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Statement on Racial Injustice

June 9, 2020

The Department of Romance Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, stands in unequivocal solidarity with members of our Black Community. We mourn deeply the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and all those who before them were also victims of the system of racial injustice that remains at work in this country. We pledge to challenge the beliefs and practices that are entrenched in our society and culture, and to work to disrupt the ways in which those beliefs manifest in our own personal and professional spaces.

The Department of Romance Studies is a diverse academic unit, and we celebrate the uniqueness of each member of our community. We are committed to ensure an anti-racist and supportive work and study environment and to make the Department of Romance Studies a safe, inclusive, and equitable space for all of our colleagues and students of color, to thrive and flourish, even in these difficult times.

Sigma Delta Pi hosts virtual initiation ceremony for graduating Seniors

May 5, 2020

On April 29, Faculty Co-Advisor Martha Alexander initiated six new members, all graduating Seniors, into the Zeta Psi Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society from her home, via Zoom.  Since the regular initiation ceremony is postponed until the Fall, the decision was made to induct accepted applicants who are graduating in May 2020 by means of a virtual ceremony.

Announcing the Joel Walz Fund to Support Study Abroad for French Studies

April 17, 2020

Thanks to a generous gift from Professor Joel Walz (UNC B.A. in French, 1969), the Romance Studies department will soon be offering an annual fellowship to assist undergraduate students participating in study abroad programs in France or Quebec. The fellowship of up to $1,500 will support students participating in credit-bearing programs focused on the study of French language, linguistics, culture and literature. The opportunity will be open to UNC undergraduates in the College of Arts & Sciences who have completed at least two years of French language study, with priority consideration given to French & Francophone Studies majors and minors and Education students seeking certification to teach French.

Professor Walz’s $50,000 gift and generous bequest reflect his profound commitment to education in French Studies. In addition to his B.A. from UNC, Professor Walz holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in French linguistics from Indiana University and taught for many years in the French program of the University of Georgia at Athens. A specialist of second language acquisition, he is the author of many articles and books on teaching and learning French.

The department of Romance Studies is deeply grateful for Professor Walz’s generosity and excited to offer this opportunity to our students.


January 29, 2020


Undergraduates and Graduates are encouraged to apply.

The initiation ceremony will be held Wednesday, April 15 at 5:30pm in Toy Lounge.

Please mark your calendars.

This is the link for the application

Sigma Delta Pi Membership Application » Department of Romance Studies Application for Membership. If you are interested in becoming a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish National Honorary Society, and you meet the requirements below, you are invited to complete this application in its entirety submit it no later than noon, Monday, February 27, 2020 to be considered for membership.. We will contact you by e-mail by March 3 to inform you of …



We are looking to grow Sigma Delta Pi’s presence on campus.


Martha Alexander and Cristina Carrasco
Advisers, Zeta Psi Chapter, Sigma Delta Pi

Spanish Service Learning Project in collaboration with Carrboro Elementary School dual-language students

January 6, 2020

Spanish Service Learning Project in collaboration with Carrboro Elementary School dual-language students

This fall, 19 students from UNC’s Spanish for the Professions Minor (Heather Knorr’s SPAN 329 class) visited Carrboro Elementary School where they collaborated with 24 dual-language 3rd graders to design original board games in Spanish to enhance their practice of the NC curriculum standards. Since this is an APPLES “Service-learning” class where each student does 30 hours of volunteering in the community, they were thrilled to have a mini-project in addition to their individual projects. UNC and CES students created games such as pin the bone on the skeleton to practice the body and cardiovascular system, lunopolio (Monopoly for the “luna” or moon) to practice learning the planets and facts about outer space, and 3 other board games feature geography, multiplication and other science curriculum standards. We won an APPLES grant to pay for the game supplies and were then able to donate the board games to the 3rd grade classroom teachers. It was a fabulous project!

Undergraduate Laura Wilder Investigates the Lace-Making Industry in Burano, Italy.

December 2, 2019

“Undergraduate Laura Wilder Investigates the Lace-Making Industry in Burano, Italy.”

By Laura Wilder

This summer, I had the opportunity to study and research the lace-making industry in Burano, Italy after receiving the UNC Robinson Honors Fellowship. My goal was to better understand how the changes to the industry and art-form over time affected the durability of the trade and the women who make the lace. To do this, I visited the lace archive in Venice, traveled to lace and fashion museums in Milan, Rome, Lake Trasimeno, and Brussels on the weekends, interviewed lace makers of Burano, and took lace-making classes. Taking the classes in the Martina Vidal Atelier on the island was my favorite part because I formed a close connection with my teachers, practiced a lot of Italian, and as a sewer myself, picked up a new needlework technique! My best anecdote from the trip came from my first day of class when I walked in and discovered that unbeknownst to me, my teachers could not speak English! Despite the fact that I am an Italian major, needlework vocabulary was never a part of the chapters in class, so I was constantly on my toes during our lessons, and eventually, during my interviews with them.

After returning from my trip, I met with the North Carolina Regional Lacers during their bi-annual Lace Day to learn how guilds such as their own are keeping the interest alive in what many claim is a dying art-form. Similarly, my biggest takeaway from visiting the women of Burano and Isola Maggiore was that the unique techniques of each town are disappearing at an alarming rate due to the limited number of people interested in learning in their area. Through a collaboration with leading lace-makers in some of these towns, I am hoping to launch a collaboration to encourage the use of YouTube and how-to videos in order to better spread knowledge to people interested in lace-making around the world.

When I tell people about my experience, they are usually confused as to how I developed my research proposal since it is so specific. For me, it was simply a combination of my interests! The summer prior to my application, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy and had the chance to visit Venice for the first time. My initial reaction upon stepping foot on the small island of Burano (close to Venice) was awe when I was surrounded by lace clothing, table runners, napkins (you name it!), and incredible women devoted to their craft. I even had the chance to speak with a shop owner about her experience making lace and how long she had been doing it, to which she replied, “since the beginning.” I have a personal connection to needlework crafts because it was important to both of my grandmothers and I learned how to sew and embroider from my mom. After leaving Burano, I knew that I wanted to learn more about this amazing place and the history of the art-form in the region, but I did not know where to start. Lucky for me, I stumbled upon the Robinson Honors Fellowship, a summer award for students interested in researching Western European culture and art. The specificity, uniqueness, and personal aspects of my project helped me to earn this amazing fellowship; when I meet with students who are interested in doing research in either the humanities or in STEM, these are the qualities that I push them to find in their projects. Above all, your project should be something that you are passionate about!

Forthcoming in Fall 2020: Reference Grammar of Paraguayan Guarani

November 4, 2019

I am thrilled to announce that the following volume is scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2020 by University College of London Press.

Estigarribia, Bruno. Forthcoming Fall 2020. A Reference Grammar of Paraguayan Guarani. Grammars of World and Minority Languages Series. London, UK: UCL (University College London) Press.

This will be the first book-length modern description and analysis of the grammar of any of the Guarani languages in English. I wanted to acknowledge the invaluable support for this project of the United States’ National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH Fellowship Award #FEL-257415, January 2018 to December 2018), the Buchan Excellence Fund administered by UNC Romance Studies, and the Schwab Excellence Award from UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. The UNC Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies funded the early steps of this project as well through UNC’s Institute for the Study of the Americas.


Bruno Estigarribia

Graduate Student Summer Research 2019

September 23, 2019

Graduate Student Summer Research

Summer 2019 was busy and productive for graduate students in Romance Studies. Several doctoral candidates had the opportunity to travel for their dissertation research thanks to privately funded grants.

Two graduate students in the French & Francophone Studies program received McCulloch Dissertation Research Travel Fellowship. Emma Monroy used her grant to spend time in several museums in Guadeloupe and Martinique for her project on collaborations between writers and visual artists in the Francophone Caribbean. During her stay, Emma was also able to interview artist Victor Anicet, friend of the well-known writers Aimé Césaire and Édouard Glissant, and Bernard Lagier, the Assistant Director of the cultural center, Tropiques Atrium. Thanks to her fellowship, Wendy Combs traveled to the French National Library in Paris to make headway on her dissertation research on 19th-century fantastic novels.

With help from a Lupton Summer Travel Fellowship, Rhi Johnson spent several weeks in the library of the Royal Academy of Galician and the National Library of Portugal to further her dissertation research on the sociocultural history of water in 19th-century Iberian writing. Rhi reports that this research trip also gave her the valuable opportunity to practice her Galician and Portuguese language skills.

The Isabella Payne Cooper Award in Italian provided support for Tessa Bullington to travel to Italy to complete research for her dissertation, “Textual Healing: Gender, Genre & Disease at the Sixteenth-Century Italian Court.” Tessa spent two weeks in Venice both for her own research and to participate in an international symposium on the material culture of sixteenth-century northern Italy organized by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Warwick.

Two students in the Italian Studies program deepened their research in archives in Italy with help from Debbie Schenker Dissertation Travel Fellowships. Giorgia Bordoni spent the summer in the Archives of Futurism in Rome where she explored literary and visual artifacts relevant to her dissertation on “literary war machines” in 20th century Italy. Toni Veneri traveled to Rome, Venice, and Modena to gather crucial material for his dissertation on the “maritime and imperial imagination” in medieval and Renaissance Venice.

Closer to home, recipients of the Debbie Schenker Archival Fellowship Michele Cammelli and Megan Anne Fenrich worked with previously uncatalogued Italian manuscripts in the Rare Book Collection of Wilson Library. These students will be presenting their research discoveries at Wilson Library on October 4.