Message from the Department Head

July 2019

The last shelves have been cleared of their books, pictures have been taken down from the walls, computer screens are now covered with sheets of bubble wrap and packing paper … The Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies is ready to move out of Buchanan Tower to let the renovations begin for our two floors. Starting July 13, 2019, carrying through until the summer of 2020, all of our offices will be relocated to Ponderosa Annex E and Ponderosa Annex G – away from the hammering and drilling that will (eventually) make our new space even more comfortable and welcoming. This relocation was not an easy project to plan for, but we know that you will love the fresh look once we return. Learn more.

Until then, if you come to visit us in our temporary den, you may notice a few new names on our office doors. Our Department has hired no fewer than seven people during the past year. Dr. Luisa Canuto and Dr. Brianne Orr-Álvarez have respectively been appointed Instructor of Italian and Instructor of Spanish. Dr. Tamara Mitchell, Dr. Ramón Victoriano-Martínez and Dr. Elizabeth Lagresa-González are joining our Department as Assistant Professors of Spanish. Their respective specializations in Mexican literature and culture, Caribbean literature and culture, and theatre of the Golden Age represent important additions to our curriculum.

In French, the Department welcomes Dr. Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire as our new Assistant Professor of 20th/21st-century French literature and culture. Last but not least, Soline Milet was recently appointed Lecturer of French. She will be filling a position left vacant by Dr. Michael O’Hagan, who has decided to retire after a long and dedicated career teaching and advising for our French program, and chairing the Interdisciplinary Studies program at UBC. His loyal and constant presence in the Department, as well as his dependable knowledge, will be deeply missed.  As many of you know, we are also saying farewell to Dr. Ralph Sarkonak. The present newsletter contains a portrait of our esteemed colleague, which summarizes some of his most significant accomplishments since he started teaching at UBC 36 years ago.

This issue of our departmental newsletter also features the work of several faculty members who have recently been awarded prizes and research grants. For the second year in a row, the talent of our teaching team has been recognized with a Killam Teaching Prize, which was awarded to Dr. María Carbonetti. Not only has Dr. Carbonetti established herself as one of our most inspiring teachers, but she also represents a model of what an impactful and socially-engaged learning experience can mean for students at UBC. Research-wise, many colleagues have been successful in obtaining funding and special fellowships for projects that I invite you to discover in this issue, along with a full list of the works published by our faculty and the theses defended by our graduate students during the last year.

Although it may feel like summer has barely started, preparation for the next academic year is well underway. Be on the lookout for many new initiatives in the Department this fall.

Le Centre de la Francophonie fait peau neuve! The Centre will have a new website, a new calendar and new ways to keep track of the activities and events organized for and by the francophone community on campus. A new cultural club will offer FHIS students opportunities to meet weekly and engage in lively discussions over lunch in an informal setting. Major curriculum renewals are also on the agenda for both our French and Latin American Studies programs during the year to come. Stay tuned for more announcements! In the meantime, don’t forget to take a look at our current course offerings and meet with an advisor to plan the best pathway to your academic success.

As usual, we appreciate your input and welcome ideas for stories and profiles. Do you have any suggestions? Are you an alumnus with stories to share? Let us know! We would love to hear from you.



Joël Castonguay-Bélanger
Department Head