MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Foreign Languages and Literatures Section

During the academic year 1994-95, members of the faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures (FL&L) 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. In April, Shigeru Miyagawa, Professor of Linguistics and Japanese, was named to the Kochi Prefecture-John Manjiro Professorship in Japanese Language and Culture after having been instrumental, along with Dean Philip Khoury, in raising the $2,300,000 endowment for the School of Humanities. Professor Miyagawa was also honored with the Irwin Sizer Award for "the most significant improvement to education at MIT." Several other members of the section were recognized by colleagues in their fields, educational institutions and governmental agencies. Margery Resnick, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, was appointed as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow "in recognition of sustained and significant contributions to teaching and undergraduate education at the Institute." Professor Resnick also continues to be Project Chair of the Margaret MacVicar/Amita MIT Women's Oral History Project. Edward Baron Turk, Professor of French Studies and Film, was the 1995 Levitan Prize recipient for his project entitled "Jeanette MacDonald and the Decline of the Middlebrow in Twentieth-Century America." He was also honored by the French government: he was named Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. Bernd Widdig, Assistant Professor of German Studies was awarded the Class of 1958 Career Development Professorship. Lecturers Ellen Crocker (German) and María Gonzalez Aguilar (Spanish) received Whiting Foundation Fellowships to pursue projects in their respective fields. Lecturer Crocker was also honored by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and the Goethe Institute with the 1994 Certificate of Merit for "outstanding achievement in furthering the teaching of German in US schools." Kurt Fendt, Research Associate and Lecturer in German was, for the second time, awarded the Max Kade Fellowship for research at MIT.

FL&L faculty and lecturers, working with colleagues in the Laboratory for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (LATH) and the Language Learning and Resource Center (LLARC), have been researching and developing materials and new technology to enhance the teaching of foreign languages and culture. Award-winning work on interactive video projects include: No recuerdo, an interactive narrative documentary for the Spanish language (Douglas Morgenstern, Senior Lecturer in Spanish, Principal Investigator, (PI)); Dans le Quartier St. Gervais, a French language learning interactive video (Gilberte Furstenberg, Senior Lecturer in French, PI); Shakespeare Interactive Archive Project, an electronic archive and classroom presentation system linking important performances of Shakespeare's plays, co-directed by Professor Peter Donaldson, Head of MIT's Literature Section and Dr. Janet Murray, Senior Research Scientist and Director of the LATH; Tanabata: The Star Festival, an interactive video for Japanese language learning (Professor Miyagawa, PI); and Berliner sehen, an interactive documentary for German language learning (Lecturer Crocker and Associate Researcher Fendt, co-PI's). These projects have received several grants during the past year. The National Endowment for the Humanities demonstrated its support of the interactive video projects with a new grant for Berliner sehen and continued its support of Shakespeare, Tanabata, and No Recuerdo. Dans le Quartier St. Gervais and No recuerdo received continued support from Annenberg/The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, while Tanabata received matching funds from the ASCII Corporation of Japan, and new funds from both the Funabashi Business and Computer College and the Japan American Institute of Management Science (JAIMS). The Consortium for Foreign Language Teaching and Learning remains a strong supporter of various FL&L projects, such as an interactive archive of German Jewish survivors of the Holocaust; the development of a videodisc on French language acquisition; a third year Chinese reader; and the creation of applications for teaching and learning Japanese on MIT's local ATHENA network. Canon Information Systems and Canon Business Machines have provided funds for a new initiative called JP NET, a global information service for Japanese language and culture instruction. The LATH is also working on a joint project with Lincoln Labs for advanced conversation-based language learning systems. Application of the interactive projects has been made at the alpha-beta testing stage, with students making use of the programs both as a part of independent language laboratory work and as directed classroom tools, and published products (such as A la recontre de Philippe, Yale University Press, 1994) have become an integral part of the third and fourth year language curricula.

Research in the areas of literary and cultural studies, linguistics and language pedagogy continues to be of the highest caliber, with articles published in internationally respected journals. Professor Isabelle de Courtivron's "La Politique èditoriale des èditions des femmes" in Regards sur la france des anneès 1980 (Stanford French and Italian Studies) and "Resistance and the Liberation of Clara Malraux" was published in Contemporary French Civilization. Michel Tournier: Bricolage and Cultural Mythology, a book by Martin Roberts, Assistant Professor of French Studies, was published by Stanford French and Italian Studies. Professor of Spanish and Linguistics James Harris' work "Projection and Edge Marking in the Computation of Stress in Spanish" was published in the Handbook of Phonological Theory and "The OCP, Prosodic Morphology and Sonoran Spanish Diminutives" in Phonology. Professor Resnick's article "Transgresiones, digresiones, e invenciones" was published in Poesia y Exilio. Professor Miyagawa's article "Optionality and Scrambling" appeared in The Proceedings of the Nanzan Conference on Linguistics and Japanese Language Teaching. Professor Widdig's "Tägliche Sprengungen: Elias Canetti und die Inflation" appeared in Merkur, and his work "Cultural Dimensions of Inflation in Weimar Germany" was published in German Politics and Society.

FL&L faculty have also been invited to several conferences around the world and have thus had opportunities to present their research to international audiences. Among them, Monika Totten, Lecturer in German, gave a paper entitled "Der Holocaust im Fremdsprachenunterricht: Interviews mit deutsch-judischen Schriftstellerinnen" at the German in and for China program, held in Beijing last August. In September, Suzanne Flynn, Professor of Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, spoke on "The Initial States of L2 Learners" at the Second Language Acquisition Research Forum at McGill University. Professor Harris was the Plenary Speaker at two conferences, one entitled Encuentro de Linguistica en el Noroeste at the Universidad de Sonora, Mexico in November; the other, "Langues et Grammaire," at the Universitè Paris in June. Senior Lecturer Furstenberg was invited to present her interactive video A la recontre de Philippe at multimedia conferences at the University of British Columbia in November, and again, in Paris in January at the Congrès International du Multimédia. Professor Miyagawa was invited to speak at the Japanese Language, Education and Teaching Conference held at Tsukuba University, Japan in March. This June, Professor Resnick organized and chaired a colloquium in Madrid entitled: Women and Politics. In January, Takako Aikawa, Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese, delivered a paper on "Binding Behaviors of the Japanese XP Reflexives" at the annual meeting of the American Linguistic Society (ALS) and Shoggy Waryn, Lecturer in French, presented a paper on "French Identity and the Cultural Maginot Line" at the 12th International Colloquium on Twentieth Century French Studies held at Stanford University. Faculty members also gave talks at the Modern Language Association in San Diego, Swarthmore College, the Center for European Studies and the Kennedy School at Harvard University, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Georgetown University, and at Brown University at a conference sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Language Learning.

There have been a number of cultural and educational events that our faculty have planned and participated in both locally and at MIT. In September, Bettina Brandt, Visiting Assistant Professor of German and Lecturer Totten collaborated with the Goethe Institute of Boston in order to bring Holger Teschke, a German dramatist, to MIT for a theater workshop entitled Der Mann in the Mond. In October, Senior Lecturer Morgenstern collaborated with both Music and Theater Arts and the Women's Studies Program in order to bring Argentinean playwright Diana Raznovich to MIT. Yih-jian Tai, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese, directed The Wild Land, a Chinese play in English as part of Boston's 1995 Asian Pacific Month. This spring, Lecturer Crocker and Senior Lecturer Furstenberg organized well-attended workshops for high-school and college level instructors on the use of multimedia in language classes. These workshops were hosted through regional chapters of the AATG and the American Association for Teachers of French (AATF). The ESL Program, under the direction of Professor Flynn and in conjunction with the Sloan School of Management, has launched a summer intensive for incoming MIT MBA students that will immerse students not only in written and spoken English, but also in American culture, through social and educational activities in and around Boston and MIT.

Members of the FL&L faculty also contribute to MIT through their service on a number of Institute-wide committees: The Equal Opportunity Committee, Regional Minors Committee, Committee on the Writing Requirement, Humanities and Technology Committee, Cultural Studies Steering Committee, Women's Studies Steering Committee, Phi Beta Kappa Selection Committee, MISTI/Latin America Steering Committee, Committee on Academic Performance, Sub-Committees for Undergraduate Programs and the Committee on Curricula, among others.

Each year, FL&L has conducted national searches in order to fulfill its commitment to making full-time appointments. Presently women constitute more than 70 percent of the Section's faculty and staff. In addition, vigorous efforts are made by the search committees to attract qualified candidates from minority groups by targeting historically black colleges and universities and advertising in several journals focusing on the minority community. This year, FL&L conducted two national searches: one for an Assistant Professor of Japanese, the other for a Lecturer in Spanish. An Hispanic woman accepted our offer as a full time lecturer. Takako Aikawa was appointed Assistant Professor of Japanese and Margarita Ribas-Groeger was appointed as a full-time Lecturer in Spanish. There were also two promotions within the section: in December, Professor Widdig was promoted to Associate Professor without tenure and Nicolas Wey-Gómez was promoted to Assistant Professor of Spanish Studies, both effective July 1, 1995.

While the number of majors in FL&L remains low at four, the number of concentrators (536) and minors (50) have remained stable. Spanish continues to have the largest enrollments at 396; followed by Japanese, 356; French, 276; English as a Second Language, 214; German 181; Chinese 172; and Russian, 35. In addition, enrollments in Studies in International Literatures and Cultures (cross-cultural language and culture subjects taught in English) remain high at 145. FL&L subjects also make up an important component of the Regional Minors Programs with 23 students enrolled.

MIT alumni have continued their support and efforts to expand the East Asian language program. In response to overwhelming interest in East Asian languages and cultures, the section launched a national search for a Specialist in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture to head our Chinese Program. It is expected that a professor of Chinese Studies will join the section by AY 1997.

Isabelle De Courtivron

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95