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2010-2011 Awards & Scholarships

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures is proud to announce the 2010-2011 graduating student awards and scholarships:

Dr. J. Richard Guthrie Scholarship in German Studies

  • Anna S. Kim
  • Judson R. Peverall
  • Kai I. Simenson
  • Elaine M. Vega

Elsa S. Diduk Scholarship in German Studies

  • Judson R. Peverall

Dobro Slovo Scholarship in Russian Studies

  • William Sinnott

Finn Prize for Excellence in Chinese Language Studies

  • Benjamin J. Gullickson

Finn Prize for Excellent Leadership in Chinese Studies

  • Anushya Ramaswamy

Howard M. Fraser Award in Hispanic Studies

  • K. Anne Foster

J. Banner Worth Award in Hispanic Studies for 2010-2011

  • Brittany L. Fulton (2010)

McCormack-Reboussin Scholarship in French & Francophone Studies

  • Phillippe L. B. Halbert- 2010-11
  • Bridget Marie Carr 2011-12

Pierre Oustinoff Memorial Prize in French & Francophone Studies

  • Ingrid L. Heiberg

R. Merritt Cox Fellowship in Hispanic Studies

  • Casey A. Lesser

St. Onge Prize in French & Francophone Studies

  • Michael A. Smith

Phi Beta Kappa

  • Eve P. Grice (French)
  • Ingrid L. Heiberg (French)
  • Ashley M. Hoover (French)
  • Edward Innace (Chinese)
  • Michael A. Smith (French)
  • Brittany Lynn Fulton
  • Emil Ann Vanderhoff

Highest Honors

  • Eve Grice (French & Francophone Studies)
  • Casey Lesser (Hispanic Studies)
  • Michael Ambrose Crawford Smith (French & Francophone Studies)

High Honors

  • Philippe Halbert (French & Francophone Studies)
News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011 More

Eleonora Figliuoli Wins Juan Espadas Award

We were on our way to Pittsburgh. When we passed gallant windmills similar to those described in Cervantes’ Quijote, I feared we might be lost. But, it wasn’t until we read the sign that said “Welcome to Ohio,” that I became certain we were indeed lost. That’s always been a staple in my life: getting lost in new and (hopefully) exciting places. On a good day, I used to call this type of event an adventure. On a bad day, I might have regarded it more as a nightmare. Well, I believe that almost every day is a good day if you look at it in just the right light, so here’s to adventure.

It was late March and I felt excited—a brand new adventure had just begun. I was taking my learning outside of the classroom. Throughout my entire college career as a Hispanic Studies Major at The College of William & Mary, I’d jumped at the chance to learn about the cultures and literatures of Spanish-speaking countries as well as their histories. Now, I was traveling to the University of Pittsburgh to present a paper at a conference with some colleagues and Professor Regina Root, whose Fashioning the Nation class I had taken the previous semester.

I had attended Professor Root’s book discussion and signing for ‘Couture and Consensus’ the week prior to the Pittsburgh trip, during Spring Break, at the Library of Congress, since I felt inspired to learn more about post-colonial Argentina’s cultural history after reading her book for the class Fashioning the Nation. Also at the Library of Congress, I met several experts in the field of Hispanic Cultural Studies who have in due course become mentors to me. I spent six weeks of the summer helping the Hispanic Division organize and locate rare and reference books that were a part of the Jay I. Kislak Collection, a special gift given by Mr. Kislak of over 4,000 books, artifacts, and maps that dealt primarily with pre Columbian art, but which covered closely related topics as well.

We finally did make it to the conference, albeit somewhat late (We actually made it to Ohio first!) There, I presented my paper, written for Professor Root’s class—Martín Fierro: La encrucijada del dolor y la política, for which I won the Juan Espadas Prize for best undergraduate paper written and presented at the 2011 Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Scholars.  I have submitted it for publishing in the MACLAS journal. It was not the prize I won, though, that convinced me I was right for this field of study. Nor entirely that others might be interested in reading my work. It was my discovery that research was an adventure in more ways than one, and precisely that sense of adventure made me eager further to pursue my research interests.

In fact, I am confident that I will continue my work in Hispanic Studies, as I have already begun my honors project to be completed next semester, which I intend to present at MACLAS 2012.  In it, I am conducting an ecocritical and socio-political study of the 20th century poetry of Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo, and definitely can see myself studying 20th century Latin American literature from a similar perspective in graduate school, where I hope several professors might have an interest in working with me to further research of this type.

I won’t always have the right answer, I may not be able to always comprehend numbers, I may mistake left from right sometimes, and I may end up in Ohio while heading for Pittsburgh, but as long as I keep that sense of adventure, I’m not lost.

(left to right): Barbara Tennebaum (Library of Congress), Edith Couturier (National Endowment for the Humanities), Sofía Herrera, Eleonora Figliuoli, Professor Regina Root


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Mike Blum receives 2011 Duke Award

by Erin Zagursky | April 19, 2011

When Mike Blum received a phone call from William & Mary President Taylor Reveley telling him that he had won this year’s Duke Award, the academic technologist suspected that his friends were playing a trick on him. When he next got a call from the president’s assistant and then another from a development officer, he knew it was no joke.

“It’s really wonderful, but it’s also incredibly humbling and I don’t feel like I can be given a particular award for my dedication to the College, because they make dedication incredibly easy,” Blum said.

The Charles and Virginia Duke Award, established in 1997, is presented each year to a staff member for his or her outstanding service and dedication to the College. Awardees receive $5,000 with the award as well as recognition during the College’s annual Commencement ceremony.

“Mike Blum’s strong desire to make William & Mary better and his excellent work to do just that are inspiring. We’re fortunate to have him at the College,” said Reveley.

Blum began working at William & Mary in 2001, about one month before Sept. 11.

“That was one of the first sort of important tasks I had was to get the TV to work so we could watch the horrible events (of that day),” he said.

Blum started at the College as a technology liaison, meaning, “basically if power came out of the wall and made this thing work, I was responsible for it for faculty members,” he said.

He would fix printers, show faculty members how to use word processors and give advice on how they could incorporate technology into their curriculums.

Throughout the last decade, he has helped members of the campus community integrate tablet PCs, Wiki pages, websites and even Google maps into their classes. Blum has become known as the go-to person for anyone with questions about Blackboard.

“I’m not an advocate for technology. I’m an advocate for academics,” he said, adding that, if technology is the best way for faculty members to accomplish their goals, he wants them to be able to use it.

Blum, who earned a master’s degree in English at the College and whose son now attends William & Mary, noted that the school is unique in that its undergraduates get to work directly with faculty.

“Anything that I can do to help that and facilitate students’ collaboration with the faculty members, that is really my absolute goal, so that’s why it’s not very hard to be dedicated,” he said.

Blum said he works with faculty members and students with a wide range of technological understanding.

“I think it’s important for someone who is doing the sort of work that I do to be in touch with both of those groups as well as to understand, from an IT perspective, what is coming down the pike,” he said. “It’s a multi-faceted job.”

Though he never knows what challenges the day is going to bring him, Blum said that’s what makes his job so enjoyable.

“It’s never the same every day. It’s never the same every week, and it changes over the years,” he said.

Blum said his time at William & Mary has been “an absolutely wonderful experience.”

“For the past 10 years, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity and a more fulfilling job for my personality because I get to work in academia, but I also get to help faculty members use technology that’s going to help them in their research, that’s going to help them in their teaching.”

Although he still finds it hard to believe that he is this year’s Duke Award winner, Blum said that receiving the honor “says just as much about the people who put me up for the award as it does about anything that I do for them.”

“It’s a very humbling experience, not only knowing that they value what I do, but when you take a look at the other people who have won this in the past, it’s just, I feel very privileged,” he said.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011 More Uncategorized

Bellini Colloquium with Jorge Terukina

Cortés Map of Mexico, Ayer 655.51.C8, Newberry Library
Cortés Map of Mexico, Ayer 655.51.C8, Newberry Library

“Creoles, Peninsular Newcomers, and Aristotelian ‘Economic Thought’ in Balbuena’s Mexican Grandeur (1604): a Transatlantic and Pre-Disciplinary Inquiry”

Jorge Terukina, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies
Wednesday, March 23, 4:00pm.
Washington Hall 315

Bernardo de Balbuena (Valdepeñas, Spain, c.1563 – San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1627)’s long poem praising Mexico City, published in 1604, has usually been read as a descriptive and referential poem written by an ambitious Creole cleric and intellectual. Unsurprisingly, this reading has lead to retrospective appropriations that place it in the national pantheon of cultural goods that give historical density and legitimacy to the present-day Mexican nation. In regards to economics, Mexican Grandeur has been made to mimetically attest to the transatlantic and transpacific trade implemented by the Spanish empire and, hence, to the ‘central’ and privileged geographical location of Mexico City in such capitalist and mercantile network. Against this commonly-held, referential interpretation, this presentation provides a different, discursive contextualization by highlighting the transatlantic circulation of fields of knowledge, and Balbuena’s appropriation of, and departures from the canonical Aristotelian ‘economic thought’ taught at early modern Spanish universities. This transatlantic and pre-disciplinary approach provides an ‘economic’ discursive formation within which Mexican Grandeur’s references to trade, professional labor and money bespeak Balbuena’s positioning as a Peninsular newcomer rather than a Creole or pro-Creole intellectual, of his exaltation of Mexico City as a colony subordinated to the glorious Spanish empire rather than a privileged ‘center’ of ‘global’ trade, and of his professional anxieties as a writer who seeks social and economic compensations in exchange for his representational labor.


Take an active role in your child’s use of the iphone text tracker computer.
News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2011 More

Chinese film digs out of poverty

In the middle of the night, when the police are avoiding unpaved roads, a group of miners transports petrified wood to Shanghai and Beijing. For a group of Uighur miners, this transport of petrified wood is their first stepping stone out of poverty: one piece may earn them over half a million Chinese yuan.

On Tuesday night, the Asian Studies Initiative hosted an on-campus screening of “Deserted Diggers,” a documentary by Chinese independent filmmaker Joy Le Li, as part of the Silk Road events to promote the new major, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Rachel DiNitto, associate professor of Japanese and co-director of the grant-funded Asian Studies Initiative, helped to arrange the screening of the film. The Silk Road events promote Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, which combines East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. The Education Policy Committee approved the new major in fall 2010 and hope to offer the program to students by fall 2011.

“As part of the grant and our interest in kicking off the new major, we’ve set up a whole series of events for this semester,” DiNitto said.

The documentary tracks the lives of a group of Uighur miners in the world’s second largest petrified wood forest of the Junggar Basin near Xinjiang, China. The ongoing conflict between the majority group, the Han Chinese, and the Muslim minority group, the Uighurs, creates disparity in the town of Xinjiang. In order for many Uighurs to provide for their families, the men must mine petrified wood. However, in doing so, the miners risk their lives and safety.

In 2011, the Chinese government outlawed the excavation of petrified wood. Only one company, a Han Chinese company called the Yema Group, was able to obtain the rights to mine the fossilized wood. In order for Uighurs to continue to mine, they had to either mine illegally or share some of their profits with the Yema Group.

DiNitto presented the film to spread awareness of the social issues with the Uighurs. Although Li was unable to attend the screening, DiNitto and Li arranged a live Skype session following the screening for the audience to discuss the film. For the students in attendance, the film offered a rare glimpse into the lives of Uighur miners in China.

“Through watching this specific group of miners, you learn more about the Uighur issue as a whole,” Claire Dranginis ’11 said. “I had heard of the Uighurs before, but I never really knew of them in detail and was curious about the issue.”

In the Skype session, Li recounted the struggle to understand the Uighur minority. Since the Uighurs are often discriminated against in China, Li had to rebel against the Han Chinese negative perception of the minority.

“Some Han Chinese think that Uighur people are backwards and have bad tempers,” Li said. “The groups coexist, but they don’t really intermingle.”

Stephen Hurley ’12 attended the screening after studying abroad in Beijing last semester.

“What Joy said about the Chinese people’s perspective on the Uighurs was, in my experience, right on the dot,” Hurley said. “Some of the teachers in the program gave off the feeling that the Uighurs are us, but they’re not really us.”

The disconnection between the groups was most evident through the story of Jengis, a Uighur miner. Due to his extreme poverty, his wife had left him. Mining petrified wood was his only chance to overcome his situation. He described the daily trials of being a part of the minority and trying to mine petrified wood.

“It’s really hard to dig. We do it. We have no choice,” Jengis said.

Jengis and the other miners shared their personal struggles and opinions on their conditions in the documentary. The eclectic mix of personalities illuminated the life behind the conflict of the Uighurs and Han Chinese. When she arrived in China after studying at Columbia University in New York, Li happened upon the group by chance.

“The way I met this group of Uighurs was really pure luck. I was lost in the desert and I ran into them,” Li said. “They helped me get out of the desert, and I was so fascinated by them. I decided I would go back and make this film.”

The chance encounter in the desert led to the production of a documentary. Li filmed the group over a two-year period and focused on the miners’ lives with their families and their daily struggles in the mines.

The road to the final product was not smooth, as Li often faced police interrogations. Even today, the film has not been shown in China for fear of punitive measures being taken by the government. Still, Li hopes that the film will help other people understand the struggles of the Uighurs.

“I want to let people understand Uighurs better,” Li said. “They have love, they are funny, and they are just like everyone else.”

Dort standen uns eugen detzel und bernd eiberger rede und antwort.
Spring 2011 More

Faculty Profile: John “Rio” Riofrio (Hispanic Studies)

John “Rio” Riofrio is a faculty member in Hispanic Studies. His interest in Latino and Latin American Studies influence much of his research and his courses. In this video profile, Rio discusses his class on Mexico, his research for an upcoming book, and what he likes about teaching at William & Mary. In the video, he also briefly mentions his work on a recent conference, the National Colloquium on Minority Studies. Click here to watch his discussion of that colloquium in more detail.


Any research process is a creative process.
News: Russian Studies Photo Album Spring 2011 More

Russian Maslenitsa 2011

Maslenitsa is a great time for the Russian Department to come together and enjoy each other’s company. In Russia, Maslenitsa is a celebration of the sun. In the Russian House, it’s a celebration of friendship and the spring semester. Every year enormous amounts of Russian food is prepared including blini, crab salad, and buterbrod. Both students and professors come to the Russian House to celebrate, play games, and, of course, feast on food.

This year, in addition to great food, we played an hilarious game of Jeopardy in which the categories were: “Russian Phrases”, “Russian Myths”, “Famous Russians”, and “Know Your Professors Pt. 1 and Pt. 2”. The winning group received prizes (Russian candy)! And at the end of the night everyone left with a full stomach and a lighter heart.

Taking the time to implement these steps can go a long way to helping a child stay on track and enjoy the infinite possibilities that technology provides how to hack into a cell phone 21st century youth.
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Conference: Post-Soviet Television: Global Formats and Russian Power

The international symposium “Post-Soviet Television: Global Formats and Russian Power” aims to offer a survey and a critical, reflective assessment of new approaches to the study of television in post-Soviet Russia. During the 1990s Russian television experimented with the new formats and modes of production (private, public, foundation-sponsored, joint-stock company). By the beginning of the new millennium this pluralistic model of television culture was replaced with a more traditional authoritarian one. The influx of global television formats and genres (sitcom, dramedy, soap opera, game and talk show, reality TV) coincided with the increasing return of the government control over television programming. This trend culminated during Putin’s presidency when the government took over the three national television channels: First, Russia, and NTV. Using new approaches and research findings, the symposium participants will examine the role of Russian television in post-Soviet political and media culture, the dialogue between the old Soviet-era and globally mediated formats that coexist on Russian television today. The participants include distinguished international scholars: Christine Evans (U. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Helena Goscilo (Ohio State U.), Yana Hashamova (Ohio State U.), Steven Hutchings (U. of Manchester), Lilya Kaganovsky (U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Mark Leiderman (U. of Colorado, Boulder/Ural State Pedagogical University, Ekaterinburg), Tatiana Mikhailova (U. of Colorado, Boulder).
The symposium will also serve as a forum for undergraduate research at William & Mary. Students from the senior seminar “Russian Television Culture after Communism” will present their research at the undergraduate research panel at the symposium.
Apart from the scholarly component the symposium includes three public events: a public lecture by the keynote speaker Professor Hutchings (U. of Manchester) and two screenings. See the symposium schedule.

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