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Faculty and Student Highlights


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Affordabilty and Equity Grant awarded to Prof. Spyridon Simotas

Prof. Simotas' project is to create Open Educational Resources (OER) for a global simulation course on Business French. In this course students will follow a number of thematic learning modules leading to their final project which will be the creation of their own mock start-up company. In doing so, they will acquire important linguistic, cultural, and practical skills that they can apply in their professional careers in the Francophone world and beyond. 

The OER for this course will be assembled by a variety of authentic materials from entrepreneurial projects in the Francophone world. Prof. Simotas will strive to make this course as diverse and as relevant to the current historic moment as possible, so that all students feel included and inspired---two important factors for their success.  

This work is driven by the principles of Open Pedagogy, and it combines Prof. Simotas own interests and UVA's institutional efforts to offer transformative learning experiences, while also being affordable, equitable, and accessible to everybody.

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Dr. Amy Ogden - Finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards

The Department of French celebrates and congratulates Dr. Amy Ogden & her co-authors for their chapter "St Eufrosine's Invitation to Gender Transgression" in Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval HagiographyThey have been nominated as finalists for the award of best transgender nonfiction in this years Lamda Literary Awards

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Mamadou Dia's film, Nafi's Father featured in The New York Times

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Students & Alumni

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Alumna Olga Elodie Mbape publishes her first novel 

Ainsi vivent les baobabs is the first novel by former student Olga Elodie Mbape. It is published by L'Harmattan it the collection Écrire L'Afrique. Learn more by visting the publisher's page

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Harvard: For the first time this fall, a course on the Francophone North-America, by Claire-Marie Brisson PhD (UVA Alumna).  

C’est une première à la prestigieuse Université Harvard : depuis cet automne, on y donne un cours sur la francophonie en Amérique du Nord. Avec l’étude du Québec, évidemment, mais aussi de ces communautés moins connues aux États-Unis. L’objectif ? Préserver « la flamme de la francophonie nord-américaine ». Lire la suite

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Hoos teaching in France this year (2023-2024)

Image removed.

Photo by François Genon
Katie Adkinson - Orléans-Tours
Carolyn Carbaugh - Aix-Marseille
Corey Comba - Grenoble
Gabrielle Dangay - Montpellier
Mikayla Thompson - Clermont-Ferrand
Monica Iang - Nantes
Nylah Custalaw - Lille
Anne Williams - Orléans-Tours

8 students are currently participating in the TAPIF program (Teaching Assistant Program in France). We are proud to be sending such wonderful alums out into the world! We wish you all the best of luck and look forward to hearing about your adventures!

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FREN Alumni Spotlight - Christopher Benos: named as Schwarzman Scholar

Christopher Benos, a third-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law, will pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Beijing’s Tsinghua University as a Class of 2023 Schwarzman Scholar.

Among the most competitive and prestigious graduate fellowships in the world, the Schwarzman Scholarships were created in 2013 by businessman Stephen Schwarzman, who modeled them on the Rhodes Scholarships. The program, housed in Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, fully funds participants’ expenses for graduate study in China, including travel costs and a personal stipend.

“I am humbled by the chance to join an incredible group of leaders, scholars and global citizens,” Benos said. “And I cannot express my gratitude enough to the family members, faculty mentors and friends who made this journey possible. The University’s support of its students is truly unmatched.”

Benos said he wants to study Chinese political and legal institutions to one day apply those lessons domestically, first in his hometown and then at the national level. As a Schwarzman Scholar, he will also immerse himself in Chinese culture, philosophy and music, he said, and “serve as an ambassador for American law.”

He aspires to a career in which he can improve international relationships.

“Our nations need ambassadors in law and politics who understand our differences, celebrate our common goals and cultivate a transformational partnership,” Benos said. “The Schwarzman program uniquely positions me to be one such leader as we work to build a more just, more equitable and more peaceful world.”

After graduation, he will clerk for Judge D. Brooks Smith of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2023 term.

At UVA Law, Benos served on the managing board of the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law and on the submissions review board of the Journal of Law & Politics, as a Legal Writing Fellow, as an Appellate Litigation Clinic participant and as a research assistant for Professor Micah Schwartzman ’05. Benos spent his summers working at the Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center and at Sullivan & Cromwell.

“Christopher is super-talented, and it’s hard to imagine someone who would be a better cultural and political ambassador for our University and for the commonwealth of Virginia,” Schwartzman said.

Benos, of Midlothian, Virginia, earned a degree in the Honors Program of the Department of Politics and also majored in French at UVA. He was a Jefferson Scholar, Echols Scholar, Coca-Cola Scholar, Lawn resident, recipient of the MAAS Essay Prize Grand Prize and T. Braxton Woody Award, and is a member of the Raven Society. He served on the UVA Honor Committee throughout his undergraduate years and now serves as its appeals chair. Benos received the Class of 1984 Scholarship at UVA Law.

Benos has also released three albums of original piano music.