James D. Matthews
Associate Professor of French
Dean of Students
"It is rare to find learned men who are clean, do not stink, and have a sense of humor."
A character in one of Garry Trudeau's early Doonesbury strips smirks after having scared away a menacing defenseman by letting loose a stream of colloquial French, and says: "Not bad for French major from the Bronx." In my case, change the "
Bronx" to " " and, me voilà. I came to Illinois Wesleyan University in 1986 having begun my career two years earlier at Detroit in Ball State University . I received my bachelor's degree from Albion College and my Master's and Ph.d. from the University of Michigan. In addtion to courses in French while at Muncie, Indiana , I have taught in the Humanities, Freshman Seminar, Literature in Translation and Gateway programs. French courses of which I am particularly proud are 317: La Civilisation francaise II, 301: Langue et Culture, and Senior Seminar. In 1990, I received the very first Teacher of the Year award chosen by the Student Senate of Illinois Wesleyan; in 1995 I was given the Dupont Award for Teaching Excellence selected by a representative committee of IWU faculty members. In October of 1997 I was asked to serve as Chair of the Greek Affairs Task Force and in March 1998 I was named Acting Dean of Students, a position which was made permanent in February 1999. In 1999 I received the Student Senate Teacher of the Year award for the second time. In January 2002 I was pleased to preside over the opening of the Illinois Wesleyan University , Hansen Student Center
a renovation of the Memorial Gym, and a project that completed the recommendations of the Greek Affairs Task Force concerning student life at IWU.
I have two principle scholarly interests: the poetics of seventeenth-century French theater, and the travel literature of French visitors to
North Americaand Africa. I have led successful travel courses to and the Quebec Caribbean, as well as visited numerous times including a one-year stint as lecteur d'anglais at the Faculté des lettres of the Université de Montpellier. My most recent publications are entitled "Encountering the Savage: Reading (Self)-Discovery in the Journals of Father Jacques Marquette" published on CD in the proceedings of the 1996 International Society for the Study of European Ideas Conference held in France , the Utrecht and “Vierges et calumets. Description de l’altérité dans le premier journal du Père Marquette » in La Construction de L’Autre, Peuples Méditerranéens/Mediterranean Peoples, v. 78, Janvier-Mars, 1997, pp. 99-116. Netherlands
When not busy at work, I enjoy bird watching, hiking, photography, and advocating for individuals with physical and learning challenges. I am an enthusiastic Railfan. Top of Page
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- Marquis de la Galissoniere, Memoir on the French Colonies in North America, December 1750
- Native American Peoples: NORTH AMERICAN PEOPLES AND CULTURES: Eastern Woodlands Indians: TRADITIONAL CULTURE PATTERNS: Social organization.: Bands, tribes, and confederations.
- http://www.archives.ca/MenuPrincipal.html (Canadian National Archives)
- Senghor au Club des Poetes
- L'ardent défi des maîtres d'école au Sénégal (Le Monde diplomatique)
- French Memoirs and Travel Journals (bibliography of resources)
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· I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project by Paul Auster (Editor) (Picador
, 2003). An amazing collection of writings from “real” people, thoughtfully edited by Paul Auster. An invaluable insight into contemporary American culture. USA
· Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. Parker J. Palmer, (John Wiley & Sons, 2000). A courageous guidebook that offers to lead one to a deeper understanding of one’s authentic self. A most helpful account of the benefits of confronting depression.
· Living Downstream: An Ecologist looks at Cancer and the Environment. Sandra Steingraber (Addison-Wesley, 1997). IWU and
grad--how could she be wrong? Beautifully written, very troubling look at unregulated carcinogens floating around in our environment, but they "bring jobs to Michigan Central Illinois" (mostly at the new Cancer Center here in .) Bloomington
· Colonel Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt Goes to War, 1897-1898. H. Paul Jeffers, (John Wiley & Sons, 1996). "A Bully book, and we had a bully time reading it." Basically a re-working of Teddy's own account, but concisely told. Where is Teddy when we need him (see Steingraber's book)?
· Rising Tide: The Great
Flood of 1927 And How It Changed Mississippi . John M. Barry. America : Simon And Schuster, 1997. Act of God? No way. A compelling look at human arrogance and the misery it produced. Where was Teddy when we needed him? Hunting bears with plantation owners. A great book. New York