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Faculty Spotlight: Sara Armengot


Faculty Spotlight

From an outside perspective, RIT might not seem like the best place to study or teach Liberal Arts classes. Sara Armengot, an Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Cultures, happens to think the opposite.

"RIT has a great mix of both technical and artistic sides," said Armengot. "That combination of the creative and technical is attractive I think now more than ever. Even in the humanities we're using digital tools and exploring available technologies that enhance and influence our work."

Armengot completed her undergraduate work at Oberlin College before moving on to graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, where she received a PhD in Comparative Literature. Once she was finished at Penn State, Armengot began at RIT, in 2008.

"I've enjoyed working with the students and faculty, both in Modern Languages and the College of Liberal Arts," said Armengot, who is the advisor for the RIT Spanish Club.

Having completed her first book manuscript, called 'Anti-Typical America', Armengot has turned her attention to a new project: environmental testimonial in cultural production in the Dominican Republic. It's this attention to the Dominican Republic that has had a number of influences on Armengot's current work at RIT.

"Another connection is that I studied in the Dominican Republic and RIT also has a connection with the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre Y Maestra," said Armengot. "I hope that in the future we'll be able to grow these connections between the Dominican Republic and RIT."

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre Y Maestra is a major university in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

Armengot hopes to have more of an impact with students from the Dominican Republic as there is little overlap between her classes and the students coming to RIT from the Dominican Republic to receive various degrees.

"The connections between bringing the students together is something I'm really interested in working on with the institutional emphasis on international education," said Armengot. "This is a great opportunity to expand on the connections we already have and bring people closer together."

As a part of Armengot's international travels to conduct research, she undertook a trip to Cuba in the summer of 2011. This was part of an effort to study Cuban film and it yielded some unexpected returns in terms of upcoming programming.

On September 27, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures presented the film 'Ibis', which focuses on the life of Ibis Hernández, a profoundly deaf Cuban dancer, and challenges that she faced.

It was a connection that Armengot had made during her time in Cuba that made the viewing possible, as it is not widely available in the United States.

"The film has never been shown here, you can't get it on Netflix, you can't rent it," said Armengot. "The producer and director sent me the film directly from Switzerland."

Armengot is also participating in another effort to bring international culture to RIT and the Rochester community. The American Literary Translators Association will be holding their 35th annual conference in Rochester this year, entitled 'The Translation of Humor, or, the Humor of Translation."

On October 5, Armengot will be the moderator of a panel on Humor and Speculative Fiction in the Bausch and Lomb Parlor at the University of Rochester. The focus of the panel will be on the difficulties in translating humor in speculative fiction.

One of the members of this panel, Edward Gauvin, will visit RIT on October 4 as part of the Colloquium on Modern Languages and Cultures. Gauvin's lecture, 'The Avant-Garde Triumphant: Alternative Comics in France, 1990 to Now' will be held in Golisano Auditorium from 3:00 to 3:50 p.m.

It will focus on the changing face of Francophone comics in the past two decades and the effects that evolving trends have on the legacy of classics such as Tintin and Heavy Metal. Also under review will be the effect that French and American alternative comics had on each other during these revolutionary times.

Armengot believes that Gauvin's talk is tailored perfectly to RIT and the diverse programs that bring that comprise it.

"I'm hoping the event will bring together students and faculty and anyone else who's interested from all parts of campus," said Armengot.

Armengot has shown time and again that she is willing to take the necessary steps to attract important programming to campus. This sort of attention to student's needs led to the creation of a weekly Spanish conversation table, which meets at Java Wally's at noon on Fridays.

All of these efforts are part of Armengot's desire to unify the divergent programs and groups that make up campus life at RIT.

"We often stay on our own side of campus and don't have a lot of interaction," said Armengot. "It's good to bring the college community together."