Languages, Literatures and Cultures

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Faculty News ~ 2005


Dr. Anna Adams has been on sabbatical this year. She has been dividing her time between Tulum, Mexico and Allentown, working on a study of the Syrian-Colombian community in the Lehigh Valley. She has spoken to student groups at Cedar Crest and Penn State on Latinos in the Lehigh Valley and will present a paper, “Crossing Borders between Town and Gown,” at the MACLAS (Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies) conference in Richmond, VA. She has been elected Vice President / President elect of MACLAS.

Prof. Helen Bachochin has enjoyed her fifth year as a full-time instructor. She especially likes working with her students and colleagues and participating in department activities such as the Mesa Española. At the Spanish Table students of all levels converse in Spanish in an informal setting. Professor Bachochin attended last April’s CyberTools Symposium at Lehigh University. This April, she plans to attend the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in New York City.

Dr. Franz A. Birgel, co-director of the German Program, is still pursuing several projects related to the history of German cinema. Work on his book Manipulating Images: German Cinema during the Third Reich is still ongoing. In November he presented a paper entitled “Women’s Weepie as Nazi Propaganda: Zarah Leander and Die große Liebe (1942)” at the Third Biennial Conference of The Film and History League: “War in Film, Television, and History,” which was held in Dallas, Texas. After several delays, the volume Straight Through the Heart: Doris Dörrie, German Filmmaker and Author, which Dr. Birgel edited together with Klaus Phillips of Hollins University, was published in December by Scarecrow Press. This is the first in-depth study of Germany’s best-known woman filmmaker. In addition to German language, literature, film, and culture courses, Dr. Birgel enjoys teaching his first-year seminar on the Western film. Next fall semester, he will teach a new course, Readings in German Drama, as the German Program’s contribution to the revised program for Theater majors.

Prof. Flor María Buitrago has enjoyed her third year at Muhlenberg! She especially likes working with her students and colleagues and participating in departmental activities such as El día de los muertos, La fiesta de Navidad and Carnaval. She also coordinated International Night in which the students from different languages presented poetry, drama, song and dance.
In conjunction with Dr. Marx, Professor Buitrago organized the Pablo Neruda Centenary symposium and lecture by Dr. Marjorie Agosín in November. Also in November she attended the annual ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference in Chicago. Professor Buitrago will be directing this summer’s LVAIC Summer Study Abroad in Puebla, Mexico.

Prof. Kara Danielson is new this year to the LLC Department at Muhlenberg and to the Lehigh Valley. She is currently teaching Spanish language as well as Conversation and Composition. She holds an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Chinese/East Asian Studies from Colgate University and a M.A. from Boston University and the University of Connecticut and currently is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. Her doctoral dissertation, “Painting on the Page and Painting on the Stage” deals with the relationship between literature and the visual arts and the art-life relationship in twentieth-century Spanish narrative and drama.
Having just come from a three-year visiting position at Arcadia University where she was teaching predominantly upper-level classes in literature, cinema, and senior seminar, she is particularly excited to be working once again with students in the beginning stages of the Spanish major or minor. Professor Danielson is especially pleased with the welcome afforded her by her colleagues in the LLC Department, its students, and the Muhlenberg community and looks forward to continuing her teaching association with the College.

Dr. Luba Iskold continues her research in the field of language pedagogy and technology. This year, her article “Watching Video in the Language Classroom” was published in Academic Exchange Quarterly. Dr. Iskold’s current research is focused on effective uses of digital video for language learning. She has designed a set of online interactive Video Guides that students of Russian use while they watch digitized video episodes at the Language Learning Center. In collaboration with Dr. Greg Cicconetti (Mathematical Sciences), she conducted an empirical study of the effectiveness of her design. She presented the findings from that study at the annual international CALICO symposium “Scholarly Activities in Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Development, Pedagogical Innovations, and Research,” at Carnegie Mellon University, in June 2004. Her paper was entitled “Bridging Theory and Practice: Research Based Listening Tasks for Video Comprehension.” In the fall, Dr. Iskold participated in the “Foreign Language Education and Technology” conference at Princeton University. In March, together with colleagues from Lafayette and Hamilton Colleges, Dr. Iskold participated on the panel entitled “Exploring Ideas for Developing the FL Website” at the annual NEALLT Conference “The Language Resource Center: Trends and Visions” at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Dr. Iskold focused on how the departmental and Language Learning Center’s websites promote and reflect the study of languages at Muhlenberg College. Recently granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor, Dr Iskold continues advising Russian Studies majors and minors and the Russian Club.

Dr. Eileen Ketchum spent her second year at Muhlenberg further developing courses that she began the previous year and attending numerous conferences. She serves as advisor to the French Club and helped the students organize successful events such as a fundraiser for victims of the fall hurricanes in Haiti, a Mardi Gras crêpe sales, trips to 19th Street Theatre for French movies, and an upcoming spring trip to NYC to see La Cage aux Folles on Broadway. Her new course, French for the Professions, was offered again in the spring semester and several students have eagerly begun exploring new career possibilities in French that they had not previously considered. Dr. Ketchum also had to opportunity to teach French seventeenth-century literature in the fall, exploring one of her passions from graduate school. She is currently developing two new courses for Muhlenberg: one that will explore immigrant literature in Quebec and another that will provide pedagogical training and methodology for students studying to become foreign language teachers.
Her research in Francophone cultures and foreign language pedagogy led her to numerous conferences this year. In the fall she presented a paper at Marquette University on French and Spanish recountings of the 1804 Haitian Revolution and another paper in Chicago at the annual ACTFL convention, presenting her unique reading strategies model for teaching Francophone literature. In July she will present at three conferences that will further develop her investigation of pedagogical methods and Francophone literature; first at AATF (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) in Quebec on teaching African cultures through film, second in Toronto on language and identity issues of Haitian immigrant communities in Quebec, and finally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she will join Professor Buitrago in presenting their approaches to French and Spanish business courses. This past fall Dr. Ketchum also published an article in the African Literature Association Annual Series entitled “Désir volé: Creating a Female Discourse in Seventeenth-Century French and Twentieth-Century Francophone Novels.” After all of her conference presentations this past year, Dr. Ketchum has begun submitting articles of her ongoing research to various journals. Finally, her work with Spanish continues as she hopes to attend a six-week immersion program in Mexico this summer.

Dr. Albert Kipa stepped down as Head of the Department in December and has been on sabbatical this spring. He has been dividing his time between Allentown and different European capitals, working on an English-language biography of Lesia Ukrainka (1871-1913), the foremost Ukrainian poet of her time. Dr. Kipa has followed closely the events of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine and dividing some of his time between Kiev, Rome, Munich, and Berlin. In early December he gave a lecture entitled “Lesia Ukrainka, Goethe, and the Creative Process” at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in New York City. In early March he spoke on “Perspectives on Taras Shevchenko’s Fame and Legacy” at an annual commemorative event sponsored by the Ukrainian Free University in Munich. In May, Dr. Kipa will be giving three lectures on comparative aspects of Ukrainian-Western cultural and literary relations in Kiev.

Dr. Joan F. Marx continues her professional work in the areas of contemporary Spanish American literature on both sides of the border. In November, Dr. Marx presented the paper, "The Politics of Postcolonialism in Esmeralda Santiago’s El sueño de América" at the VI International Conference on Caribbean Literature at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix. In April she presented her paper, “The Aesthetics of Civil War and Human Rights in El Salvador in Mario Bencastro’s Árbol de la vida: Historias de la guerra civil,” on the panel “Writing and Erasing Boundaries in Contemporary Central American Literature” at the MACLAS XXVI Annual Meeting: Crossing Boundaries at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of World Studies in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Marx continues to serve as Associate Editor in the area of Latin American literature on the Editorial Board of MACLAS and this year she began the first of a three year term on the MACLAS Executive Council. As part of her new responsibilities, she serves as the Chair of the Arthur P. Whittaker Prize Committee for best recent book publication in 2004. She presented the award at this April’s MACLAS Annual Meeting. Joan F. Marx had two articles published this year: "Marginación sociopolítica en Un mundo raro de Marcela Serrano: ¿México contemporáneo como emblema del progreso o el teatro del absurdo?," has been published in Encuentros de viejos y nuevos mundos: La literatura hispánica vista en el 2003, a collection of selected essays presented at the II Congreso Internacional de Literatura Hispánica; and “Breaking the Silence in Alba Ambert’s Porque hay silencio: One Woman’s Journey” was published in the Journal of MACLAS in Vol. XVII (2004).
Last but certainly not least, Dr. Marx is teaching a new senior seminar in Spanish this spring, Human Rights Literature in the Americas. Based on the course she taught with Dr. Adams last spring for history majors, this seminar was developed specifically for Spanish majors and minors with a focus on the literary analysis of Spanish American poetry, drama, and narratives dealing with issues of human rights.

Dr. Lisa Perfetti has recently completed an edited collection of essays entitled The Representation of Women’s Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Culture. The book will be published this June by the University Press of Florida. Her first book, Women and Laughter in Medieval Comic Literature (University of Michigan Press 2003) received an honorable mention for first book by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship. Dr. Perfetti will also have her work on women's laughter represented in the forthcoming Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, published by Routledge. An essay on women in the fabliaux will be published in a volume by Palgrave in 2006. In addition to her research in medieval literature, Dr. Perfetti has begun pursuing her interest in environmental issues. This spring she is directing an independent study with French minor Lori McEwuen examining French environmental policy and land use planning. In the spring of 2006 she will be teaching a new 300-level course taught in French: The Environment in France and the Francophone World. Dr. Perfetti also continues her work as director of the Center for Ethics. The spring 2005 program has been examining ethics in the information age, and the 2005-2006 academic year will be devoted to the Ethics of Identity. Most exciting for Dr. Perfetti this past year was the birth of her daughter Lucia Perfetti on February 18, 2005. They especially look forward to reading books together in English, French, and Spanish.

Prof.Marita Reeder joined the department again as a part-time instructor after a year's absence. Due to high enrollments in German 101 the class was split into two sections. Prior to the fall-semester, she taught an independent study course in Business German at Muhlenberg during the summer. In the summer of 2003 she attended a week-long seminar with and about contemporary German writers in Berlin, Germany, after which she visited family in the Frankfurt area.

Dr. Erika M. Sutherland has spent much of the past year developing closer ties between the College’s academic offerings and Allentown’s 26% Hispanic population. She was awarded a Presidential Service Learning Initiative Grant for the development of Spanish for the Community, a service-learning courses for advanced Spanish students. Dr. Sutherland continues to encourage students to interact with the immigrant community through conversational intercambios and social events with her immigrant support group, El Grupo de Apoyo e Integración Hispanamericano. Her work with both schools and the immigrant community led to Dr. Sutherland being named to serve on the Allentown School District’s Diversity Task Force, the Board of Directors of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, and as keynote speaker at the annual Aspires Community Mentoring Award ceremony.
Dr. Sutherland was named the 2004-2005 Pennsylvania Humanities Scholar with Touchstone Theatre’s Quixote Project, charged with connecting local artists, students, scholars, and the Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities to make Don Quixote accessible to and meaningful for all. She presented the project and some of its pedagogical implications in a paper “Fleshing Out Quixote: In Search of a Well-Rounded Reading” presented at Villanova’s Don Quijote at 400: A Celebratory Encounter in March. As part of the Project she has been directing weekly reading circles and is creating, with Lehigh University’s Ricardo Viera, a video: I am / You are / Who is Quixote. The video will debut at the Zoellner Main Gallery on 6 May. With the
support of a Faculty Research Grant, Dr. Sutherland will be devoting much of her summer to continuing research on 19th century medical and literary images of women.

Prof. Mirna Trauger is feeling right at home now that she is completing her second year here. Under her direction, the Spanish Club organized a fall school supply fundraiser for Casa Guadalupe, a restaurant outing to sample Caribbean food, and an empanada and cookie sale. Their project for the spring is another excursion to a local Hispanic restaurant and possibly a student gathering to discuss current events in the Latin American world. She especially enjoyed playing a key role in the planning and coordination of the Holiday Party in December and Carnaval in February, finding both fun and rewarding. She found the student interest and involvement in these celebrations particularly gratifying. She continues to work towards completing her doctorate and in November traveled to St. Croix to read a paper on Caribbean literature drawn from one chapters of her dissertation.

Dr. Kathy Wixon started this academic year with a well-earned sabbatical leave which she devoted to the study of women’s autobiography. She continues as one of two faculty observers to the College's Board of Trustees and is on her 11th year as Co-Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching. The summer she will give a presentation at the American Association of Teachers of French convention in Quebec City on French projects across the curriculum. She looks forward to teaching her first course in English in 20 years at Muhlenberg: a First Year Seminar on life writing. As always, she is often accompanied to class by her current Seeing Eye puppy in training.

Prof. Santa Zanchettin continues to enjoy her students and courses --four Italian courses this semester!-- as well as the newly formed Tavola Italiana, a weekly meeting where students have the opportunity to practice their Italian over lunch. In April, she will also attend the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in New York City.  Professor Zanchettin spent five weeks in Hawaii last summer where she taught French at Le Jardin Academy on the island of Oahu. If someone remarks that that sounds like hard work, she will reply, “Well, someone has to do it.” She will, however, admit that it was a great opportunity to teach in such paradisiacal surroundings. This summer, her sights are set on a four-week adventure in northern and central Italy, where she will evaluate Italian programs at Muhlenberg’s affiliates in Ferrara, Perugia and Rome. There, she will also reconnect with her Italian relatives and friends.

 

Muhlenberg College - Languages, Literatures and Cultures