal to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) annual convention. The objective was to highlight advantages and challenges of working with undergraduate TAs from a two-fold perspective and called for the collaboration with an undergraduate teaching assistant. W&M student and Italian TA Antonella Nicholas worked with prof. Mattavelli on the development of the project and co-presented with her at the conference.

IMG_5746 3

In their presentation, prof. Mattavelli and Antonella Nicholas examined the roles and responsibilities of undergraduate TAs and supervisors, discussed training and mentoring provided to the apprentice teachers within the Italian program and the Modern Languages department, and presented students’ feedback. They both shared their perspective and assessment on the teaching experience and offered examples for successful peer-teaching instruction. Antonella focused also on the importance of this teaching experience in terms of skills learned for future careers as well as personal and professional rewards.

The presentation was very well received by the audience and prof. Mattavelli is happy to share that Antonella did a wonderful job and received many compliments from other faculty in attendance. Overall, this was a great collaborative experience in the spirit of W&M’s faculty-student research projects and close mentorship.

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.16.08 PM

Alumni Updates: Italian Studies Fall 2019 News News: Italian Studies

Evening at the Italian Embassy

Last month, our Italian Studies Program participated in a series of events in Washington D.C. hosted by the W&M Alumni Association.

Seger - Talk DCOn November 7, Professor Monica Seger gave a talk at the W&M Washington Center and shared her latest research which is based in Italy’s Puglia region. Professor Seger studies the rich wave of novels and films that have emerged over the past decade in response to environmental challenges in the coastal city Taranto. She argues that creative texts, whether on page or screen, allow a broad audience to learn – and care – about Taranto’s dynamic culture and natural environment, despite recent hardships.

group embassy

On November 8, Professor Sara Mattavelli and Professor Monica Seger participated in a special event called “Evening at the Embassy” – a W&M DC Alumni Chapter tradition – that was hosted at the Ambasciata d’Italia.

Two-hundred W&M alumni, students, parents, family and friends gathered at the Italian Embassy to learn about all the connections between William & Mary and Italy. The Italian Program showcased its faculty’s research, program’s courses and extra-curricular activities. We also had the pleasure to share with all attendees the opportunities the program offers for students engagement on campus (such as the Italian House or the Honor Society Gamma Kappa Alpha) and study abroad, with particular emphasis on the W&M Faculty-led Florence program.

DOC20251  embassy 1

IMG_5606 .  DOC20198

Fall 2019 News

International Fellows Create Community in the Dorms

Our International Fellows in the Language Houses just received a glowing endorsement from the Flat Hat! One of the aspects stressed in the article is the community that the IFs create in the Language Houses, community that students often miss after they move on from their freshman dorms. Check out the article and apply to live in a Language House next year!

Fall 2019 News

Language Houses March in the 2019 Homecoming Parade!

Homecoming2019_ParadeFor the first time in the history of W&M’s Language Houses, residents and International Fellows marched as a group in the Homecoming Parade! Wearing branded T-shirts and carrying banners, flags, and sugary treats, over fifty students walked from Boundary Street to Kaplan Arena, greeting the onlookers in the various languages they study. MLL faculty assembled in front of Blow Hall to cheer the Houses on. Come join us next year!

Fall 2019 Featured News News: Hispanic Studies

Donor Generosity Helps Get the Word Out about Hispanic Studies: Meet Hayes!

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Hispanic Studies has a new media intern! Meet Hayes Pearce, who maintains our Instagram account, interacts with clubs and organizations on campus, and promotes events sponsored by Modern Languages and Literatures and other departments by keeping the HISP community up to date and sharing our news and accomplishments!

Check out our Instagram feed at:





Fall 2019 News News: Alumni News: Hispanic Studies

Rising Seniors with Highest GPAs Win J. Worth Banner Award

Kiera McKay (L), Carrington Metts (R)
Kiera McKay (L), Carrington Metts (R)
This year’s J Worth Banner Award has awarded to Carrington Metts and Kiera McKay. Professor Banner was a well-liked Spanish professor at W&M and a respected Chair of Modern Languages & Literatures for many years. In the past, this generous award has helped support the recipient’s pre-honors research, international travel, or participation in study abroad programs. This award goes to the rising senior Hispanic Studies major with the highest overall grade point average and each awardee will receive a generous monetary prize and will be honored at an upcoming HISP celebration in October. Here are some reactions from the recipients:

Ms. Metts: My classmates are some of the most talented, intelligent, and motivated people I have ever met. They constantly challenge me to examine my worldviews, increase my mastery of the language, and become involved in the multitude of activities and events that they organize around campus. As our graduation date approaches, I have no doubt that each and every one of them will be fully capable of using their Hispanic Studies degree to genuinely make a difference in the world. To be identified among this group of incredibly deserving students as one of the recipients of this year’s J. Worth Banner Scholarship is truly a tremendous honor.


fall2019more News

Welcome New International Fellows!

This fall, MLL welcomes a new group of International Fellows (formerly: Language House Tutors)! We are excited to have Gaoussou Diarra (French HoIFs_2019use) and Chiara Di Maio (Italian House) back, and look forward to working with Claire Hao (Chinese House), Claus Heinze (German House), Celeste Cabral (Hispanic House), Rina Okada (Japanese House) and Sasha Orlova (Russian House). This year, some of the language houses have merged, and new, joint activities are being planned: Chinese and Arabic share a floor, French and Italian, and German and Russian. Stay tuned for news on MLL’s International Soccer Tournament, to take place in the Sunken Garden on October 2, 4 pm.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2019

Public Performances and Hidden Transcripts in Faculty-Alum Collaborative Research

The latest issue of Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl, one the foremost publications on Nahua communities in Pre-Columbian and Colonial Mexico, includes a study of a 16th-century epiphany play co-authored by Katherine Brown (HISP ’13; PhD candidate, Yale University) and Prof. Jorge Terukina. Published by the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl was founded by Miguel León-Portilla, an authority in Mesoamerican thought, and author of the tour de force Visión de los vencidos (1959) [The Broken Spears. The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico].

Huitzilopochtli (Codex Borbonicus,Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée Nationale, Paris)
Huitzilopochtli (Codex Borbonicus, Bibliothèque de l’Assemblée Nationale, Paris)

“Paradojas performativas: ‘La adoración de los Reyes’ como neixcuitilli o exemplum suggests that, rather than being a mere depiction of epiphany for religious indoctrination, this theatrical piece strives to model both positive and negative patterns of conduct for an indigenous audience. In doing so, however, this study takes into account both a pro-imperial, public transcript of Christian indoctrination, and a covert, hidden transcript of indigenous resistance. The former transcript allows us to interpret the Three Kings as conquistadors who announce themselves to Herod/Motecuhzoma as heralds of Christ/Quetzalcóatl in order to justify Spanish Christian rule in Colonial Mexico. Nevertheless, the idea of a hidden transcript suggests that an indigenous audience could have interpreted the Three Kings as colonial indigenous rulers that question Herod/Motecuhzoma’s conduct and rather decide to protect the newly born Christ as a new incarnation of the tutelar Mexica deity, Huitzilopochtli. The latter interpretation would have allowed the indigenous audience to covertly preserve their Nahua episteme under an explicitly Christian surface.

Adoración de los Reyes Magos (1568) by El Greco
Adoración de los Reyes Magos (1568) by El Greco

Katherine (Katie) recently completed a dissertation on the narrative functions of architecture in three of Miguel de Cervantes’ late works, and has published articles on Cervantes, Borges, and the Libro de buen amor. She began working on Nahua theater in Prof. Terukina’s freshman seminar and returned to the project in graduate school in collaboration with Prof. Terukina. During her years at William & Mary, Katie was a Monroe Scholar who travelled to Cusco to study Quechua and carry out research on the political issues surrounding the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua. She also studied abroad in Seville, and wrote an Honors Thesis on the use of science as a political tool to justify the subordination of the indigenous people in the Andes in the early modern Spanish empire.  She was also awarded the J. Worth Banner Award in Hispanic Studies.

News Spring 2019

MLL Research Showcase

Sarah Lettau, Emily Pearson-Beck, Brenna Cowardin, Erin Kitchens

On Friday, April 12th, graduating seniors, theirs friends, and faculty gathered to attend the inaugural MLL Research Showcase. Eight students from the Chinese, French and Francophone, German, Hispanic, Italian, and Russian Studies Programs presented on projects they had been working on for the past year and more. Posters featuring images that illustrate their arguments and research results were set up in the Washington Hall lobby for the many people passing by to read.

Melanie Carter, Molly Charles, Sarah Baker, Jordan Wyner

The presentation titles give a sense of MLL students’ far-reaching interests and expertise: Sarah Baker, “Beyond the Iron Curtain: Examining Eastern Europe through a Post-Colonial Lens,” Melanie Carter, “Identity in Flux: Gender Norms and the English Language in Today’s Ukraine,”  Molly Charles, “Deconstructing Patriarchal War Narratives: State Myth-Making and the Documentary Prose of Svetlana Alexievich,” Jordan Wyner, “Narrating Public Space: Kafka in Nationalized Prague,” Brenna Cowardin, “Women Imprisoned in Paper: How Presas de Papel Restores Agency to Women Prisoners of the Franco Era,” Sarah Lettau, “Je Suis Harki: Les Sphères de la Mémoire Harkie,” Emily Pearson-Beck, “Identity and Belonging: Chinese Immigration to Argentina,”  Erin Kitchens, “Interactions between Locals and Asylum Seekers in Siena, Italy.”

We hope to see you at next year’s Showcase!

Faculty Awards News News: German Studies

Anna Horakova receives two grants to conduct research


German Studies Visiting Assistant Professor Anna Horakova has received two grants to conduct research over the summer, one from Women in German (WiG) and one from the Max Kade Foundation. The research grant from WiG is to expand her published article on Christa Wolf into a more fully fledged book chapter with new archival research. The Max Kade Research Grant will be used to conduct research in the Contemporary German Literature Collection at Washington University, St Louis on contemporary German-language asylum and migration literature. Congratulations Anna!

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

News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2019

Finding Cajun, documentary by Prof. Nathan Rabalais

nathan-rabalaisNathan film festival

Saturday, February 2, 2019
2:30pm – 4pm
Tucker Hall, 127A (Tucker Theater)

Directed by W&M professor Nathan Rabalais, Finding Cajun (2018) makes its Virginia premiere during the W&M Global Film Festival. The documentary presents a critical perspective on the origin and evolution of Cajun identity. Q&A with director to follow.

In the film, we see how Cajuns compare to the present-day Acadians in maritime Canada, a community that is supposedly at the historical root of Cajun ethnicity. The film examines how cultural and racial labels in Louisiana have shifted, especially over the past 70 years, and considers the stakes of maintaining (or losing) heritage languages in the United States. Through interviews with leading experts filmed on site in Louisiana, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, viewers will discover the diversity and complexity of South Louisiana’s French- and Creole-speaking communities and see how Americanization, racism, and language shift have reshaped the cultural landscape of Louisiana.

WMGFF poster Finding Cajun


News News: Arabic Studies Spring 2019

Arabic Links: A New Textbook for Arabic

Arab pic1Prof. John Eisele and Prof. Driss Cherkaoui are putting the finishing touches on the first volume of a textbook series for the Arabic language which will be published by the American University in Cairo Press, entitled “Arabic Links” (in Arabic: كتاب التواصل). The series attempts to handle the issue of Arabic language variation (often termed “diglossia”) in a manner significantly different from the current textbook widely used in the field. Rather than teaching 2 or more varieties simultaneously, this series attempts to introduce the variation more gradually, starting with a focus on the common literary language, FusHa, and introducing other variant forms of the language at first as “linguistic culture”, and then with a stand-alone textbook for 4 of the main varieties: Moroccan, Egyptian, Levantine, and Iraqi. Another aspect of “linguistic culture” will be the treatment of the case system of the literary language, which is linguistically redundant and not essential for communication, but which is seen as a vital part of the Arabic literary and religious tradition, and for some cannot be overlooked. Another aspect of Arabic L2 pedagogy which is addressed by this series is a return to a communicative approach which emphasizes the active acquisition of vocabulary tied to clearly defined topics and contexts of use. The first two volumes of the series cover basic grammar, vocabulary, and general contexts, and each of the units is tied to a cultural context of an Arab country. These “cultural” activities and texts provide information about the history, society, and some cultural practices specific to that country, as well as information about the “linguistic culture” of the region, i.e., the main dialect of the country. The unit is structured around a progressing through the four skills for each topic, starting with a Arab pic2conversational introduction to the basic vocabulary of a context or activity, and culminating in a writing exercise which summarizes the main points of the unit. The third volume of the series concentrates on providing a context for developing skills in discussing, reading, and writing about more specific fields, of an academic nature. The vocabulary is a general review of the words and phrases necessary to deal with topics related to that field, with texts (reading and listening) provided as exemplary texts, but instructors are encouraged to provide their own texts, glosses, questions, and suggestions for tasks and activities as they desire. Regarding the supplemental textbooks dealing with specific dialects, Prof. Cherkaoui has completed a manuscript for teaching Moroccan dialect, or “al-Daarija”, and he hopes to publish that within the coming year. Other dialect textbooks will follow. This project was funded initially by a grant from the Department of Education, and included contributions from other faculty at William and Mary and the Arab-American Language Institute in Morocco (AALIM). 

Fall 2018 News News: Arabic Studies

Great W&M Asia Cook Off!

(This story appeared previously here.)

Stephen Sheehi, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Chair of Middle East Studies and director of the Asian and Middle East Studies program, organized the “Great W&M Asia Cook Off.” He brought in celebrity chef Katsuya Fukushima, chef and co-owner of Daikaya-Izakaya, Haikan and Bantam King, and restaurateur Yama Jewayni, co-owner of Daikaya-Izakaya, Haikan, Bantam King and more, to judge the cooking competition between two of his classes, Arab 150: The History of Arab Food and AMES 385: AMES-APIA East Asia Think Tank.

“It was basically a dream team of the award-winning chef and the award-winning restaurateur all coming together,” said Sheehi.

The East Asia Think Tank class is a required part of the Freeman East Asia Fellowship program at W&M, which was established through a grant from the Freeman Foundation to the Asian and Middle East Studies Program and the Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies Program. That grant enabled 20 students to participate in internships in East Asia last summer; all of those Freeman Fellows are in the think tank class this fall. The Freeman Foundation recently provided the university $100,000 to support a second year of the internships.

With 12 groups comprised of three students each, Sheehi tasked each group to include the secret ingredient — eggplant — into their dishes. But that wasn’t where their endeavor ended.

The winners of the competition were (left to right) Mary Mulder '21, Daria Moody '22 and Maeve Naughton-Rockwell '22. (Photo by Jo Rozycki '20)
The winners of the competition were (left to right) Mary Mulder ’21, Daria Moody ’22 and Maeve Naughton-Rockwell ’22. (Photo by Jo Rozycki ’20)

“Part of what I’m also trying to do is experiential,” said Sheehi, referring to the educational aspect of the competition. He taught his students about the history, geographical route and cultural significance of dishes in each respective region of the world.

“I think that’s really how I started off the class, saying that what you sit in front of you, you have a whole historical trajectory behind that dish. You have a whole economic configuration behind that dish,” said Sheehi. “We started off with that precept, why not finish off with that?”

Fall 2018 News News: Italian Studies

(Italian) Language at Work

By Arika Thames (Theatre and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies double major ‘19)

Arika in Genova


This summer I had the pleasure of living and working in Italy for six weeks. After studying Italian for two years I was determined to spend my summer in the country in some capacity. Instead of studying abroad, I searched for jobs where I could have that same cultural immersion while gaining valuable work experience. I found a wonderful company named Educo Italia which organizes hundreds of English-immersion summer camps around Italy. I gravitated towards this organization because they use theater and games to teach the language which is something I want to do professionally upon graduation. As a tutor I taught English lessons in the mornings, led fun camp-wide activities in the afternoon, and worked with my students to put on a small play at the end of every week.


genoa camp
Arika and coworkers in Italy

This experience was the first time that I ever traveled abroad by myself, so I was considerably nervous, but after a week all of my nerves went away. Educo provided me with great resources and support so that I never felt alone. I moved around to a new city every week which allowed me to see more of Italy than I could’ve ever imagined. Besides my week in Genova, most of the camps were in small towns so us tutors were truly embraced and made to feel like members of the community. My fellow tutors and I were shown around to nearby sites by our host families because they were so excited to show off where they call home. I loved seeing Italy from the perspective of those who lived there as opposed to a tourist’s viewpoint.

My time working with Educo this summer was exactly what I needed going into my senior year. While it was challenging work, it made me more confident in my language abilities as well as cultural competency. I’m now far more prepared for my next step towards a career in theater education and hopefully that future includes Italy!

News News: Italian Studies

“Ciao Amore!”– A Reflection on the Generosity of Italian Host Families

By Antonella Nicholas (Public Policy major and Italian minor, ’20)

Antonella with her Italian host mom
Antonella with her Italian host mom Maria Pia (W&M Summer in Florence)

When I arrived in Italy,  I found myself immersed in a hurricane of terms of endearment. Before starting my studies in Florence, I stayed in Rome for a few days, and in restaurants, shops, and downtown, I always heard “Ciao, bella” and “Grazie, amore.”  It felt like a big Italian hug; almost as if they welcoming me into their eclectic cultural family.  I suppose that if Rome was a hug, then Florence had to have been a loving tackle. A Firenze, with my host families, the frequency and variety of endearments stunned me. When I woke up: “Buongiorno, amore!”  When it was time for dinner: “Pronta, bimba?” When I had a question:  “Dimmi, cara.” When it was time to go to sleep: “Buonanotte stellina!”

It seems to me that these affectionate appellations reflect the kindness and hospitality of Italian families, especially that of host families. Over the course of ten weeks I stayed with two families, each of whom welcomed me with open arms.  I’ll admit, there were times when I wondered if I could spend so much time away from my family in the United States; however, the hospitality of my famiglie italiane dispelled any doubts, and made me feel at home even though I was a stranger.  They helped me to orient myself in the city, and they advised me about which monuments to visit. Thanks to them, I know the best gelaterie and where to find a true bistecca alla fiorentina. Every day at dinner my gratitude was multiplied–pasta, pizza, pesto, pollo, pomodoro, basilico, insalata, tiramisù, and my favorite, spaghetti aglio, oglio e peperoncino.

Antonella with her Italian host mom Cristiana (third party study abroad program)

Fantastic food was just a fraction of my experience with host families. I am a student of the Italian language, and therefore had a mission to improve my communication skills. Speaking in the casual environment of a home forced me to acquire a new vocabulary.  When I made a grammatical error, my mamma italiana corrected me. In this way, I was able to communicate with the other students in the home in a more informal way and understand the conversations of the family. Most valuably, I found that the best way to learn Italian is to watch TV.  In my first family, my host mother’s four-year-old niece came to visit us a few times, and we watched children’s cartoons. In the home of my second family, almost every day we watched a game show in which the competitors had to guess a word only knowing the first letter and two related words. This is how I became familiar with countless colloquial expressions.

When I arrived in Italy, I was bombarded with endearing nicknames–now, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without hearing “ciao amore” five times a day! Jokes aside, my stay in Italy with host families was fundamental to my understanding of Italian language and culture. In fact, they have inspired me to host students when I have a family myself.  The generosity I received from families in Italy and from Italians in general could fill Brunelleschi’s Duomo.

News News: Italian Studies

Voyage of Discovery in Italy

By Alexa Conti (class of 2021)

Every year, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) sponsors 20 Italian-American college students to travel to Italy (for free!) for their first times. The Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program is meant to strengthen the Italian American identity by bonding young Italian-Americans to the country, culture, and heritage of Italy; to help them gain an understanding of their heritage for the next generation; and to understand the historical significance of Italy and the current contribution Italy is making to the US and the world. The trip also offers students the opportunity to perform community service in areas of need during their stay in Italy.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be awarded this opportunity. I spent two weeks in the southeastern region of Puglia, famously known as Italy’s “Heel of the Boot”, reconnecting with my cultural roots and refreshing my love for where I come from.

Alexa at Polignano a Mare in Puglia
Alexa at Polignano a Mare in Puglia

While both of my parents hail from southern Italy, I was exposed to customs and traditions native only to Puglia. For example, while pasta is a staple of the Italian diet, orecchiette is the pasta type most characteristic of this region.

Puglia is an incredibly diverse region. On my left was the mountain range and on my right was the Adriatic Sea. Puglia is known for its intense olive oil production as well as the abundance of cozze, or mussels, from the sea. Some major points that were visited during the trip include three UNESCO sites (Castel del Monte, the Trulli of Alberobello, and Matera) the easternmost point of Italy, Otranto, and the region’s capital, Bari.

The most unique aspect about this experience was that I got to experience it with other Italian-American students from around the country. Unless you live in a heavily populated community with other Italian-Americans, it’s usually hard to meet people who identify with their Italian heritage. Throughout the trip, we were all able to share and compare stories from our crazy Italian backgrounds, from our families to holidays to idiomatic expressions in each of our dialects. In addition to an augmented sense of pride for my ancestral country, I know that I also walked away with a new group for friends and expanded community, all bound by this “voyage of discovery”.

Flash forward four months after the trip, NIAF hosts an annual anniversary gala in Washington, D.C. that which all of the Voyage of Discovery alumni are invited to. The theme of the gala is based around that year’s region of honor. The food, drink, decorations, dances, and anything else needed for the gala were imported from Italy, and more specifically, Puglia. Many important Italian and Italian-American guests were invited to the event, including the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, the President of Puglia, and the CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Overall, the entire experience is one that I hope every Italian-American can be involved in and remain a part of for the rest of their lives, because I know I will be.

News News: Italian Studies

My First Trip to Italy

By Marisa Lemma (Government major & Economics minor, ’20).

Marisa on a trip to Cinque Terre

I had been dreaming about going to Italy for as long as I can remember. I remember telling my parents even in third grade that I would one day visit Italy. I would pore over my “First Thousand Words in Italian” book trying to soak up as much of the language as possible, and I had my sights set not just on studying Italian, but on studying it in Italy someday. After taking Italian for four semesters at W&M, it had become somewhat of an obsession for me.

So when I was accepted into the Florence program for this past summer, I had a lot of pre-conceived expectations. Luckily, Italy did not disappoint. I visited ancient sites in Rome, watched incredible sunsets in Venice, saw beautiful landscapes in Siena, went wine tasting in Chianti, tried the world’s best gelato in San Gimignano, and put my feet in the bluest water I’ve ever seen in Cinque Terre.

First night at the homestay: Marisa (right) with roommate (center) and host mom (left)

But out of all the places I visited, Florence was my favorite. My host mom made the most amazing food, and with my art history class I got to visit all the city’s main sites, including more breathtakingly-beautiful churches than I can count and the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s famous David statue.

While I was abroad, I practiced my Italian a lot. My host mom spoke no English, so I was fully immersed in the language at my homestay. I was the only American in my Italian class, so when I didn’t know a word, I couldn’t just translate it to English – I had to try to define it in Italian. Though this was difficult, my speaking ability improved greatly, and I now find myself asking “come si dice…?” less and less.

Even though I’m back in the US now, I’m still enamored with the country and its culture, and I’m counting down the days until I can go back.

News News: Italian Studies

The Impact of a Language

By Erin Kitchens (Anthropology major and Italian minor ’19)

View from the tower of Lucca over the city

I found Italian mostly by happenstance. On a whim I signed up for Italian, remembering how much I had admired the landscape and the melody of the language when I had visited as a 13-year-old. This decision, which I decided in five minutes, would shape my entire undergraduate career.

I would be lying if I said my relationship with Italian has always been easy. Having never spoken, or thought in, a second language I was completely lost when having to form sentences for myself. After the first Italian exam (which I failed spectacularly) I was filled with determination. This language would not get the best of me! And so, I continued slowly, and with many errors, the process of allowing another language to integrate itself into my life and thoughts. I believe that the way that we view the world is fundamentally shaped by the language which we speak. Some phrases in English don’t even exist in Italian. To learn a new language is to learn a new way of seeing the world.

In total I spent eight months of last year studying and doing research in Siena, Italy. I had previously spent a summer in Florence but while there I was still shy about my language abilities. I knew that all those around me were native speakers and clearly knew their own language. Meanwhile I made simple conjugation and agreement errors.

Overlooking the city of Arezzo on a winter day

Coming back to Italy a second time I knew my outlook had to be different. These people knew I was not a native Italian speaker and they were here to help me learn. So, I enthusiastically threw myself into being able to communicate in Italian, not just focus on grammatical structure. With time my grammar improved, and words began to flow more easily. I stopped having to translate each word and let myself get caught inside of the language. Understanding Italian for what the Italian meant, not just the English translation.

Studying Italian has allowed me to broaden my intellectual and personal boundaries in ways I could not have imagined. Just because something is not easy doesn’t mean that it is not important. In fact, some of the hardest things are the most important.

News News: Italian Studies

Studying in Italy: an Invaluable Experience

By Kelly Konrad (Linguistics and French & Francophone Studies ’20).

Kelly on a trip to Venice

During the summer of 2018, I spent a month studying in Florence, Italy, where I took Italian language and art history classes at LinguaViva, an institution designed for international students. Spending time studying in Italy was the best choice I’ve made so far as a student—the lessons I learned and the knowledge I gathered there is invaluable to my studies and my life in general. I was acclimated to the nuances of Italian culture, the rich history of the country and the language, and amazing people who live there. But above all, I gained a sense of independence I never had before.

Transitioning from high school to college obviously came with greater freedom as I was away from my family , living on your own for the first time. This independence, however, is nothing compared to what I experienced from studying abroad. Exploring the city and living with an Italian host family, I had to rely on a language that was not native to me and begin to understand cultural differences that hadn’t occurred to me before; it helped me understand my own beliefs and culture on a deeper level, expanding my understanding of myself. Another key piece in developing my independence as both a student and young adult was being frequently met with new decisions, an intrinsic aspect of going abroad. It was also an excellent practice in enjoying exploring a new area on my own, coming to terms with the city at my own pace.

In all, my time in Italy has served as an invaluable experience to me in becoming an independent person, and has given me a greater appreciation of everything around me.

Fall 2018 News News: Italian Studies

World Pasta Day at the Italian House

By ChIMG_1528iara Di Maio

Is there a better way to celebrate World Pasta Day on October 25th than making pasta from scratch just like our grandparents used to? We invited Chef Eric Christenson, owner of LOKAL, a nearby restaurant, to the Italian house to teach us how to make different types of pIMG_1548asta. Eric is an experienced chef and learned some of his cooking techniques in Italy. As if this weren’t enough, he also learned to speak Italian. “Italian food is all about quality”, he said while his hands mixed flour and eggs to create the perfect dough. He chose his ingredients carefully as he strove to make his dishes as healthy as possible.

In this cooking masterclass, Chef Eric taught students how to make both several pasta shapes and gnocchi. He showed us how the dough is made and used a pasta machine to make it thinner and more translucent. For the tagliatelle, he folded the dough and started cutting it in long strips about half an inch wide.


While some students started working on that, Chef Eric moved on to  explaining the ravioli and penne. However, the gnocchi required a different process because it has different ingredients and, therefore, a completely different consistency. IMG_1544

Christenson showed the students how to shape the gnocchi in several different ways. 

Chef Eric emphasized the fact that making pasta is fairly easy. However, after having tried it first hand, we know it takes a lot of practice. Students learned many tips and tricks to make pasta and we cannot wait for Eric to come back to the Italian house with other tasty recipes. In the meantime, we can all go have lunch and chat with him at LOKAL. 

IMG_1549  IMG_1551

Grazie mille, Eric!


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.

Fall 2018 Featured News

Welcome (Back) Language House Tutors!

Introducing our 2018-2019 Language House Tutors:

Traveling from all corners of the world, our tutors arrived at W&M on August 17th. The Language House Advisors prepared a welcome brunch for everybody to get to know each other! Our tutors clockwise from the left: Lena Böse (returning), Li Zhao (returning), Juan Hidalgo, Zoia Maslennikova (returning), Chiara di Maio, Gaoussou Diarra, Kaoru Suzuki.

LH Tutors and Advisors


Faculty Awards News News: Hispanic Studies

Jorge Terukina (Hispanic Studies) Receives Research Award

Prof. Jorge Terukina
Prof. Jorge Terukina

Prof. Terukina’s book El imperio de la virtud. ‘Grandeza mexicana’ (1604) de Bernardo de Balbuena y el discurso criollo novohispano (Woodbridge [UK]: Tamesis, 2017) was recently distinguished with an Honorable Mention for the Premio Roggiano para la Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 2018.  Awarded by the Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (IILI), the Premio Roggiano recognizes an outstanding scholarly monograph on Latin American Literature and Culture published in Spanish or Portuguese during 2016 and 2017.

IILI, one of the main international organizations in Hispanic Studies, was founded in 1938 in Mexico City, and is currently housed at the University of Pittsburg, USA.  ILLI organizes a prestigious academic conference every two years, and publishes the Revista Iberoamericana, one of the leading journals in the field.  The biannual Premio Roggiano is named in memory of Argentinian critic Alfredo Roggiano, who directed the ILLI and the Revista Iberoamericana during 1954-1991.

Since arriving at William & Mary in 2009, Prof. Terukina has taught interdisciplinary courses on the impact of Aristotelian economics and early modern scientific discourse on cultural production, among others.  These courses stem from research that led to the publication of El imperio de la virtud.

During the research process for his monograph, Prof. Terukina was fortunate to receive invaluable assistance from W&M alums Katherine Brown (’13), who gathered key documents related to Balbuena at the Archivo General de Indias (Seville), and Michael J. Le (’15), who designed some of the illustrations that accompany the volume.

News News: Italian Studies Spring 2018

National Italian Honor Society 2018 Induction Ceremony


The Gamma Kappa Alpha National Italian Honor Society acknowledges superior scholastic performance in the field of Italian language, literature, cinema, and culture of students in higher learning in the United States and Canada.

In spring 2018 the Gamma Kappa Alpha Chapter of William & Mary proudly recognized the outstanding undergraduate scholarship in Italian Studies of the following students:

From the left: Sarah Baker, Zoe Nelson, Rachel Dubit


Sarah Baker

Rachel Dubit

Erin Kitchens (studying in Italy)

Emily Murray (studying in Italy)

Zoe Nelson


The professors in the Italian program would like to extend their congratulations to these wonderful students!


Inductees with faculty members.
Inductees with faculty members in Italian


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!

News News: Italian Studies Spring 2018

Conversation With Film Director Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif)

In March 2018 students in Professor Mattavelli’s class Italian Through Film had an exciting opportunity to skype with Pierfrancesco Diliberto (known as Pif), TV host and director of the movie The Mafia Only Kills in the Summer. The students watched the movie, read some articles and prepared a few questions for him.

One of the most striking elements of the movie is the way in which the mafiosi are depicted. Pif explained that, through the use of comedic elements, he aims at highlighting the difference between the myth created by films like The Godfather and the reality of the mafia. And because he grew up in Palermo (Sicily), he can laugh about the mafia in ways that others can’t.


Pif answered a few questions about the role of the mafia today and explained how things have changed since the assassination of Falcone and Borsellino, anti-mafia magistrates, in 1992. Some examples are the fact that he has never received threats for his mocking of the mafia in the media but, more importantly, today people all over Italy can watch a show that makes fun of the “boss of bosses” Salvatore Riina on national TV.

The students enjoyed listening to Pif’s perspective. Emily Knoche (class of 2019) valued the chance of hearing someone’s first-hand experiences: “Pif was able to give us more nuanced insight into the narrative of the Mafia that we would not have necessarily understood solely from the film and readings.” Kate Donati (class of 2020) appreciated how direct and genuinely interested in the conversation Pif was: “There was no feeling of him placating us or simply entertaining our questions, he seemed to genuinely be considering his answers!”

206 studentsWhen asked the million-dollar question about the most pressing problem in Italy today, Pif had a very interesting answer as Kelly Konrad (class of 2020) noted: “he mentioned the lack of true national sentiment, and he made many comparisons of how Italy differs from other countries, including the United States, in that aspect. It was very interesting to hear his take on the issue and how he was able to relate and compare it to our experiences as Americans.” And because our conversation happened after the general elections in Italy, the class was interested in Pif’s opinion on the topic. Christian Virgona (class of 2021) noted how Pif’s comments on the Italian political situation “drew some comparisons to our most recent election here in the US where a person with no political background won.”

In general, this was a great experience for the students who were able to converse in Italian with Pif and, as Judith Tauber (class of 2021) said: “it was impressive that we had the opportunity to talk to a well-known Italian actor and film director.” Grazie Pif!


News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2018 Featured

Alex Wingate (Hispanic Studies, ’18): Into the Archive: Early Modern Libraries and Political Identities

When she took Prof. Greenia’s class on the Medieval book as a freshman, Alexandra Wingate could not have imagined that she would eventually write an Honors Thesis on the political value of private libraries in Early modern Navarre.

Alex Wingate's Honors Thesis Defense at the Blue Room, Wren Building. From left to right: Prof. Noel Blanco-Mourelle, Prof. Francie Cate-Arries, Alex Wingate, Prof. Lu Ann Homza, Prof. Terukina
Alex Wingate’s Honors Thesis Defense at the Blue Room, Wren Building. From left to right: Prof. Noel Blanco-Mourelle, Prof. Francie Cate-Arries, Alex Wingate, Prof. Lu Ann Homza, Prof. Terukina

As a sophomore, Alex joined Prof. Greenia to do archival work at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN).  Thereafter, she collaborated with Prof. Terukina in his annotated edition of Grandeza mexicana (1604), was mentored by Prof. Homza and analyzed the inventory of a private library in early modern Navarre, and wrote a paper for Prof. Cate-Arries’s seminar (currently under consideration at a professional journal) on the Spanish government’s literacy projects in rural village libraries during the pre-Civil War period.  Alex also spent two summers taking courses at the prestigious London Rare Book School (U.K.).

A summer back in Pamplona thanks to a Monroe Scholarship allowed Alex to start working on her Honors Thesis. “A qué manera de libros y letras es inclinado”: las bibliotecas privadas de Navarra en los siglos XVI y XVII [“To what kind of books and writings is he inclined”: private libraries in Early modern Navarre] is a highly interdisciplinary, and complex project that analyzes 37 private libraries in Early modern Navarre as symptomatic of their owners’s political identities. Alex combined her knowledge of pre-modern technologies (Spanish paleography), her growing training in Book History, her linguistic skills in ‘old’ Spanish, and her skills in Cultural studies.  Her project received Highest Honors.

As she prepares to start an M.A. in History of the Book at the University of London (U.K.) next fall, Alex will receive the R. Merritt Cox Award, which recognizes a HISP major who achieves academic excellence and pursues a graduate degree.

We wish Alex the best in all her future endeavors!

News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2018 Featured

W&M Chinese Students Participate in the 17th Chinese Bridge Speech Contest

Three W&M students from the Chinese Program went to Boston to participate in the 17th Chinese Bridge Speech contest (East USA Preliminary) last Saturday at U Mass Boston. We achieved a great success! Michael Briggs (白杨)won the 2nd place and Grace Klopp (格蕾丝)won the 3rd place in the Beginners Group. Emily Pearson-Beck(李美丽) won the 2nd place in the Advanced group.We are really proud of the students and wish to thank the Confucius Institute which has generously sponsored students’ trip to Boston!

News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2018 More

Celebration of “la Francophonie”!

Every year, the month of March features a week dedicated to the French-speaking world: la Francophonie! The diverse cultures and accents of la Francophonie are celebrated throughout the world with art, festivals, and cultural events; and William and Mary is no exception!
IMG_4803 IMG_4790
Prof. Angela Leruth organized a series of fun and engaging events including an art exhibit, a cheese tasting, a showing of the film Respire, and a delightful concert on March 19 featuring music by our talented colleagues Profs. Brett Brehm and Anne Rasmussen. The talent of our students was also showcased; Abner Mondoloka (Music), Jesse Tanson (French) who DJ’d with a variety of French hip hop, and the students in Prof. Rabalais’s Creative Writing course shared their collectively written poem on la Francophonie.

Merci beaucoup to Prof. Angela Leruth and to everyone that helped make this event such a success!


Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: French & Francophone Studies News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2018 More Uncategorized

Maryse Fauvel Lecture Series

This exciting new lecture series recognizing the distinguished career of Prof. Maryse Fauvel began with a lecture entitled “Screening Racialized France: Immigration, Discrimination, and Citizenship in Contemporary French Cinema”. The thought-provoking lecture was given on Feb. 23 by Prof. Cybelle McFadden (W&M ’97) from University of North Carolina, Greensboro following a screening of Ligne de couleur (2015) from director Laurence Petit-Jouvet. Asa former student of Maryse Fauvel, Prof. McFadden spoke of her profound impact on her own research path and career.


The Fauvel Lecture Series honors Prof. Maryse Fauvel upon her retirement after 26 years of extraordinary dedication to The College of William & Mary. Guest lecturers will speak to the latest trends in French & Francophone cultural studies, engaging issues of socio-political relevance through original analyses of literature, new media, and other texts broadly defined. The series is an important part of the French and Francophone Studies section’s focus on issues of diversity, inclusion, and finding common ground in the increasingly diverse societies of the Francophone world.

This lecture was sponsored by the Wendy & Emery Reves Center for International Studies; the Dean’s Office; the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures; the Program in European Studies; and the Program in Film & Media Studies.


Maryse Fauvel and Cybelle McFadden (left to right)
Maryse Fauvel and Cybelle McFadden (left to right)

News News: Chinese Studies

Professor Hashimoto of Maryland on Postwar Chinese and Japanese Cinema

The Chinese Program presented the talk entitled “Critical Lyricism in Postwar East Asian Cinema: Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town and Ozu Yasujiro’s Late Spring” on October 3, 2017. The speaker is Professor Satoru Hashimoto, Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a specialist on comparative East Asian literature and culture.


In the talk, Professor Hashimoto discussed two films produced in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in China and Japan, Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town (1948) and Ozu Yasujir’s Late Spring (1949), to explore possibilities of postwar East Asian cinema as a critical medium, especially in its historicization of wartime experience. While set against the backdrop of the tumultuous beginnings of the postwar era –– one in China during the Civil War and the other in Japan under the Occupation ––these films are characterized by their singular modes of lyricism which belies such eventful historical contexts. His lecture analyzed these work’s lyrical cinematic languages as an aesthetic topos which intertwines the exigencies of postwar national reconstruction with the long shadows of wartime trauma, thereby critically revisiting some of the ideological premises for conceptualizing the “postwar” in East Asia.

This talk was attended by more than 70 audiences from students and faculty at W&M. This event was organized by Chun-yu Lu and was generously sponsored by WMCI, Reves Center, and AMES.



Alumni Award Faculty Awards News News: Hispanic Studies

Alumni Fellowship Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2017: Jorge Terukina

Prof. Jorge Terukina

Prof. Terukina specializes in the transatlantic Hispanic world (Spain & the New World) during the early modern period (16th and 17th centuries).  His teaching and research pay due attention to the relations between pre-modern disciplines, political context, and cultural production.  He is the author of El imperio de la virtud. Grandeza mexicana (1604) de Bernardo de Balbuena y el discurso criollo novohispano [The Empire of Virtue: Bernardo de Balbuena’s Mexican Grandeur (1604) and Creole Discourse in Colonial Mexico], an interdisciplinary study of one of the most canonical pieces of cultural production in Colonial Mexico that invites us to reassess the role that Balbuena and Grandeza mexicana play in the cultural history of present-day Mexico.

In an interview with the W&M Alumni Magazine, Prof. Terukina explains that he is “impressed with the intellectual curiosity of William & Mary students.” [PDF: WMAM_Fall2017] In his remarks upon receiving this honor at a special ceremony, Prof. Terukina explained that the award belongs to his students, “for unfailingly embarking with me in the scary, unsettling adventure of questioning all we know and how we know it, and hence accepting our historical contingency.  I’d like to think that my students find the chance to design themselves anew with even stronger convictions, with deliberate agency, and with a clear understanding of their role as political animals.”

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Japan Studies New Faculty

Dr. Huangwen Lai
Dr. Huangwen Lai

The Japanese Studies Program is happy to welcome Dr. Huang-wen Lai!

Dr. Lai is a specialist in Japanese colonial literature and cinema–that is, works about the areas colonized by Japan before and during World War II (or, the Pacific War), including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Okinawa, written in Japanese by both Japanese and local authors.  Dr. Lai received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and his M.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2007. He also spent several years studying and teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before coming to the U.S., he earned his B.A. and his first M.A. in Japanese Literature from Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.

Dr. Lai’s current research sheds light on the role of in-betweenness in Japanese colonial literature and culture. His book project, “Traveling Abroad, Writing Nationalism, and Performing in Disguise: People on the Japanese Colonial Boundary, 1909-1943,” investigates the relations and discourses among “in-between” people who were caught on the colonial boundaries under Japanese rule. He is also very interested in intercultural studies between China and Japan, and between the East and the West. His second research project looks at links between literature and cinema in Japan and China, and how cinematic adaptations shed light on social, political and literary transformations in East Asia from the 1930s to the present.

At William & Mary, Dr. Lai will be teaching several courses for the 2017-18 school year, including Classical Japanese, Contemporary Japanese Literature, and a course on his specialty, titled “Writing Empire.”  Please say hello when you see him!

Graduates 2016-2017 News News: German Studies Spring 2017 Spring 2017 More Uncategorized

Meredith Wolf ’17 receives Fulbright ETA to teach in Germany

Meredith Wolf will be teaching English at the Staatliches Gymnasium “Albert Schweitzer” in Erfurt. She has already gained valuable teaching experience as a TA in the German Studies section at W&M, and we are confident she will excel in her new position! Herzlichen Glückwunsch und Alles Gute! More info here.

Graduates 2016-2017 News News: German Studies Spring 2017 Spring 2017 More

Jack Weaver ’17 receives Fulbright/USTA award to teach in Austria

Jack Weaver, a History Major and German Studies Minor, will be teaching English in the picturesque town of Lustenau, Vorarlberg. For more information on the Fulbright/USTA program, go here. Herzlichen Glückwunsch und Alles Gute!

Graduates 2016-2017 News News: German Studies Spring 2017 Spring 2017 More

Jessica Armstrong ’17 receives Fulbright Research Grant to study in Köln/Cologne

Jessica Armstrong ’17 has received a Fulbright Research Grant to pursue graduate study in chemistry at the Universität zu Köln/University of Cologne. She had been the recipient of a DAAD Rise Fellowship in 2016. Read more about her application process here: Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017

Prof. Terukina publishes book on ‘Grandeza mexicana’ (1604)

El imperio de la virtud. Grandeza mexicana (1604) de Bernardo de Balbuena y el discuso criollo novohispano. Woodbridge [UK]: Tamesis Books, 2017. 418pp + illustrations.
El imperio de la virtud. Grandeza mexicana (1604) de Bernardo de Balbuena y el discuso criollo novohispano. Woodbridge [UK]: Tamesis Books, 2017. 418pp + illustrations.
El imperio de la virtud. Grandeza mexicana (1604) de Bernardo de Balbuena y el discurso criollo novohispano is the product of several years of intense research by Prof. Terukina on one of the most canonical pieces of Mexican literature.  During this process, Prof. Terukina was fortunate to receive invaluable assistance from W&M alums Katherine Brown (’13), who gathered key documents related to Balbuena at the Archivo General de Indias (Seville), and Michael J. Le (’15), who designed some of the illustrations that accompany the volume.

Against the normative proto-Mexican and criollista reading of Grandeza mexicana (1604), El imperio de la virtud positions Bernardo de Balbuena’s work in an Atlantic context and hence interprets it as a political assertion of the natural right of peninsular émigrés to rule New Spain.

The book offers an updated biography of Balbuena that reminds us of his ties to the Iberian Peninsula, and traces the pre-modern rhetorical, scientific, geopolitical, and economic paradigms upon which Grandeza mexicana is designed. Thus, the work analyzes Balbuena’s encomium of Mexico City as a political prise de position in favor of peninsular émigrés like Balbuena himself, who are allegedly endowed with the moral and intellectual virtues needed to direct the spiritual and temporal life of the viceroyalty, and against the morally deficient criollos and the barbaric Indians.

El imperio de la virtud invites us to reassess the role that Balbuena and Grandeza mexicana play in the cultural history of present-day Mexico.

Graduates 2016-2017 News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017

Japan Section Year-End Prizes

The Japanese Section awarded several prizes to mark the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

First, we are proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study.  The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them since then.  This year’s recipients are:

  • Hayley Snowden (100 level)
  • Michael Park (200 level)
  • Veronica Deighan (300 level)
  • Mackenzie Neal (400 level)

Second, we inducted several graduating seniors into the Japanese National Honor Society.  Inductees must meet several criteria, including: completion of five semesters of Japanese language study (or their equivalent), all taken for a grade (rather than audited or pass-fail); a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in Japanese language courses; and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. This year’s inductees are:

  • Wei Chang
  • Gyeong Young Cho
  • TianChu Gao
  • Kexin Ma
  • Anastasia Rivera
  • Jiacheng Xi

Finally, the award for Outstanding Achievement by a graduating senior in Japanese goes to Anastasia Rivera.  A double major in Philosophy and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (and a past winner of the Kinyo Prize), Anastasia was an active resident of Japan House, served as a TA for the Japanese language program, and spent a summer in Japan conducting research on a contemporary genre of fiction, the “keitai shousetsu,” or “cell-phone novel.” Anastasia will be putting her studies and experiences to excellent use next year, as she returns to Japan on the Jet (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program.

Congratulations to all our awardees! おめでとうございます!

Outstanding Achievement winner Rivera
Outstanding Achievement winner Rivera

Kinyo Award recipients Snowden, Park, Deighan, and Neal
Kinyo Award recipients Snowden, Park, Deighan, and Neal

Honor Society inductees Xi, Chang (front row), Ma, Gao, and Cho (back row)
Honor Society inductees Xi, Chang (front row), Ma, Gao, and Cho (back row)

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

From Page, To Stage, To Screen: Performance and Classroom Dynamics

Carl Scholl & Jason Vargas-Ortega; directed by Julia Tan. Photo Credit: Prof. Christina Baker
Carl Scholl & Jason Vargas-Ortega; directed by Julia Tan. Photo Credit: Prof. Christina Baker

By Prof. Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra

Many years ago I saw a play that changed my relationship to theater; it was a rupturist staging of La vida es sueño, a 17th-century masterpiece by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. It touched some place very deep in me and, since that day, theater is one of the art forms that I admire the most. Why then—I often wonder—do I fail to include theater in my syllabi?  This semester, inspired by my colleague Prof. Christina Baker and with her precious help, I decided to introduce and experiment with embodied pedagogies in the classroom.  In our course devoted to literary criticism, HISP 208, students creatively and critically engaged with the famous play by Croatian-Chilean author Sergio Vodanović, El delantal blanco (1956).  What follows is the explanation of the project by three of my students in their own words:

El delantal blanco was a thought-provoking play that we read for my Literary Criticism course in Hispanic Studies,” says freshman Joel Calfee (’20).  “The play focused on a woman and her maid spending the day at the beach, and the work explored themes of social class and gender roles. However, what made this play even more interesting was that our class explored it in a deeper fashion by breaking into groups and performing it in front of the camera. We were instructed to act out sections of the play, while having one director film it and add any personal touches that seemed necessary. Once all of the projects were completed, we watched them as a class, and it was very interesting to see everyone interpreting the lines uniquely. This project showed us that written works can be absorbed by students in so many distinct ways.”

Gisela Fuentes-Amaya & Aaron Higgins; directed by Brenna Cowardin. Photo Credit: Prof. Christina Baker
Gisela Fuentes-Amaya & Aaron Higgins; directed by Brenna Cowardin. Photo Credit: Prof. Christina Baker

The challenge of performing scenes from El delantal blanco led students to constantly revisit the script and explore meanings that otherwise may be lost in a simple, quick reading of the print version. “Although at first I stumbled through the words and awkwardly moved in front of the camera, I gradually became more comfortable,” adds Ashlynn Sommers (’20).  “By the end, I realized that through the process of filming I was able to better understand the play and it made me more confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities.”

The performances offered by students were far from a simple, mechanical enactment of Vodanović’s play.  Rather, it was a collaborative enterprise that allowed students to creatively craft meaning beyond the literal words of the script.  Caroline Nutter (’18) explains this creative process as follows: “We decided to drive to the beach to film our portion (the play is set on a beach), and the other actress and I decided to switch characters halfway through because I fit the role of one character better than she did. It is encountering these artistic problems, and finding creative ways to solve them, that made this project so enjoyable.

Surprisingly, my students forget to mention the performance of a scene of El delantal blanco that Professor Baker and I did for them in front of the class—i.e., live! We certainly have not; practicing our lines, trying out costumes, and choosing props transformed that particular class into a special event in which, via embodied practices that led from page to stage to screen, students accessed and generated layers of meaning that would otherwise be elusive or lost in a print text.


News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2017

Innovative Honors Thesis Research in Francophone Studies

Two French and Francophone Studies seniors recently defended their honors theses. Zarine Kharazian and Paul Naanou both conducted innovative research and received highest honors following the oral defense of their work. Financial support through the McCormack-Reboussin and the Charles Center, respectively, helped make these ground-breaking studies possible. Their work shows the interdisciplinarity and relevance to current social issues that characterize French and Francophone Studies at W&M.

Paul Naanou’s “Qui me rendra présent : Francophone Representations of Lebanese Civil War Memory”, directed by Prof. Magali Compan
Highest Honors

Being of Syrian origin, Paul Naanou had always been fascinated by Levantine history and traditions. So when he became aware of Lebanon’s rich francophone history, he just had to figure out how it fit into the region’s wider narrative. Paul recognizes the importance of memory and collective trauma in relation to the current conflict in Syria, as well.

IMG_0419During Paul’s sophomore year of college, he applied for a Charles Center summer grant to go and meet the Lebanese francophone poet Nada Skaff and do archival research in Paris. For Paul, meeting Nada was a highlight of his college experience because the time spent with her gave him a visceral understanding of how living in French in a Lebanese context is just as authentic as living in Arabic. Moreover, having discussions with her about her own literature gave him insight into how diverse and rich the construction of a Lebanese experience can be.

In Paul’s senior year, he decided to pursue a honors thesis with Prof. Magali Compan that not only looked at the impact of the French language on Lebanese history, but of violence (namely the Lebanese Civil War) as well. Paul says, “I feel so fortunate to have been able to bring attention to Lebanese francophone texts because the experience permitted me to share with the others the reality that all peoples make sense of suffering and violence through different ways and we need to be attuned to them because they can help us articulate our own hallowing experiences. If anything, struggle is a universal reality and rather than let us divide us, I thinking delving into art from a place as seemingly opposed to us as Lebanon enables us to bridge cultural divides and better understand ourselves.”

Zarine Kharazian’s “Yet Another French Exception: The Right To Be Forgotten”
Co-Directors: Professors Maryse Fauvel and Michael Leruth
Highest Honors

Zarine Kharazian’s research focuses on France’s seemingly unique stance on “right to be forgotten” with regard to internet search engines like Google. Her work was made possible through the generous support provided by the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship, which funded archival research in Paris over the summer of 2016. Furthermore, a research internship at Sciences-Po, Paris, through the Internships in Francophone Europe (IFE) program, facilitated access to the Cujas Law library as well as the Sciences-Po library.

FullSizeRender (2)In 2015, the European Court of Justice established an online “right to be forgotten” in Europe. Under this right to be forgotten, individuals may request that search engines delist links that reference their personal information from search results. Search engines need not grant these requests, but they are now obligated to review them.

While the Court’s decision to establish the right to be forgotten certainly ignited a debate among Western privacy scholars and policymakers hailing from both sides of the Atlantic, no country has participated in the debate with as much fervor as has France. Zarine’s thesis addresses the following question: What explains France’s unique sense of urgency with regard to digital right to be forgotten? She argues that French privacy jurisprudence does not sufficiently explain France’s attitude and actions in the right to be forgotten debate, as most scholars have suggested. Rather, extralegal factors – namely, long-established societal “mentalités” with regard to the modern state’s responsibility to shield individuals’ honor and reputation from excessive public scrutiny and France’s enduring antagonism towards US digital hegemony – bear most of the explanatory weight.


Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

Allison Corbett (HISP ’09) on Multimedia Oral History Project

Kyle McQuillan ('17), Morgan Sehdev ('17), Allison Corbett ('09)
Kyle McQuillan (’17), Morgan Sehdev (’17), Allison Corbett (’09)

Allison Corbett (’09) is a Spanish interpreter and oral historian based in New York City. She has worked in Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West as a staff interpreter, and is currently working on The Language of Justice/El lenguaje de la justicia, a multimedia oral history project documenting the stories of language workers and organizers around the US who facilitate multilingual movement-building for social change. You can read more about the project here.

During her time at W&M, Allison wrote an honors thesis under Prof. Arries on “Un modelo de resistencia, un estado neoliberal: Teacher and Student Responses to the Death of Carlos Fuentealba.”  She also received the Howard M. Fraser Award in 2009 for the graduating HISP major who has made significant achievements in the area of research and service related to the field of Hispanic Studies.

News News: Italian Studies Spring 2017 More

Italian Studies Month at W&M

March was a very busy month for the Italian Studies program! We were lucky to host three wonderful guest speakers. On March 13-14 Professor Millicent Marcus of Yale University came to meet with students in Italian and Religious Studies, and to host a public screening and discussion of the classic film The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Vittorio De Sica, 1970). On March 22 Professor Serenella Iovino of the University of Turin, Italy, gave an afternoon lecture on “Porous Landscapes of Land and Sea: A Volcanic Anti-Pastoral.” Finally, on March 28 documentary filmmaker Fred Kuwornu returned to William & Mary to meet with students and screen his latest film, Blaxpoitalian: 100 Years of Blackness in Italian Cinema (2016). Inspiring lively discussions about hitory, religion, environment, identity, representation and more, all three renowned speakers helped make this spring semester an unforgettable one for Italian Studies at W&M!

Fred 2SerenellaPenny

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

Prof. Stock Invited to RiverRun International Film Festival

Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968), Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968), Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

The RiverRun International Film Festival is one of the premier film festivals in the southeastern US.  Celebrated in Winston-Salem, NC, this year (March 30-April 9 2017) the organizers invited Prof. Ann Marie Stock to present a special program entitled “Cuba on Screen: Perspectives through Retrospectives.” The program included a selection of short films such as Conexión (2016), Kid Chocolate (1987), Presidio Modelo (2008), and Soy cubana (2016), but also feature-length Cuban classics like Soy Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964), Vampires in Havana (Juan Padrón, 1985), Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomas Gutiérrez Alea,1968), and Lucía (Humberto Solas, 1968), and Santa y Andrés (Carlos Lechuga, 2016).

When asked to comment on the selection, Prof. Stock shared: “Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) and Lucía (1968) are two classics of Cuban cinema. Many people in the first world learned about Cuban cinema thanks to these two jewels. Both directors—Tomas Gutiérrez Alea and Humberto Solas—joined in the search for a cinematic language appropriate for the new Cuban revolutionary context. And with their respective films, they succeeded in relating stories that were essentially Cuban. These works still resonate in Cuba today. Many young filmmakers continue to be inspired by these films.”

You can read the full press release from Cuban Art News of The Farber Foundation here.

News News: Italian Studies Spring 2017

Subtitling “Non Perdono” – a Collaborative Project

This past semester, spring 2017, my students and I took part in a collaborative project with a group from Johns Hopkins University and two Italian filmmakers. The experimental documentary film Non Perdono (Non Pardon / I Don’t Forgive, 2016) explores current environmental, health and economic crises in the town of Taranto, Italy, long home to the ILVA steel plant. It is an important text for my own research on narrative expressions of toxicity, and I was in touch last fall with directors Roberto Marsella and Grace Zanotto about crafting English subtitles so that the film and its message might reach a broader audience. Our conversations had begun to stall by January of this year, when JHU Professor Laura Di Bianco also came in contact with Marsella and Zanotto, and began envisioning ways in which we might be able to help the filmmakers while also benefitting our students.

non_perdono_2In particular, she understood how a faculty mentored translation & subtitling project could be a great opportunity for students to work on their linguistic, cultural and even ecological competencies, while advocating for a real-world concern. Professor Di Bianco reached out to me and we both identified students interested in participating: two undergrads from each of our universities and one JHU graduate student who could help oversee their work. The process since then has been one of ongoing dialogue between the students, with fabulous results. Professor Di Bianco and I will go over the completed text this summer, and hope that the filmmakers will be able to apply the subtitles to the film by early fall 2017. We recently had the chance to share the project with other colleagues in the field, when we participated together on a roundtable at the 2017 joint conference of the American Association for Italian Studies & Canadian Association for Italian Studies. Below are some reflections from William & Mary student translators Zoe Nelson and Sheila Williams-Morales on their experience. – Prof. Monica Seger

Zoe Nelson (class of 2020):
NonPerdono004“Working with students at John Hopkins University to translate the dialogue of the script for the film Non Perdono opened my eyes to the importance of a collaborative translation process. I enjoyed seeing the ways that all of us interpreted sections that did not have an obvious literal translation, since both language and film are things that often do not have just one clearly correct interpretation. Specifically, it was difficult to find the balance between retaining the authenticity of the original Italian script without making its English equivalent sound unnatural or changing the tone of the scene. I also found the Italian script more challenging to understand than other things that I have read in Italian, because some of the language was colloquial or idiomatic. On the whole, it was a really exciting and rewarding experience to work on a project that has such a tangible result, and that helps make a serious problem about pollution better known to English speakers

Sheila Williams-Morales (class of 2017):
Laura Pres Slide“Collaborating with the students of John Hopkins University in translating the Italian film, Non Perdono, was an amazing experience. I have always been interested in how to translate a foreign work into its English counterpart while maintaining the meaning of the original. The Non Perdono project offered a friendly environment to discuss the various translations, and the students of William and Mary and John Hopkins helped each other understand the film and its transcription. For example, we discussed the testimony of a hair stylist in order to determine the interviewee’s message, and we analyzed the various allegorical tales told throughout the documentary in order to create narratives that were comprehensible for an English speaking audience. The process was akin to solving a puzzle. The right piece made the entire translation flow and take a coherent form. Overall, the project was delightful and emphasized not only the delicate relationship between words and their various meanings but how to convey an Italian concern to a foreign audience.


News News: Italian Studies Spring 2017

The Italian Program Goes to the Museum

Bot 1On March 29th the Italian Program organized a guided tour of the wonderful exhibition Botticelli and the Search for the Divine hosted at the Muscarelle Museum. This is the most important Botticelli exhibition in the United States so far.

A group of about 25 students, currently enrolled in our language classes, was guided through the breathtaking masterpieces by two fabulous docents and natives of Italy: Mariangela Rodilosso and Gloria Bonassi Baller. Students had the opportunity to learn about Botticelli’s art and his time, and also learn a few new words in Italian! They were amazed by the exhibition and enjoyed the experience very much! Brandon Mullins, a student in Italian 102, said that it was a very informative experience: “I believe being able to see these pieces of art in person is a completely different experience that seeing them online or in a textbook.” Some of them were also very excited to see more of Botticelli during their upcoming summer study abroad program in Florence.

Bot 2For those who are not traveling to Italy, it might have been an even greater opportunity. As Erin Gunderson, a senior enrolled in Italian 103, said: “Going to the Botticelli Exhibit at William and Mary felt like taking a trip to Florence or Rome but without a passport.” Erin was struck by the paintings and stated: “I don’t know if I could ever have enough time to truly appreciate Botticelli’s glowing, ethereal goddesses and Madonnas but having the exhibit so accessible meant I had time to try. It was a bit surreal to go from studying the Renaissance in my history class to admiring the frescoes that made the journey all the way from Italy to Williamsburg. I didn’t get a chance to spend a semester abroad, but I’m grateful that one beautiful piece of the world made its way to campus.”


– Prof. Sara Mattavelli

News News: Italian Studies Spring 2017 More

Putting my Italian to Use at the Muscarelle, by Lowry Palmer (’17)

RagazzeThis year I had the wonderful experience of being a part of the group of student interns at the Muscarelle Museum of Art during the exhibition, Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting Between the Medici and the Bonfires of the Vanities. Studying Italian and Art History while working in the museum have been endlessly useful, and the opportunity to help with an exhibition that combined these two interests was such a special part of my undergraduate experience. During the preparations leading toward the exhibition, I was lucky enough to help record transcriptions that were utilized in the exhibition book. I really enjoyed hearing about the process and research that went into the organization of the Botticelli exhibition and book as each were being worked on, as well as sharing hands-on experiences with the rest of campus through our student event.

Studying Italian, in particular, at William and Mary has been exceptionally helpful in pursuing my passions for medieval and renaissance Italian art. Before working as an intern at the Muscarelle, I also attended the summer Florence study abroad program to study art and language in Italy. Through Italian courses and study abroad, I have found a wonderful community of some of my best friends and we have continued to stay close and take courses together leading to our senior year. When the time came for the student event for Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting Between the Medici and the Bonfires of the Vanities, I was able to have the same friends that saw Botticelli paintings in Florence with me come to the Muscarelle to support me and view the exhibition. That was a phenomenal experience, and is a testament to the sense of community fostered in the Italian department.

– Lowry Palmer ’17

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017 More

A Lifetime of Experiences in one Short Semester, by Daniel Tay (’19)

By Daniel Tay (’19)

I was unbelievably fortunate to be able to study abroad at Akita International University in the Fall of 2016, as I had an amazing experience while I was there! One of the highlights was the opportunity to get involved in the AIU School Festival held in October. It was an incredibly enriching experience, as I am really glad that I got to experience the life of a Japanese college student.

AIUTayNow that I’m back and in my normal routine, I find there are so many things that I miss about AIU─ the wonderful friends that I made while I was there, being immersed in an environment that really facilitated the learning of Japanese, and the beauty of the campus, just to name a few.

For any student wondering about a study-abroad opportunity, I currently work as a Peer Advisor for Study Abroad at the Reves Center and would be more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to find out more about this or any other study abroad program!

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017

W&M’s Shodo Performance at the National Cherry Blossom Festival

By Norie Sakuma, Japanese House Tutor

Imagine our excitement: tens of thousands of visitors flock to the National Cherry Blossom Festival from every year from March 20th to April 16th. The spectacular array of cherry blossoms dazzles the eye then and enchants the soul, even when the weather is reluctant to release winter. And amid that crush of visitors, blossoms and traffic, 11 W&M students and I could be found, excitedly adding to the milieu by participating in the concurrent annual Shodo performance.

This amazing festival has been held in DC every year since 1927. It is intended to commemorate the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington, D.C. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.

shodo photo1What some visitors might not know or expect, however, is that the cherry blossoms must share the spotlight with all things Japanese during those 28 celebration days. With the Shodo festival, people can experience Japan at the same time as they enjoy the blooming trees. Myriad booths related to Japanese culture spring up for pedestrians to visit; these include such Japanese traditions as calligraphy, kimono and games. And many other stands are prepared to help you savor popular Japanese foods. Yakisoba, Takoyaki, cream puffs and other uniquely Japanese delights can be munched on while enjoying the city’s unique sights and sounds. In essence, you can travel to Japan via Washington without ever leaving the country or carrying a passport!

In addition to the foods and cultural experiences, you also can see many Japanese perform. For example, the entertainers may present a local dance from Okinawa prefectures, sing Japanese pop songs or demonstrate a sword battle.

Our contribution to the Shodo festival involved the students’ dancing to a poem and music of their own creation. They originated the theme, challenged their calligraphy skills to write the poem, chose and edited the music, and choreographed the dance. Our trip to DC was made possible in part by the generous support of the 3153 (“Saigo-san”) fund. My job was to participate in the poem’s development and support the students as they rehearsed.

shodo photo 2Those 11 students worked incredibly hard. In addition to their normal school work and activities, they dedicated nearly two hours nightly to every detail of the performance. Their dedication and commitment showed through, however. On the day of the performance, beneath a clear sky, but with brisk winds, the performers performed twice to large and highly appreciative audiences.

I had the pleasure of snapping pictures and recording the performance. As I peered through the video screen, I was dazzled not only by their amazing performance but by their brilliant smiles, as well. Clearly, everyone appreciated their accomplishments.

News News: German Studies Spring 2017 More

Delta Phi Alpha Induction 2017

DPA_2017_01This year’s induction of new members into the German Honor Society Delta Phi Alpha took place on April 21, 2017. Language House Advisor Jennifer M. Gully and German House Tutor Kim Mutmann officiated the ceremony. Afterwards, we had a delicious Abendbrot with belegte Brote, Apfelschorle, and Apfelkuchen. Our inductees from left to right: E. E. J.  Asplund, Stephen Holt, Anna Morgan Shackelford, Rui Yin, Meredith Ann Wolf, and Shihao Du. Not included are Vitaliy Humenyuk and Honorary Member Kim Mutmann.

News News: Russian Studies Spring 2017

Russian Music Ensemble Takes Williamsburg By Storm!

Founded in 2014, the William & Mary Russian Music Ensemble (RME) is the latest formation to emerge out of W&M’s diverse array of musical groups. What began as a labor of love for ethnomusicologist Jonathan Johnston has evolved into a one-credit course that students across all disciplines can take in order to learn about the cultural history of Eastern Europe and become acquainted with instruments they may have never seen before.  The group has an ever-expanding diverse repertoire, which includes Russian, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Bulgarian, and Jewish songs.

rmeApril1ConcertDespite its youth, the RME has already collaborated with a number of prestigious musicians and organizations, including the Washington Balalaika Society and the Balalaika and Domra Association of America, whose annual convention members will attend this summer. At its last concert, the Ensemble collaborated with Ukrainian balalaika virtuoso Tetiana Khomenko during her first tour of the United States, and in November it will have the pleasure of performing with domra virtuoso Angelina Galashenkova and bayan professional Alla Melnyk.

In addition, the RME has performed at local venues and events, such as the 2017 William & Mary Global Film Festival, during which it helped present Chad Gracia’s Ukrainian documentary The Russian Woodpecker (2015), the Williamsburg Public Library Theatre, and the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) convention at the Williamsburg Hilton Double Tree Hotel in 2016. The RME prides itself on educating audiences about the rich and varied cultures of Eastern Europe. In February 2017, members performed at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, Virginia to encourage students to pursue Slavic studies in their undergraduate careers.

If you are interested in learning more about the RMC, please visit its student-designed website at, like our Facebook page at, and visit our YouTube channel at

News News: Russian Studies Spring 2017 More

The Adventures of Lena Klavin in the Russian Imperial Capital

13735661_10205025315712105_7711410792263263176_o Let us start at the beginning. I remember arriving in St. Petersburg so clearly, sitting on the airplane as it landed at Pulkovo Airport and thinking, “Blin, what have I gotten myself into!” After that, I successfully went through customs and accomplished my first language snafu as I told the officer that I spoke “American.” Classic. The next step involved a group of us being piled into a van to be dropped off at our respective host families. As we sped through city absorbing the sites around us, I remember looking at an intimidating statue of Lenin and thinking: “You idiot, you can’t speak Russian, what were you thinking!” Oh, how palatable the anxiety and self-loathing was! However, from there the only place to go was up (thankfully).

I was the first to be dropped off on a street corner. After waiting for 15 minutes in my state of panic, I saw a short vision of bright red hair approach me. It was love at first sight, seeing my brilliant host mom Raisa. She led me by the hand into her forth floor apartment, tucked me into bed, and told me to rest before waking me up for a late meal of blini. She was such an important person in my life during that six-week adventure. The next morning, after a few false starts due to the never-ending sunshine blaring through my window and destroying my circadian rhythm, my host mom my took my hand and walked with me to my first day of classes.

Since this was a study-abroad trip and not a vacation, classes were a crucial part of my time in the Northern Capital. Each day we would alternate between cultural and grammatical classes—all in Russian, all the time. While the classes demanded a lot of work, especially since they involved sitting for hours at a time drilling new vocabulary and grammar into our brains, I enjoyed them immensely. The classes taught me a great deal. Also they helped boost my confidence in my language skills as well.

In my free time, I teamed up with two friends and we would conquer new parts of the city daily. I loved discovering new restaurants and cafes, while eating my weight in deliciously rich food. Sightseeing was also a popular pastime. It often felt surreal to walk along the Neva River and see iconic buildings like the Winter Palace or St. Isaacs Cathedral in the distance. When I found myself alone, I would ride the metro for hours; people watching, reading, and soaking in everything around me.

Some of my favorite parts of the trip were our excursions with W&M Professor Fred Corney, our shepherd and valiant leader on the trip. By far the best excursion for me was to the Peterhof Palace, the summer residence of the Russian emperors. The golden wonder and home of fountains galore treated us to jaw dropping sights and a truly magical experience. Not only was the tour informative, but I also felt like a child again as I raced through water sprays and explored the underground secrets of the palace.

I also really enjoyed the weeklong trip to Moscow and our stay at Moscow State University (MGU). However, one week was not nearly enough to see that magical and vibrant city. While we managed to hit the major sites, I cannot help but wish we had had more time! There is nothing that I want more than to travel back someday and pick up where I left off.


In conclusion, the William and Mary summer study abroad trip to St. Petersburg was the most fantastic and brilliant experience of my life. The six-week crash course on Russian culture helped me grow so much as a person in a remarkably short period of time. I am grateful for all the opportunities this trip provided for me. I cannot wait to return to the Russian wonderland!

News News: German Studies News: Russian Studies Spring 2017

Gabrielle Hibbert Successfully Defends Honors Thesis


Gabriella Hibbert successfully defended her Honors Thesis Alternative Notions of Dissent: Punk Rock’s Significance in the Soviet Union and East Germany in April 2017.

Her thesis asserts that the initial punk rock movements of the United States and Great Britain served as a foundation for the Soviet Punk and Ostrock movements of the Soviet Union and East Germany. Although the movements of the U.S. and Great Britain helped shape the Soviet Punk and Ostrock scenes, those movements incorporated their own cultural traditions, adding to the complexity of the international punk rock scene as a whole. Hibbert conducted two cases studies on the seminal bands of the Soviet Punk movement— Grazhdanskaia Oborona (“Civil Defense”) and the Ostrock movement, Zwitschermaschine (“Whirring Machine”). These two movements in Soviet-led regions effectively functioned as the beginnings of a societal perestroika, ushering in a bottom-up social revolution.

News News: Russian Studies Spring 2017

Sophia Yates Reflects on her Study Abroad Trip to St. Petersburg

When I tell people that I studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia in the summer of 2016, I am always asked: “What was it like? Was it scary?”  Well at first, yes.  On the two-hour trip from the airport to my homestay, all of us wondered what the next six weeks had in store for us.  I, along with some of the other first-year Russian language students, considered how much Russian we actually knew compared to how much it took to communicate with people, but especially our homestay parents/families.


As it turned out, communicating with my host family was easy, but mostly because I listened to them and they listened to me. And also because we had dictionaries.  When my host father, Igor’, greeted me at the door, our interaction was a bit clumsy, mostly because I had just spent twelve hours traveling from Switzerland and was exhausted.  After feeding me, he showed and made me practice getting into the apartment. After that, he just sat and talked to me.  It was very comforting to be able to listen to him talk about his family and job.  When my host mother, Katia, came home, I was introduced to the powerhouse of the family.  Katia was my favorite part of the study-abroad experience.  She would wake me up every morning with a sweet-toned “Sophia, time for breakfast!” and taught me how to use the coffee machine to make early mornings easier.  She came home every day and sat with me while I ate soup, then a main course, talking to me all the time.

Katia and her family made my time in Russia a formative experience.  When visiting a place as a tourist, you rarely meet or interact with the people who live there, but through my homestay I was able to gain a small glimpse into what it is like to be Russian.  I had two host siblings as well—Nastia and Anton.  Anton still lived at home and is the same age as my younger brother.  This made it easier for me to ask questions to someone my own age. Twice Nastia and Anton took me out to festivals on the weekend and made me feel welcome into their family.

The first week of our trip was the “Scarlet Sails” festival, during which all graduating high school students celebrate and attend a concert organized for them in front of the Winter Palace. At the same time, a ship with bright scarlet sails floats down the Neva River.  The entire city turns out for the event, but public transport stops from midnight to three in the morning.  I knew this, but lost track of time while hanging out in the street with a few friends. Subsequently, I was stranded about three miles from my apartment.  I ended up staying a few hours (until sunlight!) in another girl’s homestay that was not far from mine and walking home at about five in the morning.  The next day Anton asked me where I had been all night and I explained myself to the best of my ability.  His simple response was: “You know we have Uber in Russia?”  After that I was never stranded late at night again!


St. Petersburg is a vibrant and historical city, and I discovered this through excursions with our William & Mary group and by exploring on my own. Yet my favorite experiences are the moments sitting in the kitchen with Katia while she vented her problems to me or asked me questions about the U.S.  On the last day of my stay, I bought her flowers outside of the metro and did not realize how strong they smelled until I put them in a vase in the kitchen.  She left them out for the rest of my stay, but I am certain the smell bothered her just as much as it bothered me.  A simple gift was all it took to show her how much I cared for what she and her family had provided for me.  I am forever grateful to Katia and her family for making my study abroad experience what is was. I would probably still be lost in St. Petersburg without them.

News News: Alumni News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017

Recent HISP Alums Will Pursue Advanced Degrees

After a few years of varied, enriching, and meaningful experiences–domestically and abroad–, some of our recent HISP graduates have decided to pursue further studies in their aims of becoming stronger civic-minded individuals, activists for education, critical thinkers who question social asymmetries, and forgers of global relations.

During her time at W&M, Maisoon Fillo (Hispanic Studies & Psychology ’15) studied abroad with our Human Rights program in La Plata, Argentina, and participated as an undergraduate TA in our HISP language classes.  As she prepares to attend Tulane University and work toward an MA in Latin American Studies, she describes her experience since graduating as follows:

Maisoon Fillo ('15) spent a semester teaching English in Peru
Maisoon Fillo (’15) spent a semester teaching English in Peru

“Soon after graduating from William and Mary, I spent the summer in Vermont perfecting my Spanish at Middlebury Language Schools. This program not only provided an environment of total language immersion, but exposed the linguistic depth of the Spanish language. Shortly following Middlebury, I spent a semester abroad teaching English in Lima, Peru. This position gave me first-hand insight into educational issues in Latin America, from resource and quality shortcomings, to school systems’ relationships with students and the significance of student’s social background. I was able to work through some of these critical issues following my time abroad as an intern in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Education Program. This branch of IAD aims to improve skill development by forging educational change across Latin America.

“Starting this fall I will begin my MA program in Latin American Studies at Tulane University. I expect to further develop skills that I can use in work that contributes to reforms that acknowledge past injustices and promote governments’ sincere regard for human rights. I believe that Tulane’s program will position me to not only advance skillfully as a student, researcher, and activist, but will guide me as a professional in contributing to social transformation projects in pursuit of human dignity and social justice.

Like in Maisoon’s case, intercultural understanding and global citizenship motivated Sam Boone (Hispanic Studies and International Relations ’15) to seek rich experiences abroad.  Before becoming an undergraduate TA for the Hispanic Studies program, Sam spent a summer in Cádiz and a semester in La Plata.  While at W&M, Sam enjoyed successful spells as Resident Advisor at the Russian House and the Hispanic House.  His commitment to building global bridges has shaped his steps after graduation, as he published an article on the role of the US in the tense Taiwan-China relations, and is about to complete his second year teaching English in China.  Sam will head to Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in the fall.

Sam Boone ('15) is spending a second year in China before heading to Johns Hopkins
Sam Boone (’15) is spending a second year in China before heading to Johns Hopkins

“In many ways I have had an interesting career trajectory. At William & Mary, I double majored in Hispanic Relations and International Relations with the idea that I could get involved with policy decisions in Latin America. My experience with the La Plata program in Argentina had a profound impact of my worldview, as I found that living in a foreign country and stepping outside my comfort zone enabled me to grow personally and academically. My time in Argentina made realize that I wanted to step even further and learn a new language. After my graduation I moved the China, and quickly started studying Chinese and fanatically researching the history and culture of my new home.

“I am surprised and happy to say I will continue my education next year at Johns Hopkins SAIS program with a fellowship for Chinese studies. It almost seems unbelievable since two years ago I didn’t even know how to say 你好 (hello) in Chinese and now I will be doing graduate level courses. It truly demonstrates the unpredictability in life, and how passions can evolve and transform. This opportunity would have been impossible without the skills and knowledge I gained from Hispanic Studies at William & Mary. My classes in the Hispanic Studies department gave me the tools I needed to adapt and analyze Chinese culture. I hope that I can combine my two foreign language studies in graduate school and further investigate China’s growing role in Latin America.

While Maisoon headed to Perú and Sam to China, a semester in Chile was in the horizon for Kristin Giordano (Hispanic Studies & Linguistics ’14) soon after graduating in 2014.  Having been an undergraduate TA for the Hispanic Studies program, and after spells in La Plata, Argentina, and in Nicaragua with MANOS, Kristin’s semester teaching English in Chile proved to be a great experience.  Upon returning to the US, and being the civic-minded, community-engaged young adult that she is, Kristin carved a path for herself in public health, and even co-authored an article on EMS responses to behavioral health crises.  As she prepares to start a Masters in Public Health at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) under a fellowship, Kristin describes her trajectory as follows:

Kristin leads a dynamic English classroom in Chile
Kristin leads a dynamic English classroom in Chile

“Before I graduated in May 2014, I had vague thoughts of traveling the world, or at least having some (any) plans to explain when people inevitably asked what was next for me. When Prof. Terukina mentioned the English Opens Doors Program in Chile to me, I jumped on the opportunity. I loved the six months teaching English in Chile and the family I lived with, yet, when the semester ended, I knew that I wasn’t ready for a full-time job in education. Again directionless (and with loans to start paying off), I moved home.

“I found a job in respite care and then a seasonal job at a summer camp (that I loved). Through a friend, I started volunteering with the Fire Department’s emerging Community & Public Health Division in Colorado Springs, which became a full-time job. Now, I’ve spent two years there, working in a program that connects people who frequently call 9-1-1 with medical, social, and mental health services. Though my volunteer position started as data entry, I ended up writing and winning grants, analyzing program data and designing reports, and even helping to implement a new software program.

“My job’s flexibility meant that I got to do a little bit of a lot of things, but the organization’s focus on partnerships with other agencies meant that I met people across the health sector. Through conversations, conferences and my daily job responsibilities, I learned that I really enjoyed work with upstream health interventions and research-based interventions.  I wanted to develop the evaluation skills and knowledge base necessary to help similar programs. After two and a half years of discovering the joys and the frustrations of the working world, I wanted to go back to school.

“My friends, classmates and professors from William & Mary were fundamental parts of my frantic attempts to figure out where I was headed. Between Skype calls with classmates who were in programs I was interested in, and advice and recommendation letters from professors, I crammed my GRE, school research and application submission in to a two month period.

“In September, I’m off to Drexel University in Philadelphia to get my Masters of Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention. I was offered a fellowship with their Urban Health Collaborative, which works to synthesize community data and make it available to organizations and individuals who live there, so that they can improve their health and well-being. Where I go from there, I have no idea – so don’t ask – but I’m excited!

The Hispanic Studies program wishes the very best to Maisoon, Sam, and Kristin as they embark in this new chapter in their lives! We are always eager to hear your latest news! You can send us your news and updates here, or just email your former professors!

News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2017

Senior Seminar Publications on Francophone Louisiana Writers

Thirteen W&M seniors are publishing a brief biography in French to the forthcoming open-access biographical encyclopedia on important figures of francophone Louisiana. The Class of 2017 seniors in French and Francophone Studies got a chance to engage with the authors, poets, and researchers whom they were studying, thanks to a collaboration between Prof. Nathan Rabalais and the publisher Éditions Tintamarre. Based in Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, Éditions Tintamarre is the only French-language press in the U.S.

Each student in the senior seminar, FREN 450 French and Creole Louisiana, started with some online research on a prominent writer or activist. The students then completed phone or Skype interviews with their “subjects” to get extra information and fact-check.

F&FS senior Paul Naanou remarked: “I actually happened to stumble upon Amanda LaFleur, a professor who has done a lot for the preservation of Cajun French, when I was in high school just starting to learn French. It was incredible being to talk to such a wealth of knowledge and be entrusted with the responsibility of conveying her story in a succinct yet informative way.”

Katie Weed, an accounting major with a strong interest in French, interviewed renowned folklorist and poet Barry Jean Ancelet in person. Professor Emeritus at UL Lafayette where he has served as Director of the Center for Acadian and Creole Folklore and Professor of Francophone Studies and Folklore, Ancelet came to W&M’s campus in March to speak to the students in FREN 450 and to give a public talk in English on the Acadian diaspora. The event was made possible by the Dean for Educational Policy, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the Reves Center for International Studies.

Creole poet, Deborah Clifton, was interviewed by Aly Mingione to complete her biography
Creole poet, Deborah Clifton, was interviewed by Aly Mingione to complete her biography

Ms. Weed noted: “What I enjoyed most about the biography project was how our class content tied into the people we got to interview. I think that made the class material even more relevant. For example, I interviewed Barry Ancelet about his work on Cajun and Creole folk festivals during the same week when we read about his experiences, and that interview added a lot of interesting context to our senior seminar.”

Although the open access project will include important francophone Louisiana writers from as far back as the mid-19th century, students in FREN 450 focused exclusively on contemporary figures in order to engage more directly and personally with the writers.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017

Faculty-Mentored Research: Students Translate and Publish Essay by Cuban Filmmaker

The Cinema of Cuba; co-edited by Prof. Ann Marie Stock (forthcoming, summer 2017).
The Cinema of Cuba; co-edited by Prof. Ann Marie Stock (forthcoming, summer 2017).

Three Hispanic Studies majors teamed up to translate an essay by Cuban filmmaker Carlos Rodríguez.  Nathaniel Clemens (’17), Kyle McQuillan (’17) and Morgan Sehdev (’17) will have their work published in the forthcoming book, The Cinema of Cuba: Contemporary Film and the Legacy of Revolution, co-edited by Professor Ann Marie Stock.  This faculty-research project was an outgrowth of the Cuba-Culture-Curate course co-taught by Stock with Troy Davis and Jennie Davy of W&M Libraries.

These three seniors were among the 16 students who traveled to eastern Cuba during spring break 2016.  Their mission was to enhance their study of Cuban culture and cinema.  They went “on location” in the Sierra Maestra mountains and elsewhere in rural Cuba.  They traveled up winding narrow roads, high into the mountains, where they encountered their destination: the community media organization, Televisión Serrana. “We, as a class, were asked to conjure up the images that come to mind when we think of Cuba – old cars, cigars, rum, art, the Cuban flag, santería… (to name a few). But we also listed the mountains, the Sierra Maestras, once home to the Revolution, and now home to this revolutionary project of TVS,” commented Sehdev. “I felt that I was in Cuba the moment I stepped off the plane, but I felt that I was in the real Cuba, the heart of Cuba, when I laid eyes on the breathtaking and pristine Sierra Maestras. The mountains of el Oriente were filled with beautiful places, beautiful people, and beautiful projects, thanks to TVS.”

The students connected with members of the local community as well as with film students, regional leaders, and filmmakers. “Getting the opportunity to learn from people like Jorge Luis Barber, Carlos Rodriguez, and the filmmakers at TVS was one of the most impactful parts of the trip. It is so special and unique to get see the country and culture through the eyes of people that make a living documenting it. We not only made connections in Cuba, we made real friends that allowed us to truly connect with the island,” said McQuillan. “Leaving Cuba at the end of the trip was really difficult for all of us, primarily because it meant leaving Jorge Luis and Carlos, but we have all been able to keep in touch and maintain the connections we made.”  Carlos Rodríguez, a longtime collaborator with Stock and W&M Libraries, was pleased to be invited to contribute an essay to the volume, and even more enthusiastic to have his work translated into English by these three students.  “Thanks to Morgan, Kyle and Nattie, and the ongoing efforts of Ana María, our work at TVS is gaining greater visibility,” noted Rodríguez.  “This really matters to us!”

Following this Study Away experience, made possible by generous support from the Philpott-Perez Endowment, Reilly Funds, Charles Center, and Reves Center, Workshop participants shared their discoveries.  They curated an exhibit of film posters in Swem Library’s Botetourt Gallery, they created two videos capturing highlights of the experience, and they carried out an art project with local elementary students. “Sharing our research and experience back on William & Mary’s campus was one of the most meaningful parts of the study,” noted Clemens. “To learn about Cuba through film, through the lens of Cubans themselves, offers an important contribution to the conversation about the island. By bringing these artists and their work to our campus, we hope to help amplify these voices and share their authentic stories.”

The book is due out from I.B.Taurus (U.K.) in summer 2017.

News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2017

Undergraduate Conference on Modern Chinese Literature

undergradconfUndergraduate students in the Chinese program presented their research projects in “Rewriting Modern Chinese Literature: An Undergraduate Conference” on April 18, 20 & 25, 2017. During the conference, students discussed how modern and contemporary Chinese literature is written and rewritten vis-à-vis the larger sociopolitical, cultural, and theoretical context. Topics presented in the conference included trauma and narrative, identity crisis and history’s intervention, selfhood in nation-building, fatalistic and futuristic writings, the insane and the invisible, écriture féminine and Chinese feminism, women and technology, as well as the tropes from new woman to leftover woman. They discussed tanci play, poetry, short stories, science fiction and popular song lyrics from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan since the late 19th century to the 21st century. Writers examined in the research presentations included Qiu Jin, Liang Qichao, Lu Xun, Yu Dafu, Lao She, Mao Dun, Wen Yidou, Ding Ling, Xiao Hong, Eileen Chang, Mo Yan, Can Xue, Liu Heng, Wong Bik-wan, Xi Xi, Dung Kai-chung, Wu Zuoliu, Pai Hsien-Yung, Chu T’ien-wen, Li Ang, Hsia Yu/Li Gedi, Hao Jingfang, etc.

Among the research presentations, Honor Leahy, a Chinese Studies senior, discussed the effects of technology and modernization in the female poet Hsia Yu and in her popular song writer persona Li Gedi’s creations. Honor argued that the author both condemns and submits to modernization. However, Honor also explored whether technology could destroy creativity while at the same time generating a new approach to artistic creation, and whether the author’s gender affects her attitudes towards modernization and technology. When discussing the Chinese avant-garde writer Can Xue’s surrealistic short story “Hut on the Mountain,” Chinese senior Mauricio Armaza drew on Freudian psychoanalysis and suggested that we could read the uncanny relationship between the I-narrator and the mother as an Electra complex. The rich symbolism in the fictional narrative could be read as the manifest content of Freudian dream while the chaotic history of Maoist China could be interpreted as the latent content. Chinese Studies junior Zach Rubin discussed the transition from tradition to modernity in the turn of twentieth century when the modern nation-state Republic of China replaced the Manchu Qing dynasty in Lao She’s “An Old and Established Name.” Zach suggested that Lao She, a Manchu writer who supported modernization, casts a nostalgic gaze on the good old days but is fully aware of the irresistible and inevitable trend of modernization. Ellie Currie, a Chinese Studies sophomore, suggested that the trope of “leftover woman,” despite being a contemporary coinage, could become the inspiration for new woman; the female protagonists’ isolation is indeed a form of empowerment in Eileen Chang’s “Sealed Off” in 1940s Shanghai and Xi Xi’s “A Woman Like Me” in 1990s Hong Kong.

By engaging with critical theories such as feminist theory, gender studies, postcolonial studies, Holocaust studies and psychoanalysis, the conference indicates an interdisciplinary understanding of modern and contemporary Chinese literature across national borders.

The undergraduate conference was organized by Chun-yu Lu, Visiting Assistant Professor in Chinese Studies.


News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2017 More

Prof. Calvin Hui Gave Keynote at Stanford U

Mannning Cat ClearProfessor Calvin Hui, Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies, gave a keynote speech at the Modern Chinese Humanities Conference at Stanford University on April 15, 2017. This conference is jointly organized by the faculty and the graduate students at UC Berkeley and Stanford University. In his keynote address entitled “Copycat China,” Professor Hui introduced his first and second book projects on Chinese consumer cultures and presented the current cutting-edge research being done on Chinese copycat cultures. More importantly, he discussed his work on architectural mimicry in contemporary China and explained how his work contributes to, and intervenes in, existing debates in Chinese cultural studies, and the theories of post-colonialism, globalization, and trans-nationalism. His keynote address was very well-received.

In addition, Professor Hui gave an invited talk entitled “Fake Globalization, Counterfeit China” at the University of Richmond in Virginia in early April 2017. He delivered another invited talk “Copycat Architecture in China” at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China in December 2016. During the past half year, he has also given presentations at the Georgia State University in Atlanta (March 2017), the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Chicago (March 2017), and the HKBU Young Scholars Conference on China Studies in Hong Kong, China (December 2016). His next presentation will be in the Cultural Studies Association conference in Washington D.C. in May 2017. In this conference, he is also the organizer of the panel entitled “Interface: The Cultural Politics of U.S.-China trans-nationalism,” which tries to bring together current researches in Chinese literary and cultural studies, Chinese diaspora studies and ethnic studies, and (new) media studies into conversations.
News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017

Celebrating the Hispanic Studies Community

A warm April afternoon and an inviting room at the Cohen Career Center ornamented by faculty and students were the perfect scenario for an eagerly anticipated celebration of the community forged by Hispanic Studies students, faculty, alums, and enthusiasts. The intellectual and affective community that the Hispanic Studies program at large nurtures every day was able to share some time, food, good conversation, and laughs as students talked about their experiences in our program, met other students, and even mapped future trajectories! Faculty were able to reconnect with former students, and meet future students; W&M alums such as Allison Corbett (’09), currently working on an oral history project called The Language of Justice/El lenguaje de la justicia, were able to share their thoughts and their excitement about HISP; and Sean Schofield, Assistant Director at the Cohen Career Center, joined us to share his insights and to remind everyone that the kind of intercultural communication and competency in which HISP students are trained are key skills for every global citizen in today’s world.

Thanks to the effort of Profs. John Riofrio, Paulina Carrión, Christina Baker, Mariana Melo-Vega, and Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra, over sixty people had the opportunity to celebrate being part of our Hispanic Studies community, and to take turns trying to hit a most elusive piñata!

Faculty Awards News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2017

Prof. Calvin Hui won two more external fellowships!

Calvin HuiPlease join us in congratulating Professor Calvin Hui, Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies, for winning the prestigious Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Scholarly Exchange Junior Scholar Grant in 2016. He will use his fellowship year to work on his book project entitled “Fashion, Media, and Chinese Consumer Culture.”

In addition, Professor Hui was awarded the 2016-17 China Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship provided by University of Alberta, Canada. He declined the post-doctoral fellowship in order to keep working with the Chinese majors at W&M.

News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2017 More

Hollywood Made in China

The Chinese Program presented the talk entitled “Hollywood Made in China” on April 20, 2017 (Thursday). The speaker is Aynne Kokas, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. W&M students and faculty learned about how Kung Fu Panda 3, Iron Man 3, and Transformer 4 revealed the culture and politics of U.S.-China transnationalism in the 21st century.


According to Kokas, the Chinese market is poised to become the largest theatrical box office in the world within the next two years. But China currently allows only 34 films from around the world to be imported per year (with distribution revenue sharing privileges). In order to circumvent China’s film import quota and access the world’s largest potential film market, Hollywood studios have begun engaging in a range of collaborative ventures to access audiences in the middle kingdom. In February 2016, Shanghai-based US-China joint venture Oriental DreamWorks released Kung Fu Panda 3, which dominated the global box office that month. Disney opened its first theme park in China – a USD 5.5 billion investment – merely four months later. From film co-productions, to animation studios, to theme parks, American media conglomerates are working ever more closely with Chinese firms and Chinese regulators in exchange for access to audiences. Local Chinese filmmakers increasingly create media with an eye toward the international market in order to compete with Hollywood-China collaborations globally. Cash-rich Chinese conglomerates like the Dalian Wanda Group have begun taking major stakes in foreign studios, spurring US government efforts to regulate foreign direct investment in Hollywood. This talk demonstrated how the growth of China’s media market is transforming Hollywood from the inside out.

Aynne Kokas is an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. Kokas’ work focuses on the intersections between Chinese and US media and technology industries.  Her book Hollywood Made in China was published in February 2017 with the University of California Press. Hollywood Made in China examines the cultural, political and economic implications of US media investment in China as it becomes the world’s largest film market.

This event was organized by Professors Calvin Hui and Chun-yu Lu from the Chinese Program.

Talk 1 Talk 2 Talk 3 Talk 4 Talk 5 Talk 6

Faculty Awards News News: Russian Studies Plumeri Spring 2017

Plumeri Award for 2017: Elena Prokhorova

PROKHOROVA, Elena Department:Modern Languages and Literatures Title: Associate Professor - Russian Studies/RPSS Director
Prokhorova, Elena, Associate Professor, Russian Studies; RPSS Director

Elena Prokhorova displays a dedication to her students and the university that has earned her the respect and recognition of both her colleagues and the student body. Since becoming a member of the William & Mary faculty in 2003, she has taken on a multitude of leadership positions, including director of the Russian and Post-Soviet Studies program. She also serves on advisory committees for the Film and Media Studies and Global Studies programs. Her publications include one co-authored book, 19 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and 25 reviews of books, films and television series. Prokhorova’s deeply interdisciplinary approach to the study of media and identity prepares students for intellectual and ethical life in the 21st century and keeps the Russian Studies program relevant in the contemporary world. She consistently shows interest in her students’ research, epitomized by her development of the Senior Research Seminar, which she designed for the Russian and Post-Soviet Studies program. These accomplishments, when combined with her research and teaching, have earned her several honors and awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and an Alumni Fellowship Award. She holds a doctorate in Slavic languages and literatures from the University of Pittsburgh.

For the full press release, click here.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

(Re)EnActments of Belonging: Prof. Baker Presents on “Mexicanidad” in Cabaret and Film

As part of the Bellini Colloquium series for spring 2017, Prof. Christina Baker shared her research with colleagues and students.  On April 20, Prof. Baker presented a talk entitled “(Re)EnActments of Belonging: Performances of Mexicanidad in Cabaret and Film.”

"Nosotros los pobres" (1948), featuring Pedro Infante
“Nosotros los pobres” (1948), featuring Pedro Infante

Prof. Baker’s presentation focused on how the Mexican contemporary cabaret group, Las Reinas Chulas, uses performative means to critique definitions of mexicanidad (or, Mexicanness) proliferated by Mexico’s Golden Age Cinema (1930-1960) and its on-screen idols. Prof. Baker explored how a particular piece re-enacts one of Mexico’s most successful films of all time, Nosotros los pobres (1948), and its lead actor, Pedro Infante (Think Clark Gable and Gone With the Wind). The piece she analyzed was Nosotras las proles, which she saw performed live in 2013 by the cabaret group. The piece, as indicative by the title, is a play on words, but also a critique of articulations of Mexicanness, belonging and state policies. In the piece, by absenting Pedro Infante from his quintessential role, coupled with his melodramatic confession of homosexuality, Prof. Baker engaged with queer studies to propose this piece drags and reorients masculinity, heterosexuality, and the family unit.  Prof. Baker’s engaging talk generated a lively discussion.

Las reinas chulas performing "Nosotras las proles" in 2013.
Las reinas chulas performing “Nosotras las proles” in 2013.


The Bellini Colloquium is a lecture series sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. It is named after the first Professor of Modern Languages at the College, Carlo Bellini, a native of Florence, Italy and close friend of Thomas Jefferson. Bellini taught French and Italian from 1779 until 1803, and holds the distinction of being the only Professor to stay in residence at the College when classes were suspended for two years during the Revolutionary War.


News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017

Katie Freund (HISP ’17) awarded Fulbright ETA Scholarship

Katie Freund ('17). Courtesy of W&M Peer Scholarship Advisors
Katie Freund (’17). Courtesy of W&M Peer Scholarship Advisors

Katie Freund, a HISP and Econ double major, has recently been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach in Mexico next year. After a successful semester abroad in Chile, and hoping to foster intercultural understanding and communication, Katie decided to apply for a Fulbright scholarship that would give her the opportunity to live and teach in Mexico.  You can read an extensive interview on her thoughts about the application process and her advice to future applicants at the website of the Charles Center’s Peer Scholarship Advisors.  Katie is one of the twelve W&M students to have been awarded a much coveted Fulbright Scholarship this year.

This year, Katie has been working on her Honors Thesis under the mentorship of Prof. Cate-Arries.  She presented parts of her project as “Creative Interventions in Latin America: Economic and Social Projects that Work” at the Charles Center’s Eighteenth Annual Honors Colloquium, last February.  More recently, she presented a paper at a professional conference, sharing a panel with Prof. Baker and Rachel Merriman-Goldring (’17) at the conference of the Mid-Atlantic Council for Latin American Studies (MACLAS).

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2017 More

A New Monograph on Osaka, and a New Translation of Tanizaki’s “The Maids”

Spring semester saw the publication of two new books by Michael Cronin, Associate Professor of Japanese Studies. Osaka Modern, published in February by Harvard East Asian, is a monograph on the city of Osaka as imagined in literature, film, and popular culture of the transwar period, from the 1920s to the 1960s. Japan’s “merchant capital” in the late sixteenth century, Osaka remained an industrial center—the “Manchester of the East”—into the 1930s, developing a distinct urban culture to rival Tokyo’s. It therefore represents a critical site of East Asian modernity. Cronin explores Osaka’s spaces, its dialect, its food, humor, and more, using the city as a lens to examine issues of everyday life, coloniality, masculinity, and more.

The Maids, published in April by New Directions, is a translation of the final novel written by Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, a giant of Japanese and world literature. Originally published in 1963 and set partly in Osaka, the novel depicts the pampered and elegant household of a famous author, Chikura Raikichi, and his wife, Sanko, between the years 1936 to 1963—viewed through the eyes of the maids who serve the family. The figure of Raikichi offers an ironic, nostalgic self-portrait of the aging sensualist Tanizaki.

Prof. Cronin's monograph "Osaka Modern" (2017)
Prof. Cronin’s monograph “Osaka Modern” (2017)

Tanizaki's 1963 "The Maids"
Tanizaki’s 1963 “The Maids”

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

Inclusion and the University: A COLL 300 (“Unrest”) Presentation with Freedom University

On April 12, Executive Director of Freedom University, Laura Emiko Soltis, and three undocumented student leaders, shared with a packed Commonwealth Auditorium the experiences and insights from their bold experiment: to empower undocumented youth and fulfill their human right to education. Inspired by the legacy of the Southern Freedom School tradition, Freedom University provides tuition-free classes, college application and scholarship assistance, and social movement leadership training for undocumented students banned from public higher education in Georgia.

The full presentation is available on video.

COLL 300 campus visitors bring the world to W&M. They aspire to stimulate a fruitful experience of disorientation that allows students to see their own lives in broader perspective.

Spring 2017 Campus COLL300 Theme “Unrest:” At an institution dedicated to inquiry and examination, the intellectual waters are always in a state of unrest. Unrest, in a scientific sense, can imply loss of equilibrium. Unrest can be one feature of a psychological state leading to questioning or creativity; of a social state leading to criticism or conflict. Unrest can be a stimulus or a crisis, a challenge or a moment.

The Event was sponsored by the Center for the Liberal Arts, Dean’s Office, Arts & Sciences, American Studies Program, Hispanic Studies Program, Latin American Studies Program, Department of Sociology, Latin American Student Union.

News News: German Studies Spring 2017

Winter Break in Germany – Afua Asenso

This past winter break, I had the opportunity to go to Göttingen, Germany, after proposing a research project revolving around the African and African American or multicultural experiences of college or high school students. Alongside my research, I posted daily on my blog. Professor Jenny Taylor and Professor Anne Hudley sponsored and supported my trip. During my time in Göttingen I studied at the Goethe Institut, where I participated in a 2-week intensive language course to help build upon my German. The teacher was excellent and I highly recommAfuaAfuenso_Gottingenend the Goethe Institut programs abroad. The accommodation there was very nice as well; it included apartment style living. The Institut also offered weekly excursions and local event trips. I went on an excursion to Efurt, a nearby town. I also visited the University of Göttingen Ethnology Museum. My favorite part of being in Göttingen was going out around the city center with my classmates. Overall, my German has definitely improved and I love and miss Göttingen. Currently, I am planning on taking a Human IRB class which will allow me to continue my research and conduct recorded interviews. I hope to return to Germany soon to collect more data for my project!

News News: French & Francophone Studies News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

Man-Made Women: A Film Series

During 2016-17, the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, and the W&M community at large, enjoyed an informal and lively film series on the representation of women in film.  The film series, aptly titled Mad-Made Women, was a unique opportunity to engage in discussions of gender, psychoanalysis, sci-fi, etc., and watch a variety of movies.  During Fall 2016, the series included movies such as Ernst Lubitsch’s Die Puppe [The Doll] (1919), Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), Bryan Forbes’ The Stepford Wives (1975), and Blade Runner (1982).  This Spring 2017, discussion followed the viewing of films that included George Cuckor’s My Fair Lady (1964), Hirokazu Koreeda’s Air Doll (2009), Almodóvar’s La piel que habito [The Skin I Live In] (2011), Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2015), among others.

The film series was co-organized by Prof. Julie Hugonny (French & Francophone Studies) & Prof. Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra (Hispanic Studies).