New Directors Bring Fresh Ideas

Philippe France
French School

With his extensive Middlebury experience, in both the undergraduate Department of French as well as at the summer French School—most recently as its associate director—Philippe France has a wonderfully long-term perspective in his role as its newest director for 2015.

“The French language seems to be on an upswing in the cycle of popularity,” he says. He recalled his early days teaching in the French School, when the enrollment was one of the largest.

“Over the years that shifted as other schools experienced increased interest, but now we are again seeing an increase in students as places like Africa, a largely French-speaking part of the world, gain in global relevance.”

And while the French School students tend to be teachers and doctoral candidates, as well as those working in government positions, France hopes to continue to attract a larger demographic—including journalists, businesspeople, and those in the fashion and luxury industries.

But most importantly France recognizes—and wants to perpetuate—what a special place the Language Schools can be. “You come to know people here in a way that doesn’t happen anywhere else. You have wonderful motivated students and work alongside exceptional colleagues—and many are people you wouldn’t meet otherwise.” 

According to a news story in May on the Language Schools website, France holds a Licence-èt lettres and a Maitrise-es-Lettres in English studies from the University of Lille 3, the Certificat d'Aptitude au Professorat de l'Enseignement du Second Degré, the Agrégation, and the Diplôme d'Études Approfondies in English and American studies from the University of Paris 3, Sorbonne-Nouvelle. He has served as General Secretary of CAPES, the national competitive examination for recruitment of high school teachers in English, and has coordinated first- and second-year instruction in English at the University of Paris-1. He has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Middlebury French School since 1984, and honed his teaching experience in myriad cultural environments in Canada, England, the United States, and France.

His goal as new director, he says, will be to continue the traditions and dedication to immersive linguistic and cultural studies that make the French School the most incredible experience possible.

Bettina Matthias
German School

Next summer, Middlebury College professor of German Bettina Matthias will officially step into her summer role as director of the German School. In addition to a lengthy list of experience and achievement that fully justifies her expertise, Matthias brings a level of energy and excitement to the appointment that is contagious.

Matthias is not new to the German School. During the past four summers she served as the director of German for Singers and Vocal Coaches, a program in which she has taught beginning German and German cultural history.

Building on successful developments of previous director Doris Kirchner, Matthias hopes to better integrate the undergraduate, graduate, and German Singers programs and find more interdisciplinary opportunities for the different students to engage with and learn from each other.

One area she’s particularly keen to explore is environmental studies. “Germany is a leader in green energy, and perhaps there’s an opportunity for the German School to connect in some way with Middlebury’s newest summer school—the School of the Environment,”
she says. 

According to a news story in April on the Language Schools website, Matthias holds a PhD from the University of Washington, has authored a special textbook for German for musicians, and is also active as a trained classical pianist. Her scholarship focuses on early 20th-century Austrian and German works, most notably on Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, and Thomas Mann. She has also published a scholarly monograph on “the hotel” as a trope of modernity in the literature of the German-speaking countries. Her current research explores the literary libretto from the early 20th century.

As the founder and director of Middlebury’s German Theater Group, Matthias has directed over two dozen German plays. In 2009, she received her certification as Spielleiter szenische Darstellung von Musik from the Staatsoper unter den Linden, Berlin. She codirected the last two opera productions in the German for Singers program: Mozart’s Figaros Hochzeit in 2012 and Johann Strauß’s Die Fledermaus in 2013. Her oversight of these productions proved her to be an individual of great creativity and devotion to the programs.

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