Lawrence University Associate Professor of French Lifongo Vetinde has been named a recipient of a 2012-13 Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship. Beginning in October, Vetinde will spend 10 months teaching at the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Senegal, West Africa.
During his fellowship appointment, Vetinde will teach two courses, one on American literature by minority authors focusing on the works’ relevance to socio-political discussions of American society, particularly issues of identity and race relations. While the first course is a modified version of the course “Expressions of Ethnicity” he teaches in the Ethnic Studies program at Lawrence, the second course, specifically designed by Vetinde for his fellowship, will serve as a comparative study of the works of such American writers as W.E.B. Dubois, Alice Walker and Maya Angelou with those of Saint-Louisian writers such as Abdoulaye Sadji, Malick Fall and Abdel Aziz Mayoro Diop.
Vetinde also will devote the second half of his fellowship appointment to expanding his scholarship on Francophone African literature and cinema, focusing on the literature about the city of Saint-Louis produced by French colonial writers in the mid-19th century as well as the writings of the Saint-Louis educated native elite from the early decades of the 20th century onwards.
“I want to investigate how these writers explored the relationship between the French colonialists and the Senegalese nationals,” said Vetinde, a native of Cameroon who moved to the United States when he was 29. “These are neglected but very important works of literature of Saint-Louis, a city that is the quintessential crossroads of cultures, ethnicities, races, religions and languages. I want to study the role creative fiction played in the emergence of Senegal’s national identity.”
A member of the Lawrence faculty since 1996, Vetinde has directed Lawrence’s Francophone Seminar, a 10-week study-abroad program in Dakar, Senegal, four times, most recently in 2010.
“We are extremely pleased and proud that Professor Vetinde has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship,” said David Burrows, Lawrence provost and dean of the faculty. “As life in the 21st century has become increasingly globalized, education must emphasize the richness of cultures and countries other than one’s own and Fulbright Fellowships are a powerful way for intercultural education to occur. Professor Vetinde is a wonderful teacher and scholar and we’re happy that he is able to be part of that education.”
The fellowship, worth approximately $55,000, will cover Vetinde’s travel and living expenses while in Senegal as well as provide a teaching stipend and research support.
“Beside the principal objective of promoting international cultural understanding between the United States and Senegal, this fellowship provides an opportunity for me to give back what I’ve learned here to my native continent,” said Vetinde, who earned a master’s degree in French and a Ph.D. in romance languages with emphasis on Francophone African literature at the University of Oregon after earning the equivalent of a master’s degree in Cameroon.
Established in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Scholar Program is the federal government’s flagship program in international educational exchange. It provides grants in a variety of disciplines for teaching and research positions in more than 120 countries.
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