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CIFS Projects

2017 Activities

Publicity photo of Gary Wilder

Along with partners in the UW-Madison Anthropology Department, the UW-Madison African Cultural Studies Department and the African Studies Program, our center recently 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.


French Consul meets with CIFS and partners

On 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.




Photo of AATF meeting Sept. 16

On September 16th, the CIFS teamed up with Andrew Irving 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.

If you are interested in learning more about this event or if you'd like to view the full schedule, you can find additional information on the French House website.


Poster for Vivian Curran's lecture on Sept. 14
The CIFS, in collaboration with the UW-Madison Law School and la Maison Française, welcomed University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Law Professor, Vivian Curran to give a lecture on Thursday, September 14, 2017.  Professor Curran spoke on transnational currents in Law by examining the affaire Lipietz, and its links to US common law.  This lecture, entitled "Le va-et-vient de la transnationalisation du droit dans une affaire de crime contre l'humanité," brought in a diverse crowd representing multiple departments across campus.  

For a more detailed description of Professor Curran's talk, in both French and in English, you can find a full abstract on the French House website.  


On 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.

We are especially proud of how this event contributes to strengthening the longstanding collaborative efforts between UW-Madison and AMU.  The CIFS plans to continue building on this annual event in the future.

Photo of Mount Sainte-Victoire

The CIFS is currently working to expand the teaching track of the Professional French Masters Program in collaboration with our partners at Aix-Marseille Université. This new program, which is tailored to K12 teachers of French in the US and in Europe, will include two summer sessions, one in Aix-en-Provence and one in Madison.  After completing course requirements, including online courses and the two summer sessions, participants will earn a Master's in French Studies.  

In addition to serving as an excellent international networking opportunity, this program will give language teachers the opportunity to study with some of the world's top scholars in Second Language Acquisition and will provide tools to promote and expand the study of French in K12 schools.  A pilot program is anticipated for summer 2018.


Photo of Douglas Hofstadter at the 2015 GAFIS Symposium
Building on the CIFS's dedication to supporting interdisciplinary endeavors at UW-Madison, our center is proud to support the Department of French and Italian as it launches an innovative "French for Science" course.  This course, which has been designed by FRIT Professor Nelly Halzen, will be taught for the first time during the fall 2017 semester.  The course will be led by CIFS Co-Director Gilles Bousquet, and will feature guest lectures by a number of UW scientists with active ties to France and the francophone world.

Recent student surveys in the French and Italian Department have shown that 35% of French major and certificate students have an additional major in one of the STEM fields. The CIFS is pleased to support the development of this specialized course to better serve our undergraduate students' diverse interests. 

Poster for 2017 GAFIS Symposium

The CIFS is proud to announce that the Graduate Association of French and Italian Students (GAFIS) will be holding its 30th annual symposium, Turning Points, March 31st and April 1st, 2017.  This year's event will take place at Union South and will feature young scholars from across the nation, including a number of representatives from the UW-Madison Department of French and Italian.  

This year's theme, which focuses on the changes that take place across societies and disciplines, promises to foster discussion on how these changes are reflected in literature or other forms of cultural production.  GAFIS is especially happy to welcome Dr. Robert T. Tally Jr., from the English Department at Texas State University, who will give a keynote presentation on Friday afternoon entitled Swerves, Tropes, Peripeties: Toward a theory of the Turning Point.
GAFIS is a student-run organization that seeks to build community between graduate students in the French and Italian Department while offering opportunities for professional development and serving as a liaison between graduate students, faculty, and administrative staff.  The symposium is one of the organization's most important projets throughout the academic year, and we would like to recognize this year's co-chairs, Cari Torres and Tessa Sermet, for their dedication to the organization.

Check out the Symposium website for a full schedule, including a list of presenters.





Photo from the Graduate Early Modern Student Society conferenceThe Graduate Early Modern Student Society (GEMSS) recently held its first event, a round table on the topic of "Conflicts, Contests and Confrontations in the Early Modern World."  The CIFS is especially proud to recognize French PhD students Jennifer Morgan and Katherine Blackman, as well as Professor Ullrich Langer, for their 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.  GEMSS will be hosting an interdisciplinary conference in mid-April, check out their website to learn more.

Photo of the visit with Diplomates de la diversité
In 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.  This visit, which was sponsored in part by the US Embassy in France, was part of a multi-city tour promoting cultural and acadmic exchanges by putting French high school students in contact with students in American high schools and universities.

During their time in Madison, the Diplomates de la Diversité participated in a number of French classes, where they shared information about Paris, and specifically about their neighborhood.  They also had the chance to visit the French House to speak with residents and visitors on a more informal basis.

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.

Photo of UW-Madison's French House
Parlez-vous français? Looking to practice your spoken French? The UW-Madison French House has announced its menu for the Spring 2017 semester.  Come join us for lunch on Friday at 12:15 or for dinner on Wednesday at 6:00pm.  Pricing and additional details can be found on the French House website.

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.



2016 Activities

Logo of the Central Africa Initiative
Together with other campus entities, the CIFS is working on an exciting new project, the 
Central Africa Initiative, spearheaded by CIFS Co-Director Aliko Songolo and CIFS Steering Committee Representative Don Waller

The goal of this program 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).

Through close working relationships, this initiative is building local expertise and institutional capabilities both in Central Africa and at UW-Madison. Interested? Check us out on facebook or visit our website to learn more!

Poster for Colloquium on New Ventures in Francophone Studies

During 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.  The event took place at the French House, and included presentations by Mary-Anne Lewis (Ohio Wesleyan), Sylvie Ngilla (University of San Diego) and Corbin Treacy (Florida State University).  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. Both events were outstanding opportunities for UW-Madison students interested in French and Francophone Studies, and offered diverse perspectives on the future of the discipline. 


Photo of the Memorial Union from Langdon Street

The 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.  With this in mind, the CIFS and the Department of French and Italian are working to bridge our students' diverse interests.

Logo for Aix-Marseille UniversitéDuring 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 of Jean-Pierre Bekolo

The 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, and his work has been recognized worldwide, though his 2013 film Le Président was banned in his home country for its critical stance on government organization.  He 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.


Photo of Bascom Hill in the fallJulie 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.  This visit, like the AMU delegation which visited UW in 2015, helped lay groundwork for a number of new collaborative research and teaching projects, including the expansion of the teaching track in the Professional French Masters Program.  

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.

Photo of Dennis Looney's presentation
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 GAFIS 2016 Symposium

The CIFS is proud to support the 2016 Graduate Association of French and Italian Students (GAFIS) Symposium, which will take place at UW-Madison on April 8th-9th, 2016.  We anticipate that this year's theme, Hazardous Materials, will foster a dynamic interdisiplinary discussion regarding the risks and rewards that come up in literary and artistic production.

The organizing committee is pleased to welcome Dr. Kevin Birmingham, from Harvard University, for the keynote.  His talk is entitled Treason as a form of Obscenity, and will take place on Friday, April 8th, at the Pyle Center.

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.  For more information about Dr. Birmingham and his work, check out his professional website here.

The GAFIS Symposium is a long-standing tradition in the Department of French and Italian, and serves as an outstanding professional development opportunity for the graduate students involved in the organization of the event, as well as for the presenters.  We would also like to thank this year's symposium Co-Chairs, Matteo Billeri and Lindsey Smith, for their hard work, and the Brittingham Fund for co-sponsoring the event, as it is always a highlight of the academic year.

To view photos of this event, visit the album on the Department of French and Italian website.




UW-Milwaukee logo
On 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.

Image of Frédéric Neyrat's book Homo Labyrinths

The CIFS was very pleased to support Humanism and its Discontents: A Dialogue on the Occassion of the Publication of Frédéric Neyrat's Homo Labyrinthus. During this conversation, French Professor Jan Miernowski sat down with Frédéric Neyrat from the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore to discuss the concepts of humanism, antihumanism, and posthumanism in light of Professor Neyrat's 2015 publication exploring these and other ideas.

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




2015 Activities

Photo of Chancellor Blank and President Berland
Between October 29th and November 1st, the CIFS supported a delegation visit from Aix-Marseille Université. The delegation was comprised of 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. Also included in the visit was Marc Rousset, science attaché at the French Consulate in Chicago. The visit was in honor of the continuing 60-year relationship between AMU and UW-Madison, to sign new UW-System agreements, to network with members of the UW academic community to build new exchanges between the universities, and to show the importance of the alumni connection in American universities to President Berland. 

During their visit, the delegation met with both the UW-System President Ray Cross and UW’s Chancellor Rebecca Blank in order to sign new agreements between the two universities. Additionally, they met with various professionals and professors from academic fields in the UW community with which they seek to collaborate further. To learn more about alumni relations at UW, the delegation not only met with two enthusiastic, francophone students of the Homecoming committee, but also with representatives of the Wisconsin Alumni Assocation and the UW Foundation.

The relationships established during the events of this visit are developing into further collaboration. Currently, members of the Bio-Energy, Health and Medicine, and Education communities at both universities are in discussions about creating student, faculty, and post-doctorate exchanges.

Photo of Claudio Bisogniero
The Center co-sponsored a visit with the Department of French and Italian to welcome the Italian Ambassador to the United States of America to speak with students and community members about Italian and European interests in Wisconsin. His Excellency Claudio Bisogniero spoke with students and community members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to answer questions ranging from cultural, political, and economic topics. His conversations with University members helped to strengthen deeper ties to promote academics, business, and community interests in an interdisciplinary manner.

After meeting with government officials at the Wisconsin Capitol, the Ambassador gave a presentation discussing Italian politics and the importance of Italian cultural heritage as well as current EU politics. His visit then moved to the Italian Workman’s Club for a business lunch regarding EU affairs.


Poster of 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.

He personally spoke to masters’ students, where he presented his film Allez Yallah to engage in 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.  

This discussion helped the community understand and see the cultural difference present in the lives of young first generation French immigrants in France, while presenting on the subjects of hip-hop, immigration, and justice. His discussions continued with professors of Sociology, Arabic and francophone studies at a collaborative dinner.


Je suis Charlie logo
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 discussion was open to the public and attracted a full-room of members of the UW community and members of Madison’s local community. The round table presentations were followed by a vibrant question and answer session with the audience. Overall this round table discussion brought awareness of current geopolitical issues in France and diverse perspectives on cultural implications.

Life of the mind conference poster
From April 16th through the 18th, the CIFS supported The Life of the Mind: Literature, Aesthetics, and the “sciences de l’homme,” 1700-1900 Interdisciplinary and International Symposium which was organized by the Department of French and Italian at UW-Madison. The participants of the symposium were francophone scholars and historians of science, medicine, religion and art from UW-Madison as well as from universities all over the world.  This symposium was open to the public, and attracted mostly professors and graduate students of French and Italian studies. The event was an effective way of sharing research and promoting discussion between researchers of French studies from all over the world.


Poster for African Cultural Studies Conference
Djo Tunda Wa Munga was co-sponsored by the center to present to students and at a conference: Towards African Cultural Studies hosted by the Department of African Languages and Literature. During his stay, he visited multiple departments ranging from the UW-Madison Music library to students in the Professional French Masters program. He spoke with multiple classes about the complex construction of film creation and cultural dynamics that enter into the construction. He also spoke with local public radio stations about his film and Congolese interests. He presented his film Viva Riva, a gripping gangster film that presents an interesting dynamic of socioeconomic problems that are plaguing Kinshasa and the rest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His visit allowed for interactions and cross collaboration in francophone cultural studies. He gave an important contribution to understanding the dynamic problems facing francophone economic development and need for social collaboration. The African Cultural Studies Conference gave him the chance to interact and contribute to studies in music, political science, social sciences, economics, and cultural studies portraying Africa as a conglomerate of rich and pertinent cultures in promoting world growth.  


Logo of French Consulate in Chicago

During this trip, the Consul met with French faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students, as well as discovering the French House and all it has to offer. CIFS hosted a dinner in his honor at the University Club, which was an opportunity to showcase the excellent people we have working in and with the Department. Our promotion of French studies is a value certainly shared by the Consul.

A lot of his work at the Consulate concerns student visas and study abroad, so we showcased UW’s many international efforts. This visit helped further set UW apart as a leader in research, international higher education, and the study of French; the Consul will also visited the University Research Park during his time here. UW’s role in the community was on display as we invited local business leaders to interact with the Consul and promote Madison as well as the state of Wisconsin, setting up fiscal opportunities and valuable partnerships. 

Aerial view of campus8 delegates from the School of Education of the Aix-Marseille Université visited UW from October 24th to 30th. During their time here, the AMU delegates met with UW professors who shared their research interests and promoted faculty collaboration between the two universities. They were particularly interested 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. The length of their visit allowed the AMU professors to have productive meetings and create long-lasting connections with UW professors, which will lead to new teaching methods and research publications. 


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