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Ruth Caldwell

Professor of French


 

Ruth Caldwell has been a professor in the Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics department since 1971 and was the department head from 1998 to 2008. Some of her course topics include Elementary French, Introduction to French II, and Conversation and Phonetics. She also teaches Italian and started the Italian language program at Luther.

In January Term, Professor Caldwell leads a course where students read Dante's Divine Comedy in its entirety, and discuss the many aspects of the work: historical, literary, artistic, political, philosophical, scientific, and religious. In the past, she also traveled abroad with students during January, leading courses in Italy and France.

 

What do you especially enjoy about teaching languages?

What’s great about learning and teaching languages is that progress is guaranteed, if one just makes an effort.  Whether in a beginning language class, where a student goes from not even pronouncing “bonjour” to simple conversation at the end of a semester, or in a literature class, where students discover how to take apart a poem or debate a prose text in the language they study, I enjoy seeing how each student grows in his or her own way.

 

What can you tell us about your Italian classes?

People love Italy and want to learn Italian! It seems that my Italian classes are spontaneously filled with smiles and good humor, plus music and celebration too. For example, we recently celebrated Italy’s 150th “birthday” with a special cake and the Italian National Hymn.

 

Why are you passionate about languages?

What’s great about learning and teaching languages is that progress is guaranteed, if one just makes an effort.  Whether in a beginning language class, where a student goes from not even pronouncing “buon giorno” to simple conversation at the end of a semester, or in a literature class, where students discover how to take part a poem or debate a prose text in the language they study, I enjoy seeing how each student grows in his or her own way.

 

What are some Study Abroad courses that you offered?

I’m fascinated by the relationship between French and Italian culture and this is why my January term courses often include the two courses. Please see our blogs for January term 2009 here and for January 2011 here.

 

Dada 1

Students creating Dada poetry in a French literature class.

 

 

Dada 1

For an explanation of the picture of all of us eating from the center of the table, please see here.