Indiana University Bloomington
Department of French and Italian


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.

Department Welcomes Vincent Bouchard

Vincent Bouchard

The Department of French & Italian is pleased to welcome Vincent Bouchard as a new Assistant Professor in the French/Francophone Studies program. Bouchard is a specialist in Francophone media and cultural studies, including both cultural and technical aspects of media and focused on the cultures of Francophone Africa and North America. He earned a PhD in comparative literature from the Université de Montréal and a Doctorat en études cinématographiques et audiovisuelles at the Sorbonne nouvelle, Paris III, both in 2006. Bouchard joins us after five years in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. We expect his work will find resonance in the new IU Media School within the College of Arts and Sciences, which was launched on July 1, 2014.

Professor Bouchard’s book Pour un cinéma léger et synchrone à Montréal! was published by Septentrion University Press in 2012 and deals with the aesthetic, institutional, and technical development of film in Québec during the late 1950s and 1960s. In collaboration with Germain Lacasse (Université de Montréal) and Gwenn Scheppler, he has co-directed an issue of the scientific journal Cinémas (Le bonimenteur et ses avatars, Cinémas, vol. 20, n° 1, 2010), and the book Pratiques orales du cinema (Editions L'Harmattan, Paris, 2011). With Fabrice Leroy, he also co-directed an issue of the scientific journal Études Francophones focused on Québec (UL-Lafayette, vol. 5, December 2010). Bouchard’s most recent publication, about the Quebecois novelist, political activist and filmmaker Hubert Aquin, appeared in the journal Québec Studies this year.

H. Wayne Storey Awarded NEH Grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced on July 21 that Professor H. Wayne Storey has received a grant of $275,000 over three years for “The Petrarchive Project: An Online Edition of 366 Poems by Petrarch.” The project is a collaboration with John A. Walsh, associate professor of library and information science in the School of Informatics and Computing.

Originally funded in 2013 with an IU New Frontiers grant, the NEH project focuses on the preparation for publication of a digital, “rich text” edition of Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, also known as the Canzoniere, that incorporates the complex visual poetics and book design that were integral to the poet’s techniques and the meaning of his poems. The edition will include an apparatus of variants, manuscript facsimiles, commentary and supporting material in English and Italian. While known as the poet credited with developing forms such as the sonnet and the sestina, Petrarch was also a scholar whose long years of study and annotation of classical works gave him unique views on the preparation and material construction of books. The Petrarchive Project will bring a fuller picture of Petrarch’s work to scholars worldwide.