Over the course of the school year, we will get to know some of the students and staff at Lake Forest College. Meet Cynthia Hahn, Professor of French, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
How long have you been at Lake Forest College? How did you end up there?
I began teaching at Lake Forest College in 1990. Although I had two job offers, Lake Forest was the obvious choice for me, as I was warmly welcomed by very engaged departmental colleagues and the College's Paris Program was incomparable. I knew that the quality of a Lake Forest education was high, as I had considered the College as one of my top choices as an undergraduate! After 23 years, I can truly say that Lake Forest College is a gem, and I'm happy I have stayed.
What is your academic area of focus and what makes it interesting?
With a PhD in Francophone Literature, and a certificate to teach Business French from the Paris Chamber of Commerce, I came to the College with a broad range of teaching interests which led to courses in contemporary francocphone literatures and cultures, French film, translation and French for International Affairs, in addition to language-focused courses. It's great to be able to teach a range of courses and develop new areas, for instance, in the globalization of cultures (my FIYS course). I have added creative writing in French as well, and am a published poet (in French and English). I have published eight literary translations (in English) of Lebanese and Algerian authors, as well as critical articles on Lebanese and North African women writers, translation studies, French Canadian authors and am working most recently on cultural globalization in film.
What do you like best about working at Lake Forest College?
My colleagues are outstanding teachers, and engaged in their research. They continue to inspire me.
The student body is highly diverse and our students bring a variety of perspectives into the classroom. Because of the small class sizes, we are able to engage in deep discussion. I love the fact that many have stayed in touch with me over the years as I really enjoy hearing of their personal and professional accomplishments and visiting with them even after graduation.
What is your favorite Lake Forest College experience or memory?
There are so many! I really enjoy visiting with students on our Paris Program when I have occasion to visit Paris for a conference in fall; our long-time director Maria Al-Salem usually hosts a reception for the students, LFC alums, program host families and internship supervisors while I’m there, and I am able to see the students' excitement about their abroad experience and hear their wonderful Paris stories. I am also happy to catch up with the alums who are living in Paris, such as Leticia Romero and Stephen Burke, who have set up a scholarship to assist one student per year with expenses while on the Paris Program.
Where is your favorite place on Lake Forest College's campus?
Probably Reid Hall, since I rehearse in room 100 every week with Fast and Cheap (the faculty group, I play electric bass). It is so fun to play blues and bluegrass with band members such as Rand Smith, Don Meyer, his wife Liz, Lori Sundberg and Jim Cubit. I also enjoy hanging out in the Rosemary Harmon Lounge in Carnegie, having lunch with MLL colleagues. And of course French Table in the Pierson Rooms with French colleagues Jean-Luc Garneau and Dan Hanna and students is a highlight of the week!
What advice would you give someone who is considering Lake Forest College to continue their education?
Lake Forest College is a place where you can create meaningful academic relationships with professors. There is much scope to devise a personalized, academic program that combines up to three academic interests, in addition to study off campus, internships and research. It is a place where students can come up with an idea for a worthwhile project, and get the support to make it happen. It is small enough to create a sense of community, and has a large network of opportunities abroad and in Chicago to satisfy the need for global connection. The highly diverse student body creates opportunities for cross-cultural engagement and understanding, underscoring the College's mission to create “responsible, global citizens.”
Visit her creative writing and translation website at http://www.cynthiathahn.com.