E-Net News

Students of French present at inaugural Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Elon hosted students, faculty and staff from Elon and regional universities at its first Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures.

Panelists Anna Taylor from UNC-CH and Nicole Ackman and Janat Bashir from Elon. 
Elon alumnae Christina Peterson '10 and Maggie Liston '16 (currently in Paris and joining via Skype) offered students advice on how to connect their language and culture studies to their professional future.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Elon hosted students, faculty and staff from Elon and regional universities at its first Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures.

Students, faculty, and staff from Elon, Wake Forest University, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University gathered for the day-long conference exploring “Perspectives sur le monde français et francophone” (Perspectives on the French and Francophone World). The conference was generously sponsored by the Fund for Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, Elon College of Arts and Sciences, the Student Professional Development Center, the Office of Alumni Engagement, and the Department of World Languages and Cultures, and was organized by Professor Patti Burns, lecturer of French in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.  

During morning and afternoon panels as well as a poster session, students from Elon, UNC-CH and Wake Forest presented both finished work and work in progress. Their research in French was on topics that ranged from the depiction of sexual violence in medieval fabliaux to the narrative voices of contemporary French graphic novels. During lunch, Michael Garval of N.C. State University gave the plenary lecture “L’anatomie de la célébrité culinaire : le chef et ses mains,” describing the rise in stature of the position of chef to its current celebrity status. 

The final conference event was a Professionalization Panel during which two Elon alumnae, Christina Peterson ’10 and Margaret (Maggie) Liston ’16, talked about their own personal and professional journeys related to engagement with foreign languages and cultures. While both Peterson and Liston have used their French professionally, they reminded students that deep knowledge of another language and culture is always viewed positively by potential employers (whether or not the language is a prerequisite for the position) because it demonstrates open-mindedness, an ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and a willingness to engage with difference.

French professors Adamson, Burns, Choplin, and Glasco hope that the conference will become an annual event that will expand to include panels in additional languages in the future. Seeing and hearing advanced students present their research early in their college careers can be a true motivator for first year students like conference attendee Elizabeth McFarland, who commented: “I’m grateful to the presenters for their willingness to speak in front of their audience in a second language, and for showing me that it is possible to get to that point myself one day. I’m jealous of their fluency in the language and their ability to understand questions and answer them in French. Attending this conference has given me a goal to work towards and has furthered my love for French culture and language.”


Olivia Choplin,
9/26/2016 3:40 PM