Gazette Newsletter

Department of World Languages and Literatures

April 28, 2017

Message from the Chair

As this is the last Gazette of the 2016-2017 academic year, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a productive and enjoyable summer. To our students who are graduating, congratulations! I hope you will stay in touch and let us know what you are doing in the future.

This has been a remarkable year for the department in many ways. First, we changed our name! In fact, I have been told that this was the very last academic program change approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents before the University of Memphis gained its independent status.

We have hosted a variety of events over the past year, perhaps more than ever before, including workshops, speakers, open houses, film festivals, as well as numerous language club events. We hosted once again our annual Language Fair, which was a great success. We have embarked on an exciting new endeavor, creating the basic Spanish sequence online, with the first offering of 1010 this summer. We very much look forward to seeing how this unfolds. We also received approval to offer Chinese as a single-language concentration in the undergraduate major (to be known henceforth as "World Languages," by the way).

Several of our faculty have received honors this past year, and although all of them have been mentioned previously in the Gazette, I believe some of them bear repeating:

Ralph Albanese was awarded the Alumni Association Distinguished Research Award in the Humanities
Fernando Burgos and Ralph Albanese have been awarded Professional Development Assignments for the Spring 2018 semester.
Vania Barraza Toledo has been named a Freeburg Fellow by the Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities for the Spring 2018 semester.
Ivan Ortega Santos has been awarded a university Faculty Research Grant for 2017-2018.
And there's one more below that's just been announced!

Our faculty have also been successful this past year in obtaining travel grants, being elected to the boards of professional associations, receiving external funding to assist our programs, and of course, publishing and presenting in their fields of expertise.

I am very proud of our department, our faculty, and our graduate and undergraduate students.

Best wishes,

Will Thompson


Inma Gómez Soler, Assistant Professor of Spanish, has been awarded the College of Arts and Sciences 2017 Early Career Research Award in Humanities.


The Chinese program had a dumpling making party on April 20, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Students learned to make dumplings, which is a tradition for celebrating Chinese new year. This is to supplement what the students have learned in class about Chinese festivals and traditions.

The Spanish Club hosted a MUEVELO Latin Rhythms Dance Fitness Class, taught by Professor Diana Ruggiero and open to all students on campus last Wednesday, April 19, in the UC Beale Room. Over 25 students showed up!

One of our alumni, Patrick Shaun Fraser (2012 Master of Arts in Teaching, concentration in Japanese and History), will be teaching Japanese at the Germantown High School from this fall. He has taught Japanese at the Richland and Shady Grove Elementary School. He will be building a new Japanese program at Germantown High. Congratulations to Shaun for his new role!

The Japanese section organized a Japanese pedagogy workshop and invited an internationally well-known professor, Professor Yasu-Hiko Tohsaku from the University of California, San Diego on April 15. This event was sponsored by the Association of Japanese Traders and Manufacturers of Memphis and the University of Memphis. It attracted almost all Japanese professors and educators in the Mid-South states including our alumni, who are teaching Japanese at the local high schools.

Upcoming Courses

The Department will offer CLAS 2481 Mythology online in the second summer session. This course offers the thematic study of classical myths and their function in ancient literature; emphasis on reading myths in ancient sources in translation. For more information, see

The International Studies program is offering a new course, Overview of the United Nations, INTL 3703, TR 9:40-11:05 in the fall semester.

Faculty Activities

Yuki Matsuda presented a paper, entitled "Learner-Centered Assessment for Genre-Based Kanji Leaning," at the Annual Meeting of the AATJ (American Association of Teachers of Japanese) in Toronto, Canada on March 15.

Benjamin Sparks, Instructor of French, presented a paper, entitled "The War of Words: Propaganda in the Colonial Classroom in the Francophone Algerian Novel," at the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, KY, April 20-22.

Vania Barraza Toledo, Associate Professor of Spanish, has been elected Council member (2017-2019) of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Film Section. Barraza is an active member of two LASA sections: Southern Cone Studies and Film Studies. With over 9,500 members, and 38 sections to promote the common interest of members in specific areas, LASA is the one of the largest association on Latin America Studies in the world.

Inma Gómez Soler participated in the Institute for Intelligent Systems Speed Date on April 21 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the Lower Atrium of the Fogelman Executive Center. The title of her presentation was "U.S. Spanish: A Window into Language Development."

Ralph Albanese's article, entitled "La Réception critique des Pensées à l'Ecole républicaine," has been accepted for publication in Papers on French Seventeenth-Century Literature.


Event Calendar

The Department Events Calendar lists events by day for the coming week:

Please send Gazette items to Melanie Conroy at