Meet Sowmya Ramanathan, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies

Global Voices recently caught up with Dr. Sowmya Ramanathan after her first full semester of teaching at William & Mary. Dr. Ramanathan is and Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies.

How have your first few weeks been at William & Mary?

Wonderful! William & Mary has such a gorgeous campus that I spent most of my first days taking in the beauty of its red-brick buildings, gigantic trees, and all the greenery. Beyond that, I received such a warm welcome from all my colleagues at the Modern Languages and Literatures Department and once classes started, immediately began the process of teaching-learning with some truly brilliant students. All of that made arriving at this new institution both a bit intimidating and also really exciting! 

What are you teaching this year?

During the Fall and Spring of this year, I am teaching HISP103, which is an accelerated course that covers the beginning two semesters of Spanish in one semester. I also taught MLL’s HISP207 during the Fall of 2020, which is a course that studies marginality, the politics of inclusion and exclusion, and cultural production from Latin America and Spain. 

What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?

I am interested in gender politics and cultural production in the Global South. More specifically, my work looks at the cultural and aesthetic production of womxn in Latin America, and I am particularly interested in how feminine and feminized others theorize and practice creativity, agency, and resistance within the difficult and often impossible conditions imposed by colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy. I am currently working on the manuscript for my book on the fascinating work of Chilean writer, Diamela Eltit, and am conducting research for another project on the politics and poetics of care—as a form of labor and resistance typically performed by feminine subjects—in Latin America. 

What will you be teaching next semester?

I am so excited for Spring 2022 as I’ll be teaching two courses on topics that are near and dear to my heart. First, HISP250 will focus on literary and cultural artefacts of Latin American womxn, studying gender theory to explore and interrogate canonical (colonial and patriarchal) depictions of the cultural sphere in Latin America. I’ll also be teaching a COLL150 course that takes on a more sociological perspective and reviews different strains and manifestations of feminism from the United States to Latin America. 

What would be your dream class to teach and why?

I’m so lucky to be teaching two classes during the Spring 2022 semester that truly are my dream classes, but for fun and with the adequate time for research and preparation, I would love to teach a class on reggaeton and popular movements in Latin America. While the genre has often been considered sexist and materialistic, I find it fascinating that reggaeton has played such a seminal role in recent social movements like the protests in Puerto Rico demanding that ex-governor Ricardo Roselló resign or the feminist mobilizations across Latin America with slogans such as “sin perreo no hay revolución”. Teaching a class on the genre, with ample tools for understanding both its musical and social complexities, could permit illuminating discussions on how certain musical cultures have travelled from the Caribbean to the rest of the world, on the power of the body in public protest, and on the contradictions and complexities embedded within movements for sociopolitical change. 

Fall 2021 News: German Studies Uncategorized

Oktoberfest and Homecoming

On October 9th, German Studies welcomed current students and returning alums back to our traditional Oktoberfest. After skipping our time-honored BBQ at Randolph Complex last pandemic year, we drew a record crowd despite an early downpour that almost drowned out the BBQ fire. We caught up with recent and not-so-recent alums, and got a chance to socialize with each other outside of the classroom. These opportunities are cherished even more as we are only slowly adIMG_0926IMG_0918justing to our pre-pandemic schedule of events. German House residents baked sweets, planned music and decorations, and did all set-up and clean-up!IMG_0944

Graduates 2020-2021 News: German Studies spring2021more Uncategorized

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

We have had a stellar graduating class this year in German Studies! Far-flung geographically and in terms of their interests and secondary majors, the class of 2021 had to finish their last year of college in a global pandemic. Some entered W&M with a lot of German, some with none, and all caught the bug and decided to add the German major to their plan. Many in this class studied abroad, lived in the German House, and served as Teaching Assistants for first- and second-year students. The student-run German Studies newspaper, Die Zeitung, was founded by the class of 2021. All of them are on to big things: PhD and MA programs, Medical School, law school, Fulbrights, jobs. You will be forever remembered as the pandemic class, and you will be missed! Congratulations Grace Bruce, Caroline Cox, Amanda Fu, Daisy Garner, Michael Griese, Ephraim Kozody, Emily Maison, Patrick Salsburg!

The 2021 Awards go to:

Outstanding Achievement Awards: Grace Bruce and Amanda Fu

German Studies Book Awards: Caroline Cox and Daisy Garner

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!

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

que de beaux souvenirs!

A thriving community


des années inoubliables






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.


Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies News: Hispanic Studies spring2021more Uncategorized

Hispanic Studies Students Continue Work with International Universities and Co-publish their Work

Research team members Elena Calderone, Haley Conde and Isabel Delaney conducted professional interviews with stakeholders linked to Latin American art and the University. This is part of an ongoing project to transform the walls of campuses nationwide. In March 2021 Haley Conde and Regina Root co-presented preliminary findings to the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies at a conference on “Life, Struggle and Expression in Uncertain Times” at the College of New Jersey. They have also co-authored an article titled “Roser Bru, Human Rights and the University”. Other students have engaged other facets of this initiative over time so stay tuned!

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: Italian Studies Spring 2021 Uncategorized

Caro Beppe… A Conversation with Beppe Severgnini

Come Sta l'italiano_By Monica Seger

Journalist and author Beppe Severgnini serves as editor in chief of the weekly magazine for Italy’s Corriere della sera newspaper, has long been a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and has written over 17 books. Since 1998, Severgnini has also written a daily column for the Corriere della sera, in which he responds to readers’ queries about contemporary Italian issues. This past fall, our colleague Rita Paolino sent a letter in to the column, which is aptly called “Italians,” asking what faculty might do to highlight the continued relevance of studying Italian language and culture in North America. Not only did Severgnini respond in print, he agreed to have a live conversation with us via Zoom about that question and more.

On Monday, March 8, William & Mary Italian Studies students, faculty and over 100 guests from other institutions gathered together online for a lunchtime conversation with Severgnini. After opening remarks from the author, Prof. Sara Mattavelli deftly moderated a conversation between Severgnini and our students, who had prepared a thoughtful collection of questions in advance. Topics ranged from Italy’s experience with the coronavirus, to regional differences within the country, to students’ futures and how they might apply their experience with Italian Studies. Severgnini and guests were particularly struck by a question from student Santiago Lanza, who cited the author’s Ted Talk on “Five Ways to Fail Perfectly.” All in all, it was a rich and thought provoking conversation, and we were delighted to spend time with Severgnini. Please watch the video below for the full conversation.

News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2021 Uncategorized

Mackenzie Krol (’21) Publishes on her Experience with W&M Study Away with Professors Konefal and Tandeciarz

In the Spring/Summer 2021 Issue of the Newsletter of the Muscarelle Museum of Art, Mackenzie Krol (’21) reflects on her experiences on a William & Mary Study Away to Guatemala during the fall 2018 semester, and her exposure to Daniel Hernández- Salazar’s moving art and how it all came together during the class “Beyond Recollection” taught by Betsy Konefal (History) and Silvia Tandeciarz (Hispanic Studies). Read the full Newsletter here.

Screen Shot 2021-02-19 at 1.57.09 PM Screen Shot 2021-02-19 at 1.57.16 PM

fall2020 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Congratulations to our December Graduates!


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


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

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

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

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

fall2020 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

A Spectacular Project

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

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

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

fall2020 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Kudos to our Teaching Assistants!

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

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

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

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

We wish them all the best!

Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Graduates 2019-2020 News: Japanese Studies Spring 2020 More Uncategorized

Japanese Studies Celebrates First Majors!

William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program proudly honored the first cohort of students in its new major, as well as other students who have exhibited exceptional academic excellence, during a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16.  The students celebrated their milestones with peers, William & Mary faculty, and 35 guests, including included family and friends. Mr. Yosuke Sato, the First Secretary, Public Affairs Section, of the Embassy of Japan in the United States, served as the guest speaker for the hour-long program. Mr. Sato implored students not to rush through life but to remain steadfast as they pursue success. He drew inspiration from the legendary Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Best known for Great Wave, Hokusai spoke of his devotion to creating since childhood and proclaimed that he would continue to do so even if he lived well past 100 years old.

Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, the Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, also enjoyed the distinct honor of addressing the graduating class. He commended them for their dedication to developing extreme competency in the language and deeply insightful knowledge of the culture. He also assured the students that their mastery of the subject matter and appreciation for the complex lessons learned will greatly benefit them—no matter the career path they choose. The graduates— Margot Baden, Allison Bolton, Sarah Wilkowske, and Julia Wright—offered commentary about their experiences in the program followed by remarks from Japanese Studies faculty Dr. Michael Cronin, Tomoko Kato,  Aiko Kitamura, and Rina Okada.

The Japanese Studies Program also recognized students’ academic excellence during the ceremony. Honorees included Book Award recipient and honor student Margot Baden and honor students Allison Bolton and Julia Wright. Kinyo Awards were given to freshman Grace Liscomb, sophomore Gokul Achayaraj, junior Jackson Lawson, and senior Julia Wright. We extend heartfelt congratulations to our esteemed graduates and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.


Graduates, family, friends, and guests on Zoom
Graduates, family, friends, and guests on Zoom

Program Director Sasaki
Program Director Sasaki


Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies News: Alumni News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020 Uncategorized

Alum Adventures – Peter Jones (class of 2019)

Peter Jones ('19)
Peter Jones (’19)
Peter Jones (William & Mary ’19, B.A. Sociology, Hispanic Studies) began a teacher training program with Urban Teachers in Washington D.C. this year. He writes, “Right now I’m working with a residency teacher-training program called Urban Teachers (UT) in Washington D.C. The goal of UT is to train highly effective and culturally competent teachers in hopes of empowering at-risk students and closing racial gaps in access to high-quality education. I currently work with kindergarten at H.D. Cooke Elementary, where students and their families grow up in a culturally diverse setting with people coming in from all around the world- some students’ families have spent most of their lives growing up in DC, while others are coming from around the world, from Ethiopia to Central America. This presents a unique opportunity to find ways in which to bring students together and challenge the way in which they thing about the world around them. One of my favorite examples of this through is our School Enrichment Model (SEM)- students are placed into small clusters based on shared interests, and they work together to explore these interests. In the fall of 2019, for example, I oversaw a SEM cluster of students grades K-2 who focused on recycling and seeing the different ways in which people in DC and around the world reuse and recycle materials. Next year, I will be moving into a English Language Learner teaching position at Cooke, and I am looking forward to continuing my journey from here!”

Graduates 2019-2020 News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020 More Uncategorized

Graduating Senior Awards – Outstanding Achievement Award in Hispanic Studies

This year’s MLL Outstanding Achievement Award in Hispanic Studies is awarded to Rebecca Paulisch and Johanna Weech. This award acknowledges an outstanding graduating Hispanic Studies major with a strong record of achievements in the program.

Rebecca served as a mentored undergraduate research assistant to HISP faculty, and managed to combine her literary and cultural interests in two languages, double-majoring in English and Hispanic Studies.

Johanna researched the work of human rights groups in Guatemala, interned at the National Security Archive researching the ‘disappeared’ in Argentina, and presented her work at the  conference of the New England Council of Latin American Studies (2019). Given her interest in human rights and legal advocacy, she plans to work as a legal assistant in Washington D.C.

Graduates 2019-2020 News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020 More Uncategorized

Graduating Senior Awards – Howard M Fraser Award

Philip Grotz
Philip Grotz

The Howard M. Fraser Award has been awarded to Philip Grotz. The award is in memory of Prof. Howard Fraser, a distinguished specialist in Latin American Literature and culture and is given to a graduating Hispanic Studies major who has made significant achievements in research and service. While studying abroad in Cádiz, Spain, Philip researched the influence of American Jazz upon the musical tradition of flamenco-jazz. A civically-minded student who will pursue an MD at UVA, Philip combined his expertise in Spanish and his passion for medicine and public health serving as an interpreter at Old Towne Medical Clinic in Williamsburg, and in clinics working with migrant workers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia

Graduates 2019-2020 News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020 More Uncategorized

Graduating Senior Awards – Merritt Cox

Sabina Valery ('20)
Sabina Valery (’20)
The Merritt Cox Award has been awarded to Sabina Valery and Caitlyn Whitesell.

This award commemorates Prof. Merritt Cox, a distinguished specialist in 18th century Spain. It is awarded to a graduating Hispanic Studies major who has achieved an outstanding level of academic excellence in Hispanic Studies, and will pursue a graduate degree in the field.

Sabina travelled to Madrid, Spain, as part of her freshman seminar in Hispanic Studies, and researched feminist movements fighting domestic violence against women in Madrid; she also served as an undergraduate Teaching Assistant in Hispanic Studies. Sabina will pursue an MA in Education, with a concentration in ESL and Bilingual Education, at W&M’s School of Education.

Caitlyn Whitesell ('20)
Caitlyn Whitesell (’20)
Caitlyn researched issues of bullying, diversity and inclusion while studying in Cádiz and Sevilla, Spain; she also interned at the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C., and served as an undergraduate Teaching Assistant in Hispanic Studies. Caitlyn will pursue a M.A.Ed. in ESL and Bilingual Education. Her honors thesis examined the relationship between language of narrative and a bilingual’s experience of emotion.

Graduates 2019-2020 News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020 Uncategorized

PBK initiates from Hispanic Studies

Abby Peterson ('20)
Abby Peterson (’20)
Joel Calfee, Abby Peterson and Caitlyn Whitesell were recently elected to become members of Phi Beta Kappa. The Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest honor society, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Joel is majoring in English and Hispanic Studies. Abby is in the 5-year BA/MA degree program in Education with a concentration in Mathematics. Caitlyn is doing the 5-year BA/MA degree program in Education with a concentration in English as a Second Language.

When asked about receiving this award, Abby said: “I am extremely honored to have been inducted into such an established and prestigious institution. I am grateful for both the faculty and my peers in the Hispanic Studies department for pushing me to think critically and consider diverse perspectives in all my academic pursuits. These are foundational skills that I will bring with me both as a member of PBK and in my future as an educator.”

Caitlyn Whitesell ('20)
Caitlyn Whitesell (’20)
Caitlyn said: I feel honored to join Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and I plan to use my membership as an opportunity to continue asking difficult questions, something that PBK is famous for doing.  Not only do I ask myself if I am a good representative of the groups I join, but also if these groups adequately represent me.  My entrance into this new group undoubtedly reflects the level of privilege that I benefit from in the realm of academia as much as it reflects my hard work within this realm.  I hope to further reflect on the role of privilege in my acceptance to this honorable group, and question the equity involved in the processes that got me to this point, from my experiences in public school to the PBK nomination process itself.  Through my Hispanic Studies education at William & Mary, I have learned to think critically about society, and I will dedicate my career to creating greater equity in education through student-centered teaching and thoughtful reflection.  This dedication is thanks to all the professors that supported me and believed I was capable, thank you.

Joel Calfee ('20)
Joel Calfee (’20)
Including six initiates in the Fall, Hispanic Studies PBK initiates this year total nine!  We are so proud of our students!

News: German Studies Uncategorized

Jordan Wyner ’19 Defends Honors Thesis on Franz Kafka

Congratulations Jordan! On April 23, 2019 Jordan Wyner defended his thesis on Narrating Public Space: Franz Kafka in Nationalized Prague with Highest Honors.  Like all honors theses, it is accessible from the Swem Library catalog for all to read. Below, Jordan speaks about the writing process and doing undergraduate research:

I decided to write my honors thesis out of a desire to not only to complete a long-term research project but also to relate my interests in architectural/urban history and German literature. The summer before I started compiling texts to research the project was still ill-defined. It took a trip to Prague, Franz Kafka’s birthplace, before I realized I wanted to find the traces of the city which appear in his literature. The best advice I can give is to start researching and writing early; time management is an essential skill for the completion of a successful thesis. I was awarded grant funds and fellowships to conduct research in Berlin and Prague before my senior year. My research over the summer was essential to give shape to the overall argument I wanted to advance in the thesis as well as the topics for the individual chapters. Before my first semester of senior year started I had a nearly finished introduction and I was able to get through drafts of the first and second chapter before winter break. Writing early and often ensures that you never hajordanwynerve to be too stressed about revisions and have enough space for further elaboration. Upon reflection, I have had to accept that the thesis will fundamentally remain an incomplete work; people often spend multiple years finishing a research project. The goal is to write something substantial, to introduce something insightful into the academic conversation, and recognize how you can expand upon your work.

News: German Studies Spring 2018 More Uncategorized

Internship in Vienna, Austria leads to Honors Thesis!

Kathryn Eckler, Religious Studies ’19, spent the summer of 2017 as an intern in Vienna, Austria. At Projekt: Gemeinde International Baptist Church, she worked with refugees from Iran who were claiming asylum in Austria. Her time working with refugees inspired her to read up on questions surrounding the European Union asylum system and on the history of religious minorities in Austria. In 2018, Kathryn returned to Vienna to pursue in-depth research and to conduct interviews with the asylum seekers and the humanitarians helping them. Kathryn’s research was generously funded through the Charles Center’s Summer Research Fellowship. During her summer of research, KathrynKathryn Eckler Zürich presented her preliminary refugee research at conferences in Sofia, Bulgaria and in Zürich, Switzerland. Her finished honors thesis, Christianity During Times of Crisis: The European Refugee Movement, received the Jack van Horn Award for the most outstanding Religious Studies honors thesis project. From start to finish, Kathryn’s research has embodied her passion for humanitarian aid, human rights, religious history, and international  travel. 


News: Italian Studies Spring 2019 Uncategorized

2019 GKA National Italian Honor Society

Our Program is proud to recognize the outstanding undergraduate scholarship in the field of Italian Studies of the following students who were inducted in the National Italian Honor Society this Spring:

Vanessa Cai (Art History and Italian Studies, ’20)

Emily Knoche (European Studies & French & Francophone Studies, ’19)

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

Hannah London (Art History & Italian Studies ’21)

Antonella Nicholas (Public Policy, ’20)

Alessandra Scholle (Classics & Linguistics ’20)

Judith Tauber (European Studies and Italian Studies, ’21)


Graduates 2018-2019 Uncategorized

Senior Profile: Sarah Harmon (Arabic Studies ’19)

During my time at William and Mary, I studied Arabic for three years and my classes in the Arabic department were some of my absolute favorites. My professors, Driss Cherkaoui and Mona Zaki, pushed me to fall deeply in love with the language and I certainly gained a sense of humility and pride during my language learning experience. They also made me excited to come to class and to explore a future career in Middle Eastern policy analysis, national security, or even go on to be an Arabic professor myself. Through the funding provided by the Critchfield Memorial Arabic Scholarship at the school, I spent three months studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan and I will be continuing my Arabic studies abroad this summer through the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship in Morocco. I am immensely grateful for the brilliant people I met in this program who shaped my Arabic skills, my character, and my future.

Sarah Harmon crop

News: German Studies Spring 2019 Uncategorized

Adelle Else Wins the Alexander Stephan Undergraduate Essay Prize in German Studies

Adelle Else is a freshman in the Class of 2022. She intends to major in either International Relations or Psychology, but holds a special interest in German Studies through her personal and academic background. From her initial exposure to the German language and culture through classes at her high school, to beginning her academic journey at W&M, she has continued her exploration of German culture through various classes in the German department. Her final research paper for Prof. Leventhal’s course on GerAdelleElseman Expressionism, “Kandinsky and Evoking Reaction in Expressionist Art,”  recently won the 2019 Alexander Stephan Undergraduate Prize in German Studies. The jury found that Adelle “persuasively analyzes the manner in which Kandinsky created  a new aesthetic experience to inspire an emotional and spiritual response in his audience,” and that “in beautiful prose, [she] further offers detailed readings of specific artworks, resulting in an exquisite essay.” We congratulate Adelle on this wonderful achievement!

News: Italian Studies Spring 2019 Uncategorized

Slow Food in a Fast Food World

By Judith Tauber

Last summer, I conducted my Freshman Monroe Research Project on the Slow Food movement under the guidance of my wonderful advisor, Professor Mattavelli. I had been exposed to the principles of Slow Foodwithout realizing itnearly my entire life because my family places immense importance on choosing only organic, local foods. However, I wasn’t formally introduced to the Slow Food movement until taking Intermediate Italian with Professor Mattavelli during my first semester at William & Mary. I was drawn to the topic and later found myself wondering whether the organization had chapters in the United States, and if so, how these impacted their communities.

Slow Food was founded in Bra, Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, mostly in response to the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome. In many respects, Slow Food is an alternative to fast food: it supports local, traditional food systems and values healthy, high-quality, sustainable and humane food practices, as is expressed in their motto good, clean and fair food for all. Today, the movement has about 78,000 members in one hundred and sixty countries[1].

IMG_4812For my research, I chose to focus on how American collegiate Slow Food chapters address problems in food production and subsequently interviewed representatives of Slow Food University of Vermont, Slow Food Emory and Slow Food Clemson. I then explored existing literature on the principal topics these groups discussed—migrant justice, food insecurity, and the importance of local food—and summarized my findings in a forty-page paper written in Italian. From the interviews, I found that each group primarily aims to educate the public using a variety of events, which are usually cheap or free; that a chapter’s location greatly impacted its topics and activities; and that all three representatives highly praised the Slow Food movement for its flexibility and adaptability.

Moreover, this project has transformed me both personally and professionally. For example, my eating habits have changed: I almost always cook for myself now, even making homemade pasta, pizza, and ice cream from scratch. I also tend to my own small herb garden and visit the farmer’s market as often as I can. Furthermore, I found that it was far less challenging to write a lengthy academic paper than I thought, even in a foreign language. In fact, this undertaking—despite being the one that originally intimidated me the most—was the one I most enjoyed! I loved being nearly fully immersed in the language: I was absorbing new vocabulary and sentence structures with every paragraph I wrote. In addition, I savored the gradual clarity that came with arranging everything I had learned into an organized paper. I also greatly enjoyed the thrill of sharing my findings with the academic community via my paper and my presentation at the Summer Research Showcase.

In short, if the opportunity presents itself to you to explore a topic of interest in depth, I urge you to make use of it: research is an exhilarating experience! For more information on my research project, please visit

[1] “Slow Food International.” Slow Food International,

Fall 2018 News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Fête de la Recherche 2018

Fête de la Recherche 2018 - Programme (1) (dragged)

The French and Francophone Studies Program celebrated its annual Fête de la Recherche on Friday September 28, 2018. This year’s celebration featured stimulating research presentations from students, information about the French and Francophone Studies Program and FFS course offerings for Spring 2019, a study abroad round table, and perspective on life after graduation and career options for FFS majors.

Faculty Profiles Fall 2018 More News: French & Francophone Studies Uncategorized

Welcome New Faculty: Vanessa Brutsche


Welcome to our new faculty member Vanessa Brutsche, Visiting Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies with a specialization in the intersections between spatial theory, the politics of memory, and historical violence in French and Francophone literature and cinema. Her broader interests include 19th–21st century literature, film history and theory, Holocaust and memory studies, and theories of space, place, and geography.

What have you most enjoyed about the courses you’re teaching at William and Mary so far?

 This semester I’m teaching FR393, “Flânerie on Film: Urban Space in French Cinema,” which explores not only various representations of the modern city inbutschex200 French cinema, but also how cinema has been used at times to critique or theorize new forms of urbanism and the changing politics of space. I’ve especially enjoyed the opportunity to visit so many historical moments (from the late-19th century to the present) and read different kinds of texts with this class, including cultural history, sociology, philosophy, and critical theory.

Of course, one of the best parts of teaching this class is getting to rewatch the films – ranging from avant-garde, surrealist films to classics by major filmmakers like Renoir and Godard. I find it thrilling that films made decades ago can still feel radical to students watching them for the first time, even though we live in such a media-saturated culture. That defamiliarization of what we are surrounded by every day – moving images – can lead to truly exciting and productive class discussions.

I’m also currently teaching Intermediate French (FR201). The thing I enjoy the most about teaching at this level is getting to witness the students’ progress – which happens so quickly! – especially because they are typically so focused on getting through the semester that they don’t realize how far they have come. It’s exciting to hear their use of the language get progressively more sophisticated.

Now that you’ve been here a few months, how has your time at William and Mary been so far? 

My time so far has been wonderful! everyone is incredibly welcoming. I’m continuously impressed with how open, inquisitive, and talented the students are, and the motivation they bring to the classroom. I’m also very much enjoying being a member of the Modern Languages & Literatures Department, in which there is such a strong sense of community across the diversity of languages and cultures represented.

How do you approach teaching cinema and film to students who have never taken a course on it before? 

I try to strike a balance between introducing the vocabulary and methodological tools that are specific to the study of cinema and addressing the analytical questions that advance our class discussions. In my current course on cinema and urban space, this has been somewhat facilitated by the fact that we began with the first films produced in France (by the Lumière brothers in the 1890s) and have progressed through film history more or less chronologically. Seeing how certain techniques develop as the technology advances and as filmmakers experiment with the medium allows a lot of formal qualities to stand out in early cinema that we otherwise take for granted in more recent, narrative cinema – like the effects of montage, or how our point of view is constructed by framing and camera movements.

What are your current research projects?

As a literature and film scholar, I specialize in modern and contemporary France, with an emphasis on 1945 to the present. My current research focuses on the intersections between critical theories of space and the memorial legacies of historical violence. The book project I am working on explores how the language of what was called the “concentrationary universe” appears in texts and films to describe the conditions of modern life, at a moment when France’s urban landscape was undergoing massive changes. Overall, my work is dedicated to understanding the ways in which writers and filmmakers refused to allow the camps to be remembered solely as a thing of the past, closed off in space and time, and instead insisted on the political and ethical urgency of continuing to grapple with the phenomenon of the camps.

Fall 2018 News: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Elizabeth Sutterlin Spends Six Weeks in St. Petersburg

This summer, I spent six weeks studying in St. Petersburg, Russia. I stayed with a host family, took daily classes in language and literature at St. Petersburg State University, and spent afternoons exploring the city’s many museums, parks, and cafes. The trip was an enriching cultural experience that both challenged and delighted me as I learned to navigate the city on my own and grew accustomed to hearing and speaking Russian all the time.

I also had the opportunity to conduct research while abroad, in which I examined state-sponsored narratives about natural resource dependence in Russia. Since my return from the program, my project has been featured on the RPSS website and my paper will be published in this semester’s issue of The Monitor, a journal devoted to promoting undergraduate international research on campus.

The highlight of the whole trip? Attending a performance of Swan Lake at the Mariinskii Theater!”


Fall 2018 News: German Studies Uncategorized

Märchen – German Fairy Tales

Lena Böse, our German House Tutor, has organized a series of events around the German Fairy Tale tradition. I asked her a few questions on how she came to be so interested in this topic:

Lena, what is your connection to fairy tales? When do you sit down with a book of fairy tales? Do you have a favorite? 

Fairy tales were a big part of my childhood. I did not grow up in a house with a lot of books, and it was only when we were olMärcheneventsposterder that my brother and I owned a book fairy tales. I still remember being more interested in the colorful illustrations than actually reading the tales, which I knew by heart by then. The way I first experienced fairy tales was actually through the traditional way of oral storytelling. I can distinctly remember sitting at the dinner table one night and asking my grandmother to tell me the fairy tale Frau Holle. Whenever she got to the ending, I asked her to start over again. This is such a fond memory that Frau Holle is still my favorite fairy tale. I hope that I will get a chance to sit down and read some fairy tales over Thanksgiving. Princeton University published a new translation of the original Grimm fairy tale collection in 2014, which is beautifully illustrated in silhouette style, and I hope to finally sit down and fully enjoy reading some of the tales in English for the first time. 

Have you explored the fairy tale tradition from an academic angle or from an artistic one?

Sadly, I have not yet had a chance to look at fairy tales from an academic perspective, even though I find them highly fascinating. There is a rich tradition in illustrating fairy tales, which I would love to explore. When I wrote a paper about an illustrated children’s edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, I was struck by the similarities to fairy tales. Today, fairy tales are, similar to picture books, categorized foremost among books for children. However, like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the fairy tales as recorded by the brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Kinder- und Hausmärchen are much more erotic and violent in content than the tales as we know them from our childhood. The publication history of fairy tales and the fact that there are so many versions of the same tale both within a language context like German and across cultures is highly intriguing to me as well. As for the artistic side – I am much looking forward to making a fairy tale themed board for German Studies at Washington Hall (3rd floor) soon!

How do you compare U.S. students’ take on fairy tales to you own or that of German students? When teaching with fairy tales here at W&M, have you experienced any unexpected reactions?

What I find striking about U.S. students’ experiences with fairy tales is that most students have only one or two points of exposure to fairy tales that they can recall. Many have seen Disney versions of fairy tales when they were younger, others have only come across fairy tales more recently in movies, TV series or musicals (such as Once Upon a Time, or Into the Woods). German students have a much broader experience with fairy tales because it is such a big part of growing up. Germany also has a long, ongoing tradition of making 60-minute long, live-action fairy tale films, which goes back to the 1950s. While tales like Frau Holle or Schneewittchen (Snow White) are well-known and most Germans would be able to tell these to their children at a moment’s notice, what the films accomplish is to popularize many of the lesser known fairy tales, such as Die Gänsemagd (The Goose Girl) or Das singende, klingende Bäumchen (The Singing Tree). When I showed clips of these kinds of films during an introduction to fairy tale event at the German House, the students were amazed at the films – both for the use of German, which does sound a bit antiquated in the older films, as well as for being much more liberal with nudity (as many German movies are). In fact, many of the older German fairy tale films that I remember watching as a child were quite dark and did not gloss over topics such as death or violent punishments. I think it is probably this stark contrast to the Disney versions that is the most interesting to students in the U.S.



Fall 2018 Featured News: Hispanic Studies Uncategorized

Moments of Activism: Student Movements and the 100 Years of Women Weekend

To commemorate 100 years of women at William & Mary, the university hosted the first-ever W&M Women's Weekend September 21-23, 2018. In events throughout campus that included panel discussions, keynotes and an opening performance by Anna Deavere Smith, attendees discussed big ideas, learned from one another and enjoyed growth opportunities in the eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, professional, physical, social and spiritual. (Skip Rowland '83)
To commemorate 100 years of women at William & Mary, the university hosted the first-ever W&M Women’s Weekend September 21-23, 2018.

The 100 Years of Women weekend gave students and alumni the opportunity to reflect on the role of women in the history of this campus. From the first Dean of Women to the induction of our current female President, women’s voices have been an integral part of William & Mary.

The Hispanic Studies Program at William & Mary teaches far more than just Spanish language and culture. One thing that many students take away from it is a growing passion for activism. From historical case studies to discussions of contemporary social issues, the program encourages active listening and engagement. This engagement is taken outside of the classroom and into the world.

This summer, a Hispanic Studies student decided to engage more directly with her school’s past through research. Jo Weech is a current Hispanic Studies and International Relations double major at the College. Her areas of focus include human rights work and education. Using the 100 Years of Women weekend as an opportunity, she researched the history of student protest and activism at the school since the introduction of women in 1918. This research was shaped by tools she learned from her Hispanic Studies courses; tools in deciphering memory, historical narratives, and archival records.

Although William & Mary is a historically conservative campus, it does have a rich history of student activism and protest. One of the main outlets used to voice social movements was the student paper, The Flat Hat. From reading past Flat Hat articles, as well as other newspapers, Alumni Gazette editorials, and oral history transcripts, this activism becomes clearer. Initially, most student movements were focused on internal issues of the College. Tensions have been present for years between the Board of Visitors, faculty, and the student body over issues of admission. The admission of women in 1918 was controversial. Supported broadly by students but not by as many alumni, coeducation may not have occurred if it wasn’t for low enrollment after WWI. Later in the 1950’s, the issue of admission was brought up again with changes in admission standards. In the 1960’s, they were brought up again alongside the racial integration of the College. They have continued to change under our more recent presidents, as well.

Changes in institutional policy had ripple effects among the student body. Students have written editorials for and against admission policies as well as policies for new athletic programs, construction plans, speaker events, chancellor appointments, and student resources. They have organized sit ins, silent marches, vigils, and speeches. Although initially rallying for issues internal to the College, William & Mary students have also engaged with national movements, such as Civil Rights and protesting the Vietnam War. Much of the most recent activism on campus gives voice to issues that the institution has been struggling with for decades.

Why is it that activism is not more actively remembered in our campus history? With many alumni present on campus for the 100 Years of Women weekend, Jo had the opportunity to speak to former students from different periods of the College’s history. She found that many of these women did remember at least one active demonstration taking place during their time here, if not more. But it took some remembering for those demonstrations to come to mind. For many past and current students, activism may not be at the forefront of this campus identity; however, it is a part of that identity–and it is one with a long legacy.

News: German Studies Spring 2018 Uncategorized

Gabriella Carney (’18) receives USTA Fulbright to Vienna, Austria

Gabriella has received a prestigious U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Vienna, Austria. She will also be continuing her fencing training there as she works on qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Congratulations!

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!

Faculty Profiles News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2018 More Uncategorized

Bienvenue! Welcome, Prof. Déborah Lee-Ferrand!

We are happy to welcome our new colleague Déborah Lee-Ferrand to our department! We sat down with her to hear about her exciting courses and research, including her new course “Food for Thought” and her dissertation. Bienvenue!

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

Jesse Tanson (French and Francophone Studies, ’18) Receives Highest Honors for Thesis on French Hip Hop


Throughout his time at W&M, Jesse Tanson has studied a wide range of topics in French and Francophone Studies, including cinema, literature, and creative writing. Jesse studied abroad in Strasbourg through the IFE program and worked in cinema there. He was also the recipient of the French program’s most prestigious award: the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship, which supports significant undergraduate research projects abroad. This research trip to Paris became the basis for Jesse’s honors thesis research. Following graduation, Jesse will teach English in the Aix-en-Provence/Marseille Region with the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) program.



Félicitations, Jesse! Bonne continuation!

Faculty Awards News: French & Francophone Studies Plumeri sidebar Spring 2018 More Uncategorized

Plumeri Award for 2018: Michael Leruth

Michael Leruth has been recognized for his outstanding dedication to his students and the university with the prestigious Plumeri award. This prize shows the great appreciation and support for his work from both his colleagues and the student body.

Michael Leruth at the Centre Pompidou in Paris
Michael Leruth at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

Michael Leruth holds a Ph.D. in French from Penn State University (1995) and teaches courses and conducts research on modern and contemporary French society and culture.  His particular areas of interest are French national celebrations, French political culture and national identity, the French Republic, the history of ideas and intellectuals in France, and contemporary art.  He has published articles on the topics in leading journals in the field of French cultural studies such as The French Review, French Cultural Studies, French Politics and Society, Modern and Contemporary France, Contemporary French Civilization, and Sites: Contemporary French and Francophone Studies.  Since 2004, he has collaborated with the French media artist Fred Forest, participating in Forest’s networked happening The Digital Street Corner (Art Basel Miami Beach, 2005) and providing the voice of the avatar Ego Cyberstar for a performance piece in the Second Life environment (Flux Factory, New York, 2010).  Michael Leruth regularly offers engaging courses on art, identity, and culture in France, like his COLL 150 Je suis Charlie. As one of the foremost specialists on French contemporary art, his book Fred Forest’s Utopia: Media Art and Activism was published just last year by MIT Press. Félicitations, Prof. Leruth!

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: Chinese Studies Uncategorized

Prof. Lily Wong of American University on Transpacific Affects and Chineseness



The Chinese Program presented the talk entitled, “Sex Work, Media Networks, and Transpacific Histories of Affect”  on February 15, 2018. The speaker is Professor Lily Wong of American University. Professor Wong is a specialist on the politics of affect/emotion, gender and sexuality, comparative race, and media formations of transpacific Chinese, Sinophone, and Asian American communities. Her book, Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness, is published by Columbia University Press in 2018.


IMG_2625In the talk, Professor Wong discussed the figure of the Chinese sex worker—who provokes both disdain and desire—has become a trope for both Asian American sexuality and Asian modernity. Lingering in the cultural imagination, sex workers link sexual and cultural marginality, and their tales clarify the boundaries of citizenship, nationalism, and internationalism. Based on her new book, Transpacific Attachments, Professor Wong discussed the mobility and mobilization of the sex worker figure through transpacific media networks, stressing the intersectional politics of racial, sexual, and class structures. She focuses on the transpacific networks that reconfigure Chineseness, complicating a diasporic framework of cultural authenticity. While imaginations of a global community have long been mobilized through romantic, erotic, and gendered representations, Professor Wong emphasized the significant role sex work plays in the constant restructuring of social relations. “Chineseness,” the figure of the sex worker shows, is an affective product as much as an ethnic or cultural signifier.


The lecture was attended by around 60 audiences from faculty members and students. This event was organized by Chun-yu Lu and sponsored by WMCI and Reves Center.



Julie Luecke (’20) on Her Hispanic Studies Achievements

By Julie Luecke


Ms. Luecke and her host-sister giggling at the fountain in the main plaza in Granada, Spain
Ms. Luecke and her host-sister giggling at the fountain in the main plaza in Granada, Spain.

In 2014, I spent three days in Granada, Spain, with a family I had known growing up. I distinctly remember walking around the fountain at los Reyes Católicos, the main square in Granada, with braids in my hair but not a single Spanish word in my mouth. I learned a few simple phrases (like no puedo ver–extremely useful for trying to watch TV with 5 younger children), but I swore I’d come back one day when I could truly appreciate the city by speaking its language (and ordering at Los Italianos, a gelato shop, by myself).

Three years later, I sat at the base of the same fountain at los Reyes Católicos with braids in my hair with my three host sisters, giggling and exclaiming at each other en español.

Through the Charles Center, I had received a grant to do cultural research in Granada, the final Moorish stronghold in the 1400s. In order to communicate with participants in my research though, I had to get a hold on the Spanish language. I had taken French all through high school (and am now a French major), so I was able to take accelerated Spanish classes with absolutely incredible professors: Profesora Carrion in the fall and Profesor Terukina in the spring.

Originally, I only took Spanish classes in order to conduct my research in Spain, but I loved class so much (especially thanks to two of my classmates, Will and Diana, who made having class EVERY MORNING at 9am bearable) that I decided to continue upon my return to the states. In Spanish 207 this fall with Profesora Baker, I remember turning in my first essay in Spanish, thinking, wow, just over a year later, I am capable of producing a coherent, persuasive, work in a language I had promised myself years ago that I would learn. It wasn’t particularly complex, but I was proud of my small feat on the way to fluency.

Unfortunately, I have to take next semester off Spanish classes as I study in Morocco, though I hope to continue its usage, especially in the Northern part of the country. I’ve still never ordered at Los Italianos by myself though, so it looks like I must take a small detour to Spain to visit my host family and their beautiful city again.

Ms. Luecke peers over the gorgeous Spanish landscapes on her summer study abroad.
Ms. Luecke peers over the gorgeous Spanish landscapes on her summer study abroad.



News: German Studies News: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Gabrielle Hibbert (German Studies, RPSS, Honors, ’17) at The Library of Congress

Gabi Hibbert Gabrielle Hibbert (German Studies, Honors, ’17) has just accepted a position as a researcher/intern at the Library of Congress’ European Division (mainly working within the Russian, German, and Rare Books Sections). She will be working at LoC for the duration of my gap year. The director liked her honors thesis so much so that she will be helping to create and organize their punk section within the Soviet sphere. Additionally, they want Gabi to catalog her experience in a blog format for them.


A Summer in China


Sophia Wischnewski is a Chinese major at William and Mary. She joined the William and Mary Summer Camp, hosted by Beijing Normal University and sponsored by Confucius Institute, in July 2017. Here are Sophia’s reflections on learning Chinese language and her first-hand experience in China in the summer immersion program.


The Journey Begins

My experience traveling along the journey piqued my curiosity about the new world I was soon to encounter. From the time I was enrolled in a Chinese immersion program at 10 years old, I could only dream of visiting one of the world’s most powerful nations. Nine years later, my dream became reality. William and Mary’s brief immersion program gave me the opportunity to see China outside of my previous Chinese language and culture courses. However, I’ve come to find that reading about China and briefly living in China are completely different.

My first day in Beijing was riddled with culture shock. I was obligated to become independent, and that alone truly helped by forcing me to use my language skills. With out the comforts of Google Translate, I had to figure out the meaning of words on my own. I will always remember the word 厕所 (restroom) because of this experience.


IMG_4335The Real China

I visited four cities in China: Yanjiao, Baotou, Beijing, and Zhuhai. All were completely different. They all had different dialects and words. I thought it was a challenge to understand people in the southern and northern states in the U.S., but now I feel that China, as a nation, is not only a master in the art of Kung Fu, but also a master of languages for being able to understand so many dialects.

I had the opportunity to stay with my friend and her family for a week and a half before returning to Beijing. Since my friend Sally was the only one who spoke any English, I had to speak in Chinese with her family. Sally was strict with me in that she not only refused to give me a fork and learn to eat with chopsticks, but also encouraged me to use my language skills outside of her home as well. I felt that living with her and meeting other people were the greatest experiences I have had in my time learning Chinese.

I not only experienced the language, but the culture as well. During my stay I developed a cold and was brought to the doctor. Traditional Chinese medicine is still a common practice among modern medical solutions. Instead of prescribing me pills or syrup for my symptoms, the doctor looked directly into my eyes and advised me to drink a hot cup of water before going to bed and getting up in the morning. He said I needed more rest and time to get accustomed to the environment. All he gave me was root juice as a vitamin. I was told later by my friend’s mother that Chinese people believe that harmony between one’s diet and life style habits is the essence of good health. Sure enough, after a delicious home-cooked dinner, hot water, and rest, I was in even better health then I was in the U.S.



Chinese vs. American Cultures

Aside from learning about Chinese culture, I thought a lot about modern American culture in the process of learning Chinese. I reflected on how much I, just one person, was representing my own country while being a part of China’s society. I learned China believes in symbolism, so everything created acquires a unique purpose. I also noted that the U.S also associates itself as a symbol of freedom. I found this ideal American concept to be quite fascinating during the program. Not only did the American college and high school students extensively pursue their desires during the time in Beijing, but they also expressed the same American mentality of freedom in their accomplishments.

When I was in Beijing, I noticed differences between Chinese and American college students. A sense of destructiveness and a wild spirit was the impression given off by Americans, especially for the younger generation. During student events, such as the talent show, both American and Chinese students were encouraged to share a talent which embraced a bit of their cultural background. The two groups did very different performances. The acts performed by American students generally included songs about partying, individuality, and carefree actions. This music alone could potentially create misunderstandings of Americans, but it also helps spread American culture and American representation on a global scale. The Chinese music performed was a mixture of Chinese folk and modern day songs. The beats were slow, and the notes were long and drawn out. It created a tranquil ambience along with a happy atmosphere from common themes of love, inspiration, fortune, and tranquility in the lyrics.


The Journey Continues…

I learned so much in so little time. I feel like I cannot fully to express my feelings about my experience in China. The food, the places, and the friendships I’ve made are too valuable to be measured and conveyed into a single paper, and yet, that alone reveals how much this trip has impacted my thoughts and my future.

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.

News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2016 More Uncategorized

Forget Me (Not)? : Zarine Kharazian’s research in Paris

News about our McCormack Reboussin scholar in France

google ps1

William & Mary student Zarine Kharazian ’17 shares news about her research on “the right to be forgotten” and differing views between the U.S. and France when it comes to preserving (or deleting) one’s digital past. Zarine is a double-major in French and Francophone Studies and Government. Read the whole story!

News: Italian Studies Spring 2016 Uncategorized

My Year in Italy – Clara Kobler

There has never been a time in my life when I don’t remember my mother telling me stories of her junior year abroad in Montpellier, France. From describing her breakfasts to the amazing springtime trips with her friends, my mother filled my imagination with her memories and emotions from her life years before. It’s not a surprise, then, that with these stories came the assertion that, when the time came, I would have my own adventure abroad.

But I was stuck. In my own imagining of my future time abroad, I never felt a connection with a certain language or a certain culture where I was sure I could feel at home for an entire year. I took Spanish all thCK2rough high school and had basically accepted that I would be going to either South America or Spain, but my heart wasn’t fully content. I didn’t know what to do.

The love I developed for Italian then fell into my lap completely by accident. During my first experience with registering for college classes in the fall of 2013, I quickly realized that my Spanish skills were not good enough to place me above the 202 level despite my four years of experience. Only taking a language for fun in the first place, I soon settled on a completely random language to start from scratch: Italian. I took it because I liked Olive Garden and because my step-dad’s family is from Italy, but I had no major attachments to the language, nor the culture. I wasn’t even taking Italian with the idea that I would one day study abroad there; at that point, I was still invested in the William & Mary/St. Andrews Dual Degree Program, where I would spend my sophomore and junior years abroad in Scotland.

Soon, though, I knew I couldn’t go through with choosing Scotland over Italy. After only a few weeks in the Italian department at William & Mary, I was completely hooked. I would study for hours and complete the writing prompts with such fervor that I surely seemed crazy. I loved going to the Italian House activities, and signed up to live there as soon as I decided to leave the Dual Degree Program. By the fall of my sophomore year, spending a year in Italy was becoming a quick-coming reality.

I chose my program in Siena for several reasons: the first is that the town is not as big as many study abroad towns in Italy, and therefore does not have quite so many English speakers as the main metropolitan cities. The second reason is the service component, where we must go out into the community for several hours a week and give back, whether that is teaching English, helping at a nursing home, aiding the town’s emergency responders, or whatever other opportunities present themselves. The third and probably biggest reason is the host family experience. I had spent my entire life hearing about my mother’s wonderful host family in France, and even had the pleasure of meeting them this past summer. In choosing between my several location options in Italy, I had to decide whether having a host family was an important enough factor for me to choose the Siena program. After a quick phone call to my mom and a prayer that I would be placed with a nice family, I sent in my application to Siena Italian Studies.

It was the best decision I ever made. After only a week of being in Siena, my host family had already started to feel like a home away from home. They fussed over me and made sure I liked the food, and included me in every activity they took part in. My host sister, Luisa, quickly became one of my best friends in the world. She is 18 and in her last year of high school, so our ages are similar enough that we can share friends and activities easily. I often tag along to birthday parties and dinners out with her friends, and they have all accepted me aCK1s part of the gang. I can’t imagine going through this year without this family.

Because the truth of the matter is, too, that doing a whole year abroad can be really hard. Even in a place as wonderful as Italy, I have had my fair share of homesickness and sadness that only comes with being away from all things familiar for a long period of
ime. William & Mary was the only school I applied to, so to choose to go away for an entire year was heartbreaking, on a certain level. And being away from my family for so many months at a time was almost impossible to think about doing. But my host family gave me opportunities to feel like a part of a family over here, too, in a way that makes missing my real family not as painful.

For me, choosing to do an entire year abroad instead of just one semester has allowed me to build relationships with the community and culture that would be impossible in a shorter amount of time. For my community service, I have been

able to work with the same group of kindergarteners since September and therefore build a deeper and more trusting relationship with them, as well as see how much they have progressed since early fall. I feel less like a temporary tourist and more like a part of the life that goes on here in Siena. I have developed preferences to certain stores and restaurants that I can continue to use throughout an entire other semester instead of rushing to try it all before time runs out. I can speak Italian better and with more confidence than ever before. I love that I can help my new Spring-semester-only friends find their way in a city that was once just as foreign to me, but now feels like a second home.

If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would choose exactly the same course for me. Siena, Italy has beCK3en a place where I’ve grown as a person more than ever before, made lifetime relationships with the people in my program and especially with my host family, and learned how to become a part of a new culture by simply being willing to try. A year abroad gave me an opportunity to go above and beyond just the typical study abroad experience, and find my niche in a place on the other side of the world. It has been exciting, unbelievable,
and more than I ever could have imagined. I never want to say good-bye.

Graduates 2014-2015 News: German Studies Uncategorized

Congratulations German Studies Graduates of 2015!

Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2015! From the left, Lisa Laird (German Studies and European Studies), Mike Crumplar, Helene Melke, and Tyler Bembenek (German Studies and IR).

News: German Studies Uncategorized

German House Tutor Kim Mutmann


German House Tutor Kim Mutmann joins the German Studies Program this year from the Wilhelms-Westfaelische Universitaet Muenster, where she received her M.A. in “National and Transnational Studies: Literature, Culture, and Language,” with a focus on Post-Colonial Culture and Politics. She completed her master’s thesis on South African Poetry: “Xenophobia under the Rainbow – Migrants in Post-Apartheid South African Fiction.” Before Muenster, Kim studied at the University of Maastricht, and at Salford University in Manchester, England. She has had numerous editorial internships, enjoys jogging and tennis.

News: German Studies Uncategorized

Dr. Veronika Jeltsch joins the German Studies Faculty


The German Studies Program welcomes Dr. Veronika Jeltsch to the program this year. Veronika received her M.A. from the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg and her Ph.D. from Rutgers University with a dissertation on “Silence, Speechlessness, and Body Language in Fontane’s Effi Briest, Schnitzler’s Fräulein Else and Wedekind’s Lulu.” Her primary research interest is Fin-de-Siecle literature in Germany and Austria, specifically representations of silence, gender and emancipation in literature and film. Veronika comes to us with a stellar teaching record from SIU at Carbondale and, most recently, Hendrix College, and will be teaching introductory German 101-102, GRMN 205 Children’s Literature, and a 300-level topics course in the spring.

Veronika Jeltsch



Elizabeth A. Laird

Lisa LairdThe German Studies program each year awards the German Book Prize to that student who best exemplifies the rigor, passion, and sustained engagement with the discipline during her four years at Willam and Mary. Our winner this year not only took Rob Leventhal’s German 310 Advanced Grammar and Stylistics course her very first semester at W&M, she also studied at the RWTH Aachen after her  first year at William and Mary, doing independent research on Arnold Gehlen, and went on to study at the Universities of Muenster and Cardiff her junior year. Two weeks ago, Lisa defended her very fine Honors Thesis, a comparative study of the Sinta and Roma in Wales and Germany, THE MODERN EUROPEAN: AN ANALYSIS OF ETHNIC MINORITY IDENTITY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, achieving High Honors. This year’s German Studies Book Award goes to Elisabeth A. Laird. Congratulations Lisa!

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Japanese Studies Book Prize Awarded

The 2015 MLL Book Prize in Japanese has been awarded to Luis Madrid. The prize is given each year to a student who has shown overall excellence in Japanese studies.  A graduating senior, Luis has demonstrated a remarkable facility for learning languages during his time at the College, studying French in addition to Japanese. After graduating, Luis will be working over the summer as a full-time Spanish-language research assistant with the TRIP (Teaching Research International Policy) initiative at the W&M IR Institute. He also hopes to pursue a Master’s in International Security, and will be applying to graduate schools in both America and France. Congratulations on the award and on your graduation, Luis, and best wishes for the future!

Prof. DiNitto, Luis Madrid
Prof. DiNitto, Luis Madrid


News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Kinyo Award Winners Announced

The Japanese Section is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study.  We are grateful to Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., through whose generous support the Kinyo Prize has been established and maintained.  The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. This year’s recipients are: in first year, Kexin Ma; in second year, Carrie Min Yo Morrow Gudenkauf; in third year, Shumin Gong; and in fourth year, Qinao Wang.  Each of these  students has distinguished themselves throughout the past year by their diligence and their accomplishment in Japanese language study.  Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work!  皆さん、おめでとうございます!

Kinyo winners 2015

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Public Talk: An Army for the People

Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, History, Eastern Michigan UniversityDr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, History, Eastern Michigan University

Japan’s postwar constitution renounces war as a sovereign right and stipulates that land, sea, and air forces will never be maintained, yet the country today possesses a large and powerful military. Join us as Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, of Eastern Michigan University, traces the development of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces within the context of postwar economic development and discusses its various roles and relations with civil society. Part of the Reves Distinguished Lectures in International Studies series.  Supported by the Reves Center and the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program.

Thursday, November 20, 5:00 – 6:30, Blair Hall 223

Graduates 2013-2014 Uncategorized

Sophia Kosar ’14 Senior Profile: Russian Studies

Kosar.SВсем привет! My name is Sophie, and I realized I wanted to be an RPSS major before I was even halfway through Russian 101 during my freshman year. It all started with the language, since I grew up wanting to speak Russian like my Babushka and other friends and relatives from home, but as soon as I started taking classes on culture, literature, and politics, I knew there was no going back.

Since then, I’ve studied abroad with W&M in St. Petersburg, done original research and filmed a documentary in Russia, lived in Russian house, spent a semester in Kazan, edited the RPSS program’s Gazeta, and experienced a million other great opportunities. I’m taking some time off before applying to grad school, but at some point I hope to study contemporary Russian art and cultural theory. Many many thanks and much love to all the great professors and faculty here!!

Graduates 2013-2014 Uncategorized

Dan Otto ’14 Senior Profile: Chinese Studies

Otto.D-3” I did not come to William and Mary intending to study Chinese, but, due to the applicability of China’s growth to my other major, economics, I decided I would try taking a few classes to see how I liked them. I have never looked back. Studying Chinese has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding undertakings of my life. In the last four years, I have traveled the length and breadth of China, studied in the Peking University language immersion program, and made life long friends through my involvement with the Chinese Department at the College. The incomparable access to China’s ancient and beautiful culture provided by my study of Mandarin has given me a passion for Sinology that I will carry far into the future. Over the course of senior year, I conducted research on Chinese sex cultures since 1978 under the guidance of Professor Calvin Hui.

I am a 4 year varsity rower for the William and Mary Rowing Club for which I have served as an executive board member and captain. After graduation, I will be working as the COO of a software development firm I co-founded.”


Congratulations to Elisabeth Bloxam for winning the McCormarck-Reboussin scholarship

Congratulations to Elisabeth Bloxam for winning the 2014 McCormack-Reboussin scholarship in French & Francophone Studies! Starting this summer, Elisabeth will be able to travel and do research for an honors thesis entitled “Le Mythe et la Mémoire : Les séquelles de la deuxième guerre mondiale en France à travers ses monuments nationaux.”


Three Fulbright ETAs in German Studies for 2013-2014

German Studies students have once again received a record number of Fulbright ETAs for the academic year 2013-2014. Emma Paynter and Judd Peverall have both received Fulbrights to Germany, and Brandon De Graaf has received an Austrian Fulbright ETA. Brandon will be at the Bundesgymnasium Tanzenberg in Maria Saal in Kärnten. Congratulations all!

News: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Andrew Andell and Matthew Levey win RPSS Excellence Awards.

The RPSS Executive Committee is happy to announce that the RPSS Excellence Awards for the year 2013 will go to
Andrew Andell and Matthew Levey.

The RPSS Excellence Award seeks to provide recognition for the best Russian Studies senior majors and minors who made a major contribution to the Russian Studies program in the areas of research, language and culture studies.

Matt and Andrew


Alumni Updates: German Studies Fall 2012 Fall 2012 More News: German Studies Uncategorized

German Studies: Lauren Shaw (’09) accepted to UCL

Next fall Lauren Shaw (German Studies, ’09) will be starting a master’s program in global migration at University College London. The program looks at the social, economic and political causes and implications of human migration, while seeking to better understand the lived experiences of local and international migrant communities. Courses are drawn from a number of disciplines, including geography, anthropology, economics and political science, and students benefit from UCL’s connections to NGOs, governmental and community-based organizations in London. Lauren, who spent two years in Austria as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, is particularly interested in youth migration, educational opportunities and challenges for children with a migration background, and rural vs. urban areas as places of immigration and integration.

Since returning from Austria in 2011, Lauren has been working as a research associate at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC. She is part of the research project Transatlantic Perspectives: Europe in the Eyes of European Immigrants to the United States, 1930-1980, for which she does research, editing and website management. She is currently helping with the planning for a workshop entitled “Migrants as ‘Translators’: Mediating External Influences on Post World War II Western Europe, 1945-1973”, which the GHI is organizing in cooperation with the Institut für die Geschichte der Deutschen Jüden and will be held in Hamburg in October 2013.

Alumni Updates: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Sample, Emily (Class of 2011)

Emily is moving to London to attend Kingston University’s Master’s program in Human Rights and Genocide Studies (update: 2012).

News News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

‘Gojira,’ Not ‘Godzilla’

On Saturday evening, we will screen the classic Japanese film Gojira (dir. Honda Ishirō, 1954), better known to Americans in the very different version released here as Godzilla. The screening will include introductory remarks placing the film within the context of Japan’s nuclear history. The screening will be followed on Sunday by a student conference on the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11th of last year, and on-going nuclear crisis. A collection will be taken at the screening to benefit relief efforts.

Saturday, April 14

7:00 – 9:30

Washington Hall 201


News: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Rachel Faith receives the 2012 Dobro Slovo Scholarship

The selection committee has awarded the 2012 Dobro Slovo Scholarship to Rachel Faith.   The Dobro Slovo Scholarship was established in 2005. The Scholarship is funded by the donations of Russian alumni and faculty and is intended for students studying on the W&M Summer Study Abroad Program in St. Petersburg.


Film Series: “Another Sky”

Directed by Dmitry Mamulya (Russia 2010), “Another Sky” will be screened Thursday, Feb 23, at 5:30 in Washington 302.  It will be introduced by Sophie Kosar.

News: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Mari-Kathryn has been accepted into a prestigious internship program (October 2011).

The Russian Section of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures is pleased to announce that Mari-Kathryn Gavin (RPSS, ’12) has been accepted into a prestigious Translate Abroad Internship Program
(School of Russian and Asian Studies, SRAS).

Congratulations, MK!



Translation Abroad is a practical academic program offering intensive Russian lessons and professional, hands-on translation experience. Despite advances in electronic translation technology, there is increasing need for the accuracy and readability that only human translation can deliver. With the world’s exponentially increasing information flows, the growing globalization of business, and more frequent government interactions, there is demand for not only translated literature, but also for technical, legal, and marketing documents. Each of these fields are, in fact, developing into specialized trades because of the particular skill sets they require.

News: Hispanic Studies Uncategorized

Hispanic Studies helps organize “Encuentro Latino”

Saturday October 8th the Admission’s Office, in coordination with Professor Jonathan Arries and several other faculty members from Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies, organized the first ever, Encuentro Latino. A faculty initiated event, Encuentro Latino was a highly successful effort to reach out to Latino families in the NOVA/ D.C. area and introduce them to the College of William and Mary. The event, which took place at the Ernst Community Cultural Center: Annandale Campus of NOVA Community College, featured Hispanic Studies faculty presentations alongside student presentations on LASU (the Latin American Student Union), SOMOS and MANOS, Study Abroad opportunities through the Hispanic Studies Program, and the Spring Break trip to the U.S./Mexico Border. The event provided Latino families interested in William and Mary an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with students, faculty and alumnae from the Hispanic Studies Program.

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Berman, Michael (’05)

Michael Berman ’05 is in the master’s program of social sciences at the University of Chicago. (2007)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Palesko, Amy (’06)

Amy Palesko ’06 was William & Mary’s first Fulbright to Japan. She studied at the University of Osaka and is currently residing and working in Japan as a design engineer at Nokia. (2008)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Marsden, Nancy (’08)

Nancy Marsden ’08 is a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying ethnomusicology. She’s combining her East Asian Studies and Music majors from W&M into the area of Japanese music. She hopes to focus on popular music in Japan. (2009)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Davy, Jenny (’08)

Jenny Davy ’08 did a year of study abroad in Tokyo at Keio University. She went on to a two-year course of study at the Cooperstown Graduate Program doing a Master of Arts degree in History Museum Studies. (2008)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Oreska, Julian (’09)

Julian Oreska ’09 works as a product developer for the toy company Bandai at their headquarters in Asakusa, Japan. Julian was a double Business and East Asian Studies major who also completed the Canon Corporation internship in summer 2009. (2010)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Locke, Megan (’10)

Megan Locke ’10 is on the JET program teaching English in Japan. (2010)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Scott, Loretta (’10)

Loretta Scott ’10 is currently working in NYC in marketing/business development. She started a Youtube series called “The Difficulties of Japanese” in 2007, and was eventually contacted by YesJapan Corporation, which provides real-world and online courses for Japanese langauge learning. She’s now contracted as a video producer, and creates youtube-style education videos for their website ! (2011)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Revere, Nathan (’10)

Nathan Revere ’10 is doing graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Madison in their Anthropology Ph.D. program, focusing on language and culture in Japan. (2011)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Luebke, Peter (’05)

Peter Luebke ’05 is currently a student in the graduate program on Southern History in the American History Ph.D. program at University of Virginia. He has an article, “Maruo Suehiro’s ‘Planet of the Jap’: Revanchist Fantasy or War Critique?”  that he co-authored with Professor Rachel DiNitto, forthcoming in the Australian journal Japanese Studies. (2011) 

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Kennedy, Pam (’10)

Pam Kennedy ’10 is working in bank examination with the Federal Reserve Bank out in Los Angeles. Her examination team will work with many Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese banks. (2011)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Crandol, Mike (’07)

Mike Crandol ’07 is currently in University of Minnesota’s Ph.D. program in Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media, and attended Stanford University’s InterUniversity Center Japanese language program in Yokohama Japan 2009-2010. Mike is working on Nakagawa Nobuo, a horror-movie director from the 1950s and 60s who influenced the J-Horror boom. He has also written reviews of Asian entertainment on (2011)

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Klaasse, Lauren (’11)

Lauren Klaasse ’11 is starting a graduate program in Public Policy at George Mason University. (2011)


Informational meeting for W & M study abroad programs, Friday, 4-5, Washington 201

Please join Hispanic Studies faculty and program alumni for an informational meeting on the semester programs in La Plata, Argentina and Seville, Spain as well as the summer program in Cadiz, Spain. We will be meeting this Friday, Sept. 23, from 4-5 in Washington 201. 


Hope to see you there.


“It’s a couplet, dawg!”

May 21, 2011

Today we traveled to Segovia, a precious, magical town with cathedrals and castles from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Cathedral of San Martin was breathtaking, with gothic architecture, gold covered ceilings and walls, and mosaic windows. Next we walked to the Alcazar (castle) de Segovia. It was magnificent, although it’s got nothing on the splendor of the Palacio Real in Madrid, and we climbed the tower to see the incredible view. Later we met up for our last dinner in Madrid at which we ate so much food! Lots of bread, cheese, prosciutto style ham, cheese, calamari, croquetes, sangria, and torrejas de nata.

At the end of the meal, our guide Carlos took out a book of the poetry of Miguel Hernandez and we each read two lines (which another student reminded us was called a couplet, hence the title of the post). It was a great finale to our time in Madrid, but the night wasn’t over yet. We walked to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, where major demonstrations are going on because of the elections tomorrow and the current economic crisis in Spain. The demonstrations were peaceful but very chaotic so we headed back to the hotel after a lot of chaos and confusion. Tomorrow morning we leave for Cadiz, where we will be living for a month and working on research projects under the guidance of Professor Carla Buck. Also we’ll be five minutes from the beach. Not that it influenced my decision to come on this trip or anything…

~ Johanna Hribal

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”- Herman Melville

Catedral de San Martin

View from the top of the Alcazar de Segovia

Sign from the demonstrations in Puerta del Sol, MadridPuerta del Sol


Los indignados, people fighting for justice in Puerta del Sol



Introducing Myself, CLS and Ufa

Hi Everyone!

I’m Jacob Lassin and I’m a rising senior at The College majoring in Government and Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. This summer I have been fortunate enough to receive Critical Language Scholarship to study in Ufa, Russia.

The Critical Language Scholarship is a program run by the State Department which provides fully funded intensive summer classes for undergraduate and graduate students to learn what the government terms “critical” languages in countries where they are spoken. The program involves language classes, living with a Russian family in a home stay, cultural excursions and peer language tutors. It also requires a language pledge, which means anytime I am with the group in class or on an excursion or when I am at my home stay I must speak Russian. Which will be very challenging and ultimately very rewarding.

So where exactly am I going? Ufa is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, which is one of the federal subjects of Russia. A federal subject is kind of like a state but there are many different types. A republic, like Bashkortostan, is the type with the most independence. Republics in Russia represent a certain non-Russian ethnic group which has territorial ties to the region. In Bashkortostan that ethnic group is the Bashkirs, some of whom along with Russian speak a Turkic language called Bashkir which is also one of the official languages of Bashkortostan.

I am really excited to go to Ufa and not only learn more about Russian and Russian culture, but also about Bashkir culture as well. I will update again once I have gone through orientation and have arrived in Ufa.




Although some of you may think that we are referring to the Dispatch song of the same name, we are actually talking about what it is like to work in what can only be described as the most active and intriguing offices this side of the Atlantic: The Office of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C. But before we begin to delve into our daily adventures at the Embassy we would like to introduce ourselves (ladies first of course):

My name is Madeleine (Maddy) De Simone. I’m a rising junior at W & M majoring in Govt. and Hispanic Studies. I enjoy long walks at the beach and moonlit dinners. Haha but my real academic interests are translating, politics, and culture studies, which is why I am interning at the Spanish Embassy this summer. Some quick fun facts are that I am obsessed with Trader Joes, a Phillies/Flyers fanatic, a member of a sorority, and in love with James Franco.

HOLA! My name is Jake Brody and I am a rising senior at the College majoring in Hispanic Studies with a minor in Sociology. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain during the fall 2010 semester and really enjoyed getting to know the Spanish people and learning more about Spain. That is one of the main reasons why I am back on Spanish soil this summer (even if it is in Washington). Some interesting facts about me: brunch is my favorite meal of the day, I could watch any Olympic event (including team handball), and have hiked Mt. Vesuvius in Italy!

For the next month or so we will be filling you in on what happens at a foreign embassy and specifically how our office helps promote Spanish culture and arts here in the States. In the mean time, check out our Facebook page: Spain Arts & Culture!

Ciao bacalao!

Jake & Maddy

News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Claire Dranginis Book Prize Winner!

The 2011 Modern Languages Book Prize in Japanese has been awarded Claire Dranginis, a senior majoring in East Asian Studies and minoring in Management and Organizational Leadership. Claire has studied Japanese through the fourth-year advanced level, and has taken many classes in Japanese studies, including Japanese Cinema and Gross National Cool. Her interest in the Japanese language grew out of a love of contemporary Japanese popular music (read her essay on J-pop here). Claire also spent a semester at Keio University, in Tokyo, perfecting her language skills. Upon graduating this spring, she will be off to China, to teach English there. The prize was announced at the College’s annual Spring Awards Reception on Tuesday, April 12th.  Our congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!

News: Japanese Studies Uncategorized

Busy Spring for Japan Studies

Obayashi Chigumi, Michael Cronin, Obayashi Nobuhiko

A steady stream of eminent visitors and special events greatly enriched Japanese studies at William and Mary this Spring. To recap:

In late January, as part of W&M’s Global Film Festival, the leading authority on anime, Professor Susan Napier of Tufts University, visited campus to speak on trauma and fantasy in the work of Japan’s master of animation, Miyazaki Hayao. Professor Napier also introduced a special screening of Miyazaki’s masterwork, The Princess Mononoke.

In mid-February, the Film Festival hosted the celebrated film director Ōbayashi Nobuhiko and his daughter, the writer and film specialist Ōbayashi Chigumi. While here, the Ōbayashis met with student filmmakers, judged a contest of student filmmakers’ work, and attended a screening of their own recently restored 1977 cult classic film, Hausu (House), which was enthusiastically received.

At the end of February Professor Steven Chung, of Princeton University, spoke on Korean filmmaking under Japanese occupation and introduced a rare screening of a classic Korean film of the colonial period, “Homeless Angels” (aka “Angels on the Street,” 1941) directed by Choi In-gyu.

Early March brought Professor Julia Thomas, of Notre Dame, to campus to speak on photography in post-war Japan. Her talk, “Intimate Trauma, Cool Distance,” focused on two of the most renowned photographers of the 20th century, Domon Ken and Kimura Ihei.

Later in March, the historian Gavan McCormack, emeritus professor at the Australian National University, traveled to William and Mary to deliver the Art Matsu Memorial Lecture. Dr. McCormack spoke on Okinawa and the popular activism that has developed there in resistance to plans for a new military base.

And in early April, we hosted Professor Tomiko Yoda, of Harvard University, who delivered a fascinating talk on the Women’s Liberation movement in 1970s Japan and evolving images of women in popular media at the time.

Our sincere thanks again to all our visitors for the excitement they brought to the program!

News: Russian Studies Uncategorized

Monika Bernotas receives Charles Center Scholarship for International Research (April 2011)

Monika Bernotas has been awarded the Charles Center Scholarship for International Research for her summer 2011 research project. This much sought after scholarship will help Monika to study experimental art communities in Lithuania and Russia.

Featured News News: German Studies Uncategorized

Monica LoBue (German Studies and Biology, ’11) awarded Fulbright

Graduating senior and Phi Beta Kappa initiate Monica LoBue (German Studies and Biology, ’11) has been awarded the Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Germany for the academic year 2011–2012. This much sought after Fulbright provides Monica with round-trip airfare to Germany and a substantial monthly stipend to work with students learning English and American Studies at a German Gymnasium, which prepares students for study in the German University System. At the high school, she works intensively with a teacher, participates in the school’s programs, and works with students individually, introducing them to aspects of American Culture while teaching them advanced English. After the Fulbright, Monica hopes to pursue her dream of going to Medical School and becoming a physician. Congratulations, Monica!


THE INNER CIRCLE. The Second Screening of theFilm Series: Russian History on Reels.

The Inner Circle (1991, dir. Andrei Konchalovsky)
Full Description
The second film in our mini-series on
Monday April 4, 7 pm (Washington 302).

The Inner Circle (1991, dir. Andrei Konchalovsky), starring the multi-talented Tom Hulce and Lolita Davidovich, is based on Ivan Sanchin, a KGB officer who is Stalin’s private film projectionist during the war years. It’s apparently explosive, unforgettable, and true.

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"Trouble in Paradise"

Professor Valerie Smith, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton University will give a lecture on the works of Toni Morrison entitled, “Trouble in Paradise.” This event is free and open to the public. Reception will follow the lecture.

Thursday, March 24th 5:00 pm
Blow Memorial Hall, Room 201

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Middle East Panel: Current Turmoil and Future Prospects

Discussion and Q&A on the current situation in the Middle East, featuring scholars in the fields of government, economics, language, history, and religion.

Thursday, March 17th 4:00 pm – 6:30pm
Miller Hall (Mason School of Business) Brinkley Commons Ballroom

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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.


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Study Abroad La Plata Information Session

You are invited to learn more about W&M’s Semester in La Plata, Argentina Program (Spring or Fall or Both)

WHEN: Tuesday, March 15, 5.00 pm

WHERE: Washington Hall 315

WHO: La Plata faculty and staff, program alumni, and La Plata Program Faculty Advisor

Professor Silvia Tandeciarz will present information

about courses, homestays, and internship opportuntities

cultural internships.

For more information or questions, contact

Professor Silvia Tandeciarz, Hispanic Studies Program,

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All is Fair in Art and War: Confiscation of Cultural Property during Times of Armed Conflict

Monday, March 21st 5:00 pm
Law School, Room 127

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Gavan McCormack, “The Prefecture that Says “No!” – Okinawa as Japan’s Tahrir Square”

Professor Gavan McCormack will deliver the Art Matsu Lecture on Okinawa and the the civic democratic activism that has evolved there out of the 14-year-long resistance to US and Japanese attempts to build a new Marine base there. March 25, 3:00, Blow Memorial Hall, Room 201.

Gavan McCormack is Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow, Division of Pacific and Asian History of the Australian National University. He has written widely on Japan, North and South Korea, China, and Southeast Asia.

Five decades after the adoption of the (revised) US-Japan Security Treaty, two decades after the end of the Cold War, and amidst the present collapse of US-supported regimes across West Asia/North Africa, East Asia seems stable. But is it?

Japan is no Egypt. And yet in East Asia, the relationship between the world’s No 1 and No 2 (till yesterday) powers remains rooted in the war, defeat, and occupation of nearly seven decades ago, reinforced by the structures of Cold War. The “master-servant” quality of the relationship that Professor McCormack wrote about in 2007 (Client State – Japan in the American Embrace) endures. A belated Japanese attempt in 2009 to reform it ended in failure and the collapse of the Hatoyama government. Its successor, headed by Kan Naoto, having attached its top priority to serving Washington, proves similarly impotent and destined to follow Hatoyama into oblivion.

There is no precedent in modern Japanese history for an entire prefecture to unite, as does Okinawa today, in saying “No” to the central state authorities of the world’s two great powers. This talk looks at the civic democratic activism that has evolved in Okinawa out of the 14-year long resistance to US and Japanese attempts to build a new Marine base there, and argues that, in the utterly unequal contest between those forces and those of the nation states of Japan and the US, the advantage today rests with the former. The lesson of Tahrir Square is that a conservative, US-manipulated system resting on compliant state bureaucrats and media has no answer to a determined, fearless, non-violent and enraged populace. What is commonly called the “Okinawa problem” is better seen as the “Japan problem,” and, unaddressed, it becomes the East Asian problem and the American problem.

This event is sponsored by the Asian Studies Initiative.

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Gavan McCormack, "The Prefecture that Says "No!" – Okinawa as Japan’s Tahrir Square"

Professor Gavan McCormack will deliver the Art Matsu Lecture on Okinawa and the the civic democratic activism that has evolved in Okinawa out of the 14-year long resistance to US and Japanese attempts to build a new Marine base there.

Friday, March 25th 3:30 pm – 5:00pm
Blow Memorial Hall, Room 201

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Between “Pop” and “Radical”

Professor Tomiko Yoda, of Harvard University, will present a lecture, “Between ‘Pop’ and ‘Radical’: Women’s Lib, Media Culture, and Female Nude in Early-1970s Japan.” The lecture will address the resonances between radical feminism (“ûman ribu” or “ribu”) of the early 1970s and new images of femininity that appeared in Japanese popular medias at the time. Friday, 4/8, 3:30, Cohen Career Center Presentation Room.  Open to the general public.

Tomiko Yoda is the Takashima Professor of Japanese Humanities in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. She has also taught at Duke, Cornell, and Stanford. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1996. Professor Yoda’s research focuses on modern and pre-modern Japanese literature, literary history, and media studies; issues of gender in contemporary Japan; and feminist theory. She is the author of Gender and National Literature: Heian Texts and the Constructions of Japanese Modernity (Duke, 2004) and co-editor with Harry Harootunian of Japan After Japan: Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present (Duke, 2006).


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Victor Mair – "The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Background of the Silk Road"

Professor Victor Mair will present a lecture titled “The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Background of the Silk Road”

Friday, April 15th 3:30 pm
Washington Hall, Room 201

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Film Screening: Night Bus 807 (Nattbus 807) (Swedish, 1997; Directed by David Flamholc)

German Studies and European Studies
Film Screening: Night Bus 807 (Nattbus 807) (Swedish, 1997; Directed by David Flamholc)
Thursday, February 24th 7pm, Blair 201

Gang violence, racism, and minority cultures collide in this 1997 Swedish film. Compared to "A Clockwork Orange" and "Trainspotting," the film is based on a true story of the murder of a young racist in the Stockholm suburbs by a group of very young Latino boys during the Stockholm Water Festival. Flamholc uses a "Rashomon" technique to show different accounts of the incident. It has become a cult classic in Sweden.

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2011 Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia Spring Workshop

This workshop will introduce useful online tools for Chinese language teachers. These tools include virtual office, virtual classroom, tools of preparing for class, learning materials for students, tools for collaborative learning and working in group, etc. Taking advantage of these free or less expensive tools will make teaching more efficient and productive. Teachers should be familiar with these resources and reorganize them to meet their own needs. This session will be conducted in two parts: Part I: technology and Chinese language teaching. It will introduce the stages of development of CALL and some basic concepts in using computers to teach Chinese. The categorized resources available online will be introduced. Part II: reorganization and practical use and of online resources. This session will use the personal collections of online resources to demonstrate how to collect and organize the resources and make teaching more efficient and productive.

See the attached flyer for registration information. Registration deadline is March 14.

Workshop Info

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Guest Lecture: “Visuality, Nationality, Archive”

Steven Chung of Princeton U. will give a lecture on Korean film of the colonial period, entitled “Visuality, Nationality, Archive.”  5:00 pm, Washington 201.

In connection with Professor Chung’s lecture, there will be a screening of the film “Homeless Angels” (aka “Angels on the Street,” 1941) directed by Choi In-gyu, on Sunday, Feb. 27.

Steven Chung teaches Korean and East Asian film and literature in the East Asian Studies department at Princeton University. He has published work on North Korean cinema and  is currently finishing his book entitled, “The Split Screen: Sin Sang-ok and Postwar Korean Film Cultures.”

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Prof. Victor Mair discusses “The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Background of the Silk Road “

As part of the Asian Studies Initiative’s Spring 2011 Conference on the Silk Road, Prof. Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania, world-renowned literary scholar and archaeologist, will give a lecture entitled  “The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Background of the Silk Road.”

A specialist on classical and medieval Chinese literature, Dunhuang excavations and manuscript culture, and early Chinese archaeology, and translator of such canonical pre-Qin texts as Sun Zi’s The Art of War and the Daodejing, Prof. Mair has spent his life teaching the culture and history of premodern China. He has authored and co-authored numerous books, including The Tarim Mummies, T’ang Transformation Texts, Painting and Performance, and The True History of Tea. He has also edited or co-edited numerous volumes, including Experimental Essays on Zhuangzi, Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World, The Columbia History of Chinese Literature, and the monumental An Alphabetical Index to the Hanyu Da Cidian (Great Dictionary of the Chinese Language).

Co-Sponsored by the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Initiative and Chinese Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Prof. Mair’s presentation will also serve as the inaugural Annual Finn Lecture in Chinese Studies, sponsored in part by a generous donation from the Finn family.

Location: Washington 201

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Public Film Screening at the Muscarelle Museum of Art: DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART

Starts: February 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Location: Muscarelle Museum of Art
Event URL:


This award-winning 2010 documentary highlights the life and achievements of Igor Savitsky (1915-1984), who rescued 44,000 works of unsanctioned Soviet art and founded a museum to display them. Today, the Nukus Art Museum, located in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, holds the second largest collection of Soviet avant-garde art in the world. This collection, suppressed during Stalinism and the following decades, offers fresh perspectives on the art and history of the USSR.

Full Description

How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.

Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist’s works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.

Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed Asner voice the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists. Intercut with recollections of the artists’ children and rare archival footage, the film takes us on a dramatic journey of sacrifice for the sake of creative freedom. Described as “one of the most remarkable collections of 20th century Russian art” and located in one of the world’s poorest regions, today these paintings are worth millions, a lucrative target for Islamic fundamentalists, corrupt bureaucrats and art profiteers. The collection remains as endangered as when Savitsky first created it, posing the question whose responsibility is it to preserve this cultural treasure.

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