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!

Spring 2017 More Spring 2018 Spring 2018 Featured

Japanese Honor Society Inductees for 2018

honor societyMLL and the Japanese studies program are proud to announce inductees into the Japanese National Honor Society for 2017 – 2018 academic year.  Among this year’s graduating class, three students have met the Society’s demanding criteria: 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. You will recognize our new inductees at commencement by their red and white tassel cords; please join us in congratulating Daniel Birriel, Mackenzie Neal, and Yunyi Zhu:  皆さん、おめでとうございます!  Thank you for setting an example for others studying the language.  We hope you will continue to build your Japanese language skills, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Graduates 2016-2017 News News: German Studies 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 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 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 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.


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 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: 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 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: 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: 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

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: 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: 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).

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Monsters, medical oddities and changing mindsets – Attending the “Odd Bodies” conference

Image INCS confThe timing couldn’t have been better: as she was finishing the syllabus of her French literature course, “Circus Freaks and Bad Mothers,” centering on depictions of monsters in the 19th-century, Visiting Assistant Professor Julie Hugonny received a call for papers for the 2017 Institute of Nineteenth-Century Studies conference titled Odd bodies. “When I saw the subject of the conference, I just knew I had to take my students there,” she recalls. It was a match made in heaven.

After securing funding from the Charles Center and the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and coordinating her group’s arrival with the organizers of the INCS conference, she advertised the weekend-long trip to her students, and set to take nine of them on this particular adventure.

IMG_2114The FREN 392 literature course she taught featured classic works of literature such as La Belle et la Bête by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont, La Mère au Monstres by Guy de Maupassant, L’Homme qui rit by Victor Hugo’s, Les Diaboliques by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, as well as theoretic articles on disability, perception and exclusion. The students were thus well prepared for attending a conference that boasted subjects like “ugly bodies”, “queer bodies”, “prosthetics”, “circus and freak show bodies”, as well as the more ominous “bodies behaving badly” and “dead bodies.”

Armed with fresh knowledge and a boundless curiosity, the students attended panels of their choosing and eagerly participated in the follow-up discussions. Each had taken the class for different reasons, some of them simply loved literature, some others came from a disability studies viewpoint or a background of postcolonial studies. At the conference, the range of panels addressed a multitude of subjects and amply rewarded all those penchants. In fact, the students’ only complaint at the end of the day was that, since the panels were simultaneous, they couldn’t attend them all and had to make tough choices.

Since the conference was taking place in Philadelphia, a visit to the Mütter Museum of medical oddities seemed a necessary step. This cabinet of curiosities, housed in the college of Physicians, features among other wonders, a life-size molding of Cheng and Eng, the original Siamese twins, the skeleton of a woman’s whose corset had reduced her ribcage to a life-threatening degree, and a wall of skulls, each labeled with the origin, gender and cause of death of its owner. Beyond its obvious entertainment value, the Museum presented the dominant discourse of the time and vividly illustrated the pathologization of deviancy from the norm, the very approach to bodily difference the conference endeavored to question.

Philly bridge 1The trip to Philadelphia was a success: the students went back to their readings (homework doesn’t wait for William & Mary students!) with a keener understanding of the historical and cultural context of the 19th-century as well as on the view of monstrosity prevailing at the time. More importantly, they acquired the literary strategies to examine, analyze and challenge this normative discourse.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2017 More

Award-Winning Cuban Filmmaker Aram Vidal visits W&M

Cuban filmmaker Aram Vidal was invited to W&M to participate as a special guest at the W&M Global Film Festival this spring.  On February 24, Aram screened a director’s cut of his debut feature film El pez azul [The Blue Fish] and discussed his filmmaking process. El pez azul follows Ernesto after he leaves Cuba, abandoning the love of his life, and continues to exist in two stages: his new life in Mexico and his past in Cuba with Clara.  While in Williamsburg, W&M Libraries also hosted a “meet and greet” with Aram on February 23, where he shared his work as a filmmaker and showed a few clips from the film.

Aram Vidal at W&M
Aram Vidal at W&M

Aram began his career as a writer. He won the El Caballo de Coral, Premio Nacional FEU prize and the Pinos Nuevos award which led him to publish his book La gente sí se da cuenta (2007). In 2005 he graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in Communication and started to work as a screenwriter and director at the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). He has participated in artist residencies in Cuba, Mexico and the United States. His fiction productions include Recursion (2012), Relief (2013), and Cat (2016), which have garnered numerous awards.  You can watch clips from his films here.

This was not Aram’s first time at W&M.  During the summer of 2010, Aram became the inaugural Swem Media Artist in Residence.  During that summer, Aram shared his documentary “Ex-Generación”, a film about Cubans who have migrated to Mexico City, and which was subtitled by W&M students in Prof. Stock’s New Media Workshop.