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Celebrating 500 years of Machiavelli's "Mandrake"

Group photo of scholars participating in Machiavelli Symposium

October 15, 2018

On October 12-13, 2018, the University of Wisconsin-Madison hosted a number of world-renowned scholars, who traveled from all over the country to convene on campus in honor of the 500th anniversary of Niccolò Machiavelli’s 16th century comedy, The Mandrake. The Symposium was organized by Professor of Italian and Art History, Dr. Kristin Phillips-Court, whose own research focuses on Machiavelli and the visual arts, among other topics. The event was generously sponsored by the Department of French & Italian, along with the Anonymous Fund, the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and the Departments of Art History and Integrated Liberal Studies.

 “On Human Nature: Machiavelli’s Mandrake at 500” explored many themes over the course of the two-day event, including sickness and medicine, manipulation and flattery, politics and power, and religion and ritual. Scholars from universities such as Dartmouth, University of Washington-Seattle, Brown, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Yale, and Notre Dame joined colleagues at UW-Madison to revisit established interpretations of Machiavelli’s famous play, and to posit new venues for exploration. The Department of French & Italian is honored to have had a role in this important intellectual endeavor!

French House to Celebrate 100 Years

September 19, 2018

Have you heard? The French House is turning 100! With more than 2000 undergraduate residents over the years, scores of conferences and lectures hosted, and who knows how many baguettes and boeuf bourguignons enjoyed, what was once just the clever idea of a few forward-thinking professors has blossomed into a Madison landmark. Celebrations began in January and will conclude with a Centennial Gala on Friday, October 19 at the Memorial Union Great Hall. Join alumni and friends of the French House to honor the past 100 years and look forward to the next century of French language and francophone culture in Madison. To register, visit Au plaisir de vous avoir parmi nous! 

Yves Citton visits FRIT for Hilldale Lecture in the Arts and Humanities

September 5, 2018

In April 2018, the Department of French and Italian hosted Professor Yves Citton who presented the 2018 Hilldale Lecture in the Arts & Humanities entitled “The Humanities as Arts of Attention in the Age of Computational Mediarchy.” In his lecture, Yves Citton analyzes how digital and computational technologies reconfigure our collective attentions. He presents the Humanities as arts of collective embodied attention which can orient and steer the techniques of automated attention currently mobilized through computational assemblages. Citton's lecture is now available online . Citton is professor of French Literature at the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis. Co-editor of the journal Multitudes, his latest publication is Médiarchie (Paris, Seuil, 2017). 

French Alumni publish textbook for language & lit classes

May 30, 2018

Elizabeth Berglund Hall, Anne Theobald, and Mark Hall, all UW-Madison French Ph.D. alumni, are co-authors (with James Pfrehm, German) of TEXTURES, a new textbook for the transition from language to literature and culture-centered courses. The book just appeared with Yale University Press, and is available for purchase and use at

 “Language proficiency emerges not solely as mastery of discrete skills, but also through one’s ability to express ideas fully in a variety of cultural contexts. This innovative French-language textbook employs a holistic approach that integrates listening, reading, writing, and conversation—placing communication at the heart of the learning experience. It provides intermediate-level students with the interpretive tools necessary for literary and cultural studies. There are interactions with a variety of texts and media, including short stories, poems, essays, images, and podcasts.”

Italian Students Embody the Wisconsin Idea

May 2, 2018

Undergraduate and graduate students in this semester's ITALIAN 450 class took on an interesting project: translate Carlo Goldoni's comedic play La familia dell'antiquario, or The Antiquarian's Family, into English. Inspired by an article about the UW-Madison professor who founded the original Wisconsin Dramatic Society, which produces lesser known and foreign plays, Professor Stefania Buccini developed the course for advanced undergraduate students and native Italian graduate students. The class has spent the entire semester translating Goldoni's play, first from Venetian dialect to modern Italian, and then from Italian to English. The English-language translation will allow Goldoni's work to reach a larger Wisconsin audience - a great example of the Wisconsin Idea in action!  Read the full article here

Course on Machiavelli Reaches Across Departments & Programs

April 5, 2018

ITALIAN 365: Machiavelli and His World is a three credit course that introduces students to the major works of Machiavelli through the close reading of his writings in cultural and historical contexts. Offered jointly with Political Science, Integrated Liberal Studies, and Literature in Translation, the course aims to cultivate in students a broad understanding of Machiavelli's principal intellectual attitudes, a deeper understanding of his literary sensibility, and the ability to articulate controversies and complexities surrounding his thought. Offered Fall 2018, MW 4:30 - 5:45 PM. Instructor: Kristin Phillips-Court.

New French course connects Literature and Medicine

March 28, 2018

This 3 credit course, taught in French, will examine "Les maux et let mots: La médecine et la culture de Molière à Mesmer" / "Woes and Words: Medicine and Culture from Molière to Mesmer." Using the tools of both cultural history and close literary analysis, this course will survey the interactions between literature and medicine in the eighteenth century, the period commonly known as the Enlightenment. FRENCH 464 is designed to provide a capstone-like experience for undergraduate French majors and certificate students, as well as to meet medical school requirements for a literature course, including the required writing component (a substantial final term paper that entails some research). Offered Fall 2018, TR 4:45 - 6:00 PM. Instructor: Anne Vila.

Online Course Option for Summer

March 22, 2018

Looking to earn some credit this summer? Whether you're on campus or off, Littrans 360: French and Italian Renaissance Literature Online is an ideal course for summer! It's flexible (take it anywhere, anytime), simple (no midterm or final), and fun (creative and optional extra credit opportunities). This 3 credit, intermediate course will run from June 18 through August 12. More information available in Course Guide. 

Canadian Author Kim Thúy to Visit FRIT

March 7, 2018

During her visit to campus on Monday, March 12, Canadian author Kim Thúy will present "de l'écriture migrante à l'écriture transculturelle"  followed by a reading of excerpts from her book "Ru" from 4:00 to 6:00pm at the French House. Born in Saigon, Thúy and her family left Vietnam to live in Québec when she was 10 years old. Throughout her career, Thúy has worked as a designer, interpreter, lawyer, restaurateur, and food commentator for radio and television. She holds degrees in translation and law and currently resides in Montréal. 

Keith Busby elected Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America

January 23, 2018

Emeritus Professor of French Keith Busby was recently elected Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America. Founded in 1925, the Academy is the largest organization in the US promoting medieval studies, and supports research, publicatioin, and teaching in all aspects of the Middle Ages. Fellows are scholars who have made notable contributions to the mission of the Academy. Congratulations, Keith!