Languages, Literatures and Cultures

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Faculty News ~ 2006


Dr. Anna Adams returned this year a fter a year's sabbatical during which she did research and oral history interviewing on a local immigrant community. She is teaching a new senior seminar this spring "Under the Eagle: A History of US/Latin American relations.” Over spring break she traveled to Ponce, Puerto Rico to the annual conference of the Mid Atlantic Council on Latin American Studies (MACLAS). There she was sworn in as president of the organization and presented a paper based on last year's research entitled "The Colombian/Syrian Connection: Rethinking the Melting Pot." She also traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, to visit a study program there for Muhlenberg students. Dr. Adams continues to be active in the Allentown Latino Community as a board member of Casa Guadalupe and was active in the reelection campaign of city councilman, Julio Guridy. This summer she will be packing her bags again, with plans to spend 10 days in Bosnia, a month in Guanajuato, and 3 weeks at her house in Tulum, Mexico in August.

Prof. Helen Bachochin has enjoyed her sixth year as a full-time instructor. She especially likes working with her students and colleagues. One of the activities she enjoys immensely is meeting with students weekly at the Mesa Española. At the Spanish Table students of all levels converse in Spanish in an informal setting. Professor Bachochin attended the Cybertools Symposium in August, at DeSales University. This March she plans to attend the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in New York City.

Dr. Irene Beibe joined the Department as Assistant Professor in Spanish in August. Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, she comes to us with a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. During her first semester at Muhlenberg she presented her paper, “¿Cuánto dura el silencio? Un análisis métrico de algunos poemas de la Generación del ‘27” at the XXXI Annual Hispanic Literatures Conference. She also attended the MLA Conference in December, where she heard Ariel Dorfman speak on “The Role of the Intellectual in the XXI Century.” Dr. Beibe is preparing her dissertation for publication as a book. Part of her dissertation El ritmo como subtexto analizable en la poesía y teatro de Federico García Lorca can be found on line at http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AA13186847
With her background in music, Dr. Beibe helped host visiting composer Dr. John Eaton here on campus and participated in a benefit concert singing Sephardic music. The concert at Temple Covenant of Peace in Easton raised some $1800 for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Beibe also particpated in the panel discussion “Aliens in America.” Following the forum on immigration, she was interviewed by Channel 69 Edición en español, and was the featured interview on that evening’s lead story.

Dr. Franz A. Birgel, co-director of the German Program, was an active participant this year in the planning group that created the new major in Film Studies, which will be initiated in the fall of 2006. Within the new program, he will teach German Cinema, The Western Film, and a section of World Cinema. During the fall semester, Dr. Birgel taught Readings in German Drama, a new course which he designed for Theater majors at the college. This course provided the stimulus to reread plays he had not read since graduate school and to read many contemporary ones for the first time. After not having been on skis for almost thirty years, Dr. Birgel started skiing again last year and has been spending much of his free time on Blue Mountain. In early April he made many trips to see foreign films at the Philadelphia Film Festival. He will spend most of this summer working on his book Manipulating Images: German Cinema during the Third Reich.

Prof. Flor María Buitrago has had a wonderful year at Muhlenberg! She especially enjoyed working with her students and colleagues in departmental activities such as El día de los muertos, La fiesta de Navidad and Carnaval. She also coordinated International Night , in which students from different languages presented poetry, drama, song and dance. She worked with Professors Ketchum and Zanchettin to organize the Year of Languages Symposiumand lecture by Dr. Terry Osborn in November. Working with Dr. Marx, Professor Buitrago organized the February lecture by Tino Villanueva on Chicano poetry. In July, she attended the annual conference of the International Linguistic Association at the University of Wisconsin. There, she presented a paper “Methods of Designing Real-life Business Applications in French and Spanish” with Dr. Ketchum. In November she joined Dr. Ketchum again at the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference in Baltimore.

Prof. Kara Danielson has enjoyed her second year of teaching at Muhlenberg! This year, in addition to continuing to work closely with future majors/minors in her Conversation & Composition classes, she has assumed the responsibility of mentoring the Spanish Club. Under her guidance, and with the contagious enthusiasm of the club president, the Spanish Club has been a strong presence on campus. Highlights included an excursion to see a flamenco performance at Lafayette College, skull-painting and altar-building El Día de los Muertos, a school supply fundraiser for Allentown’s Casa Guadalupe, and an empanada-making lesson and campus-wide sale. The Club will end the semester with an outing to a local Hispanic restaurant. Professor Danielson spent considerable time last semester helping student Drew Krumholz organize his ongoing research on liberation theology in Central America for presentation at the Year of the Languages Symposium in November. The project turned out to be a very successful one: Drew gave an impressive presentation in Spanish at the Symposium and then joined his co-author Kyle Miller to present their paper at the MACLAS Conference in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Luba Iskold continues her research in CALL (computer assisted language learning), focusing on innovative uses of digital video. This year, she was instrumental in bringing to campus SCOLA, multilingual news programming available via the Internet. Dr. Iskold believes that instant access to newscasts from 72 countries provides Muhlenberg the opportunity to examine the world’s most critical events from a variety of perspectives. This spring, she presented her paper entitled “Developing Listening Comprehension Using SCOLA Online News Casts: Theoretical and Practical Considerations” at the NEALLT conference at the University of Pennsylvania. For her Russian classes, Dr. Iskold is currently preparing ancillary electronic materials. Dr. Iskold is advising Russian Studies majors and minors and the Russian Club. She also continues her volunteer work, teaching a computer-literacy class for the local Russian community and, with her upper-level Russian students, preparing electronic resources for the community to be posted on the Language Learning Center web page.

Dr. Eileen Ketchum continues her work in developing new courses for the department, namely a new Special Topics course in Québecois literature and culture that she taught in spring 2006. She also spends a good deal of her time working with the French Club, organizing interesting French and Francophone events on campus and in the surrounding community. Some successful events she helped plan this year include trips to the 19 th Street Theater for French movies (including a faculty talk-back session in which Dr. Ketchum led the discussion of Caché), a trip to NYC to see a new opera version of Le Petit Prince, and the third annual Mardi Gras crêpe sales to raise funds for Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap Haitien, Haiti. This year she took on the role of advisor to Phi Sigma Iota and has revamped the first-year French and third-year Conversation and Composition courses to make a film-based curriculum, following the College’s strategy to develop a Film Studies major at Muhlenberg. Dr. Ketchum continues her research in Second Language Acquisition and teaching methods for Francophone literature. She presented a paper with Professor Buitrago on effective teaching methods for Business French and Spanish at the Association of Applied Linguistics in Madison, WI. She also presented a paper on student-faculty relationships in small colleges at the Modern Language Association conference and has had two articles accepted for publication this year, both of which present her unique model of reading strategies for students reading Francophone literature for the first time. Her interest in technology in foreign language teaching has also led to the publication of her PowerPoint packages for two first-year French textbooks, Paroles and Débuts. She hopes to expand upon this work this summer by developing a book that presents effective methods of using PowerPoint in foreign language classrooms.

Dr. Albert Kipa stepped down as department head at the end of 2004 and embarked on sabbatical leave which took him to Germany, Italy and Ukraine in the spring of 2005. He is working on an English-language critical biography of the Ukrainian poetess Lesia Ukrainka. While much has been written about her in Ukrainian, Russian and German, relatively few serious scholarly studies are available in English. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, many new archival materials have become available about her and several new studies have appeared which Dr. Kipa plans to incorporate in his work. While in Kiev, he gave two lectures at the National Linguistics University entitled “Lesia Ukrainka und Gerhart Hauptmann” (in German) and “Reflections on the Art of Translation” (in English). In Munich, he delivered the principal address at the Ukrainian community’s annual Taras Shevchenko day entitled “Taras Shevchenko’s Literary Stature: Local vs. International” (in Ukrainian). Last November, he was guest speaker at the 30 th Anniversary celebration of the Ukrainian Free University Foundation in New York; his talk was entitled “Preserving Ukrainian Culture and Scholarship for 85 Years: Achievements and Struggles of the Ukrainian Free University.” Dr. Kipa also is president-elect of the New York-based Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of its editorial board.

Dr. Joan Marx continued her professional work in the areas of contemporary Spanish American literature on both sides of the border. In October Dr. Marx presented her paper, “El discurso femenino del patriarcado religioso en Mujeres de ojos grandes de Ángeles Mastretta” at the International Colloquium for Vernacular, Hispanic, Historical, American and Folklore Studies, Puebla, Mexico. She also served as the chair of her panel, “Deconstructing the Struggle for Humanity in Mexican Literature.” In addition, Dr. Marx presented the paper, “ El Salvador’s Post-Colonial Legacy in Graciela Limón’s En busca de Bernabé,” at the annual conference, “Colonialism and Beyond,” of the Middle Atlantic Council on Latin American Studies (MACLAS) in Ponce, Puerto Rico in March. There, Dr. Marx also served as the Program Chair in Humanities and was named to a three-year term as Editor of the MACLAS Journal, Latin American Essays. Dr. Marx was granted a sabbatical for the fall 2006 semester, when she plans to continue her work on Spanish-American literature with themes of human rights. She will concentrate on the narratives of writers who depict issues of human rights as a consequence of various civil wars, specifically, the Dirty War in Argentina and the civil war in El Salvador. This new area of research is a natural outgrowth of her interest in and work on post-colonialism in the Americas.

Dr. Lisa Perfetti edited collection of essays entitled The Representation of Women’s Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Culture was published last summer by the University Press of Florida. This year, Dr. Perfetti will also have two entries published in the forthcoming Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, published by Routledge and an essay on women in the French fabliaux in a volume by Palgrave.This year Dr. Perfetti is teaching a new 300-level course taught in French: Nature and the Environment in France and the Francophone World. The class has read poems by Baudelaire and Rimbaud, studied medieval bestiaries, and explored many French-language websites on topics such as climate change, recycling, and organic agriculture. Dr. Perfetti plans to learn more about French attitudes towards environmental preservation when she spends time in France during her sabbatical next spring. Other activity this year includes directing the Center for Ethics, serving on a very busy curriculum committee, and helping to lead faculty development workshops for the College’s recent service-learning initiative. Dr. Perfetti’s daughter, Lucia, turned one this year and is already walking and saying a few words... NONE of them in French yet!

Dr. Erika M. Sutherland begin the school year directing a workshop at the University of Alabama . “Refocusing the Spanish language curriculum to prioritize development of oral communicative skills” was followed with a December workshop on oral work in elementary Spanish classes. She will be spending this summer developing assessment tools for service-learning classes, a project supported with a generous Faculty Center for Teaching Creative Teaching Grant. The Spanish service-learning courses and community-based projects in Dr. Sutherland’s “Cuisine as Culture” First Year Seminar incorporate her work with the local Hispanic community. Other college-community collaborations of this past year include the organization, with the Center for Ethics, of a pair of immigration related events and a film talk at the Civic Theatre on The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada . Dr. Sutherland continues with the bilingual community reading circles and public speaking on diversity and immigrant issues. Dr. Sutherland’s will be presenting her paper “Hunger Amidst Plenty: Rural Degeneration in Spanish Naturalism” at the May AIZEN and Naturalist Film Conference. Her article “La muerte de la muñeca de a bordo: El orgasmo femenino en la España del XIX” is forthcoming and two articles on 19th century Spanish images of women, written with the help of a 2005 Faculty Summer Research Grant, are under consideration.

Professor Mirna Trauger is enjoying her third year at Muhlenberg. She has continued her professional work in Hispanic Caribbean literature, reading her paper, “El desenmascaramiento de mitos culturales en La casa de la laguna de Rosario Ferré y En el tiempo de las mariposas de Julia Álvarez” at the Vernacular Colloquium in Puebla, México, in November. At the annual MACLAS conference in Puerto Rico, she also read her paper, “La metaficción historiográfica en La llegada de José Luis González.” Professor Trauger has been extremely active on campus with the Spanish Club, organizing the annual Holiday Party in December and the Carnaval celebration in February. Additionally, to complement her work in Spanish and to keep up her native tongue, she tutors a Muhlenberg student in Arabic.

Dr. Kathy Wixon, Coordinator of the French Program, celebrates her 20 th year at Muhlenberg. Last July she traveled to Quebec City to present a paper “French Projects across the Curriculum” at the American Association of Teachers of French Convention. In November, in her role as Co-Director of Muhlenberg’s Faculty Center for Teaching, she conducted a session with Dr. Harring in Psychology devoted to teaching programs at small liberal arts colleges at the annual faculty development conference of the Professional Organizational Developers in Milwaukee. Other campus activities include membership on the President and Provost’s Advisory Committee and the Faculty Evaluation Committee for tenure and promotion cases. This summer she will conduct research on learning commonalities in skills courses with Professors Follet (Music) and Doran (Accounting) as recipients of a Faculty Center for Teaching Innovative Teaching Grant. Dr. Wixon is usually accompanied on campus and in class by her latest companion of the canine persuasion, Hogan, her ninth Seeing Eye puppy in training.

Professor Santa Zanchettin traveled to Italy last summer to evaluate study abroad programs at the University of Ferrara, the Umbria Institute in Perugia, and the University of Fairfield in Florence. She presented the results of her visit at a meeting for Muhlenberg students interested in the Italian language and in study abroad in Italy.
Professor Zanchettin continues to be involved with the Lehigh Valley Institute of Italian Culture and encourages her students to take part in the Institute’s activities with the Italian community here. She was actively involved with the inauguration of the DaVinci Discovery Center this past October, helping host 21 citizens visiting from Leonardo DaVinci’s native town. She continues to enjoy working with her students, her colleagues and departmental activities like Carnevale, International Night, and weekly Caffé e Conversazione gatherings. She will attend the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages this spring and then travel to Italy this summer for further research for her lectures.

Andrew Woodward, lab tech, is more than a technical guru: in February he received two awards from the National Association of Web Designers and Developers for two freelance web design projects: www.tienlungtao.com and www.thomasinechurch.org. The association judging panel recognizes technical and aesthetic excellence.

  

Muhlenberg College - Languages, Literatures and Cultures