News News: Russian Studies Spring 2011

Russian television provides opportunities for learning and collaborative research

Watching too much television is bad for you. That is, unless you’re a student in Elena Prokhorova’s Senior Research Seminar class. In Prof. Prokhorova’s class, they’re studying the cultural significance of television programs like the Russian version of Fran Drescher’s sitcom “The Nanny”, but this is no mere classroom exercise. The course is designed around an end-of-semester scholarly symposium the students are organizing. Jacob Lassin (’12), a student in the class, has been working hard on organizing the conference, including designing the conference t-shirt. Jacob is in the group working on the conference paper focusing on the Russian Nanny, and he says their paper will be “about adapting gender roles from an American sitcom to a Russian sitcom, and how gender roles are portrayed.” Watch Jacob’s interview, with a discussion of the paper, below:


The symposium, which will take place on April 7-9, will host many prominent scholars in the field of Russian Cultural Studies from around the world. Will Sinnott, W&M class of 2011, another Russian student involved in the symposium, describes how the experience of working on the symposium has broken some of the boundaries between faculty and students and has led to real collaboration and research opportunities. Watch an excerpt from Will’s interview here:


Prohorova emphasizes that “the students are involved in the most immediate way: they will present their papers, they are participating in all other panels, so they will be exposed to actual research that is happening in the field, and they are also involved in organizing this whole event.”


The synergy of coursework and real research, along with the opportunity to meet and interact with scholars in the profession, makes this a unique opportunity for the students in the Russian program, and the skills they are learning in organizing the symposium are remarkable. This emerging model of collaboration between our faculty members and students to produce real research and real-world forums in which to present that research is one of the most exciting new developments at the College and Professor Prokhorova is hoping to be able to continue hosting such symposia in future years.

The symposium will take place from Thursday April 7 through Saturday, April 9, 2011. Many of the symposium’s events, such as film and television episode screenings (some subtitled by our own students), will be open to the public. For more information, a list of participants and a schedule of events can be found on the symposium website: All the featured films and television programs will be available at Swem Library at the end of the symposium.

Professor Prokhorova would like to thank the Reves Center for International Studies, the Charles Center, Global Studies, Film Studies and the Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences for their generous support.

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News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2011

2000 attend the 2011 Tournées French & Francophone Film Festival

The 2011 Tournées French & Francophone Film Festival was attended by about 2000 people this year.

The 5th French & Francophone Film Festival took place from January 28th to February 25th at the Kimball Theater in Williamsburg.  Organized by prof. Magali Compan (MLL. French & Francophone) , the French & Francophone Film Festival was made possible this year again thanks to the funding of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies, Literary and Cultural Studies program, Film Studies program, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture (CNC). Each film was free to the public.

This year films featured came from France, Belgium and Burkina Faso.  Each Friday night, for 5 weeks, we presented a different film. Two movies were presented during the weekend of the Global film festival (February 17-20).

The festival opened with a wine-and-cheese reception on Friday, 28th. The first movie featured was “Séraphine” a 2008 French-Belgian movie about Séraphine Louis (1864-1942), a French painter in the naïve style.  The movie reeceived the 2009 César for best film, while actress Yolande Moreau received the César for best actress that year. The movie was introduced by Prof. Catherine Levesque ( Dept. of Art and Art History).

On February 4th, we featured Le Silence de Lorna/Lorna’s silence by the critically acclaimed Dardenne’s brother. This 2008 social drama takes place in Charleroi, a declining industrial Belgian city and focuses on Lorna, a young woman who migrated to Belgium from Albania. The movie was presented by Prof. Gul Ozyegin (Dept. of Sociology).

On February 11th, Welcome (France, 2009), a movie featuring Vincent Lindon, was presented. Welcome takes place in Calais, Europe’s main gateway to Great Britain, were hundreds of illegal immigrants are trying to find an opportunity to cross. It documents the friendship between Simon Calmat (Lindon), a 40 years old swim coach, and a young Kurdish immigrant from Irak, Bilal. The movie was presented by Prof. Nicolas Medevielle (Dept. of MLL/ French & Francophone).

The next weekend, two movies were shown and included in the Global film festival’s program.

The landmark environmental film Home (France 2009) by world renowned areal photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and narrated by Glenn Close ’74 was presented on February 18th. Prof. Maryse Fauvel (dept. of MLL/ French & Francophone Studies) . After her intervention, director Yann Arthus-Bertrand made a few comments about his movie via skype!

The next morning, “Panique au village/ A town called Panic” (Belgium 2009), an animation film by Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar, was presented.

This years’ edition came to a close on February 25th with Reves de poussiere (2006 France, Burkina Faso), a meditative movie that presents the dismal conditions of gold miners in Burkina Faso. The movie was presented by prof. Neil Norman (dept of anthropology).

We are already working on the 2012 French and Francophone Film Festival’s edition. Next year we will no longer have the support of the French embassy, as we did in the last 5 years, but we are confident the festival is here to stay!

News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2011

W&M Chinese faculty to host teaching workshop

The phenomenal rise of interest in Chinese language study is making a significant mark in the transformation of the K-12 curriculum. As college programs across the country continue to expand, elementary and secondary institutions are also hiring more teachers and building new curricula to accommodate demand for Chinese from schoolchildren and their parents. Increasingly important are partnerships between language pedagogy experts at the university level and K-12 teachers that facilitate the exchange of new ideas, methods and practices.

On April 16, 2011, William & Mary will host the annual Spring workshop of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (CLTA-VA). This workshop will bring together language teachers from Virginia schools of all levels, from kindergarten and through university.

CLTA-VA was founded in 2008 by a consortium of professors and educators in Chinese language. Since then, it has hosted workshops at the University of Virginia and George Mason University designed to help Chinese teachers of all levels improve their teaching and learn the latest techniques in this growing field. CLTA-VA is also affiliated with the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) and contributes to, to FLAVA’s yearly workshop on foreign language pedagogy. This year, W&M is the host of the CLTA-VA workshop, and the theme is incorporating technology in the classroom. Professor Yanfang Tang and Chinese instructors Qian Su and Liping Liu are all board members or officers of CLTA-VA. This year, they are in charge of bringing the workshop to William & Mary. They expect between 50-70 teachers and instructors from all over Virginia will attend to share ideas, listen to speakers, forge new networks and consolidate old ties. “CLTA-VA is not just for the college level,” says Liu, who holds a doctorate in Education. “It’s also for middle school and primary school. Especially in the DC area, there are many Chinese teachers in the elementary levels.” She noted that the majority of attendees are instructors of elementary and secondary education. Qian Su, the lead Chinese instructor at W&M, echoed these remarks. “As college instructors, we’re doing outreach to help K-12 teachers. Local teachers really look up to what we’re doing in the college level. We see this workshop as a way to help promote Chinese language as a form of enrichment for K-12 students.”

This workshop highlights the heavy involvement of both W&M professors and instructors in contributing to the K-12 community, and in the promotion of Chinese language instruction throughout Virginia. Prof. Tang, Su and Liu are very active in developing and promoting Chinese language pedagogy. Their work also underscores the importance of thorough and dynamic Chinese language training as the key component of the Chinese major and minor programs at W&M. By helping develop Chinese language at the K-12 level, CLTA-VA hopes to funnel talented and experienced language students in Chinese major programs throughout the state, in the same way that programs in French or Spanish benefit from students with secondary education training in those languages.

As a continued part of W&M’s commitment to fostering Chinese language instruction in the community, the School of Education recently approved licensure in K-12 Chinese teaching for W&M students who seek to teach Chinese at the K-12 level. As demand for Chinese teachers in the K-12 level grows, W&M’s Chinese program and the School of Education hope to increasingly take part in fostering new ranks of Chinese teachers.

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News News: German Studies Spring 2011

German Studies Student-Faculty Research Project Culminates in Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication

In 2007-2008, Rob Leventhal, Associate Professor of German Studies, directed a Group Independent Study on the reemergence of the Jewish Community in Munich, Germany and the construction of the new Jewish Synagogue, Jewish Center, and Jewish Museum at St. Jakobsplatz. During the spring break of 2007, Leventhal and then W&M Students Sam Thacker, Olivia Lucas, Daniel Reisch, Benjamin Fontana, and K.C. Tydgat traveled to Munich with financial support of the Charles Center, the Reves Center, the Associate Provost of Research, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences, to study the Jewish Community and the new Jewish Center. Leventhal continued to work on the project, returning to Munich several times to conduct further interviews and do more research, and has now published “Community, Memory, and Shifting Jewish Identities: The Case of Munich, 1989 to the Present” in The Journal of Jewish Identities 4/1 (2011) 13-43.

The “negative symbiosis” of post-war German-Jewish culture took a decisive turn in 1989 with the fall of the Wall and the almost immediate unification of Germany one year later. Based as it was on a specifically German-Jewish perspective and orientation, this prevailing reading of the situation of the Jews in Germany underwent a radical change with the simultaneous dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the Federal Republic’s willingness to serve as a Zufluchtsort – a place of sanctuary – for over a quarter of a million Russian Jews over the next fifteen years. Munich became a destination of choice for many Russian Jewish émigrés, often even preferred to Israel and the United States. The utopistic promise of the reunification, the initial euphoria that followed 1990, the social welfare state of Germany, and the strength of the existing Jewish community in Munich all contributed to a powerful vision of future affluence, citizenship, cultural and social belonging and support that attracted thousands of Russian Jews to Munich.

By 1996-1997, however, this positive image of Germany and the optimistic sense of the Russian Jewish émigrés had changed radically. In a study published in 1999 based on data captured and analyzed in the preceding two years, the team of Julius Schoeps painted a very bleak picture indeed both of the current state of this community as well as its short and longer term prospects unless fundamental changes could be made, both by the Jewish Gemeinde, and the city, state and federal governments. Schoeps and his team pointed out that while fear of anti-Semitism had fallen since 1993-1996 (when it was at its height because of the vicious attacks against foreigners, mostly by Neo-Nazi groups in Mölln, Solingen, Hoyerswerda). There has been a dramatic increase in unemployment among the Russian Jewish émigrés, problems with integration into the work and housing market, insufficient and poor language instruction, increasing isolation and alienation, both from the existing Jewish Community and the German communities in which they were embedded, the sense of loss of both prior status and present perspective, feelings of dependence and hopelessness. Many respondents to the questionnaire the group developed indicated a kind of cultural collective depression.

The situation for Russian Jewish émigrés in the Federal Republic of Germany changed radically since 2000. Most importantly, significant changes in the Federal Law concerning immigration have all but cut off the flow of Jewish émigrés from the former Soviet States. According to the new procedures and regulations of the German Immigration Law, there are essentially three classes of Jewish émigrés from the former Soviet States: there are those who placed an application to enter Germany prior to July 1, 2001, those who placed their immigration application between the July 1, 2001 and December 12, 2004; and those who placed their Einreiseantrag after the 12th of December, 2004.

The possibility of admitting more Russian Jewish émigrés has now been directly linked to ability and willingness of the Länder to support the GemeindeGemeinde. For the period after 2006, while there have been many negotiations among the four parties directly involved – the Auswärtiges Amt, the BAMF, the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, and the Union Progressiver Juden – and supposedly some oral “financial commitments” have been made, as of this writing no actual fundsGemeinde. For the year 2005, no applications or Anträge for entry into the Federal Republic were accepted: “Die deutschen Botschaften und Konsulate in den Ländern der ehemaligen Sovietunion haben nach Auslaufen des ‘Kontingentverfahrens’ am 31. Dezember 2004 schlichtweg keine Auswanderungsanträge mehr angenommen.”

In 2003, on the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht, then Federal President Johannes Rau helped lay the first stone of Jüdisches Zentrum Jakobsplatz – the Jewish Center at the Jakobsplatz – a massive architectural and cultural event that has now become the location for the new central Synagogue, the Jewish Museum of Munich, a Jewish Community Center, and a Jewish School. A plot to bomb the ceremony by members of a neo-nazi group was successfully thwarted. The Synagogue opened its doors on November 9, 2006, and the Jewish Museum was inaugurated on March 22, 2007. While some observers and critics claim that such physical demonstrations of culture merely “externalize” or “displace” the deeper cultural conflicts, and many German Jews remain highly skeptical of a “reemergence of Jewish culture,” it was necessary to work-through the various readings to arrive at a more objective, more historical, and therefore more encompassing sense of this transformation of Munich’s center.

Leventhal explored this significant reconstruction and reemergence in Munich with his students as a cultural and social event that is saturated with historical meaning and rife with conflicted and conflicting views, both for the German Jews and DPs of the first and second generation and the Russian Jewish émigrés who have arrived since 1989. Through close study of the literature and journalism, close tracking of the history of this emergence, on-site interviews with key literary, historical, and community figures, and real-time interpretive analysis of the structures themselves in their historical, social, and cultural contexts, the GIS (Group Independent Study) GRMN 411 attempted to a understand what was at stake in this reconstruction, how it has been and is still being interpreted and used, how it is functioning as a cultural-discursive event and site.

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News News: Italian Studies Spring 2011

Italian Documentarian Brings Trash Crisis to William and Mary

In February, the William and Mary Italian Studies Department invited Ivana Corsale, an up-and-coming Italian documentarian, to debut her latest film as part of the 2011 William and Mary Global Film Festival.

Corsale’s film, Unhappy Country, tackled a growing issue in Southern Italian society: the illegal and unhealthy handling of industrial waste. The beautiful, fertile area near Naples has been transformed into a toxic wasteland where even breathing the air is hazardous to Italians’ health. What is worse, Corsale argues in Unhappy Country that those who are polluting the area illegally—namely, members of the region’s organized crime group, the Camorra—not only do so with impunity, but are actually helped by the lack of government oversight, even complicity.

In a rare treat for William and Mary, Corsale brought Unhappy Country to Williamsburg as a first cut, with most of the film previously unscreened. This debut accompanied the screening of another documentary, Terra Madre, which also examined our relationship to the environment. While Terra Madre had a more optimistic ending, Corsale’s Unhappy Country offered a shocking portrait of an Italy that is hidden from tourists.

After the night’s double feature, the filmmaker visited two Italian Studies classes to discuss her film. The students were able to ask Corsale to elaborate on her documentary’s powerful images to gain a better perspective on this persistent problem. The students provided important feedback to Corsale, who plans to finish her documentary by May 2011. While she may find opposition by Italian distributors when she begins to screen Unhappy Country in Italy, she hopes that her film will inspire all Neapolitans to address the issue that many believe is slowly killing them.


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News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011

Spanish Pilgrimage brings together Hollywood stars, academics

An academic colloquium is not usually where one would expect to see Hollywood stars, but the Camino de Santiago is said to have caused greater miracles to happen.

George Greenia with Martin Sheen and Emilio EstevezThe thousand-year-old Spanish pilgrimage is the setting for “The Way,” a new film written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen. Thanks to the efforts of William & Mary Professor George Greenia, the two Hollywood stars screened their film on Feb. 18 at Georgetown University, kicking off the Workshop on Pilgrimage Studies, co-hosted by the College and Georgetown’s department of Spanish and Portuguese.


Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines and 30 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada attended the two-day workshop. The group is working to create an international, interdisciplinary consortium to teach pilgrimage studies in Santiago de Compostela starting in the summer of 2012.

“The historic trek to that World Heritage Site is a unique example of a universal urge to leave home to find yourself,” said Greenia, a professor ofHispanic studies. “From the Ganges to Ground Zero to Graceland, we are all pilgrims on the way.”

Greenia, who has travelled the 500-mile Camino every year since 2005, said that plans for the pilgrimage workshop were almost complete when organizers learned of the Estevez’s film, which had premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and in Spain.

The movie focuses on the character of Tom, an American doctor who travels to France after his son dies just one day into the pilgrimage. Tom, played by Sheen, decides to finish the journey that his son began. Along the way, he meets other pilgrims who are facing their own struggles and looking for some sort of redemption or resolution through the journey.

“This is a whole journey of discovery and loss,” said Sheen. “And very often the only way we can heal loss is by helping others.”

With the assistance of the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday, Greenia was connected to Estevez and asked whether the actors would be interested in screening the film at the workshop.

“He graciously said yes,” said Greenia, “and a studious academic affair immediately turned into a Washington event.”

More than 350 people attended the Friday evening screening, including Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, Spanish Ambassador to the United States, and Infanta Cristina of Spain, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, her consort, Iñaki Urdangarín, and their son, Juan Valentín. Additionally, a number of faculty members and students from William & Mary were in attendance.

Prior to the screening, Martin and Estevez gave several press interviews, including one on video to William & Mary News, moderated by Greenia. The Washington Post later included a photo of Greenia’s interview with Martin and Estevez and a description of the event in its Feb. 21 “Names and Faces” column.

Greenia opened the workshop weekend by welcoming the audience to the screening, thanking the William & Mary Washington Office, Georgetown and numerous others for making the event a reality.

William & Mary President Taylor Reveley also gave brief remarks before the film, saying that this is “the latest manifestation of an enduring collaboration between Spain and William & Mary.”

Reveley noted that William & Mary faculty have been teaching on the Camino for nearly two decades and that Greenia has led students on the journey for each of the past six summers.

“Their research projects conducted on the 500-mile trek have spanned a host of disciplines,” said Reveley. “As George has described in the brochure tonight, the rhythms of the walking offer a stark contrast to the immediacy of modern travel. Though an individual person takes each step along the Camino, there are many partners in the journey.”

Reveley said that William & Mary looks forward to working with all of the universities involved in the consortium “as our individual strengths yield a collective good for the benefit of our students.”

“Recent decades have brought a resurgence of interest in the 1,000-year-old Camino de Santiago and the pilgrimage offers the perfect means for Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez to share their Spanish heritage and their artistry with the American public,” he said.

Sheen, whose father was born in the Galicia region of Spain, said that the film is “a reflection of a miracle that happened in our family in 2003.” That year, Estevez’s son Taylor, who served as an associate producer on the film, was travelling the Camino with Sheen by car when he met his future wife.

Estevez said that the film “is truly a love letter to Spain, and it is also an homage to my grandfather.”

Along with writing and directing the movie, Estevez also appears in it as Tom’s son. Calling the film a father and son story, Estevez praised his both on-screen and real-life father for his work in the film.

“The only thing that my father has ever tried to sell to anybody is his heart, and you see it all over this picture tonight,” Estevez said. “It is a performance of quiet dignity. It is the performance, in my opinion, of a lifetime, and I’m extremely proud to have called myself his director and his costar in this.”

The film is expected to be released in the United States Sept. 30, 2011, and on DVD in February 2012.

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Featured News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2011

Faculty-Student teaching collaboration yields benefits in Japanese classroom

Professor Rachel DiNitto and Student-Assistant Pam Kennedy recently set out on a new model for teaching Japanese culture courses at the College. Students in DiNitto’s courses have been producing much of their coursework as an online website. The project has had wide-ranging benefits, both inside the classroom and out. The idea is that DiNitto teaches the course and her teaching assistant, who in 2010 was upperclassman Pam Kennedy, would act as editor of the online content and student mentor. Visit the Post Bubble Culture Japanese Website Here or Watch the video below to learn more:


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Featured News News: Alumni News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011

Research “Side Trip” Fruitful for Sarah South Parks ’03 and the College

Story by Leslie McCullough

Luck, chance, or fate? Maybe some combination of the three. During a summer 2002 undergraduate research trip to South America, Sarah South Parks ’03 suggested an exploratory side trip to La Plata, Argentina. The rest is history.

Sarah Parks and Professor Tandeciarz at this year's homecomingSarah was finishing her junior year as a Hispanic Studies major and jumped at the chance to join her advisor, Professor Silvia Tandeciarz, and fellow student John Cipperly for a two-week research trip to Chile and Argentina, two nations emerging from brutal experiences with state terrorism. The students’ participation was made possible by a Borgenicht Foundation for Identity and Transformation Grant supporting faculty-directed student research projects.

In preparing for the trip, Professor Tandeciarz asked Sarah and John to read A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture by Marguerite Feitlowitz. Sarah recalls being particularly interested in a chapter about the alarming number of children, students, and faculty who “disappeared” from the university town of La Plata, Argentina, during its so-called “Dirty War” (1976-1983).

“It was a terrible and secretive time,” says Sarah. “Thousands of Argentineans were arrested, imprisoned, and declared missing. People involved with the university and education were seen as a threat by the dictatorship, and many disappeared.”

Together the group visited “memory sites” (e.g., museums, monuments, bookstores, schools, and memorials) to document and analyze the role of memory in the re-construction of Chilean and Argentinean national identities.

Sarah expressed interest in visiting the sites of memory in La Plata that she’d read about. Although only a half-hour drive from Buenos Aires, La Plata at that time represented uncharted territory.

There, while visiting a memory site at an elementary school, the group noticed a poster for the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria (Commission on Memory), a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the study and dissemination of human rights abuses committed during the Argentinean dictatorship. The commission was set up to do the very thing Tandeciarz’s team was researching. It was an incredible find.

Sarah’s research focused on the children of the disappeared in Argentina, some of whom were adopted by military families and are just coming to discover their biological identity. Working with the Commission offered access to many invaluable resources. Later, Sarah reported her research findings in an academic paper she presented at a Modern Languages and Literatures colloquium.

“When we engage in collaborative research with students, the rewards can be endless,” says Professor Tandeciarz. “It was Sarah’s leadership that got us to La Plata. If there had been no grant, there would have been no students on this trip, and we never would have made this wonderful connection.”

Since the initial connection, Tandeciarz has helped to develop a strong relationship between the Commission and the College. As a result, William and Mary students from many majors have participated in a semester study abroad program in La Plata, the only one of its kind available there to U.S. college students.

“This semester program is unique in that it offers students the opportunity to take university courses while collaborating on a variety of human rights initiatives through internships at the Comission, thus bringing William and Mary’s service learning tradition into global education,” says Professor Tandeciarz. The funding structure of the La Plata program also has made it possible for Argentinean students to come to the College for short research trips, usually conducted over spring break in collaboration with William and Mary undergraduate students.

“I never could have guessed what this trip would turn into,” says Sarah. “It is neat to think about how this program is benefiting the lives of so many other students. In my opinion, one of the College’s greatest assets is the ability to maintain an environment that allows for such strong collaborations between students and faculty.”

Since receiving her master’s degree in social work in 2006, Sarah South Parks has worked with international adoption programs and Hispanic immigrant children who had been separated and subsequently reunited with their families. She is currently working in Williamsburg with The Barker Foundation, a private adoption agency, to provide counseling to women or couples facing unplanned pregnancy.

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