Brave New Worlds

Photo by Michael WilsonLeslie Smith ’02, Moravian’s fourth Fulbright scholar in as many years, will be at the University of Madrid in Spain in the fall to explore an era that many Spaniards would prefer to forget: the early years of the Franco regime.

“When I started, I didn’t even know who Franco was,” said Leslie, who is from Sugarloaf, near Hazleton.

She graduated with honors in Spanish for a paper called “The Literary Portrayal of the Roles of Spanish Women in Four Post-Civil War Novels,” supervised by Carmen Ferrero-Pino, assistant professor of Spanish and chair of the department of foreign languages.

The paper became her Fulbright application.

Leslie did not come to college to study literature in any language. “I came as an accounting major,” she says. “But I thought if I saw one more supply-and-demand curve … ” Her parents finally agreed to her change of major, but they finally agreed: “You’re meant to be an English major,” said her mother (with a sigh).

But it was also Leslie’s dream to be fluent in a foreign language, and she had studied Spanish in high school. “So I went into an honors Spanish III class, and I couldn’t understand one word this lady was saying,” she admits. She had to drop it and go back, taking a solid year of grammar to bolster her fluency.

In the summer of 2000, she traveled to Mexico with a group led by instructor Flor Buitrago. “I was fascinated by how I was treated as a woman,” she said. “Appalled, actually.”

She was disturbed by the machismo of Mexican men, by being eyed and ogled, by comments made to her on the street. “I felt like: What century am I in? I’m not even a person here.

That experience and courses in women’s studies were formative elements in choosing the topic of her paper. She compared four novels written during or about the Franco regime: The Back Room (1978) by Carmen Martín Gaite, Time of the Doves (1962) by Mercè Rodoreda, Nada (1945) by Carmen Laforet, and The Hive (1951) by 1989 Nobel Prize-winner Camilo José Cela.

But when she went on a research trip to Salamanca, Spain, last summer, she found Spanish women, rural or urban, peasant or academic, reluctant to be interviewed about the Franco years. “The fact that they wouldn’t talk to me was an argument in itself,” she said.

However, she found several references to a magazine called Y (“and” in Spanish) that had been edited and published by women of the Phalange (Franco’s right-wing party) in 1938-45. No library in North America, including the Library of Congress, has this short-lived but influential journal. Leslie’s Fulbright project is to explore Y, with the goal of making it available to English-speaking readers.
Of her Fulbright, she says: “I’m excited. I’m horrified. I’m frightened. But I’m mostly excited by the person I’m going to be at the end of this nine months.”

A view of Erfurt in 1572 by the German engravers Braun and Hogenburg. Founded in 1392, the University of Erfurt closed in 1816, then reopened in 1994 after German reunification. Moravian is working to establish a student exchange between the two institutions.

Another Moravian student who’ll be thinking in a foreign language next year is Leigh Ann Caruso ’04. She’s not the first from Moravian to go to Germany, but her scholarship from the Deutsche Akademische Austausch-dienst (German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD) is a first of its kind.

Leigh is one of 53 American undergraduates selected from more than 180 applicants to attend a German university. She will spend October through February 2003—a German semester—at the University of Erfurt, near Weimar, studying German and art history.

German got its hooks into Leigh at Pleasant Valley High School in Saylors-burg. “All my friends took it for the first two years,” she said, “but I went on because the teacher was fun.” And she had begun to be interested in German expressionist art of the early 20th century because “I wanted to learn about what Germany was like before the Nazi regime.”

Leigh started at Cedar Crest College, majoring in communications and computer science, then transferred to Moravian when her sister Alyssa was admitted to the Class of 2005.

She discovered that Moravian’s German classes were small and its curriculum was open to individual projects. And “Dr. [Josef] Glowa is by far the best professor I’ve had,” she says.

All these contributed to her decision to major in German, despite the baggage. “Whenever I tell people I’m a German major, I have to deal with the whole Nazi thing,” she says.

After a course on the history of the emotions from assistant professor Heikki Lempa—like Glowa, new to the Moravian faculty last year—Leigh opted for a SOAR project (a faculty-student research collaboration).

Her project with Lempa examines the Kurze zuverlässige Nachricht (loosely translated, “brief trustworthy message”), which she found in the Moravian Archives. This publication is part of the century-long correspondence between the Moravian community in Bohemia and its colonies in North America.

The Nachricht (1757) is a kind of constitution that guided the religious and communal culture, Leigh wrote to the DAAD. “The handbook provides details of worship services, guidelines for economic procedures, the patterns of studying the Bible, the proper clothing to wear, and living arrangements within the so-called communal choir system.”

In addition to Lempa, she is working with Diane Radycki, assistant professor of art and director of the Payne Gallery, to explore the volume’s “finely detailed drawings displaying the proper technique for carrying out religious practices.”

Meanwhile, there’s the paper to write. “I’ve done all this reading, and I know what the introduction and the closing comments are going to say,” Leigh laments. “It’s those 12 to 15 pages in the middle!”

June 18, 2002

Brave New Worlds
Profiles of Moravian's fourth Fulbright Scholar in as many years, Leslie Smith, and its first DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship winner, Leigh Ann Caruso.
Plan Ahead
Ann Stehney named director of planning and research for the College.
The Big Six-O
Dean of Student Life Bob Windolph has a birthday.
Movin' On
Faculty and staff departures, retirements.
Gift Registry
Three donations, including $25,000 to music department and $60,000 for men's lacrosse.
Faculty/staff/student achievements.