Twenty Questions: A Sketch of Centre French professor Patrice Mothion
RELEASED: Nov. 23, 2005
DANVILLE, KY1. Position/title: Associate Professor of French
2. Hometown: The concept of defining where "home" is has become increasingly difficult lately. It is not France anymore. Now that I live here in Danville, I cannot call Virginia [where he taught at George Mason University for many years] home anymore, although it remains my favorite state in the U.S. One thing is for sure: Danville is not my hometown and will never be.
3. Career highlight: I do not think in terms of "career" so this question is a bit tricky. Rather, there are moments in my academic life that I deem memorable. One such moment was as I was about to defend my dissertation in New York City on the 40th floor of the Grace Building, overlooking downtown Manhattan (with the World Trade Center in the distance). The head of my committee just said, as an opening statement: "Your dissertation is the remarkable work of a true balzacien." I remember taking a second to think about what I had just heard, then I looked at the New York skyline in front of me and told myself: "This is going to be a beautiful day!"
4. Signature class: Teaching my two classes on Modern France and French Literature while in Strasbourg as the director of the study abroad program in the fall of 2003. The students were just fantastic!
5. Recent publication/exhibition/performance: I leave this one blank because I have been too busy to publish, exhibit or perform anything of interest recently.
6. Family details: One thing is striking about our small family: we have three last names: [Visiting Assistant Professor of Language] Julie James [http://www.centre.edu/web/academic/faculty/jamesj.html]and Patrice Mothion and our daughter Amanda Avalos. It is a bit confusing for people who do not know us, so we like it!
7. Hobbies: Too many! Photography, Celtic and rock music (collecting CDs and pictures, compiling charts, going to concerts, everything!), European motor sports (from collecting cars and pictures to going to races), chess, sailing, watching World Cup soccer on TV, traveling, collecting Quimper pottery, reading classics ... Life is too short!
8. Pets: Two cats: French-speaking Zizou and Spanish-meowing Guapa.
9. Prized possession: The first three singles released in France by the Sex Pistols (with "banned in the U.K." written across the cover), the first single released in France by the Talking Heads (when the band was still a trio), and an antique Quimper dish that I received as a gift.
10. Last book read: I am currently reading three books: Dickens' Hard Times, Cooper's Last of the Mohicans and Flaubert's Madame Bovary (for the 234th time, still a pleasure!).
11. Memorable trip/vacation: What makes a trip memorable is the person(s) with whom you travel. I love traveling with Julie and all of our trips are memorable. We are already planning the next one!
12. Favorite movie: Holy Grail for the insanely funny way the French are portrayed.
13. Favorite album: Can's Tago Mago.
14. Favorite food: Thai cuisine; Maryland crabs; any seafood from Normandy/Brittany.
15. Favorite smell: Smells are important to a (big) French nose! The smell of a tropical forest would be among my favorite, along with the immediately identifiable smell of the ocean in Brittany.
16. Person you most admire: As a teenager, I would have said Jimi Hendrix, Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda. Now, I realize that my dad is the man I most admire for the person he was and for all that he did.
17. Living figure you'd most like to meet: I would like to invite U2 on campus, then have dinner and change the world with Bono.
18. Historical figure you'd most like to meet: My choice would be one of the young liberal aristocrats from Brittany who came to this land around 1780 to fight for democracy and the birth of the United States. Without them ... what a shame their cemeteries have been left abandoned in Virginia and elsewhere. Imagine if France did the same in Normandy!
19. What would you be doing if you weren't teaching at Centre: Idealistically, I would be the director of a school in the Caribbean specializing in languages AND nautical sports (you learn how to sail and speak a foreign language at the same time). Realistically, I would be teaching French at a state school on the East Coast.20. Describe yourself in three words: loyal, hardworking, quietly determined.
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