Spring 2019 RGSLL Department Newsletter

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

Message From the Chair

Antonio Lopez



Welcome to the George Washington University Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Our department is home to a remarkable group of teachers and scholars of Russian, German, Spanish, Italian and French languages and literatures. The department’s faculty has been busy all year with scholarship in a variety of areas, from the analysis of literary and cultural works to the teaching of language and linguistics. Their specific achievements are highlighted in our newsletter.

In our classrooms, we excel in the study of languages and in the close, historical and contextualized study of literature and culture. Our majors take specialized courses that dig deep into a particular topic, and 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.

Our faculty is innovative in the classroom and in their research. 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

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Department Spotlights

Guiding Faculty to Online Teaching Success

Professor Ariadna Pichs films a lecture for her online course, developed with the help of the team of online learning specialists at GWLAI. (Harrison Jones, CCAS ‘19)

Professor Ariadna Pichs films a lecture for her online course, developed with the help of the team of online learning specialists at GWLAI. (Harrison Jones, CCAS ‘19)


Professor Ariadna Pichs had a dilemma. Her Advanced Spanish Writing course had a limited capacity to allow students time for discussion, but it was also in high demand because it satisfied a writing requirement. How could she preserve the quality of the course while making it available to more students? Pichs decided to offer her course online, leading her to the innovative teaching and learning team of GW Libraries and Academic Innovation (GWLAI).

Instructional designers, teaching and learning specialists, instructional technologists, graphic designers, videographers and librarians partner with faculty to transform a traditional course into an effective and engaging online course. “Faculty know their courses inside and out. We help them to envision new ways for their students to achieve course goals and learning objectives in an online environment,” said Maddy Kadish, leader of GWLAI’s team of instructional designers.

Even though Pichs had previously worked with GWLAI staff on her hybrid course—held partly in person and partly online—she still found the process of creating a fully online course daunting. “I didn’t know what I was getting into, just to be honest,” Pichs said. She started her process with a workshop covering the big picture of teaching online. “The workshop gave me a broad overview of the process, but more importantly, it set deadlines for each step of the process. That helped me very much.”

She met regularly with Kadish and her team to develop new learning activities and assessments, as well as to ensure that the course met federal requirements and university policy. “In my mind, it was very different,” said Pichs. She hadn’t previously considered providing information to her students about “netiquette”—expectations for students conversing online—or how to conduct office hours. “It was so many things I wasn’t aware of before.”

At Kadish’s suggestion, Pichs scripted the lectures that the team recorded on video as a part of the course. Compared to an in-person course, in which Pichs could easily leverage students’ questions to discuss related points, the online course needed to have video content that was engaging for online students who weren’t live. “It was short and efficient,” Pichs said.

Pichs’ students provided positive evaluations at the end of the course, and Pichs found the support of GWLAI’s teaching and learning team invaluable. “It was a good experience, to be honest. I was afraid at first when I saw the amount of work and the deadlines. I said, ‘Okay, this is going to be insane.’ But in the end, it wasn’t.”

This article originally appeared in GWLAI’s Vision Magazine.

Imperial Idiocy: A Reflection on Forced Displacement in the Americas

Imperial Idiocy: A Reflection on Forced Displacement in the Americas



In his book Imperial Idiocy: A Reflection on Forced Displacement in the Americas, Associate Professor of Spanish Christopher Britt Arredondo  aims to pierce through the layers of comfort, security, and prosperity that numb “imperial idiots “in the United States of America to the suffering of the displaced in Colombia and Mexico.

In her review of the book, Margarita Serje from the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, wrote:
"From the first to last paragraph, this book Christopher Britt Arredondo unsettles us with a shocking force similar to that of the avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century. We are shocked to discover the cruelty and suffering that accompany the more than 65 million people in the world today who have been violently displaced from their homes. We are also shocked to learn that all this cruel suffering is tied to the displacement of intellectuals from the public sphere and their resettlement in the privatized realms of moral, intellectual, and political idiocy. Recalling that for the ancient Greeks idiocy was an abject condition suffered by individuals who had abandoned their social bonds and responsibilities, to say nothing of their creative potential, in order to selfishly pursue their private interests, Britt Arredondo leads us through a variety of ethnographic experiences that unfold in overlapping contexts of physical, emotional, cultural, political, and economic displacement. While focused on the forced displacement of ordinary families in Colombia and Mexico, Britt Arredondo proposes a suggestive reflection on the displaced position of contemporary intellectuals in his own country: the United States of America. This discussion is crucial for Latin America, where intellectuals and academics have traditionally sought to speak from a place that lies somewhere between science and politics. Although intellectuals in Latin America have played an active role in the construction of nations and states—contributing with the creation of utopias and counter-utopias and even proposing “research in action” as a political project of knowledge production—, this tradition is now subject to the same destructive processes of privatization that Christopher Britt Arredondo analyzes in Imperial Idiocy."

Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of the Iberian Manuscript, 1100-1600

Cultures of the Fragment



The majority of medieval and sixteenth-century Iberian manuscripts, whether in Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, or Aljamiado (Spanish written in Arabic script), contain fragments or are fragments. The term fragment is used to describe not only isolated bits of manuscript material with a damaged appearance, but also any piece of a larger text that was intended to be a fragment. Investigating the vital role these fragments played in medieval and early modern Iberian manuscript culture, Assistant Professor of Spanish Literature Heather Bamford’s Cultures of the Fragment is focused on fragments from five major Iberian literary traditions, including Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Hebrew poetry, Latin and Castilian epics, chivalric romances and the literature of early modern crypto-Muslims.

Bamford argues that while some manuscript fragments came about by accident, many were actually created on purpose and used in a number of ways, from binding materials, to anthology excerpts, and some fragments were even incorporated into sacred objects as messages of good luck. Examining four main motifs of fragmentation, including intention, physical appearance, metonymy, and performance, this work reveals the centrality of the fragment to manuscript studies, highlighting the significance of the fragment to Iberia’s multicultural and multilingual manuscript culture.

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Department Announcements 

Faculty Kudos

Naming the Dawn by Abdourahman A. Waberi



Abdourahman A. Waberi, assistant professor of French and Francophone literature, authored a volume of poetry titled Naming the Dawn which is introspective and inquisitive, reflecting a deep spiritual bond—with words, with the history of Islam and its great poets and with the landscapes in which those poets and Waberi himself have walked.

The poems in Waberi’s volume are introspective and inquisitive, reflecting a deep spiritual bond—with words, with the history of Islam and its great poets, with the landscapes those poets walked, among which Waberi grew up. The sage yearns here for the simplicity of each individual moment to somehow become eternal, for the histories and people that are part of him—his mother, his wife, his unborn child, the sacred texts that ground his being—to come together harmoniously within him, and to emerge through his words. Lyrical and personal, but with powerful historical and cultural resonances, these poems are the work of a master at the height of his powers.

Dolores Perillan was the organizer of the planning team for The Chavez, Huerta, Itlong and the farmworkers movement, Day of Celebration and Call to Action on March 29. 2019.  She works with the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service along with sponsorship from other GW organizations and offices. The program fosters relationships between GW and the D.C. community, exploring the values and impact of the movement, while advocating for the social justice issues that still affect our society today.

Kathryn Kleppinger was cited in an article about the French rapper Booba’s legal troubles and the ways in which he uses social media to communicate directly with his fans. 

Philippa Rappoport was cited by The Washington Post Express in the article “15 monster mashups even Halloween haters will love.”

Other faculty publications include:

  • Peter RollbergMarlene Laruelle, eds., Mass Media in the Post-Soviet World: Market Forces, State Actors, and Political Manipulation in the Informational Environment after Communism.
  • Lynn Lara Westwater, “Girolamo Dandini,” Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History (Vol. 9, Western and Southern Europe), Ed. David Thomas and John Chesworth, et al.
  • Co-edited and -translated with Diana Robin, co-authored critical introduction, Ippolita Maria Sforza, Duchess and Hostage in Renaissance Naples: Letters and Orations., Iter Press and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,
  • Mary Beth Stein, “Narratives of Stasi Detention: Memory and History at the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Museum,” Narrative Culture, 2017 Jun, 2016, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 231-254.
  • Margaret GonglewskiBeverly MoserCornelius Partsch, Treffpunkt Deutsch, Seventh Edition, Pearson, 2018
  • Manuel R. Cuellar, “La escenificación de lo mexicano y la interpelación de un público nacional: la Noche Mexicana de 1921,” Mexican Transnational Cinema and Literature, 2017 Oct, “La escenificación de lo mexicano y la interpelación de un público nacional: la Noche Mexicana de 1921.” Mexican Transnational Cinema and Literature. Eds. Maricruz Castro Ricalde, Mauricio Díaz Calderón, and James Ramey. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2017. 123-140.
  • María J. de la Fuente, Puntos de Encuentro: a cross-cultural approach oto Advanced Spanish, 2nd edition, Cognella Publishers, 978-1-5165-1173-0, 2017 Jul.
  • Sergio Waisman, Viajes y traducciones: Miradas desviadas de (y con) Piglia, Conversaciones del Cono Sur: Magazine of Southern Cone Studies, 2017 Dec


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Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Marianne Broadwell, BA ’65, and her husband, Larry, have been back in the D.C. area since 1994. They are enjoying old friends and GW basketball games. She is a volunteer at the National Zoo which she finds so rewarding, being involved with the education and conservation of the zoo!

Alice Conde, BA ’68, was an event planner for medical societies for 40+ years and was constantly travelling. She now enjoys her time at home with husband Chris Utter and visits from her Phillips School friends. She works part time and still loves travelling!

Robert Davis, BA ’06, is employed in the El Paso, Texas, office of chief counsel field office of immigration and customs enforcement. He is the designated local point of contact to litigate the removal of human rights  persecutors and individuals who pose national security threats.

Colleen Fisher, BA ’07, is the director of the U.S. Commercial Service office in Maryland. She directs a team of six trade professionals that assist U.S. companies export internationally.

José Ginarte, BA ’11, became a photo editor at The New Yorker, where he commissioned photo stories and wrote about photography after a stint in civil rights law. He is now a senior photo editor and creative director at A+E Networks. He is getting married in August.

Kimberly Knight Wayland, BA ’78, lived overseas and taught English post-graduation. On her return, she worked as a translator on USAID contracts. From 1993-1996, Kimberly attended law school full time. Currently, she is corporate counsel for a local small business.

Sahira Long, BA ’95, earned a doctorate of medicine from GW in 1999. She is a community-based general academic pediatrician and the medical director of the Children's Health Center located in Anacostia (Washington, D.C.).

Julia Loyd, BA ’04, moved back to her home state of Colorado in January 2017, where she currently works as a health regulatory attorney for DaVita. Julia and her husband, Yair Ghitza, a political statistician, welcomed their first child, a boy named Noah in June 2018.

Sarah Moga, BA ’13, has recently taken on a new position as the director of member engagement at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City, where she uses her German language background from GW each day in maintaining over 150 years of historical records.

Mary Moreno, BS ’12, is now a product manager at Healthgrades, a healthcare tech company located in Denver. She uses her linguistic abilities and analytical mindset to fill gaps between the c-level, engineering, design and marketing and sales teams.

Brian O'Dwyer, BA ’66, was selected as the grand marshal of the New York Saint Patrick's Day parade. He led New York’s Irish community up Fifth Avenue on March 16, 2019.

Jorge Ordenes, PhD ’82, retired from IMF in 1995. Jorge taught in Bolivian universities where he is still a consultant. Jorge is a columnist in several Bolivian and Venezuelan media and is a member of Academia Boliviana de la Lengua. He lives part of the year in Bolivia.

Maria Steiner-Smith, BA ’85, says her Spanish language and literature served her well. She uses it in her work as an assistant attorney general for D.C. handling domestic violence and vulnerable adult cases for Adult Protective Services.

Mary Trina Bolton, BA ’05, works at the U.S. Department of State as a sports diplomacy officer in the Bureau of Cultural & Educational Affairs. Full circle since she ran XC at GW and now focuses on international sports programs with an office in Foggy Bottom!

Christina Vázquez Mauricio, BA ’08, is the department chair of Secondary World Languages for the Darien Public Schools in Darien, Conn.

Barry Weingarten, BA ’72, retired from Johns Hopkins University after nearly 20 years as senior lecturer in Spanish and coordinator of intermediate spanish. He is still an adjunct full professor at UMUC, where he teaches introductory Spanish online.

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Donor Recognition


The Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous donors who made a gift to the department from January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018.

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

Dr. Warren D. Ashby, BA ’61, MA ’66 #

John R. Cremer

Alicia Maria Falzon, Ph.D., PhD ’88

Alexandra M. Fisher, BA ’12

Dr. Maria J. Fuente #

Daniel H. Gallagher, BA ’75

Julie E. Harris-Scherzer, BA ’88

Christopher Blair Hill, BA ’11

Carolyn Hughes Hueston, MA ’72

Durriyyah R. Jackson, BA ’06, MS ’17 

William E. Kaduck

Thomas E. McCullough #

Amanda C. McGuire, BA ’18

Renee May Meyer, MA ’77

Sarah Alyse Moga, BA ’13

Mark E. Richter, BA ’79

Faye M. Sholiton, BA ’70

Jonathan Thomas Vasdekas, BA ’12

Maria Soukhanova Watson, BA ’67, MA ’72 

Margit Angelika Williams, MA ’77

Kristen L. Zaehringer, BA ’02

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