New Models for Promoting our Work in French and Italian

Departmental colloquium

New Models for Promoting our Work in French and Italian
March 6th, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

French House

Ritt Deitz, “The Edited Volume of Personal Essays.” 

 In 2008 and 2012, I asked former students of the Professional French Masters Program to write essays about their relationship to work and the French-speaking world—each time in response to a slightly different question.  Two volumes resulted from this project, each offering new perspectives on the work we do together in professional French studies and how we might promote our work beyond and within traditional scholarly venues.  In this talk, I will highlight significant surprises that came from these projects, both in terms of larger French-studies outreach and my own pedagogical philosophy in the unique framework of the PFMP.

Recently named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, Ritt Deitz directs the UW-Madison Professional French Masters Program, chairs department outreach initiatives, and teaches courses on professional communication, research methods, and Quebec culture and society.  He is editor of the 2010 book of essays, Post-Francophile: Stories from the Professional French Masters Program, its 2014 follow-up, Francophonia, and the author of the French-language musical comedy La colonie, ou l’invasion québécoise (2010) and the short story collection Rêver local (2013).His blog, “The How-To Humanist,” features regular essays on ways creative people practice the humanities both within and outside the walls of universities. 


Jelena Todorović, “Why Outreach?” 

My presentation will focus on contacts with the community through both academic and extra-curricular activities, and on the values and limits of outreach activities. The points that I will raise are based on my experience of giving talks about my academic work to different community audiences, and on my ongoing work with the Italian Club – UW-Madison.

Jelena Todorović is an Assistant Professor of Italian at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her research interests span from Medieval Latin, Old Occitan and Italian poetry, to material philology, textual criticism, history of the book. Her essays on Dante’s Vita Nova in its manuscript and printed traditions, on Boccaccio’s editorial activity, and his Decameron were published or are forthcoming in Studi danteschiDante StudiesBoccaccio in AmericaLectura Boccaccii, Boccaccio filologo-filosofo, etc. Her book titled Dante and the Dynamics of Textual Exchange: Authorship, Manuscript Culture, and the Making of the ‘Vita Nova’ is forthcoming with Fordham University Press, and the volume titled Petrarch and His Legacies she is co-editing with Ernesto Livorni is forthcoming with the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.


Tom Armbrecht, “Breaking Down the Fourth Wall: Using French Theatre for Outreach”?

I have been exploring the possibility of combining critical and creative work as a means of reaching a broader audience than just scholars of French Studies. To this end, I have written a trilogy of plays about oracles that reconsiders this traditional literary figure in more contemporary contexts.  In addition to submitting the plays for publication, I staged a performance of one of my texts last spring as part of French 595, Theory and Praxis of French and Francophone Drama.  At a time when the Humanities in general are fighting to demonstrate their relevance, the play provided an opportunity for community outreach as well as publicity for our program; it showcased our students’ work for an audience that might not otherwise be exposed to French theatre. This direct contact with the Wisconsin public demonstrated the importance of French outside of the traditional classroom and highlighted some of the work going on in our department. 

 Tom Armbrecht is an Associate Professor French at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His areas of expertise include twentieth-century prose and theatre as literature and in performance.  He regularly stages full-length plays in French for Wisconsin audiences that feature talents of graduate and undergraduate students from the UW French Department. Currently, he is working on an article about contemporary French writer and cineaste, Eugène Green.  


Grazia Menechella, “Mafia in the Kitchen”

I will describe how my research on hysteria and anorexia in Italian literature, and my research on Italian mafias, has been introduced in two new Literature in Translation courses that make new uses of technological tools, classroom space, and community resources. I will showcase my F.I.G. Food Cultures of Italy course in order to demonstrate the recent evolution of my teaching.

Grazia Menechella in an Associate professor. Her research and teaching interests: Gruppo 63, experimental and avant-garde writing, theory and practice of Italian feminism, female illnesses in Italian literature, history of Italian mass media, Italian mafias, Italian gastronomy, Italian American culture.


For more information please contact Prof. Nevine El Nossery at