Dori St. Amant, Nicolas Medevielle and Marylaura Papalas in the Latin Quarter with students from the study abroad program. MLP: We spoke mainly in French throughout the meal. We all had a really nice time, and I was glad to see that the program is doing so well!
Prof. Marylaura Papalas and her students created an interactive digital humanities website, as part of their spring 2015 course, CLAS 4000, Seminar in the Classics, on “Modern Greek Identities.” The companion website, a “Virtual Tour,” was created through the ECU Center for Geographic Information Science, using the “Story Map Journal” application in ArcGIS online by Esri.
It presents an interactive map of Athens, with links and readings related to Amanda Michalopoulou’s 2003 novel, Why I Killed My Best Friend. The website was designed by Prof. Papalas. A majority of the contributions are from Jessica Rassau, who provided all the text. Jessica Rassau, Cameron Gross, and Brittany Cox contributed the voice recordings. Morgan Bridgers and Brianna Shugrue, along with the others, contributed to class discussions of the novel that culminated in the production of this website.
Professor Laura Levi Altstaedter was nominated by The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) to represent it as a volunteer with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which appointed her as a Site Visitor. Prof. Levi Altstaedter has served for some time as lead reviewer for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
The mission of the CAEP and its site visitors is to advance excellence in teacher education by providing evidence-based accreditation to assure the quality of programs and their continuous improvement. It serves more than 900 institutions that offer accredited programs in teacher education.
The Eastern Carolina Alumni Association of Phi Beta Kappa honored five students from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the spring recognition ceremony hosted by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Each student had a grade point average in excess of 3.93:
Erin Cottrell (Psychology and Hispanic Studies)
Sara Kurtz (Fine Arts and Hispanic Studies)
MacKenzie Alyn Mull (Hispanic Studies and Elementary Education)
Jessica Rassau (Classical Civilization)
Sara Sipe (Chemistry and German)
(left Sara Sipe, middle Jessie Rassau, right MacKenzie Mull)
Profs. Martínez and Given were awarded medallions in honor of their leadership and significant contributions to ECU shared governance, on the occasion of the Faculty Senate’s 50th anniversary. There were 74 medallions awarded, including to all past chairs of the faculty as well as present and past faculty, staff and administrators who have helped shape the ECU system of shared governance. They were presented by Prof. Andrew Morehead, current Chair of the Faculty, at a reception hosted by the Chancellor on March 30,2015.
Prof. Puri Martínez has been the past Chair of the Faculty Governance Committee, and served for many years as Faculty Marshall. She has also been past president of the NC AAUP Faculty Conference, Vice-Chair of the AAUP Assembly of State Conferences, and through it a national leader in helping programs in danger of elimination. She has also been ECU delegate to the UNC Faculty Assembly, and has served on a great many UNC system initiatives and committees. Prof. John Given, current Vice-Chair of the Faculty, has been a member of the University Budget Committee and the University Committee on Fiscal Sustainability, which have advised the Chancellor on ways to respond to the university’s ongoing fiscal constraints.
Benjamin Fraser, Digital Cities. The Interdisciplinary Future of the Urban Geo-Humanities (Palgrave McMillan 2015). Digital Cities stakes claim to an interdisciplinary terrain where the humanities and social sciences combine with digital methods. Part I: Layers of the Interdisciplinary City converts a century of urban thinking into concise insights destined for digital application. Part II: Disciplinary/Digital Debates and the Urban Phenomenon delves into the bumpy history and uneven present landscape of interdisciplinary collaboration as they relate to digital urban projects. Part III: Toward a Theory of Digital Cities harnesses Henri Lefebvre’s capacious urban thinking and articulation of urban ‘levels’ to showcase where ‘deep maps’ and ‘thick mapping’ might take us. Benjamin Fraser argues that while disciplinary frictions still condition the potential of digital projects, the nature of the urban phenomenon pushes us toward an interdisciplinary and digital future where the primacy of cities is assured.
Dr. Fraser is also author of Toward an Urban Cultural Studies (Palgrave McMillan series in Hispanic Urban Studies 2015). Blending Urban Studies and Cultural Studies, this book grounds readers in the extensive theory of the prolific French philosopher Henri Lefebvre. Appropriate for both beginners and specialists, the first half of this book builds from a general introduction to Lefebvre and his methodological contribution toward a focus on the concept of urban alienation and his underexplored theory of the work of art. The second half merges Lefebvrian urban thought with literary studies, film studies and popular music studies, successively, before turning to the videogame and the digital humanities. Benjamin Fraser’s approach consistently emphasizes the interrelationship between cities, culture, and capital.
Jill Twark, ed., Envisioning Social Justice in Contemporary German Culture (Camden House Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture 2015). Social-injustice dilemmas such as poverty, unemployment, and racism are subjects of continuing debate in European societies and in Germany in particular, as solutions are difficult and progress often comes slowly. Such discussions are not limited to opposing newspaper editorials, position papers, or legislative forums, however; creative works expound on these topics as well, but their contributions to the debate are often marginalized.
This collection of new essays explores how contemporary German-language literary, dramatic, filmic, musical, and street artists are grappling with social-justice issues that affect Germany and the wider world, surveying more than a decade’s worth of works of German literature and art in light of the recent paradigm shift in cultural criticism called the “ethical turn.” Central themes include the legacy of the politically engaged 1968 generation, eastern Germany and the process of unification, widening economic disparity as a result of political policies and recession, and problems of integration and inclusivity for ethnic and religious minorities as migration to Germany has increased.
Contributors: Monika Albrecht, Olaf Berwald, Robert Blankenship, Laurel Cohen-Pfister, Jack Davis, Bastian Heinsohn, Axel Hildebrandt, Deborah Janson, Karolin Machtans, Ralf Remshardt, Alexandra Simon-López, Patricia Anne Simpson, Maria Stehle, Jill E. Twark.
March 23, 2015
By Michael D. Gordin
In mid-February, The Chronicle reported the results of a study by the Modern Language Association about foreign-language enrollments in the United States. Let’s just say that something would be rotten with the state of Danish, if American institutions actually offered that language (which they generally don’t).
After 20 years of growth, enrollments in foreign-language courses fell 6.7 percent between 2009 and 2013. Not all languages were hit equally hard. Spanish is still the most frequently studied foreign language in the United States — its enrollments are higher than all others combined — with French in second place. Yet even Spanish has declined. Meanwhile, American Sign Language has moved up to third, displacing German.
These trends are not unique to America, but they do seem to concentrate in Anglophone nations. The educational systems of other countries encourage the study of foreign languages — at the very least, buckling down on English training, essentially compulsory in pre-university and university education in many nations. Yet those people who by accident of birth are born speaking what has become a global language have apparently ceased to see the utility or the desirability of knowing how to speak or read any other tongue. In October 2013, The Guardian reported that the number of British universities offering degrees in modern foreign languages had declined by 40 percent over the previous 15 years, and the trend is accelerating.
Pitt County Schools is launching a dual language immersion program at Belvoir Elementary School in the fall, where 48% of students are native Hispanic speakers. The program, with rotating instruction in Spanish and English, will be offered to all incoming kindergartners with parent approval.
Pitt County Schools World Language Coordinator, Ann Borisoff, says research shows there are scholastic benefits to bilingual instruction. “What happens is that a different part of the brain is accessed when you are working with a bilingual situation. Actually, learning in a lot of cases goes a lot faster and students obtain the same or better results on academic achievement tests as do their monolingual peers,” Borisoff.
(Last year’s post from 3/21/14):
Pitt County Schools is doing a feasibility study on two-way immersion programs to start in 2015-16. In such programs the entire curriculum is taught partially in Spanish and partially in English. Prof. Ann Borisoff who has just completed a dissertation on this subject was featured in an article in The Daily Reflector on March 4, discussing the benefits of such an approach in Pitt County where schools like Belvoir Elementary are 48% Hispanic.
Borisoff said that not only do all the students become bilingual and biliterate, but achievement improves and students develop cross-cultural competence. Data from programs such as the dual immersion program in Greene County have shown that students in such language immersion programs not only learn the standard curriculum despite the language challenges, but actually perform equal or better on grade level tests than their mono-lingual peers. A sample classroom might be an equal mix of native-Spanish and native-English speakers on an alternate day schedule in which the same curriculum is taught exclusively in Spanish one day and in English the next.