When a student tells me that after taking my classes that he or she can no longer take a text at face value, I know I’ve done my job.
As she leads students through the French countryside, Professor Nathalie Dupont, French & Francophone studies, feels her job is to teach them to challenge their existing cultural assumptions. "It's amazing to see how students change after a semester abroad," she says. "They're more confident, more culturally aware and better global citizens."
As Professor-in-Residence for the 2013-14 Bucknell en France program, Dupont spent the academic year with Bucknell students in the Loire Valley, a region known as the "Garden of France" and the country's gastronomic center. "For the students, it's a total cultural immersion," she says. "They live with host families but are responsible for their own day-to-day needs. And in a smaller city like Tours, English isn't so readily spoken. It's a fantastic experience – and one that all of our majors and most of our minors take advantage of."
At Bucknell, Dupont's classes focus on French literature and cinema. She chooses works that question the individual's place in society and challenge existing social values. "We read a variety of genres: plays, novels, critical theory. Five to six works per semester and all in French, naturally," she says. Dupont explains that she wants her students to be provoked by language and to understand that an author's words are carefully chosen and manipulated. "When a student tells me that after taking my classes that he or she can no longer take a text at face value, I know I've done my job," she says.
Dupont's research examines forms of deviance in experimental French poetry since 1968. She traces an ambivalent attitude and general loss of faith in language to the political, economic and ideological failures brought on by World War II. "These provocative yet astonishing innovative contemporary works attest to an ongoing reflection on language and the self," she says. "This poetry may be considered a strategy that enacts new ethics of writing, which both questions and transforms humanistic and romantic perspectives on language, the subject and reality."
Posted Sept. 22, 2014