Page 1


FRENCH AND ITALIAN Issue 8, Spring 2017

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR Greetings from Columbus to alumni and friends of the Department of French and Italian all over the world! Over the past two years our department has seen exciting additions, welldeserved promotions and bittersweet departures. From Yale University we welcomed Assistant Professor Benjamin Hoffmann, who is not only a very promising 18thcentury scholar, but a successful author of novels and memoirs. Patrick Jennifer Willging, chair Bray, Margaret Flinn, Dana Renga and Cheikh Thiam were all promoted to associate professor with tenure. Janice Aski and Wynne Wong advanced to the rank of professor. Last year we celebrated the well-deserved retirement of Professor Diane Birckbichler, who chaired the department for 12 years, and who was a member of it for nearly 50 years, first as a graduate student, then as a faculty member. Hearty congratulations to these faculty members for their achievements!

In the pages that follow you will read more about the accomplishments of many of our students and alumni, as well as those of faculty. You will get a glimpse into the myriad ways in which current and former students in our department are using the invaluable knowledge and skills they have gained or cultivated here at Ohio State to promote the understanding and celebration of cultural difference. In an increasingly globalized world where the rapid migration of people and ideas is an everyday reality, we in the Department of French and Italian seek to equip individuals with a knowledge and appreciation of history and of cultural, linguistic, religious and other forms of diversity. We hope that our students will go out into the world to promote cooperation, collaboration and generosity among cultures, rather than contribute to the divisiveness about which we have unfortunately been hearing so much of late. Judging by the incredibly wide-ranging, exciting and productive activities in which the current and former members of the department are engaged, we feel that we are accomplishing our mission.

Jennifer Willging Associate Professor and Chair Department of French and Italian



Letter from the Chair


Diane Birckbichler Retires


Ratner Award Bears Fruit


Mellon Postdoc Fellowship Winners


Faculty Focus: Margaret Flinn


New Faculty: Benjamin Hoffman


Italian Focus: Erin Mischler Niday


French Focus: Jennifer Broome


Student News


Faculty News


Alumni Updates


Colonnes de Buren at the Grand Palais, Paris (photo: Clare Balombin) ON THE COVER:

Picturesque view of one of Venice’s many small canals (photo: Yannic Staudt)

This newsletter from the Department of French and Italian is published for its alumni, staff and friends. The Ohio State University Department of French and Italian 200 Hagerty Hall 1775 College Road Columbus, Ohio 43210-1340 Office: 614-292-4938 3

Editor: Clare Balombin Department Chair: Jennifer Willging Design/Layout: Arts and Sciences Communications Services

DIANE W. BIRCKBICHLER RETIRES AFTER A DISTINGUISHED CAREER For nearly 50 years Professor Diane W. Birckbichler worked to increase our understanding of diverse cultures and to expand our competence in foreign languages and media technologies. Not only did she chair the Department of French and Italian for an unprecedented 12 years, she founded the Foreign Language Center (now the Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures), which brings together scholars and experts from across the university and from around the world. Birckbichler also established the Individualized Language Learning Center for self-paced, masterybased language classes. She mentored many faculty members, as well as students, encouraging them on their professional and personal journeys. As a result of her unflagging efforts to increase the study and appreciation of foreign languages and cultures, Birckbichler received numerous honors and awards from The Ohio State University, the states of Ohio and New York and the Modern Language Teachers’ Association. We all wish her the best in her welldeserved retirement.

RATNER AWARD BEARS FRUIT A little over two years ago, Professor Danielle MarxScouras won one of the five inaugural Arts and Humanities Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Awards. One expected outcome of the award is the creation of a unique project. In this case, MarxScouras has developed a summer 2017 course-trip that will unfold across France, Spain and Belgium with a focus on the idea of how borders (and lack thereof) play a key role in defining French and European identities. Linguistic and cultural conflicts will be explored via readings, popular culture, lectures, performances and discussions with well-known writers, political activists, musicians and filmmakers. Marx-Scouras’ many personal and professional contacts will allow for these encounters. Professor Marx-Scouras hopes students will come away with a unique understanding of how language and culture shape identity politics and how French national identity is being challenged by both local and global concerns. Students will produce a variety of media testimonials of the experience. Their work will honor the Ratner family for its generosity and commitment to the Arts and Humanities at Ohio State.

MELLON POSTDOC FELLOWSHIP WINNERS The Department of French and Italian announced that two of its PhD graduates won two of the 10 Mellon Foundation postdoctoral positions in the first two years of the three-year grant to the Five Colleges of Ohio — Denison, Kenyon, Oberlin, Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster. The recipients are expected to teach, do research and collaborate with a mentor at the assigned college. Oberlin College chose Adrianne Barbo in 2015. Her dissertation, “From Post-Cards to Stand-Up: Cross-Cultural Representations of the Veil in France and the Maghreb,” formed the basis for a course Adrianne designed, “From the Harem to Hip-Hop: Can the Veil be French?” “My students and I set the stage for our semester with a visit to Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum where we viewed and studied Occidental images of Muslim and Arab women dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries.” Adrianne first taught French 101. “My students heralded the call of what would be an exciting, but new type of academic term, by entering the classroom singing opera. There is no language requirement at Oberlin, but the conservatory students are required to study a number of languages, and many of those students were in my class. The conservatory students are among the most passionate language learners that I have ever taught. During my time here, I have been able to compare my experiences studying and teaching at a large research university to those at a small, liberal arts college, which was obviously a goal of the program. Oberlin has taught me how to adjust my teaching style to much smaller class sizes in language, but particularly Francophone literature and culture courses. Oberlin students come to class excited to connect the topics that we are studying with current events that may be affecting their daily lives.” Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware chose Ashley Powers in 2016. “I had a great first semester at OWU. The faculty and staff were very welcoming and have done a great job of making me feel as though I belong. I taught two courses that are the equivalent of FR 1102 and FR 2101 at Ohio State. Even though the classes are smaller, I had no problems transitioning from teaching at a large to a small university. Over the past semester, I have started a weekly French conversation table and become involved with the Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Program. Recently, I gave an AMRS-sponsored talk to a group of students and faculty on medieval culture. I look forward to what the next three semesters at OWU will bring.” Perhaps she will be able to include more aspects of her dissertation, “The Commerce of Time: The Influence of Thirteenth Century Commercial Society on the Conception and Expression of Time in Parisian Poet Rutebeuf’s Corpus.” 4



Benjamin Hoffmann

Assistant Professor of French Benjamin Hoffmann’s interest in Ohio began long before arriving at The Ohio State University in 2015. He finished a dissertation at Yale University, “Posthumous America: Literary Recreations of America in French Literature at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century,” a revised version of which is forthcoming from Classiques Garnier and the Pennsylvania State University Press. It looks at the idealization of America as a perfect place for French aristocrats. In 1789 the Compagnie de Scioto was selling land (illegally) along the Scioto River in Paris, while Claude-FrançoisAdrien de Lezay-Marnésia was writing letters about the “paradise” to be found on the banks of the Ohio River. How does one arrive at a new, major academic focus? For Associate Professor Margaret Flinn, it was partly a German film class that inspired her to switch from 19th-century French literature to film while a graduate student at Harvard. Underlying that decision was an undergraduate experience — working as a relief manager at a local multiplex theater. She also had another part-time job working for a group of businesses that included a video store; all the employees of that group had free movie rentals. “I watched a lot of movies,” Flinn said. The movies of 1930s France and their relationship to the interwar society formed the basis of her dissertation and first monograph, The Social Architecture of French Cinema, 1929-39 (Liverpool University Press, 2014). The valorization of heritage and patrimony in contemporary cinema and bandes dessinées is examined in her current writing. Another interest has been that of the auteur, the individual film director with a particular vision that marks his or her work. Flinn taught a course (Film Studies 2367.01) on Martin Scorsese and is writing a book on French director Olivier

Assayas. She interviewed Assayas at Fordham University when his latest film, Personal Shopper, played at the 2016 New York Film Festival. One of Flinn’s favorite teaching experiences was the autumn 2014 senior capstone seminar in film studies (taught with apprentices Paige Piper, PhD French, 2016, and Matthew Roesch, current PhD candidate). The course was built around a special issue of the undergraduate film studies journal, Film Matters. The students issued a nationwide call for papers and produced “featurette” content that included reviews of films and DVDs. Stories were written on local resources, such as film and video programmers at the Wexner Center and the Journal of Short Film, a DVD publication housed at Ohio State. The students served as the issue’s editorial board, carrying out blind peer reviews of the articles that were sent in. They then published the June 2015 issue of Film Matters. “It was easily one of the most rewarding classes that I’ve taught in nearly 20 years in the classroom,” said Flinn.


Hoffmann specializes in early modern French studies, but his literary output reaches into modern times. It includes four books, as well as a number of articles and translations. His latest work, American Pandemonium, a novel about the confusion that results when the United States is attacked, was published in French by Gallimard in 2016. The theme of travel often appears in his books. When asked whether his next novel will include any aspects of his new life in Columbus, Hoffmann smiled and offered “no comment.”


Higher Ed — from Columbus to Rome Erin Mischler Niday’s (BA Italian and international studies, 2012) journey from Sandusky, Ohio, to “a role, not a job” started the first week of her freshman year at Ohio State. She “stumbled into Italian” when she needed additional credits in her schedule. That initial taste of Italian led to a double major and an “amazing” quarter in Siena, Italy. Now Erin works at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., as an assistant director for global initiatives at the Center for Global Education. Her major mission is to expand CUA’s portfolio of international programs.

Shortly after starting her job in March 2016, Erin enjoyed her first business trip to CUA’s shared (with Australian Catholic University) study abroad center in Rome in May. “It was a ton of work,” she said of the preparations and on-site meetings where she worked with colleagues on a variety of Rome Center topics ranging from human resources to finance to risk management. “During that trip, we also visited Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan to discuss developing an exchange with them.” Her work includes managing the logistics (e.g., housing, meal plans, applications, social events, end of term research fairs) of hosting 43 Brazilian undergraduates on campus for STEM research internships with faculty through the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program.  Although Erin’s goal has always been to work in an international setting, her first job after graduation in 2012 was as a paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission. She then followed a friend to the Education Advisory Board, a for-profit organization, where she specialized in conducting


Goal-driven, internationally focused Jennifer Broome’s, (BA French and comparative studies, 2000) life is a good example of how experiences add up to create a career. Prior to attending Ohio State, Jennifer lived in France as an exchange student for a year. “This experience was really fundamental in making me choose to major in French — to perfect the language skills that I had worked so hard to learn while in France.” At Ohio State, Jennifer decided to focus on developing a career in the international nonprofit sector. Her senior honors thesis was written (in French) on the cultural influence of international aid organizations.

French served her well on her U.S. Peace Corps assignment in a former French colony, Madagascar. Although Malagasy is the official language, Jennifer found French to be “so handy, especially culturally.” She taught English, health and environmental studies in a small village. Near the end of her 27-month commitment, there was political upheaval. Jennifer was on her way to a northern resort with friends during Easter week. It took 48 hours for the travelers to arrive due to many local, make-shift checkpoints. At one point, the travelers got out of their bus and lay down on the roadway to sleep. Almost as soon as they had arrived at their destination, a representative of the U.S. embassy urged her to go to the capital within 24 hours. She did, and was evacuated to Kenya where she met a friend (now a Kenyan senator) who had started an NGO. She spent six months working there before returning to the U.S. Following a three-year period when she managed a servicelearning program at Mount Union College, Jennifer decided to study every aspect of nonprofits at Indiana University, where she received a master’s degree in philanthropy.



best practice research on a variety of higher education topics, including credit allocation processes for study abroad students. Erin’s Ohio State experience, especially classes in Romance Languages (IT 692) — linguistics was a minor — and Teaching Italian at the College Level (IT 801) has stayed with her throughout her career changes. “I have used the language instruction techniques several times since then when volunteering or designing presentations.” Married to Michael, another Ohio State graduate, Erin says that “D.C. life is wonderful — great people, a wonderful restaurant scene and so many international and cultural events.”

Fundraising became her new focus, with stints developing public-private partnerships in several states, encouraging donations to the George Washington University library network, and now managing development for the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a 15-year-old international organization that addresses nuclear safety and biosecurity issues. Situated in Washington, D.C., NTI has an international staff and board of directors. The ability to speak French continues to be useful in communicating with the Francophones on the staff and with representatives of the French government who serve on the NTI Board.

Massarah Mikati, a fourth-year honors student, is pursuing a triple major in Francophone studies, Middle East studies and journalism. She received The Ohio State University Board of Trustees Student Recognition Award in January 2017 and, in 2016, the Jack G. Shaheen Mass Communications Award for her work in media. Sarah has aspired to be a magazine writer specializing in the Middle East since she was 13. She has written for Deseret News National, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 1870 Magazine and The Lantern. She conducted field research in France in 2016 for her honors thesis on the impacts of the Nov. 13, 2015, Paris attacks on the lives and identities of French-Maghreb Muslims. Graduate student in French, Xinyi Tan, became interested in the work of Kim Thúy, a native of Vietnam, while doing research on migrant literature in Quebec, a province with many crosscultural currents. Efforts to contact Thúy led to a personal interview in autumn 2016 and Thúy’s subsequent visit to the Ohio State campus in spring 2017. Thúy is the author of four novels: Ru (2009), À toi (2011), Mãn (2013) and Vi (2016). All are imbued with a sense of history and transcultural identity. PhD candidate in French, Rachel Elizabeth Willis, was awarded the Bourse d’excellence Gaston-Miron from the Association Internationale d’Études Québécoises in association with the Centre de Recherches Interuniversitaires sur la Littérature et la Culture Québécoises at the Université Laval in Quebec City. The Bourse Gaston-Miron is a $5,000 CAD award offered to one student per year and is open to students around the world. As a condition of receiving the scholarship, Elizabeth “had” to spend at least two months on a research trip in Québec. While there in 2016, Elizabeth worked with a professor at Laval, Mylène Bédard, who helped her make the most of the resources available in Québec. “I visited museums and historic sites, ate wonderful food and reveled in the rich history of the city. Near the end of my stay, a group of Ohio State students came up to participate in the summer language school at Laval; among them (continued on the next page)


STUDENT NEWS (CONTINUED) PhD candidates in French Laurène Glimois and Stephanie Garvelink, along with graduate students from the Germanic and Slavic Departments at Ohio State, wrote a successful proposal to bring the Second Language Research Forum conference to Ohio State in September 2017. Professors Wynne Wong, Glenn Martinez and Carmen TaleghaniNikazm won an Arts and Humanities Larger Grant to help fund the Forum. In December 2016 Professor Wong happily announced their success. “We have been awarded $17,900. This is one of the most important conferences in the field of SLA, so we are very excited!”

were several of my former students. All of this motivated me to be productive — an article based on my dissertation research was accepted by the French Review (for publication in May 2017). Daniel Paul, a PhD candidate in Italian who is writing his dissertation on Italian teen film, co-authored a 2015 iTunes U course, “New Research Trends in Italian Screen Studies,” with Associate Professor Dana Renga. This iTunes U course was the end product of Renga’s graduate seminar. Ten students participated in weekly video-conferencing sessions with scholars from the U.S., the UK and Italy. Assistance from Ohio State’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning provided funding, so that the iTunes U course would be available free of charge. It has had over 50,000 browses, 7,000 subscriptions, 13,000 downloads, and 9,000 streams. For more information, see

Students in the Italian Club, led by Visiting Assistant Professor Jonathan Mullins, presented an Italian fable night. Buckeye TV provides a video link to students presenting regional Italian fairy tales:

GIVE A GIFT … to support teaching and learning French and Italian languages and cultures HONOR AN INSTRUCTOR … to recognize an instructor’s dedication to students Our funds are listed online. Choose the one that

Yes! I would like to thank an instructor!

interests you. You may clip out and send in a

My gift is being made in honor of __________________

contribution directly to the department at 1775 College Road, Columbus, OH 43210. If you access the funds

Fund #__________________

page on the FRIT web site (, you may

This is an annual pledge of:

make your contribution to that fund through a secure,

$50 $100

online connection.

__Please bill me:

Please send me the Ohio State/ FRIT 17-oz. red coffee mug for a $75 contribution to support FRIT students and learning.


$2,000 (Presidents Club)



This is a one-time gift of $________. Enclosed is a check made to The Ohio State University.

Please send me the set of two Ohio State /FRIT 17-oz. coffee mugs for a $125 contribution to support FRIT students and learning.

Signature__________________________________________ My employer will match my gift.

My mailing address is: ________________________________________________

Name of employer ___________________________________


Employer phone ____________________________________


For secure credit card payments, please access FRIT’s donor web page,

For more information on funding and naming opportunities, please contact: Shalonda Makupson-Tilford, Associate Director of Development, (614) 688-1830


FACULTY NEWS Janice Aski, professor of Italian, has published an online course (free, open access) on teaching foreign languages. It went live in January 2017 after beta testing in autumn 2016. With the support of a creative team, she produced 25 animated videos to accompany the 4th edition of her textbook, Avanti. Patrick Bray, assistant professor of French, saw his edited volume, “Building the Louvre,” appear in the journal Esprit Créateur. In spring 2016 he gave talks at Oxford and Cambridge on Victor Hugo’s NotreDame de Paris, and another in Paris on Proust’s narrator as literary critic. While in Paris, he finished work on his monograph, Understanding Rancière, Understanding Modernism (Bloomsbury Press, 2017). He also credits that time with a “meticulous study of cafés and pâtisseries.” Jonathan Combs-Schilling, assistant professor of Italian, teaches on a wide range of subjects, from medieval travel literature to the Italian Wars of the Renaissance, but focuses his research on Dante’s understudied Eclogues, a topic of lectures that he gave at Notre Dame University and at Western Michigan University, as well as an article in the journal Dante Studies. Margaret Flinn, associate professor of French, continues research and writing on two book-length projects. She completed several articles on film and the bande dessinée, as well as the translation of an essay by Élie Faure, an interwar art critic and film theorist, forthcoming in 2017. Sarah-Grace Heller, associate professor of French, continues to conduct research on medieval fashion, with recent studies examining the Parisian shopping lists of the AngevinFrench rulers of Sicily in 1277 and real and poetic uses for fur and woolens among the troubadours. She continues as president of the Société Guilhem IX

for Occitan studies and just edited A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion: The Medieval Age (Bloomsbury, 2016). Benjamin Hoffmann, assistant professor of French, is completing two critical editions (in French and in English) of Lezay-Marnésia’s Lettres écrites des rives de l’Ohio (1792), forthcoming from Classiques Garnier and Pennsylvania State University Press. He also is working on a new project about the evolution of the concept of posterity, from the Enlightenment to our digital present. Charles Klopp, professor emeritus, recently published an entry on Romano Bilenchi in the Literary Encyclopedia. His article on Antonio Tabucchi nel nuovo millennio will appear in Proposte per il nostro millennia: La letteratura italiana tra postmodernismo e globalizzazione. Atti del Convegno, Istanbul, University of Istanbul, 2016. Danielle Marx-Scouras, professor of French, presented her work on popular music from Marseille and Toulouse at international conferences in Hungary, England and Portugal. She also was an invited speaker for a roundtable on Muslims in France at Loyola University, Baltimore. She published “Zebda: Made in France/Vu des USA” in Je chante donc je suis (Paris: Téraèdre, 2016), ed. Belhadjin, Dall’Armellina, Mabilon-Bonfils & Pesce. Jonathan Mullins, visiting assistant professor of Italian, joined FRIT after having taught at Dartmouth College for four years. Studying Italian in Siena determined the path of his professional life. His research tilts towards more “minor” cultural production in 20thcentury Italy, including graffiti, street theater and independent radio in the 1970s, “a fascinating, if wrenching, time of protest and violence.” He loves his new life in Columbus — particularly its bike trails, coffee shops and restaurants!


Dana Renga, associate professor of Italian, recently published four articles/ chapters on Italian television and film. She co-edits Italianist film and is working on a book called Angels of Evil: Sympathetic Perpetrators on Small Italian Screens. Renga is co-organizing the annual meeting of The American Association for Italian Studies/Canadian Society for Italian Studies conference, which will take place at Ohio State (with 400 delegates) in April 2017. Cheik Thiam, associate professor of French, is working on a book-length comparative study of Senghor, Glissant and Gilroy’s philosophies. His article, “Race Still Matters,” was recently published by Dalhousie French Studies. He will give the keynote address at the annual “Journée Senghor” in Joal, Senegal and is preparing to take another group of students for a fiveweek study abroad program in Senegal.

Jennifer Willging, associate professor of French, is in her sixth year as chair of the department. Her recent research has been in cultural studies. Publications include: “Can the French Be Happy? or, Can Happiness Be French?” (Contemporary French Civilization, 2016) and “Tracing the Evolution of French Studies Through the 20th (and 21st) Century” (Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites, 2016). Wynne Wong, professor of French, published a new, intermediate-level French textbook, Encore (Cengage Learning, 2017) with co-authors Stacey Weber-Fève (PhD, 2006) Anne Lair (PhD, 2003), and Bill VanPatten. This text, which includes a film of the same

FACULTY NEWS (CONTINUED) name, articulates with Wong’s firstyear text and film, Liaisons. Wong has also served as an outside program grant evaluator for the government of Quebec.

LECTURERS Andrew Anderson (PhD French, 2011) continues to work as an adjunct professor at several central Ohio colleges. He has been active in poetry and writing groups in Columbus. His cat’s and his poetry adventures can be followed on Instagram@andrewwanderson. “I still make a mean martini and a very drinkable Manhattan.” Lindsey Barrie (MA Italian, 2013) continues to teach Italian language courses at Ohio State. She considers her time with her students and in the classroom a welcome break from her second job as a travel consultant for the local travel agency, Bliss Honeymoons.  

Elizabeth Bostrom Bishop (PhD French, 2010) has combined teaching at Ohio State with taking care of a growing family. James is 6; Charlie is 3; William was born in May 2016. Kelly Springer Campbell (PhD French, 2010) teaches several French courses. She recently revamped the format of French 3501 (Introduction to French

for the Professions) to integrate more practical skills for those students seeking to work abroad or in an international capacity. She attended an Office of Public Instruction Assessment Training Workshop last summer to learn about formal assessment tools used to distinguish various language proficiencies. “Personally, I continue to be very busy with my two daughters, Kate (9) and Caroline (7)! “ Audrey Hoffman (French) formerly taught at Yale University where she contributed to the third edition of the Capretz Method textbook for language immersion. She has a bachelor’s degree in second language acquisition and a master’s degree in French Literature from the Sorbonne. When not teaching, she enjoys writing poetry and fiction. 

Anna Cesnjavar (Italian) was nominated for the Ohio State distinguished lecturer award in Spring 2016 and won a lecturer’s grant for professional development from the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching. She used the grant to fund a week-long, all-day, intensive course on culture and language in Florence, Italy. Ted Emery (Italian) continues to teach Italian language and culture. Last fall his “Modern Italian Media” course focused on cultural geographies in Italian cinema, studying how films reflect and play with a connection between a sense of place, social roles and personal identity. The films studied included Roma città aperta, Fellini’s Roma, Io speriamo che ma la cavo, Mine vaganti, Pane e tulipani, and newsreel clips from the fascist era.

Water lily pond at Giverny, Normandy, France (photo: C. Balombin)


Doug Roberts (PhD French, 2014) has continued to attend the immersion program in Quebec at the University of Laval, seven times over the past eight years, plus summer 2017. “Personally, my son, Dale, a veterinarian, had twin girls in June 2016.” Gloria Torrini-Roblin (French) took the spring 2016 semester as sabbatical leave in Paris, where she volunteered with Secours Populaire, a French NGO dedicated to fighting poverty and discrimination. She taught French to refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others. Torrini-Roblin commented, “It was another life-changing experience.” Carla Onorato Wysokinski (MA Italian, 1992), assistant director of the Italian language program and study abroad advisor, now administers FRIT’s exchange programs in Lecce and Siena from Italy.

FRIT ALUMNI NEWS Rosa Ailabouni (BA French, international studies, political science, 2001) has begun a new venture aimed at giving space and advice to budding entrepreneurs and others seeking to start or grow companies. Entrepreneurial Coshares opened in 2015 in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Rosa enjoys helping small businesses refine their business strategies and launch their own ventures.

du Caylar’s Roman de la Reine Esther. In July 2016 Lisa led a study abroad program to Paris. Her scholarly translation (from French and Latin) of “William Chalmers: une physique de la volonté” by Kristin Trego will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. Anna Bianco (BA Italian, 2006) became interested in nursing after running an outpatient clinic in the Dominican Republic for three years. She graduated with a BSN from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 2012 and worked as an RN in a pediatric burn OR helping patients from Latin America. She now works at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Children’s Center with infants and toddlers. “I have been learning French to work in the international relief aid community and made my first trip to Paris in January!”

Rebecca Hoffmann Bias (PhD French, 2005) serves as an NSEP Boren Scholarship advisor for Ohio State, an advisor for the Mellon Grant Committee and a member of the Ohio Department of Education French credit transfer (Transfer Assurance Guidelines) Committee. She continues her work as assistant director of the Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures (CCLC), director of the Collaborative Articulation and Assessment Project (CAAP) outreach program to Ohio high schools and instructor for the CLLC Radio course.

Corey Borders (BA French and Arabic, 2006) teaches French at a charter school, The Charles School at Ohio Dominican University, after working for several years in Abu Dhabi. He and his wife have a son, Bennett, who is almost 2.

Jennifer Marin Alvarez-Breckinridge (MA French, 2006; MBA, 2012) and her husband, Christopher, welcomed their third child, Christina Rose, in 2016. Jennifer works as a product director, electrosurgery, Codman Neuro Operative Neurosurgery for Johnson & Johnson near Boston. Matthew Amburgy (BA Italian, 2009) works as a medical recruiter at Medical Staffing Options in Columbus. Jarrett Anderson (MA French, 2012) has been promoted to head of the middle school language department at Germantown Academy where he teaches French and Mandarin Chinese. He lives in South Philadelphia.

Terasia Bradford (BA French, 2014) enjoyed her position as a teaching assistant (TAPIF) at the Académie de Créteil for two years. She is now in a two-year master’s degree program at Paris Descartes, expecting to finish in spring 2018. “My official degree will be : Science de l’éducation, Spécialité— coopération internationale en éducation et formation. It has been a great opportunity to delve further into a subject that I am interested in. It’s been three interesting years in Paris, and the support from the entire French department at Ohio State made such a large impact on the way that I thought about learning French and how I relate to the Francophone world.“

Jessica Beheydt (BA French, 2014) is studying law at Indiana University’s Maurer School on a full tuition scholarship. Laura Belland (BA French, BS microbiology, 2008) is a second-year resident in family medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in NYC. She graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2015 with election to the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) honor society. She plans to complete fellowships in geriatrics and palliative medicine after graduation (set for 2018). In October 2016 she married Jeff Sale, the founder/ owner of Daily Grind Coffee Co. in the Financial District in NYC.

Heidi Brown (PhD French, 2014) is in her third year as an assistant professor of French at Loyola University, Maryland. She has developed four upper-level Francophone literature courses (on gastronomy, trauma and testimony, Caribbean identities, and the Algerian War). Service-learning has become an important part of her pedagogy. “I have incorporated it into several classes, and co-led a servicelearning trip to Haiti over spring break.” She has two forthcoming articles in the French Review: “Negotiating Identity: Codeswitching in Hélène Berr’s Journal” and “Teaching War, Genocide, and Trauma in Francophone African Literature” (with Angèle Kingué from Bucknell University). In summer 2016 she received a research grant to work on her book, Translating Trauma and Self. 

Christina Benedetti (MA Italian, 2007) works on the staff of Opera Project Columbus while teaching at Ohio State where she is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Studies. Christina specializes in the logistics of public gatherings. Lisa Bevevino (PhD French, 2012) was awarded a research leave as junior faculty for spring 2017 in order to travel to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Rome and Paris to research Crescas


FRIT ALUMNI NEWS (CONTINUED) Matt Daniels (BA Italian, 2008) is now the principal at Holy Trinity School in Swanton, Ohio, near Toledo.

Marvin C. Brown IV (BA French and comparative studies, 2011) grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, but foreign languages, his intellectual agility and his personal drive led to fellowships across the globe and, most recently, back to Ohio. Although offered a position at an international law firm that specializes in sovereign debt resolution (i.e., bankruptcies of countries such as Greece), Marvin chose to join the boutique law firm, Chandra Law, of a fellow Yale Law School graduate in Cleveland. Moved by injustices suffered recently by young, black men, Marvin plans to litigate civil rights, whistleblower retaliation and employment discrimination cases. Marvin passed the Ohio Bar Exam soon after graduating from Yale, and is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of Ohioans.

Keith Davis (MA Italian, 2007) has moved to the Rochester Institute of Technology as the assistant director of Graduate Enrollment Services after eight years at the State University of New York at Oswego. His area of focus is international marketing and recruitment. Lisa Dolasinski (BA Italian and sociology, 2010) is now a PhD student in Italian at Indiana University. Todd Donahue (MA French, 2007) is now the associate director of international relations for ENSAI, the National School for Statistics and Data Analysis in France. He is responsible for overseeing the Erasmus+ program for the school, involving the management of incoming and outgoing student mobility, as well as all administrative and financial aspects of the program. “I work closely with the director of international relations to strengthen existing partnerships, as well as to develop new exchanges and dual-degree programs with partner institutions around the globe.” Todd also helps to produce recruitment materials in English for ENSAI to target international students.

Marvin’s interest in those who are outside of the “mainstream” could be seen while he was studying at Ohio State. Marvin wrote a senior thesis with Professor Danielle Marx-Scouras on aliens and identity in contemporary France. During law school he was submission editor of the Yale Journal of International Law and active in various law-school diversity initiatives, serving as co-chair of the Alliance for Diversity. Marvin’s experience includes legal work in New York and Belgium, and at an economic think tank in Yangon, Myanmar. Marvin also spent a year as a Fox Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, researching customary legal systems.

Randall Scott Dudis (BA French and international studies, BS zoology, 2009) was recently reassigned from Saudi Arabia to the 64th Medical Detachment Veterinary Support Services company in Baumholder, Germany, as part of a “multi-functional Dudis with one of the Military medical battalion,” the only Working Dogs named Jop (sounds combined medical unit of like “mop”) on the Eskan Village compound outside Riyadh, Kingdom its kind in all of Europe. “Our primary function is to of Saudi Arabia. work in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the main focus of which is to deter Russia from invading Europe. I am Officer in Charge for a seven-person team made up of active duty enlisted soldiers who work as either animal care specialists or food inspectors. We are a deployable team, and are able to provide level 1 veterinary medical and food inspection services in a forwardoperating environment. Our current primary area of responsibility would fall in the European theater or the Horn of Africa.

Peter Carlson (BA French, BSBA marketing, 2009) moved to France in 2010 to pursue a master’s in international relations at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. He is currently living in Paris and working as a communications officer at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development where he promotes statistical capacity in developing countries. Nelson Carson (BA French and international studies, 2006) became interested in holistic health practices after teaching ESL overseas and in Ohio. He received a license in massage and a certification in yoga in 2016. “Where does French come in? Insight-related courses I took still pop into my head. I stay in touch with French-speaking friends and listen to RFI on occasion. Really, I’m grateful for what I learned while there. Among the professors who stood out to me were MarxScouras and Racevskis.”

“I used the linguistics training [of French] pretty much every day of the week, and it made learning basic Arabic easier because I understand the structure of ‘language’ more thoroughly. Beyond any specific ability in language 12

Studying abroad means connecting with students from all over. Here, Ohio State students Natalie Thompson (far left) and Sami Schroeter (far right) join some new friends at the Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden) near Capalbio in Tuscany, Italy.

Amber Evans (BA French, 2014) works at Columbus’ Main Library Children’s Department as a youth services information specialist. She is preparing to transition into a full-time position with the Juvenile Justice Coalition to further policy, legislation and community advocacy work with youth and families impacted by Ohio juvenile courts. Amber is taking preparatory steps to begin a dual policy and law degree in autumn 2018. When she returned to the United States from her TAPIF appointment in Clermont-de-l’Oise, France, she found that “time was moving at a much quicker pace than the clock of joie de vivre that I was permitted in France.” translation, higher education in the humanities improved my ability to read, write and think in a complex and critical manner, which makes me a better doctor and a better officer.” 

Sarah Hastings Fries (BA French, 2011) lives in New York City and works as a mergers and acquisitions attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “I do pro bono work as well — mostly incorporation and corporate structure work for nonprofits focused on women’s health and women’s rights.”

Brittany O’Neill Dulmage (BA Italian, BS molecular genetics, 2010) is a resident in dermatology at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Rachel Gapa (BA French, 2011) is in her fifth year at Worthington’s McCord Middle School. She has planned and implemented a tutoring club for high school French students to help middle school children during a built-in study hall at the end of the day. “I train the students in advance in strategies to help with various concepts (verb conjugation, vocabulary acquisition, pronunciation, etc.) and assigned specific days to come each week.“ “The French Quarter” is the title of the program.

Becky Durra (BA French, 2010) has been working for Cardinal Health in Dublin the past few years as an advisor in Quality & Regulatory Affairs. She recently bought a house in Worthington and is getting married in May. Becky offers these observations from traveling: “Business culture is so different in other areas of the world!  In Seoul (where I taught English), I worked nine- or 10-hour days and there were always teachers who came in before me and left after me; not because they necessarily had more work to do, but because putting in face time was really important. Meanwhile in Italy, it seemed that everyone took a couple of hours off for lunch every day, and the cafes were always crowded by 4 or 5 p.m.  

Michele Gerring (PhD French, 2014) has published several book reviews recently, including: “Les Pêchers by Claire Castillon” (French Review: 90, 1); “Regeneration through Empire, French Pronatalists and Colonial Settlement in the Third Republic by Margaret Cook Andersen” (French Forum: 41, 1); “Notre mal vient de plus loin: Penser les tueries du 13 novembre by Alain Badiou” (French Review: 90, 3); and “Qui est Charlie? Sociologies d’une crise religieuse by Emmanuel Todd” (Contemporary French Civilization: 41, 2).

“In France, Italy and Spain, one of the other things that struck me was that the people I met didn’t have as much stuff as most Americans. They would have one or two really nice pieces of furniture, or pairs of shoes, for example. And that mentality of quality over quantity translated into their food and architecture and culture. It’s something I hope I can hang onto a little in my everyday life.”

Dan Giglio (BS physics and philosophy and minor in Italian, 2012) completed a master’s degree in philosophy at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013. “I’m now teaching introductory physics and environmental science in the physics department at Marquette University. I’d like to send a shout-out to Professors Janice Aski and Dana Renga.”

Sara Elaquad (BA French and international studies, 2009) earned a JD from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, then worked in immigration law for five years. She now manages curriculum and outcomes at Boys Hope Girls Hope of Northeast Ohio, an organization that provides at-risk youth with stable homes, education, and financial and emotional support. “I also help lead Minds Matter Cleveland, a volunteer-run nonprofit bridging the educational resource gap for low-income high school students.”

Michael Gott (French and International Studies, 2002) is in his fifth year as an assistant professor of French and film and media studies at the University of Cincinnati. He recently completed a book entitled French-language Road Cinema Borders, Diasporas, Migration and ‘New Europe’ (2016, Edinburgh University Press). 13

FRIT ALUMNI NEWS (CONTINUED) Jeffrey Ryan Harris (MA French, 2011) spent a month in Tokyo to continue his dissertation research at Senshu University. “It has the largest collection of French Revolution documents outside of Paris! I was there with the help of grants from the Masséna Society and the American Society for EighteenthCentury Studies.” This follows a 13-month research year in Paris and an “epic” trip from Paris to Tokyo overland via Scandinavia and Russia with a detour to Svalbard.

online students. Nadia also offers private Italian lessons and document-translation services. Liz Marasco (BA English, minor French, 2011) is pursuing a master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Colorado Boulder and expects to finish in spring 2018. Thanks to teaching beginning-level French to undergraduates for a year, Liz was selected to take part in an exchange program between the university and the Université François-Rabelais in Tours, putting her master’s-level studies on hold for a year.

Alexandra Salmeron Hesson (MA French 2007) and her husband, Aaron, welcomed a second son, Adrian, in August 2016, held by brother Ethan, 3.

Joanna M. Marshall (BA French and international studies, 2006; MA microbiology, 2007) co-authored an article on the results of a clinical trial in Pakistan, “Detection of Typhoidal and Paratyphoidal Salmonella in Blood by Realtime Polymerase Chain Reaction.” It was published in the November 2015 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Dorothée Merz-Weigel (PhD French, 2005), an associate professor at Armstrong Atlantic University, received the French government award, Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques, for her contributions to French education and culture. Dorothée helped to set up an online degree program in French, eFrench, with colleagues at three other universities in the state of Georgia system. The Francophone Film Festival that Dorothée founded has been running for nine years.

Leah Rose Hunt (BA French, 2006) is in her fourth year teaching French at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati. She successfully completed a RESA (Resident Educator Summative Assessment) and received “Accomplished” by the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. She leads a club called United for Uganda that helps to raise money to sponsor destitute former child soldiers in Uganda so that they can get an education. Leah also received a Bridge-Builder award after being nominated by a student for teaching excellence. “The interaction with the kids and the relationships that form and grow over the years make this the most interesting and fulfilling job.”

Lino Mioni (MA Italian, 2005) is now working on a doctorate in Italian at Indiana University. Andrew Peters (BA French 2016) works as a claims adjuster at Nationwide Insurance.

Kevin Jenq (BA French and international studies, 2016) is a U.S. Army second lieutenant in the Military Intelligence Corps branch detailed to the Armor Corps.

Joseph Phipps (MA French, 2011) attends two different French discussion groups in Florida. One is composed largely of Québecois. “They can understand me just fine, but I struggle to grasp what they are saying.” The second group focuses on 19th century short-story writers. Joe also leads a Bible-study group. “All of these activities keep me pleasantly busy.”

Anne Lair (PhD French, 2003) recently completed the ACTFL French OPI certification, along with co-writing Encore with Professors Wynne Wong, Stacey Weber-Fève (PhD French, 2006) and Bill VanPatten. She has been recognized as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes L-R, Lair, Weber-Fève, Wong Académiques for her leadership in French culture and Dual Immersion in Utah.

Bryan Pickens (MA French, 2011) celebrated the birth of his daughter, Natalie Belle Pickens, in June 2016. Bryan is teaching high school French and math this year, while finishing his dissertation on college foreign language students’ perception of their high school foreign language experience. Paige Piper (PhD French, 2016) has taught at Denison University and Ohio State since completing her doctoral work with a dissertation, “Deathly Landscapes: The Changing Topography of Contemporary French Policier in Visual and Narrative Media.”

Nadia Lucchin (MA Italian, 2008) has moved with her family to Burlington, Vermont where she works at Champlain College as an academic advisor to adult undergraduate and graduate 14

Jessica Pino (MA Italian, 2007) is a realtor with Hindsite 20/20 in the Austin, Texas area. She volunteers with Explore Austin, served on the board of the Young Women’s Alliance, and graduated with the Leadership Austin Emerge 2015 class. Jessica is a contributing blogger to The Austinot, and appears in monthly TV segments on KXAN’s Studio 512.

Courtney Wilson (BA Italian, minor Russian, 2012) finished an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) at Kent State University in December 2016 while teaching two Italian courses. Emilia-Romagna, Italy — where she and her (Italian) fiancé have a house — is her new home. She plans to apply to teach at an Italian university. “I really miss Ohio State and all the opportunities I had there and would love to visit sometime!”

Julia Praud (PhD French, 2005) has an article — based on her dissertation on Assia Djebar’s, Les Nuits de Strasbourg — coming out in the French Review next October. Julia continues to teach at West Point, her seventh year. In summer 2016 she became the program director for French within the Department of Foreign Languages where there are three civilians (PhDs) and four rotating military officers teaching French. Julia and her husband added two children to their family in 2012 and 2015. 

Nicoletta Serenata (MA Italian, 2012) works for the Risk Advisory Group, a global risk management consultancy.

Anaïs Wise (PhD French, 2012) leads an Immersive Learning Environment (holodeck) working group, coordinates linguistic immersions and facilitates training for instructors teaching 70+ languages for the Department of State in Washington, D.C. “I take great pride in my team for helping students with no prior knowledge of French reach a general professional proficiency level in 30 weeks.” In December 2016 Anaïs spoke to a group of FIGSA members on her transition to professional work for the State Department and the importance of developing effective emotional intelligence skills.

Amanda Miller Smerdel (BA French, 2004; MEd, 2005) works as a travel consultant, which includes planning custom itineraries for university groups (specifically Otterbein and Ohio Wesleyan).

Emily Dore Yuhas (MA Italian, 2012) continues to work for Mindset Digital in Columbus, now in a part-time role, as she and her husband have a daughter, Mary Eleanor, who was born in May 2015.

Jarmila Kavecanska Sawická (MA French, 2011) spent a year in Geneva, Switzerland, on a research and writing fellowship. She is finishing her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin, writing on jazz as resistance in contemporary novels. She recently married a doctoral student in electrical engineering.

Adrienne Strong (BS microbiology, minor French, 2010) recently finished her dissertation in anthropology entitled “The Maternity Ward as Mirror: Maternal Death, Biobureaucracy, and Institutional Care in the Tanzanian Health Sector.” Because of her participation in an exchange program in 2012-13, she defended her dissertation at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) for a joint degree from the UvA and Washington University (WU) in St. Louis. She was recently featured on WU’s website: Her work can be sampled online: maternal-death-rate-tanzania/. Adrienne is also the international newsletter co-editor for the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction (CAR) special interest group of the American Anthropological Association. “I have been dusting off my French to read some work on anthropology and reproduction coming out of West Africa… [because] it would be great to do some comparative work between East and West Africa.”

Crusader-era church, Hautes-Pyrénées, France (photo: C. Balombin)

Stephanie Weisfeld (BA French and international studies, 2014) taught English in Brazil on a Fulbright Scholarship. She is in graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies studying international education management with the goal of becoming an international student advisor.


Non-Profit Org. U. S. Postage


DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND ITALIAN 200 Hagerty Hall 1775 College Rd. Columbus, OH 43210-1340

Columbus, Ohio Permit No. 711

(614) 292-4938 05450-011000-61801 forwarding service requested

In April 2016 a dozen students in Professor Danielle MarxScouras’ FR 5403 course, “‘Minor Art’ From Gainsbourg to Stromae: Popular Music as a Political Act,” presented a cabaret performance of favorite French ballads in the Crane Café. It was a sophisticated presentation enjoyed by several dozen spectators. Here is a link to the performance:

Profile for College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State

FRIT Newsletter 2017  

Department of French and Italian - The Ohio State University

FRIT Newsletter 2017  

Department of French and Italian - The Ohio State University


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded