With the Fall ’22 Academic Travel (AT) just around the corner, both students and professors are packing their suitcases and getting ready for this upcoming new adventure. For students, AT surely represents an incredible opportunity to travel the world accompanied by their peers, learning, and experiencing firsthand what their professors have been teaching them in these past months. For professors, AT is one of the most rewarding but also challenging moments of the semester, as they are responsible and attentive toward every detail to make this learning journey as stimulating and entertaining as possible.

But what are professors up to when not preparing lectures or organizing AT? We caught up with some of them who shared their latest and upcoming research activities and conferences.

Professor Johanna Fassl, who teaches Art History and Visual Communication at Franklin, lately gave a paper at the international symposium Giambattista Tiepolo: Illusion and Irritation at the Martin von Wagner Museum at the Julius Maximilians University in Würzburg, Germany. After two years of postposing, the much-anticipated three-day conference at the end of May 2022 brought together over thirty Tiepolo scholars from all corners of the academic world to discuss the latest research findings on Venice’s most important painter of the eighteenth century. In her book Sacred Eloquence: Giambattista Tiepolo and the Rhetoric of the Altarpiece (2010) Professor Fassl pioneered a type of research that calibrates Tiepolo within the intellectual environment of his time. She was rather excited to see that her methodology, which was met with skepticism at the time when she began her studies at Columbia University, is now an established direction in global Tiepolo scholarship: “It was really wonderful for me to see how my research that raised so many eyebrows at the time when I started it has now become one of the main focus areas in Tiepolo studies. All I can say it to trust your intuitions and never compromise what you believe in!”  

You can watch the full symposium at this link.

Professor Erich Prisner, who specializes in Mathematics and Computing, instead attended the 17th European Meeting on Game Theory this July 2022. It was unfortunately still held online due to the Covid-19 aftermath but was nonetheless an engaging event. The topic of Professor Prisner’s presentation was “location games” with 3 or more players on trees, typically used to help explain why often all pharmacies in a village or small city are situated side-by-side in the center. The research for this matter was carried out between March and June, and Professor Prisner stated “I hope to have this paper concluded soon and am especially excited to share these topics during my Spring ’23 class entitled Introduction to Game Theory where I focus on how to evaluate situations and make rational decisions based on the information gathered. Students will analyze parlor games, gambling, and real-world situations, learning mathematical basis for analysis, Probability Theory, and Algebra.”

Tomorrow, October 14, 2022, affiliated Professor of Political Science Oliver Strijbis will be the keynote speaker at the Festival of the World at ETH Zurich. According to the organizers, the event will enable students and external visitors to cherish and celebrate Zurich as an international hotspot in the heart of Europe. Cultural associations and individuals will be able to display and share with festival visitors what is at the heart of their culture, be it through their traditions, dances, food, languages and more. In his speech entitled “Cosmopolitanism as cultural capital or why you should eat rice bowls with chopsticks”, Professor Strijbis will discuss cosmopolitan attitudes, identity, tastes, and practices as a form of class consciousness of an emerging transnational elite.

In January 2023, Professor Patrick Saveau, who teaches French at Franklin, will go to the Université Gaston Berger in Saint Louis, Sénégal to present his work on Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa at an international conference entitled La littérature africaine à l’épreuve des «récits de filiations»: l’autofiction et le récit transpersonnel (African Literature to the test of “filiation narratives”: autofiction and transpersonal narratives). Having published the first monography on Serge Doubrovsky, the inventor of the neologism autofiction, Professor Saveau has always been interested in the writing of the self and its practices in the Francophone world. At his conference in Senegal, he will focus on how the mother, a transpersonal character, enables Abdellah Taïa to know himself through a reflection on the beliefs, rituals, and customs of his own Amazigh heritage, his relationship with Sufi practices, and his conflictual relationships with France, the former colonizer of Morocco.