A FLAS Fellow's Semester Abroad in Amman

Audrey Dombro, an agricultural and consumer economics student and 2019-20 FLAS fellow, reflects upon her experience studying in Jordan.

Master of Arts in European Union Studies

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois offers the only Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more here.

Reading Contagion through Boccaccio's Decameron

Dr. Eleonora Stoppino discusses the moments of social and ethical breakdown described by Boccaccio, as well as the potential for reconstruction after the plague.

Conversations on Europe

Watch the collection of online roundtable discussions on different EU issues sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

COVID-19 and Liberal Democracy in Hungary

Dr. Zsuzsa Gille responds to the "Enabling Act," passed by the Hungarian Parliament on March 30, 2020.

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Blackface Disguise at the Court of Queen Henrietta Maria, 1625-1649 (EUC Fall Brown Bag Lecture Series)

Queen Henrietta Maria
By Irati Hurtado Ruiz, EUC Research Assistant and Spanish & Portuguese PhD Student

In our first Brown Bag lecture of the semester, Andrea Stevens, Associate Professor of English, Theatre, and Medieval Studies, discussed her current book-in-progress. Prof. Stevens started her talk by highlighting the lack of black characters in English drama after Othello. These black African characters were replaced by ‘maid-as-moor’ characters by the time of the Caroline court (under the patronage of Queen Henrietta Maria). The "maid-as-moor" is a female character who temporarily disguises herself as a black African. 

An examination of several plays from that period shows that, in all plays, these female characters feature a striking transformation whereby their ‘true’ white identity is revealed. These transformations, which usually involve the removal of makeup, are very theatrically vibrant moments on stage. According to Prof. Stevens, this black disguise has multiple ends. For instance, it can help preserve chastity when threatened with assault or spy upon a lover or unfaithful husband. 

But this blackness, however, is not "progressive," Prof. Stevens claimed. Instead, it is used to shore up whiteness. That is, blackness signifies a firm hue that cannot be changed by other colors, whereas whiteness can be changed. "Maid-as-moor" characters in these plays are thus a symbol of the distinction between the noble and the common, between the white and the black. Prof. Stevens concluded her talk by showing other contemporary examples of blackface in the fashion industry, such as French Vogue's October 2009 photo shoot.


Monday, July 20, 2020

MAEUS Student Spotlight: Nicholas Zalewski

Nicholas Zalewski recently finished his first year in the M.A. in European Union Studies program, after having graduated cum laude from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2019 with a B.A. in political science, global studies, and Italian. During the next academic year, Nicholas will be working as a research assistant with the European Union Center and serving on the U-C Senate’s committee on admissions and as a graduate senator for Illinois Student Government (ISG).

“I was interested in [the Illinois Student Government] as an undergrad but never had the chance to run,” Nicholas says. While undergraduate student senators are typically elected to represent a group of majors within their colleges, graduate senators represent the Graduate College, the College of Law, or the College of Veterinary Medicine. The purpose of ISG is to advocate on behalf of student interests to the University of Illinois administration.

“A lot of grad students don’t realize that we have this opportunity,” says Nicholas, who was elected to the ISG Senate as a write-in candidate after speaking with graduate students who were planning to vote.

Nicholas began serving on the ISG Senate this past spring. Finding a new mascot and communicating student concerns over the planned increase in student healthcare insurance premiums are two issues that ISG has focused on this year. Much more recently, ISG has been occupied with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s announcement that international students with F-1 or M-1 visas will be required to take in-person classes in the fall in order to stay in the U.S., an order that was rescinded on July 14.

Apart from the ISG Senate, Nicholas is also serving on the U-C Senate’s committee on admissions. “As soon as I found out that I received enough votes to become a graduate senator, I applied to be on this committee,” Nicholas says. “The biggest issue with the incoming class is what to do with students who couldn’t take the ACT or SAT and how the university could look at these students more holistically and still try to set concrete metrics.” The committee has been keeping track of what peer universities are doing, and Nicholas says that the admissions office will likely focus on grades from the first five semesters of high school and not use standardized test scores.

Nicholas’s advice for incoming MAEUS students is to get involved in campus life as quickly as possible. “The sooner you do so, the better it’ll be for you in the long run,” he says. “Be open and talk to students from other graduate programs. That’s how you find out about other opportunities, such as graduate assistantships.”

For students who want to be involved but don’t know where to start, Nicholas advises that they look at campus event calendars from the previous year. “If they know that they’re interested in a certain position, looking at the calendar will let them know when applications open.” Nicholas notes that Quad Day is a particularly helpful event to attend to learn about student organizations, units, and opportunities on campus.

Looking ahead to the next year as a EU Center research assistant, Nicholas says that he most looks forward to spreading the message about the center and what it has to offer. Nicholas plans to apply to law school and hopes to work in international corporate law.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Wednesday, June 24: 13th Annual Turkish Studies Symposium, "Teaching the Challenges of Modern Turkey"

We're excited to announce the program for our 13th annual Turkish Studies Symposium, “Teaching the Challenges of Modern Turkey,” which will take place on Wednesday, June 24, 3-5pm CDT.

The theme for this year's symposium is "Teaching the Challenges of Modern Turkey." Our aim for this symposium is for it to explore the state of Turkish studies in the U.S. and serve as a bridge connecting academic research and K-12 curricula.

With more than 75 million native speakers, Turkish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. The modern Republic of Turkey sits at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, and as a member of the Council of Europe, G20, OECD, and NATO and a candidate for EU membership, Turkey is a rising political and economic power. In the U.S., Turkish is a critical language as defined by the Department of State, yet a 2017 report by American Councils shows that only 27 K-12 schools in the formal U.S. education system offer Turkish-language instruction.

This year’s Turkish Studies Symposium presenters will discuss U.S.-based knowledge production about Turkey, the state of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) in the U.S., and Turkish heritage language programs in the U.S. and the micro-level policies that support them. Organized as part of the European Union Center’s K-14 summer curriculum workshop, the symposium will conclude with a live demonstration on preparing ayran — a presentation that can be subsequently adapted as a cocurricular activity in K-14 classrooms.

The symposium will be held virtually over Zoom. For the Zoom link and password, please see our events calendar.

Symposium Schedule (all times are in CDT)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
3:00-3:10 P.M. — Welcoming remarks

3:10-3:30 P.M. — “Turkey, Iran, and the Politics of Comparatism”
Perin E. Gürel, Associate Professor of American Studies and Gender Studies, University of Notre Dame
3:30-3:40 P.M. — Q&A

3:40-4:00 P.M. — “The State of Less Commonly Taught Language Programs in the U.S.”
Ercan Balcı, Lecturer of Turkish, Boston University
4:00-4:10 P.M. — Q&A

4:10-4:30 P.M. — “Heritage Language Programs: Establishing Pedagogical Policies and Practices for Successful Programs in the U.S.”
Ozge Evcen, PhD Candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
4:30-4:40 P.M. — Q&A

4:40-4:55 P.M. — Cultural Activity: The History and Preparation of Ayran
Ozge Evcen, PhD Candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

4:55-5:00 P.M. — Closing remarks

Monday, June 15, 2020

A Student's Experience of the Coronavirus Crisis from France: May 3, 2020

by Bérénice Locherer.  Bérénice is a Masters I student in international business at Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien who has returned home to France during the coronavirus crisis.  She has been taking European Union courses this term alongside students in the Illinois in Vienna Program.

May 3, 2020

Images by author
unless noted otherwise
My name is Bérénice Locherer. Currently in Master 1 of a business school, our university offers us the opportunity to do a year of study abroad. I chose Lebanon, a country that attracts me a lot. Indeed, the Lebanese are proud of their country and are so warm and welcoming with us, Europeans. Due to a civil revolution that began in mid-October 2019, the embassy asked me, for security reasons, to return to France. However, I wanted to come back enriched by an experience abroad and so I chose to spend my summer semester in Austria, at the Wirtschaftsuniversität in Vienna.

My courses in the Austrian capital started at the end of February 2020. I was happy to get the chance to study in this city with its sumptuous buildings and a thousand wonderful places. At the same time, the coronavirus starts to spread in Europe.


The first two weeks are going well. I take courses to deepen my knowledge of the European Union, marketing and management. I am slowly taking my mark in an outstanding university.


The coronavirus situation in France is already critical. In Austria, the circulation of the virus is still low. However, the Austrian government decided on the 10th of March to suspend face-to-face courses, the opening of bars and restaurants, and personal services. I am therefore forced to take online courses for a month, with reservations. Exchanges are limited, I am no longer emerged in Austrian culture, and I can no longer discover my adopted city. Only two days later, I hear that that the airlines will soon stop their connections with France. At the request of the consulate, I am again forced to return home. I thought, then, that I would be able to come back as early as the 3rd of April for the resumption. At the same time, France also closes all schools and universities, then bars and restaurants, while suspending gatherings. The Wirtschaftsuniversität sets quickly the online courses up and is trying as much as possible to provide information for the rest of the year. However, on the 27th of March another bad news occurs... The exchange students will not have to come back on site anymore since the university will not open until the end of the academic year.

Photo Credit: Jacques Paquier, via Creative Commons.
License available here.
The lockdown in France creates an atmosphere of mistrust and fear. Indeed, people rush into supermarkets and rob them, burglarize to get protection. Masks, hydro-alcoholic gel, bread and pasta become rare commodities. Each outing must be imperatively justified by a compelling reason and accompanied by a certificate signed on honor. Displacement must be within a radius of one kilometer from home. Shopping must be done in the nearest supermarket and must not exceed one hour. This, under penalty of a fine. President Macron calls for a united France, but all too often, there are selfish behaviors of a majority of French people. It is rare to find solidarity and empathy today

In April, while Austria eases its lockdown measures and announces the reopening of shops and restaurants, France extends it until 11 May. The hospitals are saturated, the number of deaths continues to increase. The situation is palpable, but every effort is being made to remain confined to save lives.

Today, the 3rd of May, shops, traders, schools, ... are eagerly waiting the government's decision regarding the reopening and recovery of the economy. For Master students, stress is setting in... The search for internships or work-study programs is complicated and offers as responses to applications are rare. In France, this is an unprecedented experience. The situation is previously unseen and the reactions are different. France must continue to save lives but must also think about saving its economy.


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