Languages, Literatures and Cultures

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Faculty News ~ 2004


Dr. Anna Adams spent the summer in Tulum, Mexico reading and writing and visiting Mayan Ruins. In late August she gave a paper in Morelia, Mexico at the Humboldt Conference on Travel Literature in Latin America. Her paper was on Moravian Missionaries on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast, 1849-1899. This term she is team teaching a new course, Human Rights in the Americas, with Joan Marx. In February Joan and Anna also hosted the annual Mid Atlantic Conference on Latin America. Anna presented a paper, "Forget the Alamo: John Sayles' Writing of History in Lone Star." Next academic year, Anna will be on sabbatical leave to investigate the Syrian Colombian community of Allentown.

Prof. Helen Bachochin has enjoyed her fourth 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. In May, she participated in a workshop at Lehigh University: Cyber Tools for Teaching. In November, she attended the conference of ACTFL, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. In February, she participated in MACLAS: Middle Atlantic Conference on Latin American Studies hosted by Muhlenberg. This summer she plans another visit to Spain.

Dr. Franz A. Birgel, co-director of the German Program, spent the spring 2003 semester on a sabbatical working on numerous projects related to the history of German cinema. The volume Straight Through the Heart: Doris Dörrie, German Filmmaker and Author, which Dr. Birgel edited together with Klaus Phillips of Hollins University, is currently in production at Scarecrow Press. His article “Hans Schweikart’s Film Das Fräulein von Barnhelm: Lessing gets drafted into the Service of the Third Reich” will appear this May in The Many Faces of Germany: Transformations in the Study of German Culture and History published by Berghahn Press. In April, Professor Birgel will present a shorter version of this paper at the Sixteenth Hollins University Colloquium on German Film. Two of his book reviews were published during the past year, one of Rubble Films: German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Robert R. Shandley in the summer 2003 issue of Film Quarterly, and of German National Cinema by Sabine Hake in the spring 2003 issue of The German Quarterly. Last June he attended the Fifteenth Hollins University Colloquium on German Film, “The Germans in Hollywood Today,” where he gave the opening talk entitled “Germans and Austrians in Hollywood: An Historical Overview.” In July, he attended the second East German Film Institute, organized by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and held at Smith College. That seminar focused on the interrelationship between East Germany’s DEFA films and those of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. As during last two years, Professor Birgel will spend part of this summer at the Library of Congress doing research for his book on the cinema of the Third Reich, which he hopes to finish next year.

Prof. Flor María Buitrago has enjoyed her second year at Muhlenberg, but she has managed to leave the Lehigh Valley as well. Last summer she directed the LVAIC Summer Study Abroad Program in Puebla, Mexico. Also, Professor Buitrago presented a paper “Focus on Technology as a Tool in the Foreign Languages Classroom and its Applications in the Teaching of Business Spanish” at Florida International University. Her Spanish for Business class, featured earlier, has been a real highlight of the year. This year has been a busy one for conferences: in May Professor Buitrago attended a workshop at Lehigh University on “Cyber Tools for Teaching.” In November she attended the annual ACTFL conference in Philadelphia and in February attended the Mid Atlantic Conference on Latin American Studies (MACLAS), where she moderated the panel “Migration, Identity and Modernity”.

Dr. Luba Iskold continued her research in language learning and technology. Two of her articles came out this year: “Theoretical Perspectives on Second Language Learning” in Academic Exchange Quarterly, and “Building on Success, Learning from Mistakes: Implications for the Future” in The C.A.L.L. Journal. In November, Dr. Iskold attended the annual ACTFL conference. She is on the CALICO planning committee for pre- and in-service teacher certification in CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). Dr. Iskold also attended a PSMLA meeting on new Pennsylvania standards for FL teacher certification. She is currently developing a new course in linguistics which will be offered for the first time in 2005. Her current research is focused on effective uses of digital video for language instruction. This semester she is conducting an empirical study with her students of Russian. The findings from this study will be presented at the annual international CALICO symposium at Carnegie Mellon in June 2004. Her paper is entitled “Bridging Theory and Practice: Research Based Listening Tasks for Video Comprehension.” Dr. Iskold continues advising her FYS students, Russian Studies majors/minors, and the Russian Club. She organized several field trips, including a trip to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Kandinsky art exhibit at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, and an evening poetry reading by Yevgeniy Yevtushenko at Lehigh University.

Dr. Eileen M. Ketchum arrived at Muhlenberg this year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of French. Dr. Ketchum took on the role as faculty advisor to the French Club in the fall and assisted the group in organizing several successful activities. She attended the ACTFL conference in November and spent most of the fall semester developing a course for spring entitled French for the Professions. Dr. Ketchum redesigned this business French course to help students better prepare themselves for their future careers by exploring the many applications of French in the professional world. To that end, Dr. Ketchum will attend a week-long CIBER (Center for International Business Education and Research) workshop this summer on teaching business languages courses. She has been teaching beginning and intermediate French language courses, as well as French composition and conversation. Dr. Ketchum had two articles accepted for publication this year, “Bridging the Gap Between Language and Literature: Email Exchanges in the FL Classroom,” published in Volume 1 of The Heinle Professional Series in Language Instruction and “Fostering an African ‘Gaze’ on Francophone Sub-Saharan African Literature,” to be published in The French Review. Dr. Ketchum is currently working on several papers that she will be presenting in the spring and summer. Her first presentation involves a qualitative study completed for her dissertation, exploring how American students of French read Francophone African texts as opposed to a native reading of the same texts. Her second presentation, in the Dominican Republic, will investigate the representation of desire as a quest for identity by female writers of seventeenth-century France and twentieth-century Caribbean Francophone writers. Dr. Ketchum will also present a paper this summer in Georgia on non-native interpretations of the linguistic diversity represented in Quebecois, African, and French works. Finally, she hopes to build on the Spanish skills acquired last summer in Costa Rica by spending four weeks this summer in Spain, studying at a language academy for professionals in Madrid. Bienvenue, Eileen!

Dr. Albert Kipa, head of the Department, continues to serve as campus Fulbright Advisor and faculty representative on the Dean’s Ad Hoc Committee on Learning Disabilities. He also remains vice-president and Editorial Board member of the N.Y.C.-based Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S. Last June he participated in the annual Ukranian Conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champlain as speaker and session moderator. He spoke on “Lesia Ukrainka and Goethe” and “The Archives of the Ukrainian Academy in New York City: History, Uniqueness and Current Challenges.” He is also co-compiler of the “André von Gronicka” entry in the Internationales Germanistenlexikon 1800-1950, recently published by Walter de Gruyter.

Dr. Joan Marx has continued her professional work in the areas of contemporary Mexican and Mexican-American literature, focusing on women’s literature on both sides of the border. In October she presented the paper, “La Revolución Mexicana y el espacio femenino en Los recuerdos del porvenir de Elena Garro y Arráncame la vida de Ángeles Mastretta,” in Puebla, Mexico at the International Colloquium for Vernacular, Hispanic, Historical, American and Folklore Studies.
In addition, two of her papers have been accepted for publication in the last year. The first, "Marginación sociopolítica en Un mundo raro de Marcela Serrano: ¿México contemporáneo como emblema del progreso o el teatro del absurdo?," will be published in Encuentros, a collection of essays presented last year at the II Congreso Internacional de Literatura Hispánica at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Her other paper, “Breaking the Silence in Alba Ambert’s Porque hay silencio: One Woman’s Journey,” will appear in the 2004 Journal of MACLAS.
Dr. Marx also served as Associate Editor in the area of Latin American literature on the Editorial Board of MACLAS and she has just been elected to serve on the Executive Council of MACLAS. She also served as a member of two conference planning committees. With her colleagues, Dr. Anna Adams and Dr. James Park, she planned the XXV Annual Conference of MACLAS which was held at Muhlenberg College on February 20-21, 2004. She also was a member of the planning committee of the 32nd Annual Conference of the National Association for Ethnic Studies which will be held in Philadelphia in early April. Last but certainly not least, Dr. Marx is team-teaching a new course with Dr. Anna Adams. Human Rights in the Americas is the product of their successful collaboration and preparation.

Dr. James Park co-coordinated the XVI International Symposium on Latin American Indian Literatures, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina last July. He then participated in the 51st International Congress of Americanists, held in Santiago, Chile. Later that month, he attended the Seminario Internacional de Derechos Humanos y Pueblos Indígenas. This meeting inspired United Nations Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples Special Envoy Rodolfo Stavenhagen to produce a document that harshly criticized the Chilean government for its treatment of the Mapuche, the indigenous people with whom Dr. Park works.  An additional two weeks were spent visiting and meeting several indigenous poets, collecting materials and establishing new lines of research. Dr. Park made contact with another 10-15 poets, showing that there is a growing tradition within Chile among the Mapuche and their southern neighbors, the Huilliche. By chance, Dr. Park had the opportunity to participate in the Encuentro Mapuche Chileno de Poetas in Santiago in early August where many of these younger poets appeared Upon his return to the U.S., Dr. Park led the pre-orientation trip “Backpacking along the Trail” before classes began in August. Dr. Park has continued as Faculty advisor to the Spanish Club, which, through the concerted effort of its officers, participated this year in raising money for Ten Thousand Villages, the Global Fair Trade Campaign, Allentown’s Casa Guadalupe, and various other local, national, and global community-focused efforts. Dr. Park was also part of the local coordinating committee of the XV MACLAS, held at Muhlenberg in February. He has also been assisting the editor of the Latin American Indian Literatures Journal with submissions of scholarly articles for publication.

Dr. Lisa Perfetti saw her first book published this year. Women and Laughter in Medieval Comic Literature was published by the University of Michigan Press in July of 2003. She is currently working on revisions to a collection of essays she has edited, The Representation of Women’s Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Culture. The book will be published in spring 2005 by the University Press of Florida. Other areas of research for her include environmental studies. She presented a paper in 2003 at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment on representations of the natural world in the fiction of Guadeloupean writer Simone Schwartz-Bart. She is currently teaching a First Year Seminar called “Living in Nature.” In spring of 2005 she will be teaching a new 300-level course taught in French: The Environment in France and the Francophone World. In the fall of 2003, she put together a program on sustainability as part of her work for Muhlenberg’s Center for Ethics. Other aspects of Dr. Perfetti’s work at the Center for Ethics include a program on human rights in the spring of 2004 and planning on the fall 2004 theme on the ethical dimensions of disease. In March she presented a paper on her work for the Center at the third annual Sun Conference on Teaching and Learning in El Paso Texas: “Fostering Collaboration Across Disciplines Through Campus-Wide Programming.”  This semester Dr. Perfetti returned to the renaissance music group on campus directed by Dr. Ted Conner. She plays recorder and helps translate the double entendres of the French vocal pieces the group plays. In January Dr. Perfetti received tenure and promotion to associate professor.

Dr. Erika M. Sutherland's has had a wonderful year, full of work and joy. She received tenure and promotion to associate professor in April. Last summer was spent in Spain with a grant to do research on XIX century medical and literary representations of the female orgasm. Her preliminary findings were presented at the Congreso Internacional de Mujeres Malas in Oporto, Portugal. This research is ongoing and has seen offshoots: Dr. Sutherland’s paper “Ipecac for Isidora: La desheredada’s Doctors and Cures” explores the ways in which madness was seen in an early Spanish naturalist text. This was presented at the AIZEN conference in October.  Her other area of research, contemporary Gypsy writers, progresses as well. She presented her paper “New Eyes, Old Stories: The Recuperation of Spain’s Gitano History” at the annual meeting of the Gypsy Lore Society last May. This spring’s visit by Gypsy writer Joaquín Albaicín was a product of her years of research and collaboration with him. Dr. Sutherland’s work with Allentown’s Hispanic community continues. Last May she led efforts to push Allentown to improve their 9-1-1 service for Spanish speakers. As a result of months of community interviews and organization, three bilingual 9-1-1 operators were hired and all operators were trained in the use of phone-based interpreter services. She was awarded the Friend of the Latin Alliance Award in September. In December, her wedding to Panamanian artist and musician José Gilberto Cooper Cooper was featured in the local Spanish newspaper El Torero: with many guests bringing foods from across Latin America, a Dominican wedding cake, and the Panamanian sounds of Los Exciters, the wedding was a real social event connecting the area’s Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities.

Prof. Mirna Trauger is also new to the department this year. Currently completing her Ph.D. at Rutgers, she teaches Spanish language and this semester’s Civilization of Latin America. She received her undergraduate degree from neighboring Moravian College in French and Spanish and her M.A. from Rutgers University. Her doctoral dissertation, “Las rupturas del contrato mimético tradicional en textos caribeños contemporáneos,” deals with contemporary Caribbean writers. Her future plans include a study of literature written by Latin Americans of Arab descent. As a Lebanese immigrant to the United States with a stop in Saudi Arabia, Professor Trauger is drawn to issues of immigration and cross-cultural experiences.
Professor Trauger has spent the past three years raising her two children, Isabella (3 years) and Scott Michael (10 months), an endeavor she calls “much more challenging than but just as rewarding as writing a dissertation!” Returning to full-time teaching has made for “an exciting and exhausting 6 months.” She reports that she has definitely made the right choice in coming to Muhlenberg: “it has been a thrill to be a part of the Muhlenberg community because colleagues as well as my students are some of the best I have ever worked with!” ¡Bienvenida, Mirna!

Dr. Kathy Wixon was promoted to the rank of Professor this past year and has been very involved in college-wide activities, serving on the Faculty Evaluation Committee, the President's Advisory Committee, the Advisory Board for Students with Disabilities, and as one of two faculty observers to the College's Board of Trustees. She is also in her tenth year as Co-Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching. One of the joys of a liberal arts college is the opportunity to become involved in many different arenas of college life and to work closely with colleagues in different disciplines. As a recipient of an Innovative Teaching Grant, this summer Kathy will work with Professors Follet in Music and Doran in Accounting to study the ways in which students learn the different “languages” of these three disciplines, all of which require practice and repetition, and which first-year students traditionally find difficult. Next fall Dr. Wixon will be on sabbatical leave to study contemporary French women writers' life writing. As always, she is often accompanied to class by her current Seeing Eye puppy in training, a program to which she is deeply committed.

Prof. Santa Zanchettin completed her first year as a full-time instructor at Muhlenberg and her expectations were definitely fulfilled. She enjoys teaching Italian and Spanish as well as the rapport she has established with her students. Italian is not commonly offered in most other colleges of the area, and she feels that having it at Muhlenberg is a definite opportunity for the students. Currently, Professor Zanchettin is exploring the possibility of establishing an Italian Club here, which could include viewing and discussing of Italian films, both classic and contemporary. She is also involved in the Lehigh Valley Institute of Italian Culture, in which she served as president for six years. Her latest presentation at the Institute was a lecture on the history and culture of Sicily. With other colleagues from the College, she will be attending the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in New York this April, and her plans for the summer include a five-week stay in Hawaii to teach French in a private school. 

 

Muhlenberg College - Languages, Literatures and Cultures