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Celebrating an early unpublished Latin American novel on Nov. 18

November 11, 2015

José María Vargas Vila

A roundtable discussion on Nov. 18 at UNC will celebrate the publication of Latin American writer José María Vargas Vila’s manuscript of his novel, En los jardines de Lesbos.

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room in Wilson Library.

Speakers include Daniel Balderston, Mellon Professor, University of Pittsburgh; Maria DeGuzman, Director of Latina/o Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill; David William Foster, Regents Professor at Arizona State University; and Ariana Vigil, Women’s and Gender Studies Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill.

The book is the first novel in Latin America dealing clearly and specifically with the topic of lesbianism. UNC-Chapel Hill was able to purchase the unpublished manuscript, which is now part of the University’s Rare Book Collection.

Associate professor Juan Carlos González Espitia, in the Department of Romance Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences led the effort to acquire the book. He is the foremost expert and editor of the work of José María Vargas Vila and also created a UNC Libraries comprehensive digital library of all the author’s works.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Romance Studies, the Institute for the Study of the Americas, the Program in Latina/o Studies, the Center for Global Initiatives, the Rare Book Collection and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

The Department of Romance Studies also has related events on Nov. 19 and Nov.20.

Jessica Tanner wins Lawrence R. Scherhr Award

November 11, 2015
Dr. Jessica Tanner

Jessica Tanner has received the Lawrence R. Schehr Memorial Award for her paper “Branding Naturalism: The Ecology of Vice in Zola” at the Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium at Princeton. The NCFS describes the prize: “In remembrance of Larry Schehr’s profound commitment to mentoring junior faculty, this prize recognizes the best essay presented at the NCFS Colloquium by an untenured PhD within the first 6 years since receiving the degree.”


Congratulations, Jessica!

Newest Members of the Department

August 13, 2015

You may see some new faces around Dey Hall this year.  Here’s a quick introduction, though you should really try to get to know each of these amazing people better!


Anderson, RobertRobert Anderson is our newest faculty member in Portuguese, and will also be serving as Director of the Languages Across the Curriculum program.  He is an alumnus of our program, and is returning to us from Winston-Salem State Univeristy!
Pereira, Carolina Sa CarvalhoCarolina Sa Carvalho Pereira is our new instructor in Portuguese & Spanish!  She is a recent graduate of Princeton University and we are excited to have her join the ROMS team!
Graham, Lamar 2Lamar Graham is our newest Post-Doctoral Fellow in Spanish (Hispanic Linguistics), coming to us from the University of Georgia.  Here's hoping he sticks around for a while!
Burklin, BlakeBlake Burklin is our new Graduate Student Services Manager and will be guiding our students along the arduous path to obtaining a PhD. New to our department but not to UNC, it's great to have him on board!
Whitney, NellyNelly Whitney is the new managing editor of our Publications office.  In just a few short weeks, she's done amazing things with the office, and we are happy to see what else she has in store!

A New Name for our 106-year-old Department

June 9, 2015

*The following article originally appeared on the UNC Global Website*

The home for research and study of the French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish languages and associated cultures in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has formally changed its name from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures to the Department of Romance Studies.

The department aims to preserve, increase and transmit knowledge and understanding of the Romance languages, literatures and cultures within the transnational and regional contexts in which they have developed.

“The name change reflects the new face of language, literary and cultural studies and complements recent changes in the department’s administrative structure, graduate programs and academic culture,” said Federico Luisetti, chair of the department.

This shift follows a national trend of other departments of Romance studies—at institutions such as Cornell and Duke universities—that have attempted to break down traditional methodological and national barriers to emphasize interdisciplinary research and scholarship, rather than separating language instruction and cultural research.

“What ‘Romance Studies’ captures is a key strength of our faculty, composed of scholars who apply a variety of approaches ─ historical, linguistic, philological, sociopolitical, cultural, visual and theoretical ─ to the teaching and study of languages and literary and nonliterary texts and cultures of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Americas,” said Luisetti.

This fall, the department will host a one-day symposium that will bring together scholars from Romance Studies across the nation to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the discipline.

Romance languages were among the first subjects taught at UNC, and this is not the first name change to the department. It was originally called the department of modern languages (French and German) when it was constituted in 1885. It split in 1909 into the department of Romance Languages and the department of Germanic Languages. The latter is now the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures.

Since then, several other languages have been added to the Romance Studies mix, including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other historical languages of Europe and the Americas, such as Basque, Catalan, Galician and Guaraní.

Couch Scholarship and Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF)

June 1, 2015

Congratulations to John Philip Couch Scholarship winner, Anna Taylor!

Congratulations to our Teaching Assistant Program in France winners!

Darrin Benjumea (Rouen)
Rose Davis (Grenoble)
Elizabeth Fisher (Besançon)
Rachel Johnson (Lille)
Daniel Pinelli (Limoges)
Sarah Priest (Lille)
Ashley Roddy (Dijon-waitlisted)


The John Philip Couch Scholarship was created through a generous gift to the North Carolina chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (NC-AATF) in the will of Dr. “Phil” Couch, a longtime professor of French at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who passed away on March 12, 2006.


The Teaching Assistant Program in France offers you the opportunity to work in France for 7 months, teaching English to French students of all ages. Each year, over 1,100 American citizens and permanent residents teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion.

French Majors win Fulbrights

April 17, 2015

Austin Cooper received a 2015-16 U.S. Fulbright Student grant to study the history of the Hôpital Franco-Musulman, opened in 1935 in Bobigny, a northern suburb of Paris, France. Entitled “Health and Community: The Social History of Paris’ Hôpital Franco-Musulman,” his project seeks to examine how immigration from North Africa altered the fabric of twentieth-century French society through the lens of medical practice in the nation’s most cosmopolitan region. Austin will conduct archival research and collaborate with scholars at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne to elaborate the role that the Hôpital Franco-Musulman played in the Muslim communities of Greater Paris. A native of Cary, NC, and a member of the UNC Class of 2014, Austin holds a B.A. with Honors in Comparative Literature and French.





Abby_PhotoGraduating senior Abby Dennison has received a 2015-2016 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to work in a local high school in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, a suburb of Paris in the Académie of Versailles. Fulbright teaching assistants facilitate English language instruction and serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States. Grantees support underprivileged populations in high-priority education areas, where most students face personal and academic challenges. As such, contact with a native English speaker is often a significant advantage in the classroom. Abby is excited to promote intercultural exchange with French students from diverse multicultural backgrounds! Her interest in the Fulbright program stemmed from her experiences studying abroad with UNC in Montpellier, where she had the opportunity to volunteer in foreign language classes at a private middle school. A native of Chapel Hill, she will be graduating this May with a B.A. in French and English Literature and a minor in Social and Economic Justice.

ROMS Welcomes First Visiting Professor

February 6, 2015

BOOMERSHINE_0699_000If you haven’t noticed, there’s a new face around Dey Hall this semester.  For the first time, Romance Studies was able to welcome Dr. Amanda Boomershine from UNC-Wilmington as a Visiting Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics for Spring 2015.  She will be offering a course on Spanish Phonetics and Phonology as well as a course on Sociolinguistics, and we are very excited to have her on the team.

Welcome to ROMS, Amanda!

And the Chapman Family Distinguished Teaching Award goes to…

February 6, 2015

Estrada, OswaldoCongratulations to Oswaldo Estrada, this year’s recipient of the prestigious 2015 Chapman Family Distinguished Teaching Award. He was recognized on Saturday, January 24, during the half-time ceremony at the UNC-Florida State men’s basketball game in the Dean E. Smith Center. The award conveys a semester’s leave as a fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

He is the 4th recipient of this award from our department since the award’s inception in 1993.

Many thanks to Dr. Estrada for her hard work and dedication to the Department of Romance Studies!