MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


Foreign Languages and Literatures (FLL) is dedicated to providing MIT students with the tools for a sensitive and successful involvement in the global community by contributing to the internationalization of their MIT education. During the academic year 1999—2000, FLL faculty continued to provide national and international leadership in the fields of foreign language pedagogy, technology in the humanities, and literary and cultural studies, while demonstrating their commitment to excellence in education within the Institute.

Several members of the section were recognized in their fields. Professor of French Studies Isabelle de Courtivron became Section Head in January 2000 and was named Distinguished Alumna of Brown University in the Spring. Assistant Professor of Chinese Emma Teng received the J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for 2000—01. Lecturer in French Sabine Levet was named the Vice President of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Special Interest Group on the Teaching and Learning of Culture, and Senior Lecturer Douglas Morgenstern was named Chair of the Modern Language Association (MLA) Committee in Computers and Emerging Technologies in Teaching and Research. Associate Professor of German Bernd Widdig, Senior Lecturer in French Gilberte Furstenberg, and Lecturer in Spanish Adriana Gutierrez-Gonzalez were on leave during the Spring 2000 semester.

FLL faculty and lecturers have, for the past several years, been actively developing materials and new technology to enhance the teaching of foreign languages and culture. This year saw the start of the Daimler Chrysler Research Project (PI, Research Associate Kurt Fendt in collaboration with many members of the FLL faculty). The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning remains a strong supporter of various FLL multimedia projects, having provided new campus-based funding for the web-based project Immigrant Voices: Stories from Hispanic Communities in Boston (co-PIs, Lecturers in Spanish, Margarita Ribas Groeger and Gutierrez). Lecturer in French Johann Sadock also received campus-based Consortium funds for his project Au-delà du regard: recontres multiethniques, a web-based module that focuses on the changing face of French society as a result of an increasingly racially and ethnically diverse youth. This year, the Consortium’s sole recipient of Consortium-wide funding was Cultura, a Multimedia/Hypermedia Cross-Cultural Project for CD-ROM and the Web (PI, Senior Lecturer Furstenberg). This project also received a grant from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation. Lecturer in German Monika Totten’s interactive web project, Kultura Germany, also received support from the Consortium. StarFestival, a CD-ROM-based curriculum about Japanese Culture (PI, Shigeru Miyagawa, Professor of Japanese and Linguistics), has been adopted system-wide in grades K-5 by the Boston Public Schools for the school year 2000—01.

Research in the areas of literary and cultural studies, linguistics and language pedagogy continues to be of the highest caliber and is regularly published in internationally respected journals. Professor de Courtivron was guest editor for SITES: The Journal of 20th Century Contemporary French Literature Volume 4 Issue 1 and wrote an article for the issue on "Midlife Memoirs and the Bicultural Dilemma." Visiting Associate Professor of French Odile Cazenave’s book, Rebellious Women: The New Generation of Female African Novelists was published by Lynne Rienner Publishers in September 1999. In addition, five of her articles were published this year, among them "Writing New Identities: The New African Diaspora in France," appeared in Literature of Immigration in France; Calixthe Beyala’s "Parisian Novels: An Example of Globalization and Transculturation in French Society," was published in SITES: The Journal of 20th Century Contemporary French Studies; and "Roman africain au féminin et immigration: dynamisme du devenir," appeared in Changements au féminin en Afrique Noire, Vol. II: Littérature. Professor of Second Language Acquisition and Linguistics Suzanne Flynn continues as co-editor of the Syntax Journal. Senior Lecturer Furstenberg’s CD-ROM and Pedagogical Guide "Dans un quartier de Paris" was published by Yale University Press in September 1999. Lecturer Levet co-authored the Pedagogical Guide. Senior Lecturer Furstenberg also wrote a chapter in the book "Interactive Learning: Vignettes from America's Most Wired Campuses" which was published by Arker Publishing Company. Professor Miyagawa’s work Causatives appeared in the Handbook of Japanese Linguistics and his work "Make as a Light Verb and the Notion of CAUSE" was published in Linguistics: In Search of the Human Mind. Professor Teng wrote an article for Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies entitled "Taiwan as Living Museum: Tropes of Anachronism in Late-Imperial Chinese Travel Writing." The paperback edition of Professor of French and Film Studies Edward Baron Turk’s book Hollywood Diva: A Biography of Jeanette MacDonald was published by the University of California Press. Senior Lecturer in Chinese Julian Wheatley’s article "Classroom Testing" appeared in Mapping the Course of the Chinese Language Field, a publication of the Chinese Language Teachers Association. He also co-authored the article "Languages in Contact: The Case of English and Burmese" published in the Journal of Burma Studies.

This year, FLL’s Center for Bilingual and Bicultural Studies (CBBS) brought distinguished author Eva Hoffman to MIT as a Visiting Professor. Her works include Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language and Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of the Polish Jews. In addition to heading a panel discussion at MIT, Visiting Professor Hoffman taught the course "Where East Meets West: Contemporary Eastern European Literatures." FLL also co-sponsored talks by noted authors Friedrich Christian Delius, Andreï Makine and George Steiner.

FLL faculty were invited to numerous national and international conferences. Professor de Courtivron was invited to speak and present a paper at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies Colloquium on France and Europe. Lecturer in Italian Daniele Benati was invited to speak at the Italian Consulate Conference in Vienna, Austria and in Modena, Italy. Visiting Professor Cazenave was invited to be moderator at the African Festival, Fest’ Africa in Lille, France. She was also a co-moderator of a discussion at the Boston University Festival of Francophone Expression and was Panel Chair at the International Council of Francophone Studies (CIEF) Convention held in Tunisia. Both Jane Dunphy and Mary Christie, Lecturers in ESL, presented papers at the Association for Business Communication Conference in Los Angeles, CA. Lecturer Dunphy also presented her paper "Humor Across the Curriculum" at the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) 2000 Convention. Research Associate Fendt made a presentation at the week-long workshop "Digital Media in Science Education" organized by the University of Saarbrücken, Germany. Senior Lecturer Furstenberg presented her "Dans Un Quartier de Paris" project at the annual Foreign Language Association of North Carolina (FLANC) Conference. Elizabeth Garrels, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies and Lecturer Groeger co-organized the Luisa Campuzano Lecture in September 1999, a project sponsored by FLL in conjunction with MIT’s Women Studies Program, Wellesley College, and Harvard University's Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Lecturer Levet was a presenter at numerous conferences including the Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) symposium and the International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALL) conference. Senior Lecturer Morgenstern served as presider and organizer of an invited panel on "Evaluating and Supporting Academic Work in the Digital Age" at the MLA Convention. Lecturer in Japanese Yoshimi Nagaya taught at the Teacher’s Training Workshop at Bryn Mawr College. Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Margery Resnick gave a talk at the MIT Alumni Club in New Mexico entitled, "This is Not Your Father," as well as a talk in Alicante, Spain on "Challenges and Perspectives on Women’s Studies Programs." Lecturer Sadock co-organized an "Evening on Multiculturalism in France" with the Cultural Services department of the French Consulate in Boston. Professor Teng presented "Photographs of a Vanished City" at the Association of Chinese Comparative Literature Conference in Vienna in June 1999. She also presented papers at the Contested Modernities Conference, the Fairbanks Center Director's Seminar, the Association of Asian American Studies Convention, and the International Conference on Art, Literature, and Travel. Lecturer Totten organized and introduced Katja Behrens’ reading at the Goethe Institute in Boston and also participated in the Berlin Seminar with contemporary German writers. Professor Turk was the organizer and moderator for the panel on Independent Cinema for Communications Forum. He also moderated the panels for the Media in Transition Conference on "Aesthetic Consequences of New Media" and "Rethinking Literacy." Professor Widdig gave a number of talks, including "Internationalizing Education: The MIT-Germany Program" at the Second International Engineering Education Colloquium at the University of Rhode Island. Professor Widdig was invited to speak at a number of other conferences as well, including the German Studies Association Twenty-Third Annual Conference and the Sexual Revolution Conference held at Old Dominion University. Senior Lecturer Wheatley, along with Lecturers in Chinese Tong Chen and Nyan-Ping Bi each presented papers at the ACTFL Conference in Dallas in November 1999. In addition to chairing that panel, Senior Lecturer Wheatley also participated in the Association of Asian Studies Conference in San Diego.

Faculty and lecturers also participated in programs organized at MIT. Professor de Courtivron gave a talk at Parents’ Weekend and for the Visiting Committee at MIT. She also organized events sponsored by CBBS. Professor Turk was the guest speaker at Burchard Fellows Dinner on "Art, Censorship, and the Holy Virgin Mary." He also presented two films to the International Film Club: "Two Films by Peter Greenaway" and "Murnau’s Tabu." This year, Professor Flynn co-organized two conferences at MIT: Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition in May, and Language for Seven Generations held in June. Professor Resnick continued her active participation in the Association of MIT Alumnae (AMITA) Oral History project. Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Nicolas Wey-Gomez organized talks by artists-in-residence Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Carlos Sifuentes. Senior Lecturer Furstenberg acted as moderator of the panel at the Center for Media Studies (CMS) Conference. Senior Lecturer Morgenstern co-organized the Consortium Workshop on Advanced Spanish Language Instruction.

Members of the FLL faculty also contribute to MIT through their service on a number of Institute-wide committees: The Committee on Undergraduate Programs, the Equal Opportunity Committee, the Burchard Scholars, the Board of Directors of MIT Professional Programs, the Eloranta Committee, the Committee on Corporate Relations, the Arts Council Advisory Committee, the Campus Committee on Race Relations, the Committee on the Writing Requirement, the Women’s Studies Steering Committee, the Phi Beta Kappa Selection Committee, the MacVicar Fellow Selection Committee, the Faculty Committee on the Library System, and the Committee on Curricula, among others. Professor Resnick has also just completed her second year as Chair of the Program in Women Studies.

FLL has maintained its commitment to making full-time appointments and to attracting qualified candidates from minority groups. In order to achieve these goals, FLL has targeted historically black colleges and universities and has advertised in journals and association web sites focusing on the minority community.

While the number of majors in FLL remains low at two, the number of minors (52) and the number of concentrators (416) has remained relatively stable. Spanish continues to have the largest enrollments at 511; followed by English as a Second Language, 297; Japanese, 282; Chinese, 282; French, 257; German, 191, and Italian, 100. Enrollments in Studies in International Literatures and Cultures (cross-cultural language and culture subjects taught in English) are subsumed under the language group to which the instructor belongs.

More information about this section can be found on the World Wide Web at

Isabelle de Courtivron

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000