Languages, Literatures and Cultures

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Faculty News ~ 2000


Helen Bachochin was recently awarded a full-time instructorship for next year.  After many years of part-time teaching Spanish at Muhlenberg and Moravian College, the Department is delighted to claim her full-time. She will be traveling to Spain this summer. 

Dr. Franz A. Birgel delivered two papers during the past year.  At the Hollins Colloquium on German Children’s Films, he discussed Erich Kästner’s Das doppelte Lottchen and its cinematic adaptations, including Disney’s Parent Trap films.  At the International Conference of the Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Society in Nashville and again at the regional meeting of the American Association of Teachers of German, he presented an analysis how Lessing’s Minna von Barnhelm was turned into a propaganda vehicle when it was made into a film during the Third Reich.  Both papers as well as articles on Luis Trenker and Doris Dörrie are scheduled to appear in print this year.  His review of Patrick McGilligan’s Fritz Lang:  the nature of the beast was published in volume 24 of Schatzkammer.  This spring he is teaching a new first-year seminar on the western film as a reflection of historical and political discourses.  He is looking forward to the summer when he will co-edit a collection of essays on the filmmaker and author Doris Dörrie, catch up on reading, continue renovating his house, and play with his infant son Willem (Willy) who was born on November 7.

Patricia DeBellis is on a sabbatical like leave this semester, traveling to Puerto Rico and throughout Italy as she develops new curricular materials and researches the possibilities of a new LVAIC Italian Studies minor.

Dr. Barbara Gorka presented a paper titled, “Providing a Cultural Framework for the Study of Film Adaptation,” at the Northeast Modern Language Association’s Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, April 16, 1999.  This past February she presented a paper at the American Comparative Literature Association Conference on Interdisciplinary Studies at Yale University titled "Beyond the Language Requirement:  Using Language and Culture to Study Environmental Issues." Her article on ecotourism, "The Green Whitewash," was published in the travel magazine Big World.  Both of these were a result of her experiences leading students to the Latin American tropics with Biology professor Richard Niesenbaum.  They will be taking their third group of students to Costa Rica in May as part of their course "Environmental and Cultural Conservation in Latin America."

Dr. Luba Iskold and Dr. John Pearce attended this year’s EuroCALL, the European Computer-Assisted Language Learning Conference, held in Besancon, France, September 15-18.  They presented “Teacher-Produced Software for Language Learning: Does it Really Help?”  The study reports the results of feedback from teachers and students using Muhlenberg’s faculty-developed software made possible by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.  The interactive, multimedia software developed under the Mellon grant was presented in Jacksonville, FL in April 1999 at the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning.  There, Drs. Iskold and Pearce gave a talk titled, “Language Learning and Technology: Is Everybody Happy?”

Dr. Luba Iskold also gave a presentation on teaching and learning languages with technology at the fifth annual Mid-Atlantic College Conference.  She presented another paper, “The Effect of Group Video Viewing in a Comprehension-Based Foreign Language Curriculum,” at the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association Annual Conference, in which she discusses the findings from her empirical study conducted at Muhlenberg. Last summer, Dr. Iskold designed a new course entitled “Russian Culture and Civilization.”  She will spend part of the coming summer designing another new course entitled “Russian Nobel Prize Winners in Literature” for Fall, 2000. She also designed and developed the Home Page for the Language Learning Center and compiled a collection of web links for all the languages currently offered by the department.

Dr. Albert Kipa presented his paper “Lessing’s Reception in Russia, Poland and Ukraine” at the international conference of the Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Society at Vanderbilt University, October 28-31. The following month, he presented a paper entitled “Lesia Ukrainka and Goethe” at the 1999 National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in St. Louis.  His article, “Democracy and Education in John Neumann’s and in Jaroslav Pelikan’s works The Idea of a University,” has been included in a collection of essays entitled Civil Society and the Achievement of Liberty.  The book was published by the Ministry of Education of Ukraine in cooperation with Lviv State University.  In addition, his essay, “Pavlo Zaicev, Shevchenko Studies and the Ukrainian Free University,” was published in Prague by the National Library of the Czech Republic in the Conference Proceedings of November 1996 dedicated to the Ukrainian Free University.  Dr. Kipa spoke on “Russia Today” at the AgeWell Center in Bethlehem and, along with Dr. Carol Shiner Wilson, Dean of the College for Academic Life, attended a workshop at the University of Arkansas for international awards advisors.  Some awards discussed were the Truman, Marshall, Rhodes, and Fulbright.

Dr. Joan Marx was recently promoted to the rank of Professor at the College. In addition, she was just awarded a faculty summer grant to pursue a special project this summer with Dr. Donna Kish-Goodling of the Department of Accounting, Business and Economics.   Drs. Marx and Kish-Goodling will be developing an interdisciplinary course on the cultural economics of Spain which will include a study abroad component.  This semester, Dr. Marx is offering her newly designed course for the Spanish curriculum, “Border Literature,” a study of narratives written by Latinos in the United States. 

Dr. John Pearce, along with 20 professors of Spanish from around the country, attended a week-long workshop in June, 1999 at the University of South Carolina: Spanish for International Business.  He has also been elected President of the Board of Directors, Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County, for whom he will serve a two-year term.

Dr. Lisa Perfetti presented a paper last year on the Arabo-Islamic traditions in the work of the Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun at the American Comparative Literature Association Meeting.  She also chaired a session at this year's meeting of the ACLA.  The session was on the Challenge of Interdisciplinary Teaching and included a presentation by Dr. Perfetti on the interdisciplinary nature of her course Francophone Cultures of Africa and the Caribbean.  She is currently at work on an article on the crusade poetry of medieval France and will be presenting a paper on the representation of women's work in the medieval French farce at the International Congress of Medieval Studies in May.  In the Fall of 2000, she will be teaching a course on medieval literature in the English department.  The course will be comparative, covering medieval traditions of France, Italy, and Britain.  She also plans to offer a new Special Topics course in French for the spring of 2001 on literature by and about immigrants in modern France, a course designed to follow up on some of the themes in her Francophone Cultures course.

Dr. Erika M. Sutherland presented her paper, “La cuestión que quiso palpitar: El divorcio en España,” at the 30th annual convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association in Pittsburgh.  Dr. Sutherland compared two popular late 19th century debates in Spain, one successful (on literary naturalism) and one failed  (on divorce).  She took the group of students to the LVAIC summer study abroad program in Seville, Spain.  While in Seville, she began research on new social and cultural movements among marginal --gypsy, immigrant, and Protestant-- populations. This relates to Dr. Sutherland’s work with the Hispanic community in Allentown, where her Latino-focused business incubator is getting off the ground with the help of its cornerstone catering business, Fiestas del Corazón, Inc. She has spoken often about cultural issues, speaking about Spain at the AgeWell Center in September, about Hispanic Christmas traditions and again about Hispanic Protestants at the Asbury Methodist Church, and leading a Lenten workshop on Hispanic immigration at the Zion Lutheran Church in Tamaqua.

Dr. Kathy Wixon has been interested in the auto/biographical fiction of the French author Annie Ernaux.  Last semester, after doing an independent study with two students, Dr. Wixon became interested in pursuing work on the mother-daughter relationships in Ernaux’s work and will be presenting a paper on her research this semester.  She continues to be active with the Faculty Center for Teaching. She recently submitted a grant to the Mellon Foundation that would provide funding to help Muhlenberg faculty develop different ways to achieve the College’s liberal arts mission.  The grant would aim to unite faculty, regardless of their specific academic disciplines, in a common vision that focuses on “imaginative and critical thinking that make possible humane and responsible living within a free society,” as articulated in the Muhlenberg College catalog.

Muhlenberg College - Languages, Literatures and Cultures