MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


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 an MIT education. During the academic year 1997-98, 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 by colleagues in their fields and educational institutions. Bernd Widdig, Associate Professor of German Studies and Director of the MISTI-MIT Germany program, was honored with the 1997 Levitan Prize in the Humanities for his proposal "Daily Explosions: Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany" making him the third FLL faculty member in four years who has won this distinguished prize. This spring, Takako Aikawa, Assistant Professor of Japanese, was awarded the Mitsui Career Development Professorship which recognizes faculty achievement and encourages cultural and technological exchange between the United States and Japan. Isabelle de Courtivron, Professor of French Studies, was on leave during the fall and spring semesters.

FLL faculty and lecturers have, over the last few years, been actively developing materials and new technology to enhance the teaching of foreign languages and culture. This year saw the completion of four FLL projects. Star Festival, an interactive CD-ROM for Japanese language and culture learning (Shigeru Miyagawa, Professor of Linguistics and Japanese, Principal Investigator (PI)) was completed in October. Dans le Quartier de Paris, a French language learning interactive program (Gilberte Furstenberg, Senior Lecturer in French, PI) was completed as well as reformatted as a CD-ROM. Margery Resnick, Associate Professor of Spanish, and Margarita Ribas Groeger, Lecturer in Spanish, completed their curriculum development project for Spanish IV called "Crossroads: The Integration of the Teaching of Spanish Language and Culture through Technology" which was funded by the Class of `51 Fund for Excellence in Education/Class of `55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching; and Paradoja, a CD-ROM that explores the problems and obstacles women face in Latin America (Lecturer Ribas Groeger, PI) was completed this year as well. Other interactive multimedia projects continue to be developed and expanded, including No recuerdo, an interactive narrative documentary for the Spanish language (Douglas Morgenstern, Senior Lecturer in Spanish, PI); Berliner sehen, an interactive documentary for German language learning (Ellen Crocker, Lecturer in German, and Research Associate Kurt Fendt, co-PI's); and Shoggy Waryn, Lecturer in French, continues work on his project "Reel Words," an interactive sub-titling program for laserdiscs. Other projects include a special proposal for the teaching of technical Japanese, for which Professor Miyagawa secured generous funding from the MIT Japan program. Lecturers Furstenberg and Waryn's proposal "A Multimedia/Hypermedia Cross-Cultural Project for CD-ROM and the WEB" received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning remains a strong supporter of various FLL projects, having provided new funding to Monika Totten, Lecturer in German, for the development of a web-based prototype of her project "Surviving the Holocaust: Interviews with German-Jewish Women Writers." The Consortium also provided a grant for "A Web-Mediated Cross-Cultural Project," an archive of French cultural materials being developed by Senior Lecturer Furstenberg and Lecturers Waryn and Sabine Levet, as well as for Lecturer Yoshimi Nagaya's proposal for "Computer Assisted Exercises for Communication in Japanese Language." In addition, Fujitsu Limited provided strong support for Professor Miyagawa's "Japanese-English Lexicon Project: Research and Application of Lexical Structures for Linguistics, Machine Translation and Japanese Language Education." Professor Widdig was instrumental in securing three years of funding for the MISTI/MIT-Germany program from the German Federal Ministry of Research, Science, Technology and Education. Jane Dunphy, Lecturer in ESL received funding from the Class of `51 Fund for Excellence in Education/Class of `55 Fund for Excellence in Teaching for her proposal "English as a Second Language Teacher Assistant Training." Lastly, the Language Learning and Resource Center (LLARC) received a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for its upcoming expansion and re-location.

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. Suzanne Flynn, Professor of Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition and the head of FLL had her article "Second Language Acquisition: Theoretical and Experimental Issues in Contemporary Research" published in Brain and Behavior Sciences, and her article "A Parameter Setting Approach to Second Language Acquisition" was published in the Handbook of Language Acquisition. Professor Flynn has also received a contract from Blackwell Publishers to launch a new electronic journal in Syntax. Elizabeth Garrels, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, had her article "Sobre indios, afroamericanos y los racismos de Sarmiento" published in the Revista Iberoamericana. Professor Miyagawa's article "Against Optional Scrambling" appeared in Linguistic Inquiry and "Word Order Constraints and Non Configurationality" appeared in the Proceedings of Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics. Professor Widdig authored a chapter entitled "Ein herber Kultus des Männlichen': Männerbünde um 1900" which appeared in Wann ist der Mann ein Mann? Theoretische und Historische Perspektiven der Männlichkeit. Reviews by faculty members appeared in a number of journals, including the New York Times Book Review, and German Quarterly.

This year FLL sponsored two distinguished visiting professors: Professor Flynn was instrumental in bringing Barbara Lust, Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Cornell to MIT on the National Science Foundation's Visiting Professorship for Women in Science Institute award; and Professor Widdig organized the visit of Turkish-German writer Zafer Senocak, the first Max Kade Distinguished Visitor in German Studies at MIT.

FLL faculty were invited to several national and international conferences. Among them, Professor Flynn presented a paper at the Chicago Linguistics Society and was an invited colloquium speaker at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Delaware and at the EUROSLA (European Second Language Society) conference in Barcelona. Senior Lecturer Furstenberg was invited to Harvard University for the NECUSE Symposium on Technology and Education (the New England Consortium for Undergraduate Science Education) to present "In Search of Effective Electronic Tools for Language Learning: Is Interactive Multimedia the Answer?" She also collaborated with Lecturer Crocker and Research Associate Fendt at the CALICO conference (Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium) in New York for a talk entitled "Multimedia as an Interactive Narrative Environment for Learning." Professor Miyagawa was the keynote speaker at the Technology and Japanese Language Conference in Amherst, MA, as well as at the Asian Business Language Workshop held at Brigham and Young University. Professor Miyagawa was also invited to speak at the 20th Anniversary of the Tokyo MIT-ILP office, giving a talk entitled "Will Cyberspace Revolutionize Education?" Professor Resnick presented her talk "Spanish Women as Writers/Observers--Testimonies of the Franco Era" at Northeastern University. Lecturer Totten was invited to present her work-in-progress about survivors of the Holocaust at Inter Nationes (the cultural division of the office for foreign relations) in Bonn, Germany and at the Fritz Bauer Institut in Franfurt. Nicolás Wey-Gómez, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies presented his paper "Los incas, filosofos naturales: La cosmología escolástica en los Comentarios reales del Inca Garcilaso de la Vega" at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) XX International Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. Senior Lecturers Furstenberg and Morgenstern were invited to speak at the October MLA in San Juan and co-presented their paper entitled "Virtual Worlds, Real Learners." Tomoko Graham, Lecturer in Japanese, gave a paper at the 1996 NFLRC Symposium on Technologies and Less Commonly Taught Languages held at the University of Hawaii, and collaborated with Lecturer Nagaya on a paper they presented at the Workshop on Teaching Japanese for the Twenty-First Century held at the University of Washington. Faculty members also gave talks at Boston University, Wellesley College, and the Intel Corporation, among other institutions.

There have been a number of cultural and educational events that our faculty have planned and participated in at MIT and around the Boston area. Edward Baron Turk, Professor of Film and French Studies, presided at a five-film homage to Marcel Carné at the French Library in Boston. Lecturer Totten coordinated a reading and a five-college lecture tour for Inge Deutschkron, one of the German-Jewish writers featured in her "Surviving the Holocaust" project. The German Language Program sponsored a poetry reading by Zafer Senocak, the Max Kade Visiting Professor, as well as the first annual MIT-Lufthansa Award Ceremony for an MIT German language student. Professor Flynn was invited to teach a course on theoretical second language acquisition at the Linguistic Society of America's Summer Institute at Cornell. Lecturer Waryn organized the AATF (American Association of Teachers of French) annual meeting at MIT. Professor Wey-Gómez received support from the Committee on Race Relations to sponsor a talk by Professor María Antonia Garces. The release of Professor Miyagawa's Star Festival CD-ROM coincided with an FLL/MIT Office of the Arts sponsored visit by Mr. George Takei, artist-in-residence at MIT from October 20-23, 1996. Mr. Takei, best known for his work on Star Trek, provided the voice-over narrative for Star Festival. His visit was highlighted by a panel discussion entitled "Racism in the Arts" and a public appearance at Kresge Auditorium at which Mr. Takei spoke about his experience in an American WWII internment camp. Professor Miyagawa also collaborated with the Office of the Arts and the Music and Theater Arts Section to bring the Hakubi Kimono School to MIT for a series of Kimono fashion shows featuring both experienced Kimono models and MIT students.

Members of the FLL faculty also contribute to MIT through their service on a number of Institute-wide committees: The Institute Nominations Committee, the Equal Opportunity Committee, the Burchard Scholars, the HASS-D Overview Committee, the Edgerton Award Committee, the Ford Foundation Proposal Committee, the Committee on Corporate Relations, the Arts Council Advisory Committee, the Committee on the Writing Requirement, the Women's Studies Steering Committee, the Phi Beta Kappa Selection Committee, the Corporation's Joint Advisory Committee on Institute-Wide Affairs, the Committee on Academic Performance, Sub-Committees for Undergraduate Programs and the Committee on Curricula, among others.

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 focusing on the minority community.

While the number of majors in FLL remains low at two, the number of minors (85) has been steadily increasing and the number of concentrators (455) has remained relatively stable. Spanish continues to have the largest enrollments at 481; followed by French, 361; English as a Second Language, 332; Japanese, 310; Chinese, 225; German, 212; and Russian (Literature), 23. 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. FLL subjects also make up an important component of the Regional Minors Program. There are currently 22 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 has recruited Dr. Julian Wheatley, Director of the Chinese language programs at Cornell University, to head the FLL Chinese Program. It is anticipated that the program will continue to expand and that an assistant professor of Chinese Studies will join the section by AY 1999.

More information about FLL can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Suzanne Flynn

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97