Languages

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures regularly offers instruction in Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. Details about the study of each of these languages at Rhodes can be found under the link for that specific language. In addition to literature and culture courses in the foreign languages, the department also offers some courses in foreign literature in English translation.

Terminology Matters: Heritage Speakers and Simultaneous Bilinguals Are Often the Same and Neither Is Incomplete

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Fifty years ago, it was commonly believed that bilingualism was detrimental and confusing to children, a view that we now know to be unfounded. Heritage speakers – those who grow up with a home language that is not the language of the dominant culture – are often described as having “incomplete acquisition” of their heritage language. Dr. Rothman’s project* seeks to counter this term with his studies of the “child simultaneous bilingualism” of heritage speakers.

*Research project is in collaboration with Tanja Kupisch of the University of Konstanz

Speaker: Jason Rothman: Professor of Multilingualism and Clinical Language Studies University of Reading (UK) and UiT, the Arctic University of Norway

Modern Languages and Literatures

Grief Has No Language - Memorial

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The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures invites the Rhodes Community to express condolences at our memorial in front of the Language Center, Palmer Hall, first floor.

      Russian Flight to
      St. Petersburg
      (October 31, 2015)
      Beirut, Lebanon
      (November 12, 2015)
      Paris, France
      (November 13, 2015)

Modern Languages and Literatures

Parce que j’etais peintre / Because I Was a Painter

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Introduction by Prof. Patricia Lee Daigle,  Director of The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art, Visiting Assistant Professor in Art History, The University of Memphis

Christophe Cognet’s absorbing documentary about artworks created by those imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II explores a number of paradoxes. Can a drawing of unimaginable horrors, for instance, ever be considered “beautiful”? What, exactly, is “beauty”? The surviving artists, interviewed in in their homes in Israel, France, Poland, and other countries, express a range of opinions on these matters; one painter asserts that depicting his surroundings, no matter how gruesome, on paper was the only way to endure the torture. Others declare that sketching people, places, and events from the past was crucial to their survival. The testimony of these subjects is profoundly moving, never more so than when they offer a close critical analysis of the pieces they made during their incarceration. Cognet also meets with several museum curators and art historians who shed light on the trove of works left by those died in the camps—including the scores of portraits that Dinah Gottliebova, who was assigned to work with Josef Mengele, did of Roma detainees shortly before they were killed. Tackling two seemingly irreconcilable subjects—the atrocities of the Holocaust and the drive to create art—Because I Was a Painter provides a vital discussion of both. 

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Modern Languages and Literatures
Communities in Converstation

Mood Indigo

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Long thought unfilmable, Boris Vian’s 1947 cult novel—which translates literally as “The Foam of Days”—is charmingly adapted by Michel Gondry, who fills the screen with his trademark whimsical touches. The central narrative of Mood Indigo concerns the ultimately tragic love story of Colin (Romain Duris), an exceptionally wealthy man who inhabits a spectacular rooftop apartment/playhouse, and Chloé (Audrey Tautou), a physically frail woman he meets a at party. Yet theirs is no ordinary courtship: Colin and Chloé travel across Paris in a cloud-shaped vessel, sip beverages from a cocktail-mixing piano, and dine on elaborate concoctions prepared by Nicolas (Omar Sy), Colin’s in-house chef and lawyer. Although Gondry has been celebrated for his inimitable mise-en-scène ever since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(2004), here he takes production design to a whole new level, deftly mixing stop-motion animation and digital special effects. For all its visual splendor, though, Mood Indigo never loses sight of the great romance shared by its main characters—bonds that deepen when Chloé is diagnosed with a life-threatening malady: the growth of a water lily in one of her lungs.

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Modern Languages and Literatures
Communities in Converstation

Hiroshima, mon amour

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One of the most influential movies ever made, Alain Resnais’s masterwork from 1959 would not only shape the Nouvelle Vague benchmarks made in its wake but also liberate filmmakers from linear storytelling. “[I]n my film time is shattered,” Resnais once said; indeed, Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which was scripted by Marguerite Duras, consists of multiple flashbacks, a device that destabilizes chronology. Spanning approximately 36 hours, the movie centers around the time-toggling conversations of two characters, identified only as She (Emmanuelle Riva) and He (Eiji Okada). She is a French actress who has gone to Hiroshima to take part in a film about peace; He is her married lover, a Japanese architect who had served during World War II—and whose family was in Hiroshima the day the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city. While the two reflect on the horrors of wartime—She on living in a Nazi-occupied country, He on the incineration of more than 100,000 of his compatriots—they begin to debate the very unreliability of memory. The past and the present commingle in Hiroshima, Mon Amour, a film that pointed the way to the future.

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Modern Languages and Literatures
Communities in Converstation

Timbuktu

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Introduction by Prof. Shadrack Nasong’o, Department of International Studies, Rhodes College

In his magnificent fourth feature film, Abderrahmane Sissako demonstrates his remarkable ability to thoroughly condemn religious fanaticism and intolerance with subtlety and restraint. Timbuktu concerns the jihadist siege of the Malian city of the title in 2012. A ragtag band of Islamic fundamentalists, hailing from France, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, among other nations, announce their increasingly absurd list of prohibitions—no music, no sports, no socializing—via megaphone to Timbuktu’s denizens, several of whom refuse to follow these strictures, no matter the consequence. In one instance of such defiance, perhaps Timbuktu’s most indelible scene, a group of boys “play” soccer with an invisible ball; in another, a woman who has been sentenced to be flogged for singing continues her song between lashes (her punishment depicted discreetly). Upbraided by a local imam for entering a mosque with guns, the jihadists reveal themselves to be men less concerned with the teachings of the Koran than with enforcing draconian, and ever arbitrary, law. As further proof of Sissako’s great compassion, even these horribly misguided dogmatists are presented as multidimensional characters, though the intolerant way of life they insist on is never less than criminal.

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Modern Languages and Literatures
Communities in Converstation