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Jaymes Rohrer

Image of Jaymes RohrerProfessor of French
B.A., Hamilton College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

When I came to the College, I intended to stay for one year. But when my time was up, I had fallen in love with the place. Now, eleven years later, I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else

Just the motto of the College, “A Life More Abundant,” says it all. That’s how I feel about education. It’s what I want to pass on to students. Life isn’t always about making the most money or acquiring the most prestige. To my mind, a good liberal arts education is about living more fully a richer life, a better life

Teaching French here, I get to share two of my passions: reading literature and learning languages. As a non-native speaker of French, I understand the work that goes into mastering a foreign language. I share the benefits of my experience in the advanced level language courses, such as Phonetics and Conversation, where students often make amazing progress in pronunciation and fluency over the course of a semester.

I have lived in France extensively and, while completing my doctorate, even taught English for a couple of years at the University of Paris. I have also taught French at the University of Pennsylvania and at San Diego State University, while training and supervising language teachers at both of those schools.

Even more than language studies, I love teaching how to read and analyze French literature in all its forms. In my Women in French Literature course, we may link a medieval lai to a 1990s minimalist novel and a recent magazine article. A specialist in narrative theory (how stories get told), I teach my students to “read” cinematic as well as novelistic narrative techniques. Film is a component of all of my literature and language courses, including one called Advanced Grammar and Composition through Film.

I have published literary criticism both in the U.S. and in France on the works of classical French novelists (Mme de Lafayette, Honoré de Balzac). More recently, my experience in the classroom here has led to a new scholarly interest. I have experimented in teaching a number of contemporary “minimalist” novels. These works are easy to read, but pose sophisticated challenges for literary analysis. My students’ great enthusiasm has further fed my own, and I am currently writing and sharing my research at professional conferences on these enticing little tales.

Since coming to the College, I’ve grown increasingly interested in urban development and recently moved into an artist’s loft on the riverfront in Downtown Lynchburg.

Francoise Watts

Image of Francoise WattsProfessor of French
Maitrise-es-lettres, University of Pau; M.A., Ph.D., Ohio State University

In May 2004, I received a medal of distinction from the French government and became Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, for distinguished service in French education and culture. This order was founded by Napoleon in 1808. The medal is composed of a purple silk ribbon to which is attached a silver laurel, a symbol of the Napoleonic order, and I will wear it with great pride on my academic gown.

This distinction rewards many years of service to a profession I have had the luxury to exercise with passion. It has been a true delight for me to have taught hundreds of students about my language and culture, and to be in so many ways a “cultural ambassador” for France. My career started in France with a degree in American studies. I wrote my master’s thesis on American detective fiction writer Raymond Chandler and his view of Los Angeles. Then my career changed when I was offered the opportunity to be a language assistant at Indiana University and Ohio State University. I discovered there the exciting field of French studies, and American politics, working on the political campaign of my husband, Republican State Senator Eugene Watts. What an experience for a young French woman! Our daughter was brought up speaking French and English..

The Palmes Académiques rewards a very busy career to the service of French culture in the United States: at Ohio State University, I worked on a French speaking radio program that we called “Passeport pour la France”. We had interviews and French language classes. We had a lot to learn in the field of radio broadcast, but we had a lot of fun doing it.

I have introduced the study of French Cinema, African, and Caribbean French-speaking Literatures. I love to teach theme courses like one on “Marginalités” and “L’enfance dans la littérature française”. I have been very active in anything that is French-related in the city of Lynchburg as President of Alliance Française or Board Member, and as past-President of the Steering Committee for Lynchburg Sister City Association. I was instrumental in bringing a French Sister City to Lynchburg, Rueil-Malmaison. It was very exciting to see it happen! I have been President of the American Association of Teachers of French for Virginia for almost ten years (re-elected!). We are very active at the French Film Festival of Richmond where we sponsor French teachers for immersion in language and culture. Many of our French students attend this special week end in March.

I welcome you to the study of French!

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