The past year has marked our relative return to “normality” after the pandemic. After months of remote instruction, we have resumed teaching in person as well as gathering on campus for events such as workshops, colloquia, and conferences. There is some happiness—albeit certainly without triumph—in taking stock of this change. We cannot deny that the coronavirus turned our lives at the university upside down in many ways and that fatigue and distress may still linger for our students, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as our community at large.
Yet we should also recognize that the resourcefulness and dedication of CLS scholars at every stage have made it possible to face the numerous challenges of the moment and to carry on the work of scholarship with great energy and success. During the past academic year, we have organized numerous talks and workshops, giving ample proof of the program’s intellectual vibrancy and resilience. Several of these events have been organized by our graduate students; I am grateful in particular to Connie Kang, José Chavez, and Mauricio Oportus for their enthusiasm and hard work on this front. It should be noted as well that CLS was able to offer more financial support to our graduate students during this period than in past years, thanks to a revised budget approved by Ralph Leslie.
Several of our brilliant and talented students once again have distinguished themselves: Wenhan Zhang earned an Outstanding Graduate Student Award for courses that he taught during the pandemic under the régime of Zoom, Mauricio Oportus won a Franke Fellowship and, at the undergraduate level, Violet Decker received honors for her wonderful senior thesis. Congratulations to each of them!
Our newest graduate students, Youssef Boucetta, Laiba Paracha, and Nico Fonseca, will join us in the fall. We look forward very much to welcoming them to campus.
Last October, Phil Hoskins joined our department as Program Coordinator, and his professionalism and good cheer have made the atmosphere on the fifth floor of Kresge and in the ether of virtual meetings warmer and more inviting. Phil also has been responsible for making the visual design of CLS posters, fliers, webpages, invitations, etc. more stylish and impressive than ever! I am thankful both to him and our excellent Annie Kelchner for supporting and facilitating our many important meetings and events over the last year.
I also am grateful to Jonas Rosenbrück, who was a tirelessly productive and uplifting presence as our post-doctoral fellow. His intellectual and critical leadership has been a source of illumination for our undergraduate students and for the CLS program as a whole. We wish him all the best at Amherst College, where he is now an assistant professor! In addition to Jonas, notwithstanding the difficulties linked to these Covid years, Menglu Gao got a tenure track position at the University of Denver and Arif Camouglu has been appointed to a tenure track at NYU-Shanghai.
This year, we are excited to welcome Azadeh Safaeian and Maïté Marciano to their new roles as, respectively, a post-doctoral fellow and a visiting assistant professor. We also are looking forward happily to the arrival of our two latest additions to the CLS core faculty: Ryan Dohoney, associate professor of Musicology, and Annabel We, assistant professor of Korean Literature and Culture.
We have an ambitious agenda for the coming year, which will address in particular our pedagogical needs as a program, the growth of the undergraduate section, and diversity in CLS. I welcome our opportunities to discuss it together in the days ahead.
Director, Comparative Literary Studies Program
Professor, French and Italian Department