50 years of English and French at Université de Montréal
A small university department specializing in English literature is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
And it's not located where you may think.
The Université de Montréal's small but thriving English studies department has produced such celebrated alumni as former judge and ex-Liberal MNA Herbert Marx and author Johanna Skibsrud who won the Giller Prize last year for The Sentimentalists.
The department toasted its past and current students and staff with a roundtable and awards ceremony last week.
Professor Joyce Boro, chairperson of the 50th anniversary committee, said despite obvious competition from McGill or Concordia universities, student enrolment has been stable and steadily growing in a department that finds itself in a majority Francophone institution, making it rather unique in North America.
`We are in some ways a little English enclave but in other ways, we`re more of a bilingual enclave where we function amongst ourselves in English but as soon as we step out of the department and speak to other people, write to other people (within the university) that all happens in French," Boro said.
"We offer a program that reflects the linguistic and cultural diversity of Quebec and I think that appeals to a lot of students."
WIth recent stories of linguistic tension and controversial language policies, Boro said the department can do its part to help build linguistic bridges.
"I think it could be. I think we are a real success story about how languages can work together, people from different language backgrounds," Boro said.
"I think we do show how harmony can exist."
Photo: Université de Montréal