MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


During the academic year 1995-96*, 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. Several members of the section were recognized by colleagues in their fields and educational institutions. Suzanne Flynn, Professor of Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, has been named Section Head of FL&L, succeeding Isabelle de Courtivron, Professor of French Studies. Professor Flynn was also honored with the Balliol College Fellowship, an exchange program for faculty at MIT and Balliol College, England, in addition to being recognized by the University of Puerto Rico for her work on educational and linguistic issues relevant to Puerto Rico. Margery Resnick, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, and Lecturer in Spanish Margarita Ribas Groeger's project received funding from the Class of `51 Fund for Excellence in Education and the Class of `55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching. María Gonzalez Aguilar, Lecturer in Spanish, received, for the second consecutive year, the Whiting Foundation Fellowship to pursue a project in her field. Professors Edward Turk (French Studies), James Harris (Spanish and Linguistics), Shigeru Miyagawa (Linguistics and Japanese) and Professor Resnick were on leave during the Fall term, and Professor Flynn and Bernd Widdig, Assistant Professor of German Studies, were on leave during the Spring term.

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; Star Festival, an interactive CD-ROM for Japanese language and culture learning (Professor Miyagawa, PI); Paradoja, a CD ROM that explores the problems and obstacles women face in Latin America (Lecturers Ribas Groeger and Gonzalez Aguilar, co-PI's); and Berliner sehen, an interactive documentary for German language learning (Ellen Crocker, Lecturer in German, and Associate Researcher Kurt Fendt, co-PI's). The LATH is also in the final stages of a joint project with Lincoln Labs for advanced conversation-based language learning systems. The Department of Education demonstrated its support for the interactive video projects with a new grant for JP NET, a global information service for Japanese language and culture instruction. The Consortium for Foreign Language Teaching and Learning remains a strong supporter of various FL&L projects, providing continued funding for an interactive archive of German Jewish survivors of the Holocaust; and the development of an interactive film subtitling program to facilitate the use of language materials in the classroom. Professor Miyagawa is the PI for the Japanese/English Lexicon Project, a major new initiative for the research and application of lexical structures for linguistics, machine translation, and Japanese Language Education. A grant proposal for the project is now pending from Fujitsu Limited.

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 de Courtivron's "Notes from a Department in Progress" appeared in the Consortium News, as did Lecturers Ribas Groeger and Gonzalez Aguilar's jointly authored "Paradoja, from Documentary Film to Interactive CD-ROM." Senior Lecturer Morgenstern's "Tracking the Missing Biologist" appeared in Humanities and Martin Roberts, Assistant Professor of French Studies, published his article "Self in the Other: Ethnographic Film, Surrealism, Politics" in Visual Anthropology. Research Associate Fendt's article "Interactive Reading: Hypertext and Literary Studies" was published in SIMA. A number of faculty authored chapters in books this year, as well. Professor Harris published a chapter entitled "The Morphology of Spanish Clitics" in Evolution and Revolution in Linguistic Theory. "Toward Theory-Driven Language Pedagogy," co-authored by Professor Flynn appeared in Second Language Acquisition Theory and Pedagogy. Reviews by faculty members appeared in a number of journals, including The French Review, the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, and German Quarterly.

This year, two FL&L faculty members were offered Visiting Professorships - Professor Flynn, at Ortega y Gasset in Madrid, Spain; and Professor Harris at the Universidad Nacional del Comahue in Argentina. In addition to these appointments, FL&L faculty were invited to several conferences in the U.S. and around the world and thus had opportunities to present their research to international audiences. Among them, Lecturer Crocker spoke at Universität München on New Media Technologies, while Senior Lecturer Furstenberg attended a conference on Multimedia and French as a Foreign Language at the University of Lille, France. She also gave a workshop about multimedia design and its application for foreign language teachers at the University of British Columbia. Professor Miyagawa gave the inaugural lecture entitled "Information Deficit and the Need for Japanese Language Education" at the Kochi-MIT International Exchange Program in Kochi, Japan; Professor Resnick participated in FIONA - the European Community teleconference/conference in Barcelona; and Elizabeth Garrels, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, participated in the Latin American Studies Association conference in Washington, D.C. Professor Flynn was the keynote speaker at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao on "The Role of Technology in the Language Classroom." Professor Harris was invited as plenary session speaker at the University of Amsterdam's conference "Going Romance 95" and also at the "Langues et Grammaire" conference at the Universite de Paris. Nicolás Wey Gómez, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies presented two papers, "El origen histórico y literario de la conformidad y la monstruosidad en el Caribe Colonial" and "Visiones del mundo: la cosmogrofía escolástica en los siglos XV-XVI" at the Universidad Autonoma, Madrid, Spain. Professor Wey Gómez was also invited to UCLA to present his work entitled "Jealousy, Paranoia, and Homosexuality in Cervantes' Fiction" and Professor Widdig spoke on "Masses of Money: Dr. Mabuse, the Gamer and the Experience of Inflation" at the 19th annual German Studies conference in Chicago. Jane Dunphy and Mary Christie, Lecturers in ESL, each presented their work at the Languages and Communication for World Business and the Professions conference in Michigan. Takako Aikawa, Assistant Professor of Japanese, co-authored "Two Types of Zi-Verbs in Japanese" that she presented at the 10th New England Pedagogy Workshop for Teachers of Japanese Language held at Harvard University. Professor Resnick spoke on Women's Equality Day at the Veteran Administration Women's Labor Bureau in Washington, D.C. Shoggy Waryn, Lecturer in French, gave a paper entitled "French Television and the Age of Globalization" at the University of Iowa, and Professor Turk presented his work "Carné: A Life in French Film" at Boston College. Faculty members also gave talks at: the University of Zaragoza, Spain, New York University, Cornell University, the Goethe Institute, Brown University, and the NEH Summer Institute, among other institutions.

There have been a number of cultural and educational events that our faculty have planned and participated in both locally and at MIT. The ESL Program, under the direction of Professor Flynn and in conjunction with the Sloan School of Management, is in the second year of its highly successful summer intensive for incoming MIT MBA students. The program is designed to 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. Lecturer Gonzalez Aguilar organized the Hispanic Month movie festival; Monika Totten, Lecturer in German in conjunction with the Goethe Institute, co-sponsored a poetry reading by prize winning German author Holger Teschke. Professor Miyagawa organized and planned a workshop that brought members of the NorthEast Association of Teachers of Japanese together with staff of JP NET in order to establish an information and pedagogy exchange among secondary teachers of Japanese around the world via the World Wide Web. Professor Aikawa, and Tomoko Graham, Lecturer in Japanese, participated in the conference as well. Yih-jian Tai, Visiting Lecturer in Chinese, co-produced and performed in the production Within the Forbidden City as part of Boston's Asia Pacific month. Professor Widdig organized meetings with German government officials as part of his participation and leadership in the new MIT-Germany program. This initiative, modeled after the MIT-Japan Program, will give students the opportunity to combine their knowledge of German language and culture with their expertise in the field of engineering and science by working with business and research interests in Germany.

Members of the FL&L faculty also contribute to MIT through their service on a number of Institute-wide committees: The Institute Nominations Committee, Equal Opportunity Committee, Regional Minors Committee, HASS-D Overview Committee, Edgerton Award Committee, Committee on the Writing Requirement, Women's Studies Steering Committee, Phi Beta Kappa Selection Committee, Corporation's Joint Advisory Committee on Institute Wide Affairs, Committee on Academic Performance, Sub-Committees for Undergraduate Programs and the Committee on Curricula, among others.

FL&L has maintained its commitment to making full-time appointments and to attracting qualified candidates from minority groups. In order to achieve those goals, FL&L has targeted historically black colleges and universities and has advertised in journals focusing on the minority community.

While the number of majors in FL&L remains low at three, the number of minors (60) has been steadily increasing and the number of concentrators (499) has remained stable. Spanish continues to have the largest enrollments at 511; followed by French, 377; Japanese, 351; German 214; English as a Second Language, 220; Chinese 186; and Russian (Literature), 17. 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. FL&L subjects also make up an important component of the Regional Minors Program. There are currently 21 students who are pursuing minors in one of the Regional Studies programs.

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 is aggressively recruiting a scholar to head our Chinese Program. It is hoped that a professor of Chinese Studies will join the section by AY 1998.

Isabelle De Courtivron

*January 21, 2020: Reporting range corrected from 1996-97 to 1995-96.

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96