A Message from the Head of the Department
Dear Friends, Students, and Colleagues:

The 2007-08 academic year was an eventful and exciting one in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures. Our faculty continued its record of extraordinary scholarly productivity, and our students, graduate and undergraduate, continued to prosper in courses at the cutting-edge of instruction in language, literature, and culture. Ours is a truly collegial academic community.

This year we are delighted to welcome Dr. Verónica Loureiro-Rodríguez, Assistant Professor, to the Spanish section of MFLL. An accomplished sociolinguist, Dr. Loureiro-Rodríguez completed her Ph.D in Spanish linguistics with emphasis on Second Language Acquisition at the University of California-Davis in summer 2008. Her research focuses on sociolinguistics, bilingual communities, language ideologies, bilingual education, and second language acquisition in Galicia and the United States. Dr. Loureiro-Rodríguez will apply her administrative and pedagogical talents to the first-year Spanish program, which she has already re-shaped in important ways, while she pursues an ambitious research agenda. We are most fortunate to have recruited such a talented colleague.

It is also a pleasure to report that members of MFLL continue to receive broad recognition within the university. Ms. Beth Cole, Accounting Specialist II, was honored at the Chancellor’s Banquet with the 2007 Outstanding Customer Service Award, and Ms. Ingrid McMillen, Administrative Specialist II, received the 2008 Mary Lynn Glustoff Award for the outstanding staff member in the College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Michael Handelsman received the prestigious Jefferson Award (2007), the highest academic honor at the university, for his remarkable research accomplishments. He was also reappointed as Distinguished Professor in the Humanities (2008). Professor Greg Kaplan received a well merited promotion to the rank of full professor. Our faculty continues to receive grants that support their original, important, and cutting-edge research. Of note is the Project Rite grant (2007) awarded to Professor Dolly Young and Doug Canfield, Language Resource Center Coordinator, who are exploring highly creative uses of Second Life simulation in foreign language instruction. MFLL colleagues are widely recognized beyond the walls of UTK for their expertise: Professor Michael Handelsman was selected to serve as President of the Andean Commission for Evaluation and Accreditation of Higher Education (2008), and Professor Chris Holmlund served on the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2007). Doug Canfield has been appointed co-editor of the IALLT Journal. Our students fared equally impressively. Among graduate students, Kodjo Adabra (GTA French) published two novels last year, L’Exilé and Identité, and Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz was awarded a GTA@itc grant (2007). Stephen Ellis, an undergraduate major in Spanish and Political Science, was recognized as the top graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences at 2008 commencement. Theresa Diroff, top College Scholar for the 2008 graduating class, was co-mentored by Professor Millie Gimmel.

The MFLL faculty continues its impressive record of research and publication, placing over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles during the past academic year, a truly impressive total. Those colleagues have also given 58 scholarly papers at major conferences in the United States and abroad. We also had a number of new books published in the 2007-08 academic year: Nuria Cruz-Camara, El laberinto intertextual de Carmen Martín Gaite; Michael Handelsman, Benjamín Carrión: estudio introductorio, selección y notas; Gregory Kaplan, El culto a San Millan en Valderredible, Cantabria; and Erec R. Koch, The Aesthetic Body: Passion, Sensibility, and Corporeality in Seventeenth-Century France. All are important contributions, but Professor Kaplan’s has already garnered significant critical attention: his study has been nominated for the prestigious "La corónica" Book Award, an annual international prize for the best monograph published on medieval Iberian language, literature, and cultural studies.

MFLL continues to provide a vibrant environment for all of its students, undergraduate and graduate. This year the Department hosted a number of important events. The History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Research Seminar and Colloquy, headed by Professor Millie Gimmel last academic year, hosted two notable historians of science during the 2007-08 academic year: Professor Peter Dear from Cornell University and Professor Carolyn Merchant from UC Berkeley. Both spent two days on campus; they interacted with faculty and gave public lectures. Austrian writer Lilian Faschinger, winner of the prestigious Glauser Prize for her recent crime novel Stadt der Verlierer (Town of Losers), spoke and read from her works during a well-attended campus visit last year organized by Professors Stefanie Ohnesorg and Maria Stehle. Professor Dawn Duke organized an important colloquium on “Women Writers from Brazil” (2007), which featured Miriam Alves, who has the distinction of being the leading Afro-Brazilian female poet of today, and Maria da Conceiçã Evaristo, who is recognized as the leading female Afro-Brazilian writer of consciousness. Professor Chris Holmlund helped organize the "Citizenship, Literacy, Media" Film and Speaker Series, with such celebrated documentary film makers as PBS’s Tamara Rosenberg. Professor Óscar Rivera-Rodas organized the 16th annual “Jornadas Internacionales de Teatro Latinoamericano” and the third annual “Jornadas Internacionales de Poesía Latinoamericana” in Puebla, Mexico, this summer. Those events honored and were attended by, respectively, dramatist Marcela del Río and poet Dolores Castro Varela. Our exciting annual Japanese Speech Contest, organized by Professor Jon LaCure and Mahagi LaCure, drew 60 competitors at all language levels and a crowd of over 100 spectators. These events supplemented our regularly running film series and language tables for the Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish programs.

Defying national trends, our undergraduate and graduate programs continue to grow at impressive rates. Our undergraduate study abroad programs in Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France are thriving and reached new peaks in enrollment last academic year. We are fostering similar opportunities for our graduate students at major universities in Germany as well as with the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador. Our innovative course offerings for undergraduate and graduate students prepare them for a globalizing world. Again last May, we recognized the extraordinary accomplishments of our students at our fourth annual honors assembly. We list those award recipients in the table below.

Finally, I ask our alumni and friends to update us on their news. As you can see, we have a growing section dedicated to former students and friends of MFLL. We urge all of you to send us updates for future newsletters. I would welcome your email: erkoch@utk.edu.

Erec R. Koch's Signature

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