Armelle Denis teaches French and Anthropology courses at OSU. She is in Angers, France, during the fall term ’12 as the visiting faculty for AHA International.

Bonjour from France! In between taking my daughter to school and eating croissants, I am stepping into my role as Visiting Faculty for the AHA program in Angers, and working to develop courses for incoming students (who will arrive in 3 weeks exactly!). It involves making extensive use of the myriad resources that the OSU library offers to OSU students and faculty, like E-journals, E-books, and scan and deliver. It’s a little like being on campus while actually living 8,000 miles away!

AHA Angers students in front of the Château d’Angers in Angers, France.

I will teach two courses during Fall term: one about contemporary issues in France (such as immigration, issues of national identity, French perceptions of Americans…), which will closely follow the news as it happens. The other class will focus on regional cultures and identities, those cultures and identities that remain vibrant well into the 21st century in all corners of France. We’ll pay special attention to the Breton culture, because Brittany is only 60 miles away from Angers, because the Breton regional movement has been and remains particularly active, and because I feel strongly attracted to Brittany. See, my father hails from outside of Vannes in lower Brittany, and while he has never passed down any of the Breton language to me, I vividly remember from my childhood hearing him speak Breton with his mother — a strange and harsh sort of language, mysterious and beautiful nevertheless. Through this course, I get a chance to delve into Breton culture, explore its history and discover what makes it still so vibrant in the hearts of Breton people.

One of those things, contributing to the strength and resilience of Breton identity, is music: traditional songs played on traditional instruments or blended with newer musical genres (rock, pop, rap even!). Breton music, like other Celtic musical styles, is essentially dance music, and people congregate to this in night-time dancing festivals all over Brittany, called festoù-noz. With my class, we’re hoping to attend one or two of those night festivals, learn some good moves and feel first-hand the sense of community that arises there. Fun times ahead!

More details will follow — in the meantime, here’s a little gift: a good website that will give you an idea of the various regional musical styles in France:  Enjoy!