The Department of French and Italian

2020-2021 Walther Scholars


Growing up in a small, rural county in northwest Florida, opportunities to study and practice French were few and far between. However, with the encouragement of family, friends, and teachers, I now find myself a PhD candidate in French linguistics at one of the foremost research institutes in the country. For the past four years at UT< I have had the privilege of investigating various aspects of language contact between French and English and French and Arabic. Now as I begin my dissertation on language contact and the perception of French accents in Montreal, I am exponentially grateful to be one of the recipients of the Walther fellowship. Thanks to this fellowship, instead of dividing my time between courses, teaching and research, I am able to devote a full academic year to collecting and analyzing data as well as meeting prominent scholars in the field that I hope to become a leading part of. As such, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the donors for their generosity and for making it possible for my colleagues and I to pursue our academic dreams.

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I am extremely thankful for the opportunities presented by the Walther fellowship and the French and Italian department here at UT Austin. I started learning French in school at 11 years old, but it was not until my BA in French and Francophone Studies where I identified my passion for French literature and literary analysis. My undergraduate and graduate study at the University of Florida helped to identify my specific academic interests within French literature—working within the 19th century at the intersection of Jewish studies, literature and the visual arts, and orientalism. My research questions were not satisfied with my MA degree, so I decided to continue my studies to further develop and look deeper into these questions.

The warm and welcoming learning community, interdisciplinary focus within our courses, and supportive faculty made my choice to attend UT simple, but it is the Walther that truly enables my studies here. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to focus on my academic interests as well as adjusting to the new program without the worry of funding and teaching this first year. 

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Growing up in the Pyrénées, very close to the Basque Country and Spain, I had the chance to learn at a young age about the amazing phenomenon that is contact between language and culture. I was trained in classical music, another form of language, and learned English and Spanish as part of my regular class curriculum. This fascination for other languages gave me an insatiable thirst for exploration and discovery. I believe that languages and cultures are inseparable, as one cannot exist without the other. Learning a language is not limited to memorizing a coded system: it also manifests itself through its users with all the individuals' irregularities and imperfections that make it so rich. At some point, I realized that the langua-culture I know and appreciate best is my own, and I wanted to share this passion with others. This led me to the decision of becoming a French as a Second Language teacher. I studied English for my BA in order to improve my fluency and then French as a Second Language for my master's degree. My intention was to travel as much as possible, with the goal of staying in each place for some time and observing how locals live, communicate, argue, love, laugh, etc. This led me to Australia, Gabon, Louisiana, Scotland, Sweden, Iowa and Idaho, where I currently live. Teaching French for various universites worldwide has solidified my passion for higher education and teaching, and my dream of further pursuing my own education has now come true at UT Austin thanks to the Walther Fellowship. I am deeply grateful for such an opprtunity and for the incredible privilege of learning and growing under the supervision of such a wonderful teaching team. Merci!

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I am delighted to be a recipient of the 2020-2021 Walther Scholarship. I was born in Texas and grew up in multiple states around the USA. I eventually attended high school in a small North Carolina town where I developed a fascination with the French language and culture. There were no options for formal study, so I satisfied my interest through French social media, language learning apps, and books I picked up at used bookstores. I stuck with it and went on to earn a BA in French Language and Culture at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. French has always been my linguistic home-away-from-home, but one language just was not enough. I dabbled in many other languages including other members of the romance language family and found that I was fascinated by language as an object of study unto itself. The French Linguistics program at UT is a wonderful opportunity to delve deeper into Francophonie and Linguistics, and I am honored to be able to do so with such financial support as the Walther Fellowship provides. I am glad to continue my studies in the warm and engaging environment of the Department of French and Italian, and I am really grateful that the Walther Fellowship gives me a whole year to adjust to the new trials and treasures of graduate school.

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I am very grateful to be a recipient of the 2020-2021 Walther Scholarship. As a fifth-year Ph.D. student in French Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, this award allows me to focus on my research, after spending several years growing as a language teacher. Specifically, it gives me the opportunity to make important progress on my dissertation, as the time off teaching that it offers enables me to travel to France for a long period of time to collect my sociolinguistic data. Additionally, this gift of time is also put to fruition to work on future publications, which are of great importance at this point in my graduate career. Thus, the Walther Scholarship supports my advancement towards the completion of my degree and my development as a scholar, by offering a flexibility that few graduate students have. I realize how lucky I am to have access to this scholarship, and I want to thank the Walther fellowship donors for their generosity.

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WaltherPortrait

Portrait of Julia E. F. Walther in Austin, TX, c.1927

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Julia E. F. Walther at the University of Texas at Austin, c.1944


  • Department of French and Italian

    University of Texas at Austin
    201 W 21st Street STOP B7600
    HRH 2.114A
    Austin, TX 78712-1800
    512-471-5531