Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures to hold first annual Spring Symposium

Mack Foley, A&C Reporter

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures is holding Spring Symposium on March 26 in Room 412 of Anne Belk Library. The event will run from 8:45 a.m.-5:15 p.m. and will feature 14 presenters, discussing their research on topics like poetry translation, linguistics and teaching methods. It’s intended to serve as a way to connect with students and the community and give teachers an opportunity to catch up on each other’s work, said Jean-Francois Fournier, assistant professor and symposium organizer.

“People wanted to get to know each other,” Fournier said. “We work every day in the language department, but we thought it would be interesting to know what we do outside of class when it comes to research.”

Fournier said professors in the department thought it was important to share their research and teaching methods with each other and the community, and a symposium kept coming back as their best option. The department used to host brown bag lunches, wherein teachers in the department would pack their lunches and listen to a colleague present research while they ate. However, it was difficult for professors who taught during lunch hours to attend, and the idea ultimately fell off, said Catherine Fountain, a professor who is speaking about using authentic cultural resources in language classes.

“If you’re a faculty member and you’re here on campus, you’re usually holding office hours or planning for your classes, then you go off and teach,” said Brent James, a senior lecturer who is speaking about using podcasts and radio stories in classes. “When you’re here, there’s not a whole lot of time to discuss the more personal and professional aspects of the job.”

In 2018, the department did a test run of the symposium as a mini-conference on literature, and it went well enough to expand upon it. The literary theme was also dropped to include a wider array of presenters and topics.

“I think sometimes, people have the impression that all we do in languages, literatures and cultures is just teach language, so it’s partly a way to show that we’re doing a lot of different things,” Fountain said.

In addition to LLC professors, two presenters from out of the department will also speak. Leon Lewis, a professor emeritus from the English department, and Don Presnell, associate director of university college advising, will present. A graduate student from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who will join the DLLC next year will also be attending. The additions are part of a plan to connect people at App State and in the community and help them better understand what goes on in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

“In their research, people are going to have centers of interest that are going to potentially interest other people in the community,” Fournier said. “Some people working with foreign languages also work with native speakers, so you have social implications that are wider than linguistics and literature.”

The symposium is broken down into five categories throughout the day: enriching our pedagogy, poetry in translation, reading fiction, linguistics and creative writing. Each section will feature individual talks and Q&A sessions, but some will also host multi-person discussions.

In years to come, the department hopes to expand the concept by increasing frequency or the size and scope of the event. If it goes as intended, the symposium will help the people within the department connect, but it will also get other departments and the community involved as well.  

“What we want to do is to make it a little bit more developed with other types of activities and workshops,” Fournier said. “We’re going to move to another building next year, so we don’t know where it’s going to take place, but eventually, we want the symposium to last more than a day.”