Department News, Spring 2020

Department of Romance, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences seal - a student sitting in a square in Madrid.

Editor's Note: This newsletter was written prior to the covid-19 outbreak and resulting pandemic.

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Kudos
Class Notes
Donor Recognition

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the George Washington University Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Walk down the hall of our suite on the fifth floor of Phillips Hall and you will see our department buzzing with activity. We are home to a remarkable group of Instructors and scholars of Russian, German, Spanish, Italian and French languages and literatures.

As in years past, our faculty have been busy all year with scholarship in a variety of areas. Some of us do literary and cultural analysis, publishing books and in journals. Others of us produce work in the teaching of language and in the various fields of linguistics, and you will see our articles and textbooks as evidence of this commitment to the teaching and study of language. The specific achievements of RGSLL faculty are highlighted in our newsletter.

Meanwhile, in our classrooms, we excel in the study of languages and in the close, historical and contextualized study of literature and culture. As has always been the case, our majors take specialized courses that dig deep into particular topics. We also offer courses of broad interest to students everywhere in the university, from those who wish to learn a language in depth to others who are looking to study the writing, film and music of a particular nation or linguistic region.

Faculty innovation in the classroom and in research is high. They are generous with their time and expertise. We are excited to bring to the university the best of our research and teaching.

Antonio López
Interim Chair, Associate Professor of English 

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Department Spotlights



Dr. Margaret Gonglewski, associate professor of German and international affairs, celebrates 25 years at GW in 2020. She came to GW to direct the German language program in 1995, after completing her PhD in German at Georgetown University. Her scholarly work focuses on foreign language pedagogy, and she is co-author of Treffpunkt Deutsch, one of the top introductory level German textbook programs in North America. 

Professor Gonglewski has published articles on topics such as effective uses of technology in language teaching and learning, critical issues in materials selection, teaching sustainability, and Business Language Studies. As faculty director of Business Language Programs at the GW Center for International Business Education and Research (funded by a grant from the Department of Education), Professor Gonglewski works on cross-disciplinary projects that link the study of language and culture to international business theory and practice. She recently spearheaded the relaunch of Global Business Languages, which she co-edits with GW Associate Professor of Arabic, Mohssen Esseesy. The journal publishes cutting-edge scholarship within the field of Language for Specific Purposes.



Dr. Peter Rollberg came to GW in 1991 after teaching at Duke University. Among his many honors and accomplishments, he is a professor of Slavic languages, film studies in the RGSLL Department, and director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) in the Elliot School of International Affairs. His main field of expertise is Russian literature and film, as well as Georgian and Kazakh cinema. He was born in Halberstadt, Germany, and studied at Lomonosov University in Moscow and at the University of Leipzig where he earned his PhD in 1988.

Professor Rollberg’s publications include articles in Russian, English and German on Pushkin, Dostoevskii, Tolstoi, Bulgakov, and filmmakers such as Yakov Protazanov and Sergei Bondarchuk. In 1993, the Kennan Institute included his monograph Invisible Transcendence: Vladimir Makanin’s Outsiders in its Occasional Papers series. In 1996, he published volume 10 of The Modern Encyclopedia of East Slavic, Baltic, and Eurasian Literatures (Academic International Press) and, in 1997, a festschrift in honor of Charles Moser, entitled And Meaning for a Life Entire. His Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema was published in 2009 (second, enlarged edition 2016). In 2018, Professor Rollberg edited the volume Mass Media in the Post-Soviet World (with Marlene Laruelle).


Dr. Abdourahman A. Waberi teaches French and Francophone literature in the RGSLL Department and is a columnist for Le Monde Diplomatique. He is a critically-acclaimed writer born in what is now the Republic of Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa, located between Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Professor Waberi’s work has been translated into more than 10languages. His themes include living simple lives based on spirituality and meditation, nomadic life, Arab culture, religious tolerance and hostile climate and civil wars in Djibouti. A few of his many works are Le Pays Sans Ombre (The Country without Shadow), Cahier nomade (Nomad Notebook), Transit (Transit), Moisson de crânes (Harvest of Skulls) and Naming the Dawn (poems), translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson. Among his many awards are the Donald and Susan Newhouse Center Humanities Fellow at Wellesley College, USA, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Academie de France Villa Medici fellow in Roma, Italy. In 2017, he was profiled in the CCAS Spotlight newsmagazine.

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Department Kudos


  • Dr. Masha Belenky, Engine of Modernity: The Omnibus and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris, 2019.
  • Dr. Lynn Westwater, Sarra Copia Sulam: A Jewish Salonnière and the Press in Counter-Reformation Venice, 2019.
  • Dr. Richard Robin et al., Political Russian, 2019.
  • Dr. Sergio Waisman, “El milagro secreto de Emilio Renzi: Otra vuelta a la novela del porvenir,” Cuadernos LIRICO.


  • Dr. Peter Rollberg, Carnegie Foundation of New York.
  • Dr. Margaret Gonglewski, CIBER Award.


  • Dr. Masha Belenky, “Chère Madame: Emmeline Raymond writes to George Sand,” Society of Dix-Neuvièmistes.
  • Dr. Yvonne Captain, “‘African’ Surnamed Families in the Americas: 17th Century to Today,” Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora.
  • Dr. Manuel R. Cuellar, “Nahuatl Un/Certainties and Black Imaginaries in the Mesoamerican Archive: Diario de Domingo de San Antón Muñón Chimalpahin,” Northeastern Group of Nahuatl Scholars, and "El lugar sin límites: On Latin American Queer Representations", LGBTQ Film and Literature in Latin America.
  • Dr. Maria J. de la Fuente, “Languages Across the Curriculum: Understanding Sustainability from the Foreign Language Perspective,” Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
  • Dr. Margaret Gonglewski & Anna Helm, “Consumer Behavior: Exploring Cross-Cultural Factors for Teaching Language and Culture,” Workshop at Western Washington University.
  • Margaret Gonglewski & Christopher Gwin, “Powerfrauen: Integrating Women in German Language and Culture,” Northeast Modern Language Association.
  • Dr. Kathryn Kleppinger, “Jean Beaman, Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France,” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
  • Dr. Peter Rollberg, “Founding Father: Shaken Aimanov, the Man at the Core of Kazakh Cinema,” Voices on Central Asia
  • Dr. Victor A. Valdivia Ruiz, “Hablar y aprender español en los EE.UU.: ¿oportunidad, privilegio oderecho?” Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese

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Class Notes

Shannon Creedon, BBA, MS ’03, is a senior manager at Deloitte in Shrewsbury, Mass. Her family hosts au pairs from Germany annually to share in cultural exchange and help with three boys.

Nancy Gittleman, BA ’83, is a travel agency manager in downtown Denver selling group travel for international medical relief.

Kasia Kucharski, BA ’15, works at a news tech company based in New York City as an analyst and news-gatherer covering Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. She uses her fluency in Russian to find events as they break on Russian-language social media and local news outlets.

Sarah Moga, BA ’13, continues using her German language skills interfacing with congregation members and donors at Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan. She is working towards her C1 certification in her spare time at the Goethe Institut in New York.

Merve Willard, BA ’10, lives in Turkey and helping run Verim Kabin Co. Ltd. as the financial affairs manager.

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Donor Recognition


The Department of Romance, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the program from January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Andrew Allard, BA ’19

Warren Ashby, BA ’61, MA ’66

Kerry De Haven, BA ’71

Cynthia Figueroa, BBA ’12

Daniel Gallagher, BA ’75

William Kaduck, BA ’14

Rachel Landsberg, BA ’14

Jesse Leon, BA ’19

Renee Meyer, MA ’77

Sarah Moga, BA ’13

Mark Richter, BBA ’79

Nancy Rogers, MA ’70, PhD ’74

Cristol Wagner ~

Maria Watson, BA ’67, MA ’72

Margit Williams, MA ’77

Kristen Zaehringer, BA ’00

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