French Success Stories

Charles-Louis Morand Métivier is currently an Assistant Professor of French at the University of Vermont

Charles-Louis Morand Métivier graduated in 2013 from the University of Pittsburgh with a PhD in French Literature, Literature and Politics track, as well as a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. His current scholarship, which focuses on emotions in literature written as a reaction to massacres and war in late Medieval and Renaissance France, is a direct continuation of the dissertation he defended at Pitt, co-advised by Drs. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Todd Reeser and entitled « Apprendre des massacres: emotions et nation dans la literature du Moyen-âge et de la Renaissance. »
He has articles under consideration and is working on 2 books: a monograph based on his dissertation, as well as a critical edition and translation of a vaudois Renaissance theatre play.
At the University of Vermont, Dr. Morand Métivier is the advisor of the « Maison Française », the student residence based on French and francophone cultures.
His years at the University of Pittsburgh were crucial in developing Morand Métivier as a scholar and a teacher. From the very beginning of their studies, graduate students in the department of French and Italian are treated as colleagues and scholars by the faculty members in the department The numerous possibilities to take classes in and outside the department help them develop a sense of collegiality that is crucial for the job market.
Professors in FRIT are extremely available, the doors of their offices always open, and they do not spare their time and efforts to help students in their journey towards the dissertation and beyond.
The other great strength of the department is to educate students into becoming excellent teachers. They have the possibility to teach a large array of language, culture, and literature classes, as well as to follow professional development seminars and classes. Graduate students who get a degree from Pitt end up being perfectly ready for the academic job market, and also better human beings. The naturally quiet and friendly atmosphere of the department is crucial in turning them into balanced scholars. When you start a PhD there, you have professors; at the end, you have respected and respectful friends.
As an advice for people who would like to start a PhD, Dr. Morand Métivier would start by stating that graduate studies are the most fascinating and thought provoking experience that they could have in their lives. It is also an experience that requires a lot of work and commitment. There will be moments of doubt, but the reward is totally worth it.

Yahya Laayouni is currently an Assistant Professor of French and Arabic at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Yahya Laayouni is orginally from Morocco. He joined the Department of French and Italian at Pitt in 2006 and completed his PhD in 2012. He holds an MA in Gender Studies and a BA in English Literature. He is currently an assistant professor of French and Arabic at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

His research focuses on the identity dynamics affecting the Beurs in film. His work aims to explain the complexity of being Beur in France today and how this complexity shakes the notion of Frenchness. Dr. Laayouni has presented his work at a number of conferences among them the international conference on Franco-Maghreb Crossing in Tallahassee, FL. He continues to work on his research, aiming to publish his dissertation in the near future. He is currently working on two articles for publication.

As a graduate student Dr. Laayouni taught all levels of French language courses, advanced French conversation and Approaches to French Literature. It was an opportunity for him to gain experience and develop his own style of teaching. Dr. Laayouni's interest in teaching pushed him to teach Arabic to gain more experience and to open new prospects for his career. He is now working on developing a major and a minor in Arabic at Bloomsburg University. He is also developing courses dealing with the Arab speaking communities in France.      

Dr. Laayouni finds that Pitt's program helps prepare graduate students become successful professors and researchers. For him, the transition from being a graduate students to becoming a tenure-track assistant professor was smooth and easy. The flexibility of Pitt's French program gives students a valuable opportunity in terms of creating syllabi and preparing their own materials.

The six years Dr. Laayouni spent working on his PhD were stressful, hard and at times frustrating, but in the end he managed to complete his dissertation. Dr. Laayouni finds that the assistance and support the French and Italian department and the university of Pittsburgh at large provide are valuable.

The PhD is a serious project, it needs patience, hard work and commitment.

Melissa Deininger is currently an Assistant Professor of French at Iowa State University

Melissa Deininger completed her Ph.D. at Pitt in French Language and Literature, with a concentration in Literature and Politics in 2009. She has presented numerous papers on French literature and culture dealing primarily with moments of political crisis in the long nineteenth century. Melissa's research focuses on how literature, art, and architecture are used as propaganda during régime changes in France. She has several articles forthcoming or under consideration that continue her work in these areas. In her teaching, she has created courses that address the literary genres that emerge from the chaotic periods, including fantasy and horror stories of the nineteenth century. She also teaches courses on French history and contemporary political issues.
After returning from a year abroad with our exchange program in Paris, Dr. Deininger received a Lillian B. Lawler Pre-doctoral Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching and Research. Her time in Paris continues to prove valuable as she teaches courses in modern French politics and culture. The Fellowship, received during her final year at the University of Pittsburgh, enabled her to complete her dissertation and prepare for the job market. Pitt's intensive preparation of its graduate students to enter the profession provided Dr. Deininger with the necessary tools to transition easily from being a Teaching Fellow to being a successful tenure-track faculty member at an R-1 school. While it is difficult to reconcile time spent preparing new courses and serving on departmental committees, she is generally successful in setting aside time to concentrate on new research projects. With several semesters of teaching as a professor behind her, she now looks forward to delving back into her research interests.

Working closely with the faculty at Pitt (both French and Italian) gave Dr. Deininger both the scholarly polish and confidence needed to hit the ground running in her chosen profession. To future graduate students, Melissa recommends establishing a plan, being organized, and taking every opportunity to expand your horizons while at Pitt. As she notes, "Our experiences at grad school truly help to create the basis of our future professional lives, and you get out of your formation what you put into it."


Dr. Andrea Jonsson- Assistant Professor of French at Texas Tech University

Dr. Andrea Jonsson completed her PhD in French in 2014 where she specialized in 20th and 21st-Century French literature and culture. Her work on French Slam poetry and Contemporary theatre analyzes the play between textuality and orality through the lens of Performance and Affect Studies. Her research has served as a framework for how to treat text as a performance, and how the link between affect and performance serves as a community builder in marginal populations. Dr. Jonsson teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate classes such as the French Short Story and Contemporary French Theatre. She integrates pop culture, humor, and slam poetry exercises into all her classes and is passionate about teaching students how to think critically and write well.


Dr. David Spieser- Assistant Professor of French at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

David Spieser-Landes earned a Ph.D. in French and Francophone Literatures (with a track in politics) in 2015, as well as a French Master's Degree in American Civilization from Université Lyon 2, France. Drawing upon and adapting Jacques Rancière political philosophy, his doctoral dissertation, titled "The Politics of Aesthetics: Nation, Region and Immigration in Contemporary French Culture," examined the ways in which both rap lyrics (such as Abd al Malik's) and regional literature (e.g. André Weckmann's novels) are effectively breaking national unison in present-day France. His research interests include French and Francophone Literatures, Postcolonial Theory, Nation Studies, Minority Literatures, and French Regional Literatures.