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U-Maine professor to speak at UMFK May 6

April 28, 2006

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University of Maine professor of communications, Kristin Langellier will speak and share the stories by Franco-American families this coming Saturday, May 6 at 3:00 in the University of Maine at Fort Kent Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes exhibit gallery.

Some people who can speak French fluently are not French, and some people who do not speak French call themselves French. How can this be? What does "being French" or "being Franco American" mean? What makes someone French, or Franco-American? Can people of the St. John Valley be understood as Franco- American whether or not they still speak French?

For Langellier, the answer is "yes". Being Franco-American is more than speaking the French language.

In 2001, she traveled for several months through the state of Maine, where she included a trip to the St. John Valley.

While Langellier was in the Valley, she listened to the family stories of people who identified themselves as Franco-American.

"Sometimes I sat with one family member but more often I sat with married couples or among generations, as many as four, ranging from great-grandparent to great-grand children," said Langellier.

Along with her co-author Eric Peterson, she studied these stories for how they created family sensibilities and group identities. Based on these family stories, the authors suggest that being French is about family culture and communication, not just about language.

The writing on Franco-American family storytelling appears in their book, Storytelling in Daily Life.

During her public presentation, Langellier will discuss some of these stories entitled "We'll all French" (But We Don't All Speak French): Franco American Family Storytelling."

The session will also be an opportunity for the audience to discuss and tell family stories.

"All of us are family story-tellers," says Lisa Ornstein, director of the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes. "Kristin's presentation will be a wonderful opportunity to both learn and share what we already know about this important, universal form of communication. It's also an opportunity to look at the role of language and the interplay of French and English in the Valley.

"It would be great to have an audience of all ages, because there are so many different perspectives. This is really a perfect event to bring not only yourself, but your parents, grandparents, and children," added Ornstein.

The community presentation is sponsored by the Maine Franco-American Studies Alliance (MFASA).

Refreshments will be served.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information contact Ornstein 207-834-7536.