Welcome to the start of a new semester! Fall semesters are always a time of great change and excitement, as UF gains new students not only from other states, but other countries as well. It seems that everyone is wandering around campus trying to find their classrooms, all the while representatives from UF clubs and student organizations eagerly call out to them to join their particular cause. In that regard, the Center is really no different, except that we are far less distracting! I promise, we will not prevent you from getting to English Comp. 101 on time by promising free pizza and a summer cruise to the Bahamas. However, we would like to encourage you to take the path less traveled, which is always a far more interesting journey! So stop by the Center to learn about our Turkish, Polish, Czech, and Hungarian classes and our numerous study abroad programs.
This upcoming semester promises to be an exciting time for the Center, with grant applications in progress concerning privacy issues and the challenges that the information age represents to foreign policy and the US-EU relationship, existing grant activities such as the Getting to Know Europe oral history project, and new and returning faculty. To that end, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our new Visiting Lecturer in Polish Studies, Jack Hutchens.
Professor Hutchens comes to us from Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He hails from Kansas, but as a result of a stint in the Peace Corps, he moved to Poland in 1998 and worked as a lecturer at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan until 2002. And thus was created a future Professor of Polish.
Professor Hutchens is especially interested in Polish culture and literature and he is currently completing his dissertation, Transgressions: Queer Discourse and National and Gender Identities in Twentieth Century Polish Fiction. Professor Hutchens is also interested in Czech literature and language, and has taught both Polish and Czech language courses while at the University of Illinois. As can be seen from this short video, he certainly has some innovative ideas about language teaching and the use of popular culture in the classroom - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR3LWiHWKPk&feature=c4-overview&list=UUhlaTP2FhFhsgAwRH9I7fPA.
Indeed, no boring language classes here!
On the more serious side, his research interests concerning gender identities and the construction of national identities are extremely timely. One need only look at the recent outcry over Russia’s anti-gay laws, which the Russian government insists are targeted at “homosexual propaganda,” and the prospect of holding the winter Olympics in a country that is increasingly discriminatory. LBGT social movements are gaining ground and attention throughout Eastern Europe. The work that Professor Hutchens is doing will complement that of other CES faculty in this regard. For instance, Professor Conor O’Dwyer is currently researching this topic and has recently posted an entry on the movement in Poland. His entry for the London School of Economics can be found here:
Also, be sure to check out Professor Hutchens’ blog on his dissertation at: http://jackhutchensdissertation.blogspot.com/
So please, if you are interested in the intersection, or divergence, of national and gender identities, Polish culture and literature, or a contemporary and innovative approach to language courses, please check out Jack Hutchens and take the path less traveled.