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Grad students gain editing experience
November 16, 1998

Graduate students Dawn Cornelio and Florence Marsal edit copy, review text, meet with publishers and negotiate promotions. At the same time, they are learning more than they ever expected in their field: French literature.

Special Issue

Cornelio and Marsal are assistant editors of Sites: The Journal of 20th Century/Contemporary French Studies. Each has a half-time assistantship from the Graduate School.

Sites is the only journal of 20th-century contemporary French studies published in the United States. The journal was created by and is edited by Eliane DalMolin and Roger Celestin, both associate professors of modern and classical languages. It includes scholarly articles and essays on a variety of topics, questionnaires, fiction and poetry. Many of the texts submitted are in French and the journal is published partly in French and partly in English.

Having the graduate students work as assistant editors has been invaluable to DalMolin and Celestin, and has provided the students with a significant opportunity to expand their horizons.

"It has been incredible," says Cornelio. "It gives us the opportunity to really be involved in cutting-edge areas that don't come up often in class. There are authors that I've discovered only through my contact with the journal. We are not often exposed to the most recent literature of the 1990s," she says.

Cornelio, who is bilingual, is the only native English speaker on the staff. She has been involved with much of the translation of text from French to English. "I've translated about 70 percent of the articles that weren't already translated from French into English. That's given me a huge opportunity," she says. It also has inspired her to explore a career in publishing or in literary translation.

Marsal, whose specialty is medieval French literature, has enjoyed the exposure to new authors. "I didn't know them because I don't really have time to read them, and here in the States we don't find the books. Her work on the journal has meshed with her classwork because, she says, "I need to read articles on literary theory and I do that with the journal." Her work on the journal has also nurtured an interest in 20th-century literature. "I might actually write my dissertation on it," she says.

Robert Smith, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, encourages experiences such as the graduate assistantships held by Cornelio and Marsal. "We think this kind of effort adds considerable value to the education and training of students in the humanities," he says. "The students supported through such efforts gain a competitive edge that will serve them well when they enter the marketplace, at a time when graduates - particularly those from doctoral programs - are having to look more broadly at professional placement opportunities."

The students are involved in every aspect of the editorial process, DalMolin says: "They have been a great part of the enterprise, getting experience that was far beyond their expectations."

For instance, Cornelio and Marsal have met several of the French authors who contributed to the journal, when they came to lecture at UConn.

"That's one of the benefits of having the journal here," Cornelio says.

Sherry Fisher