chapter  4
11 Pages

Collaborating on Community, Sharing Experience, Troubling the Symbolic

My language learning experiences have been generally haphazard and more outside the classroom than in. In seventh grade we had to learn lists of Greek and Latin roots and in eighth grade I started to learn Latin, following the adventures of Quintus Caecilius Lucundus, his family and slaves in Pompeii. By year ten I had managed to rise to the third worst student in the form and happily exited into French about the time Caecilius freed his slave Clemens for saving him from the conflagration in Pompeii, and sadly just before we moved onto the first passages of Ovid. I studied French for four years at

high school and one year at university. French appealed to me largely due to the teachers, who were relaxed and friendly and would sometimes take us out of boarding school to see films, such as Michele Deville’s La Lectrice and Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Cyrano de Bergerac. We’d then have coffee and discuss the film (fortunately never in French), which for a seventeen-year-old with literary leanings was almost as seductive as Miou-Miou reading Baudelaire aloud.