Please join us in congratulating this year's Fall 2020 degree recipients! We are proud of you and all you have done!
Juan Jimenez-Diaz, PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
My doctoral thesis examines the theme of wandering in contemporary French and Francophone literature as that theme is exemplified in the works of five authors: Marie Redonnet, Marie NDiaye, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Antoine Volodine, and Patrick Deville. My hypothesis is that each of these writers uses the figure of the wanderer to look critically at traditional paradigms of space, identity and history. My study frames and interprets wandering in new ways by connecting it to the contemporary issues these authors address, such as mass illegal immigration and exile, the rise of racism and xenophobia, the lasting consequences of the wars and revolutions of the past century, and the painful process of colonization and decolonization through the present.
Specifically, my thesis argues that wandering in these authors’ works is an uncertain and risky path of escape and experimentation, rather than a resolution or redemption, as other critics have previously suggested. I would suggest that paradoxically wandering often doesn’t bring changes for the characters in the works I am studying. Rather, wandering in many cases leads to new types of discriminations, violence, and oppression that cannot be overcome. Nevertheless, the new failures brought on by wandering should not be seen as devoid of value, but rather as a means of resistance.
I would like to congratulate Juan Jiménez Diaz on earning his Ph.D. in our program. Juan came to our Ph.D. program in French in August 2014, equipped with a B.A. degree in Didactics and Foreign Language Instruction from the Universidad de Antioquia, in his native Colombia (1999); a maîtrise in Letters, Language, and Culture from the Université de Bourgogne, in France (2006); and an M.A. degree in French Literature from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (2012). During his time at CU, Juan made a place for himself in our department as a student, a teacher, and a colleague. His interests traverse a very broad cultural spectrum, and his intellectual curiosity is unbridled. He brought those interests and that curiosity into close focus in his dissertation, entitled Wandering in the Contemporary French and Francophone Novel. Therein, he examines the topos of wandering in the work of Patrick Deville, Marie NDiaye, Marie Redonnet, Tahar Ben Jelloun, and Antoine Volodine. Each of those authors has thought long and hard about that notion, and has deployed it in his or her writing with a real sense of purpose. Juan's dissertation is an intriguing, closely-argued piece of work, one that constitutes an important statement in our field. We will be sorry to see him leave our program, and we wish him the best as he does so, taking this moment to note his achievements and to celebrate his Ph.D.
The writing of this dissertation was only possible thanks to the support and inspiration of so many people who I love and respect. To my wife, Kimberly Van Becelaere, whose unconditional support, excellent edits to my manuscript, and love kept me motivated through the PhD until the very end and beyond. To my extended family, thank you for your encouragement and practical support when I needed it most. I am indebted to my friends, colleagues, and writing peers Danica Petrovska, Elizabeth Rose, and Sarah Fisher. You have helped me to keep working hard in moments of doubt.
I am forever appreciative of the members of my doctoral committee—Warren Motte, Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield, Brian Valente-Quinn, Christopher Braider, and Patrick Greaney. I am especially grateful to professor Motte, Arnould-Bloomfield, and Ardizzoni—for your guidance, advice, and engagement with my project. Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank the professors, language coordinators, and staff in the French & Italian department with whom it was a pleasure to work.
Colleen Dunne, MA
Master of Arts, French Literature
We are pleased to congratulate Colleen Dunne on her hard-earned, well-deserved achievement of obtaining a Master of Arts in French Literature. CU French & Italian wishes her the greatest success in all of her future endeavors!
Pursuing a Master of Arts in French Literature at CU has been the most enriching experience of my academic career to date. I was drawn to the program because the research interests of the faculty aligned with my own, especially those of Kieran Murphy, Warren Motte, and Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield. I would like to give special thanks to these three, as well as Christopher Braider and Masano Yamashita, for their compelling courses, interactive instruction, and unending support.
Teaching Beginner French at CU was certainly a highlight of my experience. Sandrine Vandermarliere is an outstanding supervisor and coordinator. I thank her and Alina Van Nelson for their thoughtful and flexible approaches to teaching, and for the many ways in which they supported the graduate instructors and undergraduate students. Each semester, I not only had the joy of seeing many students excel and take a more keen interest in French language and culture, but I also built meaningful relationships with them. I learned as much from them as they did from me. My students never ceased to inspire me and their feedback has been invaluable.
Another special thanks to Susanna Saurini, who was my Italian professor for two semesters. She is particularly gifted at sparking interest in the subject matter and encouraging her students to seek beyond-the-classroom experiences with Italian. I was one of two students in her class to participate in VoluntarItaly, a program through which I volunteered as a camp counselor and stayed with a host family in the Lombardia region of Italy during the summer. Thanks to Susanna, I was able to establish meaningful and lasting connections with my Italian friends and host family.
Additionally I’d like to thank all of the doctoral students for always being compassionate and supportive. They truly made the Department of French & Italian feel like a family. I also appreciated their efforts to organize and host an interdisciplinary graduate student conference, (Re)activism: Artists and Academics as Political Agents.
Final thanks to Azarie Wurtzburg and Steve Slater for always going above and beyond to support every individual in the department and to keep things ever running smoothly.