Message from the Department Head

November 2019

Welcome to the Fall 2019 Newsletter of the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies.

I am writing this message only a few days after saying goodbye to those who have travelled from all over the world to participate in our Department’s 8th Biennial Graduate Student Conference, which was organized by five of our graduate students: Liza Bolen, Han Fei, Kathryn Houston, Jennifer Nagtegaal and Xana Menendez Prendes. This year’s conference theme of On the Move: Narratives of Displacement, Travel and Mobilities could not have been more relevant to so many of the research projects and initiatives that are currently underway in the Department.

As you know, the Department itself has been “on the move” throughout the summer. As our Buchanan Tower offices undergo renovation, our temporary relocation to Ponderosa Annex E and Ponderosa Annex G has been quite a journey, but it has allowed many of us to discover a new side of campus…

For many of our students, being “on the move” and making new discoveries has taken on a very different meaning. In a brief video, alumnus Lawrence Book McKnight tells us how the study of Spanish and Human Geography equipped him to become a Program Manager in Lima, Peru, where he worked on community projects for under-resourced areas. Thanks to the Global Seminars led by our faculty members Luisa Canuto and Stephanie Spacciante, more than 30 undergraduate students travelled to Venice (Italy) and Quito (Ecuador) to experience a full cultural and linguistic immersion in Italian and Spanish. Two of these students, Thao Atkinson and Bowen Wright, have kindly agreed to share their experiences in this newsletter. Read their testimonials, learn how transformative studying abroad has been for them, and consider enrolling in one of the two programs offered this Summer 2020: Salerno (Italy) and Quito (Ecudaor). Apply by December 5, 2019.

“Mobility” is also the order of the day at the graduate level, where so many students are engaging in research that requires them to visit and work in various countries. For those who have enrolled in a cotutelle (a joint PhD that gives students the chance to work with two supervisors), this can mean keeping one foot on two different continents and combining their studies at UBC with that of another French institution. Anne-Claire Marpeau, who defended her PhD in Lyon (France) in September, explains how her joint experiences at UBC and École normale supérieure de Lyon helped her design a unique research project and renew our understanding of Gustave Flaubert’s canonical novel Madame Bovary.

After appointing no less than seven colleagues last year, faculty recruitment remains a high priority for the Department. We currently have four active searches for the following positions: one tenure-stream Assistant Professor of Romance Philology and three tenure-stream Assistant Professors of French with distinct specializations (Quebec Literature, Sociolinguistics and Francophone Studies).

As we welcome new colleagues, we are also saying goodbye to others who have been working with us for many years. This past August, Prof. Richard Hodgson retired after serving for more than 35 years at UBC. During his tenure, Prof. Hodgson established himself as a respected scholar of 17th-century French literature. His publications include studies on authors such as Charles Sorel, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pierre Bayle and La Rochefoucauld. This coming December will also mark the end of the long and successful career of Enrique Manchón, Senior Instructor of Spanish, who has been working at UBC since 1982. With him, the Spanish program is saying goodbye to one of its most passionate instructors and most dedicated undergraduate advisors. Throughout the years, countless students have benefited from his knowledge of the Spanish language and have enjoyed his warmth and humour. Needless to say, we will miss them deeply and wish them both the best for their retirement.

Some of the initiatives we will be pursuing this year include a broad curriculum review and efforts to increase community engagement. Shortly after launching a new website, the interdisciplinary Latin American Studies program, chaired by Alessandra Santos, is currently reviewing its course offerings. Consultation is also underway to identify the best way for the Department to develop and support Experiential and Community-Engaged Learning. The Centre de la Francophonie de UBC is almost ready to unveil its new website and updated calendar of activities for the year. Its directrice, Stéphanie Palisse, explains how the Centre aims to provide a social and cultural hub for the Francophone and Francophile community of UBC. It also strives to support the Francophonie on campus through organized events and activities that feature the diversity of the countries and cultures where French is spoken.

I hope you will enjoy this newsletter and learn more about our new faculty, research projects, and opportunities to get involved with our community.

Please visit us at our temporary offices in Ponderosa Annex and consider attending one of the many talks, seminars, book launches and cultural activities organized by our faculty members. Consult our event calendar regularly or follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook.



Joël Castonguay-Bélanger
Department Head
French, Hispanic and Italian Studies