Department News

This category captures all the news related to the department.

LCL Ph.D. Student Wins International Fellowship

Doctoral student Joscha Valentin Jelitzki was awarded the Franz Werfel Fellowship by the Austrian Agency for Education and Internationalisation (OeAD) in the spring of 2024.  He is currently in Vienna conducting the research that the Fellowship was awarded to support.
Joscha joined the department in 2019 as a PhD student in German and Judaic Studies. In his dissertation he describes the aesthetics of desire in modernist literature from Jewish writers in fin-de-siècle Vienna. In contrast to our contemporary notion of desire as forming an identity, his project rediscovers desire as something that constitutively splits the subject. The project further demonstrates how Jewish-Christian differences were conceived as sexual differences in Central Europe around 1900.
Before coming to UConn Joscha studied in Berlin, Frankfurt/Oder, and Jerusalem, and worked as a research assistant for the critical edition of the works of Hannah Arendt. At UConn he teaches courses on German language, literature, and cinema. He has published an article on the poetics of Martin Buber’s life writing (Martin-Buber-Studien 2022, co-authored with Sarah Ambrosi). His article on the biblical figure of Job and its modern reception, co-authored with Dr. Sebastian Wogenstein, is accepted for publication. Currently, Joscha is writing an article on the recent emergence of German Jewish gangster rap.
The Franz Werfel Fellowship is allowing Joscha to further a specific dimension of his doctoral research. In 2022, he presented a chapter draft at the Viennese Jewish Studies Colloquium, which offered a comparative reading of the notion of ‘drive’ in Freud and in the Talmud. As a visiting researcher he will have access to the numerous literary archives of the city of Arthur Schnitzler and Bertha Pappenheimer, and connect the literary material to the authentic urban streets and neighborhoods of today. Dr. Wilhelm Hemecker (Vienna) and Dr. Brigitte Spreitzer (Graz) will offer their expertise from decades of scholarship in the field to support Joscha in his research and act as his local advisors.

German Studies Student Wins Prestigious Fellowship

Guerlina Philogene, a senior in German Studies’ dual-degree EUROBIZ program, has been named a graduate fellow in the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Program, funded by the United States Department of State and administered by Howard University. The program, which welcomes applications from members of underserved minority communities, prepares students for foreign service careers in the State Department.

Guerlina says she became aware of her strong interest in a diplomatic career thanks to her experiences in LCL, in particular with her advisers in the German Section, professors Anke Finger and Sebastian Wogenstein. “Before enrolling into UConn or EUROBIZ,” Guerlina says, “I met with Anke Finger and spoke to her about my deep interest in German and international relations.” Later, Sebastian “hinted to me, during my exchange year, that it appeared that I am more interested in foreign relations.” Guerlina concludes, “They both seemed to have known where my mind was headed before I discovered my passion while in Brussels.”

According to the announcement in UConn’s campus publication Today, 

Following her graduation from UConn, Philogene will attend graduate school and take part in Pickering activities during her summer break between years in Washington, D.C. She will also take part in a two-week program in Washington this summer as an orientation to the program. Upon completion of graduate school, Philogene will have a 10-week overseas internship at a United States embassy or consulate. Philogene will then have a five-year commitment to State Department employment in foreign service.

Guerlina generously credits her time in LCL with helping her form the broad perspective necessary for a diplomatic career. She says, “The topics we talk about during my German courses also resonate deeply with my goals representing the United States. We discussed topics that are not often talked about when you think about Germany such as for example, Turkish, Black, and Vietnamese minority groups and their experiences.”

LCL, Guerlina relates, “became a place of refuge for me to study.” Moreover, her time in the department represented an important part of her development as a future global leader. “Whenever I go abroad,” she continues, “I always try my best to represent groups that are often looked over when speaking about the US. The German department although small, exemplifies diversity and pushing boundaries.”

Congratulations, Guerlina!

Ana María Díaz-Marcos will be an UCHI fellow

LCL is thrilled to announce that Ana María Díaz-Marcos has been awarded a fellowship for the 2023-24 academic year at the UConn Humanities Institute!

Ana María, a Professor of Spanish Studies, will continue work in the vein of her exciting digital humanities exhibitions and collections, which she completed as part of the international program Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Those open-access digital works published in the last two years include an exhibition about the history of the antifascist newspaper La voz published in Spanish in New York between 1937-1939, coincident with the Spanish Civil War, a collection of articles from the newspaper focused on the topic of antifascism and feminism, and a collection of political cartoons published in La voz by Puerto Rican artist José Valdés Cadilla. The project that she will complete during my fellowship at the UCHI will focus on Spanish antifascist activist Ernestina González Fleischman, whom I discovered while reading La voz. Ana María writes that “this book will provide the first in-depth study of her leadership in New York´s arena of civil rights and protest, and the first edition of her collaborations in the leftist press.”

“Ernestina González Fleischman,” Ana María continues, “led an awe-inspiring life marked by political activism, international visibility, and intellectual relevance. She tirelessly engaged in public activities, published in several New York-based Spanish newspapers, run a radio program in Spanish (also based in New York city), and delivered speeches on topics of human rights, antifascism, feminism, and anti-imperialism. She accomplished all that during her two decades living in New York and, later on, in Mexico. It is hard to believe that such a prominent figure in the arena of the anti-fascist Hispanic hubs in the United States, Mexico, and Spain could have vanished from historical accounts. My monograph will recover the life and intellectual work of one of the most significant Hispanic women to oppose fascism in the thirties and forties. Her life and writings will expand our knowledge of US Hispanic antifascism in that period, addressing materials from archives and leftist periodicals that have not been studied before.”

Xu Peng receives Richard Brown Fellowship

Congratulations to Xu Peng, a graduate student in Chinese Studies, who has been named the Richard Brown Dissertation Fellow at the UConn Humanities Institute! Xu will continue work on his Ph.D. thesis “From History to the Future: Chineseness in Contemporary Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican Literatures and Cultures.” The dissertation studies the literary and cultural representation of Sino-Caribbean experiences. By analyzing contemporary articulations of Chineseness in Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican literatures and cultures, Xu hopes to demonstrate how these articulations recode Chineseness within the mestizo nation and how such recodings provoke reconsiderations of national identity and cultural politics in the Spanish Caribbean.

Departing from the prevailing tendency to (re)discover the Chinese presence in Caribbean histories, Xu takes a future-oriented approach to Sino-Caribbean experiences that, instead of pivoting on a marginalized positionality, is more attuned to each nation’s political, economic, racialized, gendered, and sexualized realties in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Xu hopes that this project will serve as a critical point of entry into the globalized processes of (re)creating Asian subjects and into the continuing interrogation of Chinese futurity in the Caribbean and beyond.

LCL’s Glorimarie Peña Alicea wins Aetna Translation Award

Glorimarie Peña Alicea has won the Aetna Translation Award from UConn’s English department for her translation of Claudia Hernandez’s short story “El hijo muerto” as “Dead Child’s Manual.” Glorimarie’s translation will appear in the 2023 edition of the Long River Review. Congratulations, Glorimarie, on this signal achievement.

Glorimarie writes that Hernandez’s story, “published in the book titled De fronteras changed my perspective on undocumented migration. After reading Hernandez’s work, I decided to include the cultural production of the Salvadoran undocumented migration in my research, jumping into an unknown world for me.” Glorimarie worked on her award-winning piece during the first course she took to complete the Literary Translation Certificate under the guidance of professor Peter Constantine and with the help of colleagues Sandra Ruiz Lopez (a former LCL Graduate Student) and Angela Pitassi. Receiving this award, she writes, “reiterates the importance of collaboration in the literary translation practice.”

Professor Peter Constantine, head of LCL’s Translation Studies Program, writes of Glorimarie’s work, “In her brilliant and sensitive translation… Glorimarie shows a particular awareness of Hernández idiosyncratic use of the page, where image and word complement one another in very significant ways. It is a tour de force of translation.”

Glorimarie is currently working on her doctoral dissertation, focused on the literary and cultural production of the undocumented Dominican and Salvadorian migrations in the late 20th and 21st century. She is also currently translating the poetry volume Lo arrugado del eco by Yomarilly Meléndez Meléndez, a young Puerto Rican writer. Last year Glorimarie also won the National Dominican Day Parade Scholarship, and she has recently collaborated with the podcast La Brega in an episode about the tension between salsa and merengue music, undocumented migration, and racism in Puerto Rico.

Spotlight: Annia Bu

Annia Bu is a second-year master’s candidate in the Spanish Studies section of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. Annia was a professional actress in film and theater before she came to UConn.  In fact, she was acting professionally even before her undergraduate degree and has received acting awards at the Ceara Film Festival in Brazil, the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida, and has worked under renowned directors such as Juan Carlos Tabio. She is a native of Santiago de Cuba.

She completed her undergraduate studies at the Art Institute of Cuba. There, she studied drama, acting and theater arts.  She also took courses in literature, history, philosophy, psychology alongside drama – subjects which she describes as “crucial” to doing well in the field of acting.  She loves studying and performing.

In 2011, Annia moved from Cuba to Miami, and then from there to New Haven one year later where she worked as assistant director of a film festival hosted by Yale University featuring films from Spain and Latin America. She then moved to New York City where she spent three years working for the Spanish Repertory Theater – one of the most prominent and longest-running Spanish-speaking theaters in the city.

Annia knew that she wanted to pursue graduate studies in the United States with a focus on literary and cultural studies.  In 2016, she began her master’s degree at UConn. Annia says she was excited to begin her M.A. because of the encouragement of Professor Laurietz Seda, a specialist in Latin American theater. In her first year of the program, Annia took courses in Latin American and Hispanic Theater taught by Professor Seda as well as in Spanish Theater taught by Professor Ana María Díaz-Marcos. Advanced study has supplemented her practical theatrical experience with new insights. “When I analyze literature or philosophy here in school, I’m glad I can apply the practice of looking for subtexts, things that are not told in the text completely… I’m so happy that I can see these, but now in a different way,” she says.

Annia speaks fondly of her fellow graduate students. She says that analyzing works of theater while working with her classmates’ individual interpretations has been instrumental in deepening her appreciation of theater and for writing more broadly. Teaching, however, is the best part of her day. “My goal is not that my students are perfect speakers,” she says, “my goal is that they communicate, engage with the culture, and now know more about the Hispanic world.” Annia has drawn upon theatrical practice to help teach her native language. Her students always form a circle at the beginning of class, a ritual that is important in theater. During class, Annia implements group activities during which she encourages students to play out their lessons, voice their new vocabulary, and to translate the abstract into physical gestures. She says that theater helped her learn how to go further in communicating even when words aren’t spoken perfectly.

In May of 2018, Annia will be graduating with a M.A. in Spanish Studies and a teaching certificate. She will be staying in the United States to teach Spanish and continue her work in theater. In the future, she would like to pursue a PhD with a focus on history through the lens of theater. “I am happy I decided to come to UConn,” she says in reflecting on her time in the master’s program. “It is great, in our department, to have people from all around the world… I am lucky for having this opportunity to learn and teach but also to have this environment.”


This feature was written by Claire Boers.

New UConn Major Aims for Cultural Connections

The new Arabic and Islamic Civilizations program at the University of Connecticut hopes to bring context and conversation to an increasingly connected world by offering courses ranging from the classical to the contemporary.

The program, which will include a major and minor track, will launch during the 2018-19 academic year, Dr. Nicola Carpentieri, Assistant Professor and Chair of Arabic and Islamic studies at UConn, said.

“One of the great assets of this program is that students have a choice to focus on contemporary issues like modern Arabic literature, Arabic cinema or the press,” Carpentieri said. “Or they can focus on the classical heritage.”

Courses under the major will provide for a variety of interests with topics including classical Arabic literature, folk tales, Arabic media and more, Carpentieri said.

“I had to create about 14 new courses to cover the kinds of things that I think students would be interested in,” Carpentieri said. “We also have quirky things like a course on folk tales and advice literature for princes…These kinds of things are part of Islamicate culture.”

Among the program’s many goals is to provide a distinction between Arabic and Islamic culture and to study their interaction, Carpentieri said.

“We aim here to give a plural and inclusive view of Arabic and Islamic civilizations in many linguistic traditions but also different religious traditions,” Carpentieri said.  “Arabic is always associated with Islam but that’s a very simplistic association.”

Morgan Boudreau, a senior graduating this May with an individualized major in Arabic and Islamic Studies, said she is elated to see her interests reflected in the new courses.

“It’s really nice to see that once I graduate people will be able to pursue that degree path,” Boudreau said. “I think UConn is a great place for this program because they have such a unique student body.”

Janae McMillan, a sixth-semester political science major, said that for some students such as herself, UConn provided the first opportunity to explore the Arab world and spurred interest in pursuing further studies about this topic in the future.

“I think it’s important that students have the opportunity to learn about other cultures, especially those that are as fascinating as Arabic and Islam,” McMillan said. “I started at the college level and now that I know how amazing it is, I wish other students could have that same possibility.”

Carpentieri said he is enthusiastic about the program’s future.

“There’s a lot to be learned I think,” Carpentieri said. “If students are interested in the Arab world and Islam, we hope to offer this to open the eyes of people on the positive values of every culture.”


This article first appeared on the Daily Campus on 2/8/2018 and was written by Colin Sitz. The photo is from Dunia: Kiss Me Not on the Eyes directed by Jocelyne Saab (2015).

Miller is First Leon Charney Visiting Scholar

Dr. Stuart S. Miller, professor of Hebrew, history and Judaic studies and a member of the classics and Mediterranean studies section of the Department of Literatures, Cultures and Languages at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, will be the first Leon Charney Visiting Scholar at YU’s Center for Israel Studies (CIS).

“Stuart Miller is a leading historian of the Rabbis, world-renowned for his careful and meticulous analysis of both rabbinic literature and archaeology with the goal of really understanding the lives and words of the sages in Talmudic Israel,” said Dr. Steven Fine, Dean Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History and director of CIS. “We are honored that he will spend time on our campus, learn with our scholars and share with our students.”

Miller is equally delighted to be at Yeshiva University and CIS. “I look forward to spending time with colleagues and friends and to meeting with students, especially those who might have an interest in studying the history, literature and archaeology of Talmudic-period Israel.”

One project that Miller proposes to work on while at YU is a new book. “My working title for the book,” he said, “is From Temple, to Home, To Community: The Survival and Transformation of Jewish Life in Roman Palestine in the Wake of Catastrophe.” His other publications include Studies in the History and Traditions of Sepphoris (E. J. Brill, 1984), Sages and Commoners in Late Antique ’Erez Israel: A Philological Inquiry into Local Traditions in Talmud Yerushalmi (Mohr-Siebeck, 2006) and, most recently, At the Intersection of Texts and Material Finds: Stepped Pools, Stone Vessels, and Ritual Purity Among the Jews of Roman Galilee (included in the Journal of Ancient Judaism Supplement Series, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015).


This editorial first appeared in Yeshiva University’s faculty news blog and was written by Michael Bettencourt.

Challenging a Persistent Myth: What Professors Do

A proposal built into the new budget would require professors to increase their teaching loads from four to five courses per year. This proposal plays on a myth about the nature of the work that university professors perform. The fact is that professors must juggle three areas of activity which are profoundly inter-connected and without which a research university could simply not function. This is because, unlike other kinds of teachers, professors actively participate in the creation of the knowledge that eventually gets taught in the classroom as well as in the complex processes that verify the reliability of that knowledge over time.

If you’ve ever marveled at the complexity of a large international airport, a university like UConn is like that airport on steroids. Each professor belongs to two different cohorts: the teaching cohort within their departments and the research cohort that mostly exists outside their university. This last is because each professor participates in a network made up of other researchers from around the globe with whom they are in conversation about their particular specialty. This is true whether their field involves the DNA signaling in the production of a given protein, or the impact of temperature variations on ocean currents, or patient outcomes from early versus delayed angiography, or about how social media transform people’s sense of experience, presence, and connection. This global community works and competes to set the agendas about what is most important and promising, and in the process, also monitors the protocols and review processes for that particular field.

The on-campus cohort is the department, which is typically composed of specialists who work in very different fields. This is so that universities can provide maximal educational coverage to its students. What this translates into practically is that the activities in a given department are so varied and complex that no department head can really keep track of them all nor understand even the central debates of many of the fields covered under his or her disciplinary remit.

This is why the service end of what professors do is just as crucial as research and teaching and why universities are largely run via committee. Only the people who actually do the research on the ground are in a position to communicate what lines of research are important and thus which new hires need to be prioritized, which equipment purchased, which journals need to be acquired or founded, what new classes and programs might need development and which ideas and processes might need to be included in the constant vetting and quality-monitoring that are part of the process of creating knowledge based on verifiable standards. When one considers all of the different disciplines that co-exist across the university, the staggering level of a university’s complexity as an institution and the challenges that are involved in managing it come into better focus. The fact is no one has figured out a more efficient way of running things than via committee because committees staffed by stakeholders from different fields guarantee the bottom-up decision-making and resource allocation that keep universities innovating. It can be frustrating, but anything else, that is to say, more top-down structures end up doing critical harm to the research mission of universities because no small group has the expertise to see in what direction so many different fields and subfields are evolving.

All of this is why professors must be actively engaged in teaching, research, and committee work to perform their jobs. This does not even include the work of implementing and running all kinds of programs designed to improve the student experience; the bureaucracy that comes with such a large institution serving so many people and so many ends; the writing of grant applications that support research and teaching; outreach, recruitment, and compliance; and the vetting letters for peers and for students at each step of this incredible ladder of increasing specialization and innovation. The intersection of all of these activities is why professors work very long hours indeed (80 and more hour weeks are common) and rarely take time away; time off is time to focus on research without the distractions that are part and parcel of the dynamic semester. No leg of this three-legged stool is more important than the other; they are all indispensable to the function of any serious research institution.

The above explains one reason why the myth that all professors do is teach “two courses a semester” is so absurd. If one merely looks at the cohort of people being described this way—check out the CVs of professors in any department at UConn—what you find are people who have been among the most successful of their cohort for their entire lives. In other words, they are demon workers. Becoming an academic is choosing a path that is always against long odds. Academics are essentially entrepreneurs: they make everything happen for themselves, creating opportunity out of whole cloth. They must have the capacity to develop innovative ideas for their research, convince funding agencies to support it, and then get well-established peers to publish their results. They have their accomplishments vetted with a scrutiny that would be hard to fathom in most other professions. What is different about professors compared to other entrepreneurs is that they are primarily motivated by their love of knowledge, teaching, and discovery. These priorities are why, despite years of salary freezes and being asked to do more with less, UConn professors have dug in to support their institution. They strongly believe in its public mission.

Finally, two classes per semester is not an arbitrary number somehow chosen for UConn; it is the global standard for a research university. To ignore this standard by increasing the teaching load would effectively transform UConn into a backwater. To remain competitive, our most productive researchers would be forced to look for work elsewhere. Over the longer term, UConn would no longer attract premier scholars, whether as teachers or as students. From economic engine and knowledge-generating hub the university would be relegated into a merely buttressing role, and over time that change would seriously diminish Connecticut’s ability to compete. The already approved cuts will wound us, but the current state budget proposal is suicide.

This editorial was written by Jennifer Terni

LCL Turns Out to Support UConn’s Core Missions

LCL’s faculty and graduate students turned out in force at the state’s capitol in Hartford Friday afternoon to support the core mission at UConn: providing an affordable degree to Connecticut students and to act as an engine of innovation for Connecticut now and in the future. Despite years of austerity since 2010, a period during the state has reduced its appropriation to UConn by $142 million, the university’s ranking and competiveness have consistently improved despite layoffs, pay freezes, and other cuts. Ironically, just four days prior to the budget vote, UConn received its highest-ever ranking from U.S. News & World Report, which rates the University as the 18th best public school in the country alongside the University of Texas and Purdue.
The budget approved last week by the General Assembly would reduce the state appropriation to the University of Connecticut by just shy of 30 percent from where it currently stands, meaning campuses would close, financial aid would be slashed, and thousands of jobs in the private economy would be lost.
Although the full effect of such an unprecedented cut is difficult to know, President Susan Herbst said in a message to the University community they would include the possibility of closing UConn Health (which treats 1 million patients each year) and some regional campuses; ending some Division I sports; closing some academic departments and potentially some schools and colleges; enacting major reductions to all financial aid; and ending international programs, among others. Herbst supported an earlier proposed budget that would have cut the University’s funding by $108 million over the next two years. Under the budget approved by the legislature, UConn would see its state appropriation cut by $309 million in just two years.
The adopted budget would bring the advancement that UConn has made to a halt, but its impact would not be limited to the University. According to a 2015 analysis by the Tripp Umbach research firm, UConn accounts for more than $3.4 billion worth of economic activity in Connecticut every year, and sustains one in every 90 jobs in the state, more than half of them in the private sector.

What’s more, UConn has a proven track record in keeping talented young college graduates in Connecticut, something the state has struggled to do in recent years. While more than 39,000 people between the ages of 20 and 34 left Connecticut in 2014 alone, 78 percent of recent UConn grads from Connecticut remain here.
Graduating in four years would become a significant challenge as class sizes balloon and waitlists lengthen; top Connecticut students, like the record number of valedictorians and salutatorians that were part of this year’s freshman class, would go to other states for college; and businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to local restaurants, which rely on UConn, would be damaged.
“It is difficult to describe how destructive the approved budget would be to UConn and higher education in Connecticut,” Herbst wrote.





Sourced from material that originally appeared in UConn Today on September 20 and 21.