Indiana University Bloomington
Department of French and Italian


Professors Receive NEH Grant for Summer Institute

Professor Eileen Julien and a team of faculty collaborators from three universities have received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of nearly $200,000 for a summer institute in 2016 entitled "Arts of Survival: Recasting Lives in African Cities." Professor Oana Panaïté, also in our department, is a collaborator on this important enrichment opportunity for twenty-five college and university professors. The other team members are Professors James Ogude (Research Fellow, University of Pretoria, South Africa), Akin Adesokan (Department of Comparative Literature and the Media School, IUB), and Grace Musila (English, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa).

The project explores contemporary urban culture and arts in African and African diaspora cities--Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, New Orleans and Port-au-Prince. These cities share African "roots," but are distinctive because of the unique "routes" that subsequently shaped them: landscapes and histories; multiple languages; waves of immigrants who brought and continue to bring their labor, culture and creativity; and the sometimes tragic events, both “natural” (hurricanes and earthquakes) and man-made (political violence and legacies of colonialism and slavery), that these cities have undergone. Says Julien, “Our goal is to examine how art engages the political and social hierarchies embedded in these cities and often recasts marginal or precarious lives into lives that exceed their constraining structures.”

The Department congratulates Professor Julien and her team for this prestigious award! View a complete list of NEH grants awarded this summer.

Pi Delta Phi Chapter Installed at IUB

The Department of French and Italian is the proud location of the newest chapter of the French national honor society Pi Delta Phi. The Omicron Upsilon chapter was officially installed at IU-Bloomington on Friday, April 3 in the University Club, in the Indiana Memorial Union. Pi Delta Phi Vice President and IU alumna Olga Amarie (PhD ’11) conducted the installation. Professor Barbara Vance, Director of Undergraduate Studies in French, planned and organized the chapter installation, and identified students who met the membership criteria. Thirty-two students were initiated into the organization as the first class of honorees in the new chapter.

Pi Delta Phi is the oldest academic honor society for a modern foreign language in the United States, founded at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1906. It is comprised of more than 370 chapters and is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and endorsed by the American Association of Teachers of French. Its purpose is to recognize outstanding scholarship in the French language and its literatures, to increase the knowledge and appreciation of Americans for the cultural contributions of the French-speaking world, and to stimulate and to encourage French and francophone cultural activities. The current president of Pi Delta Phi is Professor Scott Fish (Augustana College).

Department Mourns the Passing of Mark Musa

Professor Mark Musa in 1983
Photo credit: Indiana University Archives

We are saddened by the passing of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Mark Louis Musa in Mallorca, Spain on Dec. 31, 2014. Professor Musa was a world-renowned scholar of Dante whose critical editions and translations are essential reading in the field of medieval Italian studies. He was a professor in the Department from 1965 to 1999.

Mark Musa earned an undergraduate degree at Rutgers University in 1956, where he studied with poet and literary critic John Ciardi, under whose tutelage he translated and published a new version of Dante's Vita Nuova, an edition that has been continuously in print since its appearance in 1961. Musa completed his doctorate in Italian Studies in 1961 at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Leo Spitzer, Charles Singleton, and Anna Granville Hatcher before coming to Indiana University in the same year. In 1965, Musa founded the Indiana University Bologna Consortial Studies Program, which continues to offer students an enriching study abroad experience to the present day, and it was under his guidance that the Italian doctoral program was first established on the Bloomington campus.

Professor Musa received a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy (1956-58) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1971), as well as Indiana University's Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring Award in 1996. During his long and productive career, he became known as one of America's most skillful translators and critics of Italian literary classics, including not only the Vita Nuova but also Dante's Divine Comedy, Petrarch's Canzoniere, Boccaccio's The Decameron, Machiavelli's The Prince, The Italian Renaissance Reader, and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, some of which were products of his collaboration with other Indiana University colleagues. His books were published by major university and commercial presses, including The Viking Press, Penguin, Norton, Oxford University Press, and Indiana University Press. For his fine work on Dante, he was awarded the "Fiorino d'oro" ("gold florin") by the city of Florence, Italy.

Thanks to Peter Bondanella, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, for the obituary.

Research Group Works on Occitan Roman de Flamenca

Flamenca Corpus

A group of six scholars from the Department of French & Italian and the Department of Linguistics have launched an online database of the corpus of the 13th-century Old Occitan Romance of Flamenca. The digital project has two purposes: as material for linguistic research, and to aid in broader studies in linguistics and Occitan culture. The result of this work in progress can be seen online: First, through the interactive database with parallel glossary and comments, and secondly through the ANNIS web-search engine. Though now very limited in use, Occitan was a thriving language of southern France (Provence) in medieval times. It is best known as the language of troubadors, who wrote and performed lyric poetry set to music, often with themes of courtly love and chivalry.

At present, the project team is comprised of doctoral student Olga Scrivner (French Linguistics/Computational Linguistics), who bridges the two departments involved; doctoral student Eric Beuerlein, Adjunct Assistant Professor Devan Steiner, and Associate Professor Barbara Vance from the Department of French & Italian; and Associate Professor Sandra Kübler and doctoral student Michael McGuire from the Department of Linguistics. They are working with the freely available 1905 edition of the Roman de Flamenca by P. Meyer and the English translation by E.D. Blodgett from the University of Alberta. Scrivner semi-automatically annotates the Occitan data and maintains the interactive website and the online search engine. Steiner and Beuerlein assist Scrivner with the manual correction of scanned text, part-of-speech tags, and syntactic parsing. McGuire provides correction for the French translation and also extracts glossary items. Vance and Kübler provide the graduate students with guidance on the project.

The original Roman de Flamenca manuscript is preserved in the Bibliothèque Municipales de Carcasonne (France). This past summer, Scrivner introduced the corpus to the 11th Congrès de l'Associacion Internacionala d'Estudis Occitans in Lleida, Spain by presenting a linguistic pilot study based on the corpus and co-authored with Blodgett, Kübler, and McGuire.