2008 GAFIS Symposium

The Graduate Association of French and Italian Students
is pleased to announce the 21st Annual

GAFIS Symposium

Engaged/Engaging Texts:
The Power of the Written and Spoken Word

April 4-5, 2008
The University of Wisconsin-Madison


Keynote Speaker

Prof. Scheub

Prof. Harold Scheub

A professor of African languages and literature at the University

of Wisconsin-Madison, Harold Scheub has taught and conducted research in eastern and southern Africa. He has spent ten years in Africa.

African Tales (2005)

During four year-long trips to that continent, Professor Scheub has walked some six thousand miles, collecting oral stories, poetry, and history, which he shares with his students in courses and seminars that he teaches. He has been on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin since 1970.

Professor Scheub will be speaking at
4:00pm at

The French House
633 N Frances St.
Madison, WI 53703

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Mission statement of the GAFIS symposium

The Graduate Student Symposium of GAFIS, now in its 21st year, provides a forum for intellectual and scholarly exchange in a positive collegial atmosphere. Interdisciplinary in nature, this national event gives future colleagues the chance to meet each other and to hear about current issues in upcoming research. Excellence and pertinence are assured through an anonymous and peer juried selection process.

Basic criteria for the selection process:

  1. Presentations must address the topic of the symposium, respecting all constraints given in the call.
  2. Presentations should be innovative, problematizing the chosen issue within a theoretical framework.
  3. Presentations should be organized into focused panels that clearly complement each other.

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Call for papers

"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity." Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)

In his epic poem the "Stanzas for the Joust", the Italian poet Poliziano describes at length the palaces of Venus, including the ekphrasis of two very beautiful and imaginary paintings depicting the goddess€™s birth and her presence in a highly symbolic nature scene. The master Renaissance painter, Botticelli, was later commissioned to realize these images for the Medici family. These two paintings, The Birth of Venus€ and La Primavera,€ have since become emblematic of the Italian Renaissance. Just as the poetry of Poliziano was brought into a tangible reality, so too in his Cahier d€™un retour au pays natal, Aimé Césaire uses revolutionary language to inspire change and alter thinking fixed in a colonial past. As these examples illustrate, written and spoken words hold powerful sway over their readers and listeners, whether inspiring creativity, prompting political change or providing diversion and instruction. From oral traditions to Renaissance frescoes, from political theater to manifestos, from written texts to their filmic representations, words when formed and strung together act on those who receive them, shaping thoughts, philosophies, and cultures. This symposium will also examine the relationship between the reader and the text (the listener and the music, the viewer and the play). This relationship is never static or unidirectional: new eyes and new ears shape the texts they encounter and in turn are profoundly changed.

We welcome 250-350 word abstracts for papers that examine the ways in which texts and readers engage one another. How do we make literature relevant? How do texts engage us? How do we engage with texts? Possible topics (among others) could include:

  • Reinterpretations of texts, their adaptations, and uses in other unrelated€ fields.
  • The impact and relevance (political, social, personal) of texts (words) on readers / listeners / viewers.
  • Engaging students with literature in the classroom.


Symposium presentations should be in English, twenty minutes in length, and may address a topic from any period or discipline. Please submit your abstract by e-mail attachment no later than Friday, February 1, 2008 to Mary Claypool and Loren Eadie, symposium co-chairs, at gafis_symposium2008@hotmail.com.

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2008 Schedule

The 21st Annual GAFIS Symposium
Engaged / Engaging Texts: The Power of the Written and the Spoken Word

Click here for presenter biographies.

Click here for abstracts.

Friday, April 4th


3:00 - 3:45

La Maison Française
633 N. Frances St.

3:45 - 4:00

Opening Remarks and Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Mary Claypool and Loren Eadie
Symposium Co-Chairs

4:00 - 5:00

Keynote Address
Harold Scheub, Professor, Department of African Languages and Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison

5:00 - 5:30

Opening Reception
Music provided by pianist Anna Bachman and violinist Renée Anne Poulin



Saturday, April 5th


9:15 - 9:45

Registration and Coffee

9:45 - 10:00

Symposium Welcome
Christopher Kleinhenz, Professor Emeritus, Department of French and Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison

10:00 - 11:15

Panel 1 - Reader as Writer: Actively Engaging the Audience
Morgridge Auditorium, Grainger Hall 1100
Moderator: Anna Bachman

Nicole Lindenstein, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Engaging the Reader Through Laughter in Leopardi€™s Operette morali

Alison Vander Woude, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Engaging the Spectator through the Universal in Denis Diderot۪s Le Fils naturel and Le P̬re de famille

Maria Giulia Carone, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The New Prometheus: The Renaissance Man between ars dicendi and ars inveniendi

11:15 - 11:30

Short break

11:30 - 12:30

Panel 2 - Memorializing History: Engaging with the Past to Make it Present
Morgridge Auditorium, Grainger Hall 1100
Moderator: Sandra Simmons

Elizabeth Applegate, New York University
Writing by Duty of Memory: Texts from the Rwandan Genocide

Nataša Bašic', University of Wisconsin-Madison
L€™Incontournable: Today€™s Science Writing and its Use of Marcel Proust€™s A la recherche du temps perdu

12:45 - 2:00

La Maison Française
633 N. Frances St.

2:15 - 3:15

Panel 3 - Transcending Borders: Orality as a Means of Engagement with the Other
Morgridge Auditorium, Grainger Hall 1100
Moderator: Olivia Donaldson

Antoine Bargel, University of Oregon
A Voice in History: Jorge Semprun and the Declamation of Poetry

Peter Vakunta, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Orality Through Literacy: Narrative Techniques in Ahmadou Kourouma€™s Novels

3:15 - 3:30

Short break

3:30 - 4:45

Panel 4 - Pedagogical Spaces: Instruction as Engagement
Morgridge Auditorium, Grainger Hall 1100
Moderator: Kaitlin Duda

Ryan Schroth, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Staged and Engaged, or Teaching (the Taboo) Sade to Undergraduates

Barbara Bird, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Minding the Gap: A Linguistic Perspective on Literacy in the Foreign Language Literature Curriculum

Martha Goodge, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reading Rumors: Narrative Formation in La Princesse de Clèves

4:45 - 5:00

Short break

5:00 - 5:45

Roundtable discussion: A lively debate between faculty and students about the relevance of literature today and the direction of the profession
Grainger Hall 1175
Moderators: Loren Eadie and Mary Claypool

Thomas Cravens, Professor of Italian
Ritt Deitz, Director of the Professional French Masters Program
Ernesto Livorni, Associate Professor of Italian
Laurey Martin-Berg, Distinguished Lecturer of French
Anne Vila, Professor of French

5:45 - 6:00

Closing Remarks
Grainger Hall 1175
Aliko Songolo, Professor of French and Chair, Department of French and Italian

6:00 - 7:00

Cocktail Hour
The Angelic
322 W. Johnson St




Symposium Co-Chairs Mary Claypool and Loren Eadie
Catering Stephanie Spadaro (chair), Linda Brindeau
Communications Tina Petraglia (co-chair), Melody Niwot (co-chair), Nataša Bašic'
Posters Alison Vander Woude
Moderators Anna Bachman, Olivia Donaldson, Kaitlin Duda, Sandra Simmons

Anna Bachman and Renée Anne Poulin

Photography Linda Brindeau, Martha Goodge, Ryan Schroth
Reading Theresa Pesavento (chair), Anna Bachman, Kailin Duda, Matteo Gilebbi, Nabil Khawla, Mouhamedoul Niang, Chad Shorter, Sandra Simmons
Welcoming Martha Goodge (co-chair), Nicole Lindenstein (co-chair), Ryan Schroth (co-chair), Anna Bachman, Linda Brindeau, Tina Petraglia, Claudia Romanelli
Webpage Andrew Irving
Special Thanks Cheryl Arn, Daniel Audaz, Gilles Bousquet, Conference Services, Thomas Cravens, Ritt Dietz, Sue Grass, Andrew Irving, Christopher Kleinhenz, Ernesto Livorni, Laurey Martin-Berg, Casey Nagy, Mary Noles, Andrea Palm, Harold Scheub, Aliko Songolo, Anne Vila
Caterers The French House, Grainger Hall / Conference Services
Sponsors The Department of French and Italian, GAFIS, Brittingham Fund


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coming soon

General Inquiries:

Please Send all questions regarding the Symposium to the
Graduate Student Symposium co-chairs:
Mary Claypool & Loren Eadie

Housing & Transportation: Housing and transportation form

Audio/Visual/IT: Equipment resuest form

Please send all inquiries to (Technology Chair, name coming soon). To request any type of equipment, please download, fill out, and email the equipment request form above.

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abstract form.doc20.5 KB
Housing_&_Transportation_Forms.doc32.5 KB
IT_equipment_checklist.doc24 KB