Carnegie Mellon University
March 09, 2016

Book Boom in the Department of Modern Languages

Book Boom in the Department of Modern Languages

It’s been a prolific nine months in the Department of Modern Languages, with six faculty members releasing either a textbook, monograph or edited volume since June of 2015 on subjects ranging from literary culture in the GDR to reading in a second language.

Mariana Achugar, associate professor of Hispanic Studies and second language acquisition, recently added to the growing pile of publications with a new book called “Discursive Processes of Intergenerational Transmission of Recent History: (Re)making Our Past.”

The book explores how Uruguayan youth make sense of the Uruguayan Dictatorship of the 1970s and 80s using individual and collective memories transmitted by older generations through conversations, textbooks, popular culture and other means. Achugar received funding from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to conduct research for this book.

A few months earlier, Rémi Adam van Compernolle published his second book in as many years. The young scholar followed up his 2014 release with a book titled “Interaction and Second Language Development: A Vygotskian perspective,” which considers the role communicative interaction plays in second language development.

Around the time van Compernolle’s second book was released, two other books appeared.

Vedran Dronjic, A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Modern Languages, co-edited a volume called “Reading in a Second Language: Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Issues.” The book “describes the phenomenon and process of reading in a second language,” with emphasis on “the development of second language reading skills in children and adolescents from diverse backgrounds.” Keiko Koda, professor of Japanese Studies and second language acquisition, contributed to the volume.

Meanwhile, Stephen Brockmann, professor of German, released a book on literary culture in the GDR. While there is no shortage of scholarly studies on the history, politics and cultural legacy of the German Democratic Republic, the East German literary scene of the 1940s and 50s “has remained relatively unexamined,” said Brockmann, who attempted to fill this gap with his new book, his fifth to date.

In September, Brockmann’s colleague Gabriele Eichmanns Maier, associate teaching professor of German, released a groundbreaking textbook. Called “Deutschland im Zeitalter der Globalisierung” (Germany in the Age of Globalization), the textbook is “the first attempt within the realm of German Studies to offer a teaching aid on a phenomenon that has become a buzzword in the second decade of the twenty-first century and that is changing our immediate surroundings, as well as the world, in an unprecedented way.”

The previous spring, Naoko Taguchi, associate professor of Japanese Studies and second language acquisition, published a book that was the first in this chain of publications in the Modern Languages Department. Using data on students studying abroad in Japan, Taguchi’s book “Developing Interactional Competence in a Japanese Study Abroad Context” answers the question of what it means to be “interactively competent” when acquiring a second language.

Looking at the titles that have been released over the past nine months, it is clear that faculty members in the Department of Modern Languages are making important contributions to discussions on language and culture.