Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Archives: 2003 News

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Old Fountain in front of Wright Auditorium



Sylvie Debevec Henning


The Chair's Corner

Last year the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures established an Advancement Council. Our Advancement Council provides an opportunity for the department's alumni and friends to become more involved with the department, to use their influence and affluence to further the College's goals, and to participate in ensuring its future successes. It provides advocacy, consultation, and support for the Department and the continuing development of its programs. Serving as an advocacy group both on campus and off, the Council helps promote a positive image and good relations for the Department with the rest of the University as well as with the local community, region, state, and nation...


homepage image russian studies

The Russian Studies Program

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures has been awarded a two-year $144,000 grant from the US Department of Education under its Undergraduate International Education and Foreign Language Program to establish a Russian Studies Program. Dr. Henning who designed the project, serves as its director. She is assisted by Dr. Michael Bassman, Director of the University Honors Program, who coordinates curriculum enhancement, and Dr. Mary Alice Arnold, Associate Professor of Art Education, who is in charge of community outreach.

"The idea is to get more people in eastern North Carolina - faculty, students and community members - interested in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Eurasian former republics of the Soviet Union," Dr. Henning said. "Our goal is to increase cultural awareness and understanding."

Interest in the program has been tremendous, Dr. Henning said, crediting renewed interest in Russia because of the change in the political situation. Our Russian language and literature program, which has languished since the retirement of our lead faculty member, Dr. Maria Malby, has been solidified with the addition of a full-time faculty member: Dr. Elena Murenina comes to ECU from Saratov State University where she was associate professor in the Department of Literary Studies and Journalism.

Model curricula have been prepared in both Russian Studies and Russian/Eastern European Studies concentrations for ECU's B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies, and for the multidisciplinary minor, with two years of Russian as the core. One student has already customized a Russian Studies major and others have expressed interest in doing the same. Faculty are also designing new Russian Studies units or modules for existing courses.

Other aspects of the program include a dedicated website, collection development in Russian at Joyner Library, faculty research travel grants to Russia (8 this summer and perhaps 10 next year), and community outreach through a Russian film and lecture series.


Foreign Languages Resource Center, Bate 2001

Renovations to the Foreign Languages Resource Center:

The Resources committee began thinking in fall 2001 of how best to update the language lab facilities. Since publishers are moving to provide supplemental instruction online, it was decided that the department should move in the same direction, toward a digital lab, though it had little idea how quickly everything would happen. The concept was supported strongly from the onset: the College of Arts and Sciences immediately provided funds for new furniture and equipment; the student technology fund replaced outdated computer equipment, including 5 new iMACs and 9 PCs with audio headsets; and facilities services removed the audio-cassette stations, and remodeled the rooms.

Although the process of digital conversion seemed the most daunting, Debbie Haddock Harper, the lab administrator, took that challenge entirely upon herself. This fall, she began editing the lab homepage, and putting online many of the lab's most requested services. There are now four password protected on-demand audio internet sites for ¡Tú dirás!, Punto y aparte, Facile à dire!, and Prego! Cassette tapes are no longer required to access the audio portion of workbook exercises. By next semester, nearly all audio will be available on CD. German 1001 and French 1001 will, it is hoped, be the next online sites added for fall 2003. Tapes are still loaned to students in languages not accessible on the internet. But the conversion freed up Bate 2003 for a multi-purpose instructional room. With the addition of a television, multi-format VCR/DVD, labtop, mobile LCD projector, and internet access, it has become a second "smart" classroom.

Foreign Languages Resource Center

Thecommittee was very aware, however, that mere equipment and access to information are not the heart of what the lab does. It achieves its goal of augmenting language instruction chiefly through the wonderful people who work there. The real "resources" of the center are its experienced staff of tutors and assistants: Patrice Crump and Pam Gregory in Spanish, Camoosha Bell with the Modified Spanish Program, Essi Akakpo in French, and Michelle Boaz in German (who is VERY busy with the many new German majors). Lindsay Wood, Steven Mann, Vivien Sansour are all graduate students from the MAIS program. They, along with undergrad Chris Edwards, are heading up the lab assistant team, all of whom have a second language background.


Prof. John Given


Assistant Prof. John P. Given joined the faculty in Classics this fall. He grew up in Philadelphia and received his B.A. in Classical Studies from Dickinson, and the M.A. and Ph.D. in Classical Studies from the University of Michigan, where he was Visiting Asst. Prof. in 2001-2002. His interests include the classical Greek genres of tragedy, comedy and philosophy and the authors Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato and their contemporaries. He uses them to illuminate one another with regard to Greek intellectual history, and studies, "not so much the influence of philosophy and drama on one another, as how the various genres articulate a common heritage of ethical thought and identity performance." Related to these ongoing studies, he has also studied practices of intertextuality and allusion between Greek tragedy and comedy and "identity performance" in the historian Herodotus. He also has a strong interest in twentieth-century American musical theater, "a genre with surprisingly strong links to classical Greek drama."

He is currently working on a book-length project tentatively titled Identity Performance in Protagoras, Aristophanes and Euripides. Beyond this, he is writing several articles, including works on the comic poet Cratinus, on the Birds of Aristophanes, and on the way in which Greeks before Plato thought of the concept of "art" or "skill."

Javier Lorenzo

Assistant Prof. Javier D. Lorenzo joined the Spanish faculty this fall. He was born in La Coruña and grew up in Madrid. He received his B.A. in English and Spanish from Universidad Complutense, Madrid, the M.A. in Spanish, from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a PH.D. in Comparative Literature from Penn State. Before coming to ECU, he taught at Southern Utah University.

Prof. Lorenzo has interests in literature of the Spanish Golden Age, renaissance art and culture, comparative literature, and mythology. He has published articles on intertextuality and self-representation in the poetry of Garcilaso de la Vega and Juan Boscan. He is currently working on a monographic study of Boscan and on the impact of courtly discourse on different aspects of Golden Age prose. He is also attempting to perfect the art of the "empanada" and saying his daily prayers to make Atlético de Madrid the winner of the Spanish soccer championship.


Jill Twark

Assistant Prof. Jill E. Twark joined the German faculty this fall. She hails from Ohio and received her B.A. in German and History from Kent State, as well as her M.A. in German literature, and she received her Ph.D. in German literature from U. Wisconsin-Madison. Prof. Twark has also lived and studied in Germany which she considers her second home: "My specialization within the field of German literature and cultural studies is the twentieth century, in particular the literature and culture of the German Democratic Republic and of reunified Germany. I wrote my dissertation on eight post-reunification Eastern German novels whose authors used humor and satire to deal with the difficult transition in the early 1990s from socialism to a free market economy. Currently, I am working on an article on Günter Grass's latest novella Im Krebsgang (Walking like a Crab 2002), and this summer I plan to begin an article comparing how the author Uwe Timm, in his latest novel Rot (Red 2001), and the director Gregor Schnitzler, in his film Was tun, wenn's brennt? (2001), depict their protagonists' coming to terms in the twenty-first century with their rebellious, youthful protest "crimes" of the late 1960s and late 1980s respectively.

Besides teaching German and conducting research, I also like to travel to out-of-the-way places, speak and learn other foreign languages besides German, read popular world fiction, watch foreign films, hang out with friends in cafés, cook hearty meals, ride my bicycle in the sunny North Carolina weather, swim, and take long walks."




James O'Donnell (French 1984) writes that he is teaching French at S.H.A.P.E. American High School in Belgium near Mons for DoDDS.

Russell Spry (1992 BSP German) writes that he has been assigned as the Intelligence Officer for the 279th Signal Battalion, US Army. He is living in Alabama and also working on his Masters in English.

Congratulations to Ms. Kathy Demnicki Garner (BS French 1989) French teacher at Southern Nash High School, for being named Nash-Rocky Mount Teacher of the year, 2002

Susan Sanchez writes that she received her masters degree from NCSU in 2008 and "I am now married and live in Asheville, NC. I am currently working on my National Boards, and teach Spanish at McDowell High School. I also try to attend NCCAT as often as I can. They offer wonderful Professional Development for all NC teachers."

Ms. Nellie Lewis, BA French (1972), Director, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, ECU

Ms. Linda E. McMahon , BA French, minor in Spanish, Outstanding Senior Award (1969), President and CEO, World Wrestling Federation

Ms. Sylvia Briley, BS French, French teacher J.H. Rose High School

Ms. Dolly Hathaway, BS Spanish (1969), Spanish teacher D.H. Conley High School

Ms. Kathleen Brewington, BS Spanish (1994), Principle Johnston County Schools

Ms. Bernadette Morris, BA French (1972), Assistant Director of Second Languages, State Department of Public Instruction

Mr. Steve Davis, BSP Spanish (1996), Director of Migrant Services, Greene County Mental Health Center

Mr. Barry Bonikowski, BSP Spanish (1990), Pilot for Executive Jets Inc.

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