Current Projects and Collaborations

C. Consul Général Yannick Tagand, giving a talk to European Studies students at UW-Madison

March 10th: Consul Général Yannick Tagand and Cultural Attaché Nicolas Douay Visit UW-Madison

The Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies had the honor of hosting the Consul Général Yannick Tagand accompanied by Cultural Attaché Nicolas Douay, on Thursday March 10th, 2022. Consul Général Tagand and Attaché Douay spent the day visiting with community members, and faculty and students of both French and European Studies before Tagand gave a presentation on the French presidency at the end of the afternoon.

Attaché Professor Vincent Michelot sharing a meal with French PhD and Master’s students.

October 1st: Higher Education Attaché Professor Vincent Michelot Visits Madison

The Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies was pleased to host the Higher Education Attaché, Vincent Michelot, in Madison the weekend of September 30th-October 2nd.

The visit of Professor Vincent Michelot was an exciting opportunity for the French Cultural Embassy of the United States to see the progress towards a more collaborative environment between departments on campus as well as the future of French on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

One of our Steering Committee members, Jason Yackee, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, discusses his current research and interest in Francophone Africa and investment contracts in this domain.

Watch his video below to learn more about his current research click here

Steering Committee Member, Prof. Ritt Dietz, will be teaching Spring 2022, a new UW-Madison course entitled, “Exploring Paris”.

This course features a way to experience Paris through literature, painting, maps, music and storytelling… all in English translation. For more information check out the video here.

The Graduate Association of French and Italian Students at UW-Madison is proud to announce a Call for Papers for its 33rd annual interdisciplinary graduate student symposium. “The Looking Glass” Symposium will take place this spring, March 27-28, 2020. Submissions due January 11, 2020. 250-word abstract. Contact:

“At The Looking Glass Symposium, we propose a dynamic exploration of literature, film, theater, music, performance art, figurative art, and history as reflections of the human experience. It is our aim to provoke lively intellectual exchange in discussing what kind of mirror images humanistic works portray: shining and crystal clear ones; distorted or warped ones; cracked or broken ones; painted or embellished ones; etc.”

Professor Katrina Forest is an Einstein Visiting Fellow at Technische Universität Berlin, Cluster of Excellence „Unifying Systems in Catalysis“, Germany, working on light-sensitive enzymes.

May 1: Subha Xavier is Associate Professor of French at the Institute of African Studies at Emory University. Author of The Migrant Text: Making and Marketing a Global French Literature (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2016), Dr. Xavier presented a talk “Wretched of the sea: African migrant boat narratives in international context”. She examined today’s migration “crisis” through a historical lens that privileges testimony, story-telling and the use of the imaginary to recount the horrors of the sea and the human will to survive.

April 18: Professors Stéphane Lojkine (Aix-Marseille Université) and Patricia Eichel-Lojkine (Le Mans Université) co-presented the talk “Persecution and Terror” in French literature from the 16th and 18th century. We are grateful to the French House for hosting us! UW-Madison’s partnership with AMU continued as Professor Lojkine participated in an academic exchange for the ’18-’19 AY.

April 9: In the span of 1848 minutes — a nod to the university’s founding in 1848 — alumni, friends, and donors across the globe united their passion for the UW and supported the people, places, and programs that make it great. The department of French and Italian received $2.4k in donations that will contribute to undergraduate and graduate scholarships, as well as funding for faculty excellence and innovation. Thank you for making Day of the Badger a day to remember.  Merci beaucoup! It’s what Badgers do!

Azouz Begag, a writer, former minister, and a researcher at CNRS spoke at the French House on Wednesday, March 13 2019. In his very dynamic talk entitled “Nouvelles migrations, identités, et montée des peurs en France et en Europe,” he shared and practiced what he called “bridge-building” through story-telling, cross-cultural research, and political commentary.

March 3-7: The 2019 Study Tour, in collaboration with the IAE (Institut d’Administration des Entreprises, Aix-Marseille, France), organized a week-long program focused on entrepreneurial innovation. Faculty, staff, and business practitioners provided a detailed overview of the Wisconsin economy, including manufacturing, research and technology, as well as a dive into how business is done in the US and in our state.

K12 instructors of French meeting for the inaugural Teacher Advisory BoardThe CIFS worked in collaboration with the Professional French Masters Program (PFMP) and our partners at Aix-Marseille Université as the PFMP prepared to launch its new Summer Institute for Teachers of French.



Black and white image of Yves CittonThe CIFS was thrilled to support Yves Citton’s talk: The Humanities as Arts of Attention in the Age of Computational Mediarchy on April 19th.  This lecture was part of a larger event on the future of the humanities in posthuman times. Visit the Center for the Humanities website for more information on these events and many more.


On April 13th, we proudly celebrated the career of CIFS Co-Director Emeritus, Professor Aliko Songolo, with the Department of African Cultural Studies. More information, including a full schedule of the day’s events, can be found here.


Black and white image of Jean Michel RabateOn April 12th, the CIFS welcomed University of Pennsylvania Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Jean-Michel Rabaté who gave a public lecture on Modernism in Helen C White (Room 6191). For more information about this event, visit the event listing here.


On April 11th, the CIFS partnered with the French House, the Madison Public Library and the Department of Continuing Studies to sponsor an afternoon lecture with Craig Carlson, author of Pancakes in Paris. Learn more about the author and his work here.


Black and white image of musician Eze WendtoinOn April 2nd, the CIFS welcomed Ezé Wendtoin, a musician from Burkina Faso, an award-winning performer who uses his art to protest racism and xenophobia. Learn more here.

Black and white image of Gary WilderAlong with partners in the UW-Madison Anthropology Department, the UW-Madison African Cultural Studies Department and the African Studies Program, our center co-sponsored a lecture by CUNY Anthropologist Gary Wilder. Professor Wilder shared information about his latest research on WEB DuBois.  Check out some of his recent work at SmallAxe here.

Members of the CIFS steering committee have lunch with the French ConsulOn October 13th, members of the CIFS and of our partners in the UW-Madison Department of French and Italian and across campus were honored to meet with the new French Consul General, Guillaume Lacroix.  Monsieur Lacroix joined us for lunch, and made a stop at the French House during his visit to Madison.  We look forward to continuing and expanding our work with the French Consulate of Chicago! For more information about M. Lacroix, check out the French Consulate’s website.

Logo for the AATFOn September 16th, the CIFS teamed up with Andrew Irving and members of the AATF at the French House to support current and future teachers of French. Morning activities centered on supporting students interested in furthering their study of French through programs such as the TAPIF.  In the afternoon, current K12 French teachers from across the state of Wisconsin met to share their successes and strategies. More information about this event is available on the French House website.

Image of Vivian CurranThe CIFS, in collaboration with the UW-Madison Law School and the French House, welcomed University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Law Professor, Vivian Curran to give a lecture entitled “Le va-et-vient de la transnationalisation du droit dans une affaire de crime contre l’humanité” in September. Professor Curran spoke on transnational currents in law by examining the affaire Lipietz, and its links to US common law. A detailed description of Professor Curran’s talk, in both French and in English, is available on the French House website.

View of the Langdon St. entrance of Memorial UnionOn August 8th, the CIFS hosted a reception for nine scholars from Aix-Marseille Université, all of whom were on campus for the 2017 Bacteria and Phages conference held at the Memorial Union.  We were thrilled to put these international scholars in touch with members of the UW faculty, including CIFS steering committee member Katrina Forest, and AMU graduates currently working at UW-Madison.

Poster for the 30th annual GAFIS symposiumThe CIFS was proud to support the 30th annual symposium of UW-Madison’s Graduate Association of French and Italian Students (GAFIS). This year’s theme, Turning Points, focused on the changes that take place across societies and disciplines while fostering discussion on how these changes are reflected in literature or other forms of cultural production. GAFIS is a student-run organization that seeks to build community between graduate students in the French and Italian Department. Check out the Symposium website for more information.

Photo of a panel discussion during the GEMSS conferenceThe Graduate Early Modern Student Society (GEMSS) held its first event, a round table on the topic of “Conflicts, Contests and Confrontations in the Early Modern World” in 2017.  The CIFS is especially proud to recognize French PhD students Jennifer Morgan and Katherine Blackman, as well as Professor Ullrich Langer, for presentations regarding how they have tackled conflicts in their own research. GEMSS is dedicated to creating an interdisciplinary network of graduate scholars working on early modernity, check out their website to learn more.

Image of the delegates from the Club Barbes diplomates de la diversitéIn Spring 2017, the Diplomates de la Diversité, a delegation from the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and the Club Barbès in Paris, visited UW-Madison. Diplomates de la Diversité was created by Le Club Barbès, an association founded in 2006 to support the academic, professional and personal development of children, adolescents and young adults in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. Check out their facebook page to learn more.

Image of the French House on a sunny dayLooking to practice your spoken French? The UW-Madison French House has announced its menu for the Spring 2017 semester. The French House has been a UW-Madison institution for over 80 years, and serves as a francophone cultural center and private residence hall. Located on the banks of Lake Mendota, in the heart of the UW-Madison campus, it is an ideal place to practice your French or to participate in events connecting UW-Madison to the francophone world.

Logo of the Central Africa InitiativeTogether with other campus entities, the CIFS is working on exciting new projects with the Central Africa Initiative, spearheaded by CIFS Co-Director Emeritus Aliko Songolo and CIFS Steering Committee Representative Don Waller. The goal of this organization is to foster collaboration between UW-Madison and partner institutions in Central Africa, including universities, colleges, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Some of our current partners include the Parc National de la Bénoué (Cameroon), and the Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles at Lwiro (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Poster from a colloquium on New Ventures in Francophone StudiesDuring the Fall 2016 semester, Professor Vlad Dima of the UW-Madison Department of French and Italian organized a colloquium to examine new ventures in contemporary francophone studies. Presentations looked at literature from many areas of the francophone world, including books by authors Malika Oufkir, Michèle Fitoussi and Tahar Ben Jelloun, among others. This colloquium was preceded by a roundtable discussion about the academic job market for graduate students in the Department of French and Italian.

Van Hise and Bascom Hill at sunsetThe CIFS recently welcomed six scholars from Aix-Marseille Université for the 2016 Molecular Genectics of Bacteria and Phages Meeting at UW-Madison.  We were thrilled to have this opportunity to share our campus with visiting scholars from France, and to build upon the close relationship between UW and AMU. This was an especially fruitful visit given our ongoing efforts to establish interdisciplinary connections, particularly between the humanities and the STEM fields.  Recent student surveys have shown that nearly 35% of undergraduate major and certificate students in French are completing an additional major in one of the STEM fields.

Presentations on the transatlantic seminar organized by Professors Lojkine and MiernowskDuring the Fall 2016 semester, CIFS Steering Committee member Jan Miernowski (Department of French and Italian) organized and taught a transcontinental graduate seminar with Stéphane Lojkine of Aix-Marseille Université.  Using distance learning technology, students from UW-Madison and AMU convened weekly to discuss the representation of nature and politics in francophone literature. Building on the work of the seminar, Professor Miernowski is organizing a colloquium focused on the challenges and opportunities of transcontinental teaching.

Poster with Image of Jean-Pierre BekoloThe CIFS, along with the Department of French and Italian, recently welcomed filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo to UW-Madison for a five-day visit with our students and faculty.  During his stay, Bekolo was able to visit a number of UW-Madison classes to share his work with undergraduate and graduate students alike.  He also gave public talks on his artistic process and on the current state of African cinema. Bekolo is one of the foremost filmmakers in Cameroon, currently splits time between his work in France, Cameroon and the US, where he has had the opportunity to teach at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Bascom Hill in autumnJulie Underwood, former Dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, was able to visit Aix-Marseille Université over the summer to meet with representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Institut Carnot de l’éducation. The ongoing partnership between UW-Madison and AMU, especially with the École Supérieure du Professorat et de l’Éducation (ESPE), has allowed for exciting opportunities in teaching and research, and we look forward to continuing our work together.

During the spring semester, the CIFS and the Department of French and Italian hosted Professor Dennis Looney from the Italian program a the University of Pittsburgh to discuss his work as the MLA Director of Programs and of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages. His visit included a presentation of his research in Italian literature, discussions on the state of the humanities and of foreign language departments more specifically, and a discussion with graduate students regarding alternative careers outside of academia.

Poster for the 2016 GAFIS SymposiumThe CIFS proudly supported the 2016 Graduate Association of French and Italian Students (GAFIS) Symposium. The theme, Hazardous Materials, fostered a dynamic interdisciplinary discussion regarding the risks and rewards that come up in literary and artistic production. Dr. Kevin Birmingham, from Harvard University, was this year’s keynote.  Dr. Birmingham currently works with the writing center at Harvard College, and has recently published his first book, The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses. To view photos of this event, visit the album on the Department of French and Italian website.

Logo of the Wisconsin Department of Public InstructionOn February 20th, UW/AMU Graduate Student Mailys Krier attended the Wisconsin Global Youth Summit in Milwaukee to interview participants for an article on high school language learning and the Global Education Achievement Certificate.  The event welcomed approximately 160 high school students and 60 educators to Milwaukee for a day of activities exploring world languages, cross-cultural diversity and service opportunities to engage in global issues.

Poster of conference on Neyrat's Homo LabyrinthusThe CIFS was very pleased to support Humanism and its Discontents: A Dialogue on the Occassion of the Publication of Frédéric Neyrat’s Homo Labyrinthus. Professor Neyrat is a philosopher specializing in the environmental humanities and contemporary theory.  He has been at UW-Madison since 2011, and has written a number of books on topics including geoconstructivism, biopolitics and terrorism. For more information on Professor Neyrat and his current projects, visit his professional website here.

Gilles Bousquet meeting with delegates from AMUDuring the fall of 2015, the CIFS supported a delegation from Aix-Marseille Université including President Yvon Berland, Sylvie Daviet, Vice President for International Affairs and Professor of Geography, Pierre Chiappetta, Executive Director of A*MIDEX Foundation, and Flore Nonchez, Deputy Director of A*MIDEX Foundation. Marc Rousset, Science Attaché at the French Consulate in Chicago also joined the delegation. The visit honored the 60-year relationship between AMU and UW-Madison, and the delegation met with UW-System President Ray Cross and Chancellor Rebecca Blank of UW-Madison to sign new agreements between the two universities.

Image of Italian Ambassador ClaudioThe Center co-sponsored a visit from Ambassador, Claudio Bisogniero, spoke with students and community members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on topics ranging from culture, politics, and economics. His conversations helped promote partnerships between academic, business, and community interests in an interdisciplinary manner. During his visit, the Ambassador met with government officials at the Wisconsin Capitol and participated in a business lunch regarding EU affairs at the Italian Workman’s Club.

Poster for Thorn's film Allez YallahThe center co-sponsored Jean-Pierre Thorn’s visit from France to present two of his films to students and the Madison community: On n’est pas des marques de vélos and Allez Yallah. Thorn personally spoke to graduate students and presented his film to support a better understanding of women’s rights in France and Morocco. He continued his second day with a community presentation and discussion of his film On n’est pas des marques de vélos. During his time in Madison, Thorn spoke with a diverse group of UW-Madison students and colleagues and presented on the subjects of hip-hop, immigration, and justice.

On January 30th, the CIFS co-sponsored a roundtable discussion called “Roundtable discussion on Charlie Hebdo, Satire, and Freedom of Expression.” The discussion tackled the geopolitical implications of the January 7th attacks on Charlie Hebdo and also included diverse cultural perspectives from French, Arab, and American viewpoints. The round table presentations were followed by a vibrant question and answer session with the audience and encouraged awareness of current geopolitical issues in France.

Poster for conference on the Life of the MindFrom April 16th through the 18th, the CIFS supported The Life of the Mind: Literature, Aesthetics, and the “sciences de l’homme,” 1700-1900, an interdisciplinary and international symposium organized by the Department of French and Italian. Participants included francophone scholars and historians of science, medicine, religion and art from all over the world.  This symposium was open to the public and encouraged research and discussion between researchers of French studies from all over the world.

Poster for African Cultural Studies posterThe CIFS co-sponsored a visit by Djo Tunda Wa Munga, who came to Madison to participate in a conference hosted by the Department of African Languages and Literature. He spoke about the complex construction of film creation and presided over a showing of his film Viva Riva, a gripping gangster film explores a number of socioeconomic problems plaguing Kinshasa and Democratic Republic of the Congo. These events allowed for numerous cross-disciplinary conversations, and linked the filmmaker’s interests in music, political science, social sciences, economics, and cultural studies to portrayals of Africa as a conglomerate of rich cultures.

Logo for the Consulate of France in ChicagoThe CIFS hosted a visit of the French Consul that included meeting French faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students, as well as discovering the French House and all it has to offer. Our center hosted a working dinner at the University Club that showcased the many projects our campus has been pursuing with ties to France and to French culture. This visit helped solidify UW-Madison’s reputation as a leader in research, international higher education, and the study of French.

Image of the Pharo, one of AMUs main administrative buildings in MarseilleIn October, eight delegates from the Aix-Marseille Université School of Education visited UW-Madison. During their time here, the AMU delegates met with UW professors who shared their research interests in the training of teachers of French as a second language and the development of technologies for use in primary and secondary education. In addition to touring West High School, they took a day trip to Milwaukee to see UWM and tour a charter school. This visit allowed AMU professors to cultivate and reinforce long-standing connections with UW professors and collaborators.