Graduate students

I work with UC Berkeley graduates at both stages of their PhD programs: the coursework stage that involves taking classes and the dissertation that involves both research and writing.


I regularly teach two core graduate classes in historical French linguistics and the Romance languages:

  • 201 History of the French Language
  • 202 Linguistic History of the Romance Languages

These courses are taken by students specialising in linguistics and by students in other areas such as literary, historical and cultural studies. Both courses combine elements of the external and internal histories of the language(s) and textual analysis features prominently.

In 2012 I developed and taught a new course:

  • 205 Translation Theory and Practice

This course considers the theory and practice of translation into French from an historical perspective, starting with the very first French texts and ending in the digital age. In Spring 2014 I taught a new course for relatively advanced graduate students on French Syntax.

  • 206 Special Topics in French Linguistics: Advanced French Syntax


At the dissertation stage, I work most closely with students in the Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL) program at UC Berkeley because this is where graduates with an interest in French, Italian or comparative Romance linguistics are housed. However, I am also on committees for students in the departments of French, Linguistics, and Italian Studies. My research areas that overlap most with disciplines outside linguistics are the cultural history of early-modern France and Italy, the classical period, and translation studies. 

French and Romance Linguistics at UC Berkeley 

If you are interested in working with me in French and Romance linguistics, you should apply to the Romance Languages and Literatures Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley. Please note that you do not have to choose French as your main language and home department in order to work with me as your main advisor.

Current graduate students

  • EMILY DUTCH (RLL) started her PhD in 2013, and her research interests include sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, language and identity, and language and technology.
  • AUBREY GABEL (French Literature) started her PhD in 2010 and her research interests include theories of ludics, translation and genre.
  • LEA HUOTARI (University of Helsinki) is working on a dissertation in translation studies that is informed by cognitive linguistics and comparative linguistic analysis. Her main focus is the grammatical subject in translation in French and Finnish.
  • BROCK IMEL (RLL) started his PhD in 2011 and he is interested in language contact and creole genesis, phonological change, historical linguistics and comparative syntax.
  • LINDA LOUIE (RLL) is interested in translation in the early-modern period
  • ELYSE RITCHEY (RLL) is interested in regional Romance varieties, particularly Occitan, and how historical factors influence current problems in sociolinguistics.
  • ARIEL SHANNON (Italian Studies) is writing her PhD dissertation on post-colonial migrant literature in France and Italy.
  • CHRISTINE SHEIL (Linguistics) is writing her dissertation on cleft constructions in Scottish Gaelic; she is interested in syntactic and morphological structure, and specifically how agreement inflection reflects that structure.
  • JENELLE THOMAS (RLL) started her PhD in 2011 and her research interests include language contact, phonological change, historical linguistics and sociolinguistics.
  • DIANA THOW (Comparative Literature) works on 20th century translation and poetry in Italian, English and French literary traditions.

Previous graduate students

  • BILLY HEIDENFELDT (RLL) completed his Ph.D. dissertation "Becoming Expert: Identity Work and Pedagogical Decisions by L2 Teachers of Spanish and French" in 2015 and is currently working as a French and ESL Teacher and the International Student Program Co-Coordinator at Salesian College Preparatory.
  • MATTHEW SMITH (French Literature) completed his Ph.D. dissertation "Patterns of Exchange: Translation, Periodicals and the Poetry Reading in Contemporary French and American Poetry" and is currently Assistant Professor of French at Northern Illinois University.
  • MAYA SMITH (RLL) finished her PhD dissertation on identity and second language acquisition among Senegalese immigrants in France and Italy in April 2013. She is now Assistant Professor in French at the University of Washington.
  • DAVID DIVITA (RLL) completed his PhD dissertation "Acquisition as Becoming: An Ethnographic Study of Multilingual Style in la Petite Espagne" in 2010 and is an Associate Professor at Pomona College.