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Message From The Interim Head Department

Dear Friends, Students, and Colleagues,

During the past summer, our Head for the past four years, Professor Erec Koch, was hired as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Hunter College (in New York City). We will miss Erec's dedication to the Department and wish him the best of luck in his new position. At the same time, the Department is happy to announce that we have hired a specialist in French and Maghreb studies, Professor Douja Mamelouk, who will play an important role in the development of our new program in Arabic. We are also happy to welcome back Professor Chris Holmlund, who returns to the Department after a year teaching at the University of Western Ontario. Professor Holmlund is a specialist in cinema studies who is currently serving a three-year term as head of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, which has 2800 members worldwide.

The Department of Modern Languages is dedicated the discovery, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge of foreign languages, literatures, and to preparing students for success in a global world. The eight languages we teach in the Department, and the research that faculty members conduct on a wide panorama of cultures, enrich our courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our undergraduate students continue a tradition of excellence inside and outside the classroom. Three students who recently graduated from MFLL received prestigious Fulbright awards: Shande King, an honors graduate who completed a B.A. in Math and French in May 2010 (and his master's degree in education in May 2011); Ariel Brassil, a spring 2011 honors graduate who completed a B.A. in German with a concentration in Language and World Business; and Amy Hill, a fall 2010 graduate who completed a B.A. in German. The complete Fulbright story may be found at: Jacob Crowder, a senior in Russian with a concentration in Language and World Business, was named the American Council of Teachers of Russian Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate. Eight students in German were selected for German Exchange Programs in 2010-11.

MFLL makes a strong contribution to UT's Ready for the World initiative through its involvement in study abroad. The Department oversees popular programs in France, Italy, Mexico, and Spain, where students improve their language skills as they are immersed in foreign cultures. This is regularly accomplished on campus by the dedication of MFLL faculty to organizing a variety of activities (such as film series, lecture series, and language tables), which enrich the multi-cultural (and multi-disciplinary) experience we offer to our students. Most recently, both undergraduate and graduate students in German assisted Professor Stefanie Ohnesorg in bringing Do Deutsch, a celebration of all things German to the UT campus. The event, which was held from October 10-14, was a tremendous success, and further information may be found at:

Our graduate programs in French, German, and Spanish continue to excel. During the past academic year nine students received their MA degrees, another, Kandace Holladay, received her Ph.D. in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures (with a specialization in Hispanic literature), and twelve graduate students made presentations at professional conferences. Furthermore, the Spanish Ph.D. program achieved one of the highest NRC rankings of any PhD program at the University of Tennessee, and details on this important national ranking may be found at: The Department is also very pleased to announce the creation of five-year BA/MA tracks in French and German. Interested students in the French BA/MA track should contact Professor John Romeiser ( and, for the German BA/MA track, should contact Professor Jeff Mellor (

Several faculty members in the Department received prestigious awards in the spring of 2011. Professor Michael Handelsman and Professor Mary McAlpin won Excellence in Teaching Awards. Professor Handelsman was recognized for his energy, passion, and commitment in the classroom, in addition to his innovative technique of using music as a component of teaching textual analysis, and Professor McAlpin was recognized for the perfect balance she maintains among questions, answers, lectures, videos, and handouts, which she skillfully employs in order to create interactive classes. Professor Flavia Brizio-Skov earned a Ready for the World award for creating an exchange program with the University of Genoa, which will help to enhance intercultural and international awareness among students. An Excellence in Advising award was presented to Professor Luis Cano, who was recognized for encouraging students to ask questions about their education and think about long- and short-term goals. Professor Stephen Blackwell and Professor Gregory Kaplan were awarded Lindsay Young Professorships in recognition of their distinguished classroom teaching and scholarship. Our Department would not be nearly as productive were it not for the work and dedication of our staff in McClung 701, which includes Pam Carter, Lisa Pass, Cheryl Acree, and Irina Bobrovitskaya.

Of course, the ability of a Department to provide students with the widest array of top quality programs depends in part on the support of its alumni. I encourage all who receive this newsletter to consider making a donation to the UTK Modern Foreign Language Gift Fund (or another MFLL fund). Complete instructions for making a donation may be found at the end of this online newsletter. I would also like to encourage students who have graduated with MFLL degrees to contact Dr. Stefanie Ohnesorg (, the Associate Head of MFLL, with updates and news for future newsletters.

Thank you for your continued support,

Gregory B. Kaplan
Interim Head, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures

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