Q&A with Prof. Melissa Deininger

CATEGORIES: February 2014
Prof. Melissa Deininger

1) How did you decide to become a University professor?

After college, I knew that I wanted to attend graduate school for an advanced degree in French.  I was a French and Government dual major, so I looked around for a program that would allow me to use both.  I found a great graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh, which offers a PhD in French, with a concentration in Literature & Politics.  As a part of my Masters program, I taught basic French courses and I loved it.  I knew then that I wanted to pursue this career.

2) What do you consider to be your most notable professional achievement?

I am proud of the diversity of classes that I have been able to offer during my time at ISU.  I have worked hard to address student needs and to create interesting courses that encourage our students to think outside of the box.  I stress the importance of using history and politics to understand literature and culture, and I believe that students can easily transfer this sort of thinking to other courses and to life after college.

3) What has been your most memorable international experience?

I spent a year living in Paris while working on my dissertation.  I worked at the Université de Paris X, teaching courses in English to French undergraduates.  This time was extremely valuable to me as I got to live as a true Parisian, dealing with work, transportation, apartments, etc.  While frustrating at times, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one that has benefited me immensely in my teaching and my scholarship.

4) What is the last foreign country you visited? Is there a place in that country that you recommend anyone to visit?

I recently traveled to Italy and visited several small towns that I would recommend to anyone looking for something “off the beaten path.”  Siena is known for its medieval pageantry, Ravenna for its gorgeous mosaics, and Padua for its breathtaking Scrovegni Chapel.  All of these towns are easily accessible by train, and are well worth the time to visit while traveling between larger cities.

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5) What has been the most interesting or unusual course you taught at ISU?

In Fall 2013, I taught a new course called “Propagande artistique et littéraire” (Artistic and Literary Propaganda).  This course incorporated both works of art and texts that presented one-sided views of historical crises in France.  We focused primarily on images and messages that were recycled from one event to the next, and students were soon able to predict how various groups would appropriate historical images.