Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

August 25, 2004

Whitworth Professor Receives Fulbright-Hays Grant
to Conduct Research in Madagascar

Although Whitworth Associate Professor of Modern Languages Carol Smucker resides in Spokane, she hasn't forgotten her childhood island home of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. It was there she first discovered her interest in island literature - an interest that has grown into a lifelong passion and recently garnered her a $34,763 Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Grant.

The highly competitive grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, provides financial assistance to support faculty to maintain and improve their areas of knowledge and language skills by conducting research abroad for periods of three to 12 months. The grant will support Smucker's 2004-2005 sabbatical research in Madagascar, cover her travel expenses and research costs, and provide her with a modest stipend for living expenses.

"I am very excited about receiving the Fulbright-Hays grant, because it will allow me to network with professionals in the field of Malagasy studies, and will support my work there," Smucker says. "It is a great opportunity to enrich my professional knowledge and to develop the French curriculum even further at Whitworth, benefiting future students and colleagues."

Smucker will leave for Madagascar on Sept. 16, 2004, and will return in mid-June, 2005. While in Madagascar Smucker will be at the Universite d'Antananarivo, where she will focus on two different areas of study: the first is a project related to her previous work in the Caribbean, where she studied the role of the island in Francophone literatures. She plans to examine how the notion of living on an island appears in the literature of Madagascar, and how it affects character identity.

The second aspect of Smucker's research will include collecting materials and knowledge of Malagasy culture and the cultures of neighboring French-speaking islands, such as the Seychelles, Reunion and Mauritius, in order to incorporate them into the French and Francophone curriculum at Whitworth, where there are already courses on Quebec and Cajun cultures, Francophone Caribbean literature and cultures, and French culture and literature.

"I feel it is important to include in all French courses at least some reference to Francophone cultures beyond the borders of France," Smucker says. "Some of our courses focus specifically on these areas, and others focus on France and its overseas territories. Francophone studies is a very dynamic and growing area of research for our profession today, and many of the best young writers in French are coming from Quebec and the Caribbean."

Since her childhood, Smucker has returned to Guadeloupe several times and in 2002 she established an ongoing January Term study-abroad program there for Whitworth students.

The group of approximately 12 students stays in residents' homes and studies French daily at a language institute. The institute provides some all-day outings, and Smucker also leads a number of excursions to various geographical, historical and cultural sites on the island, including a drumming workshop and dance class. Since Smucker will be on sabbatical this year, Visiting Instructor of English Jamie Friedman will lead the January 2005 trip to Guadeloupe.

When Smucker returns from sabbatical, she hopes to show just how fascinating and important island literature and culture are by presenting her sabbatical research results at international, national and local conferences, publishing articles in professional journals, and one day publishing a book on island literature. As the next chair of Whitworth's Modern Languages Department, Smucker also plans to be involved in the ongoing campus-wide planning effort to increase study-abroad opportunities for all students.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Carol Smucker, associate professor of modern languages, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4484 or csmucker@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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