Francesca Novello

What was your background and experience before joining the faculty at OU?

I graduated from the University of Palermo, Italy, with a degree in Foreign Languages, majoring in English and minoring in Spanish.
After my graduation I moved to Brighton, England, where I studied for the Cambridge Proficiency Certificate at St. Giles College. After passing the Cambridge Proficiency, I lived between Brighton and London translating and tutoring in Italian and in English while working for Alitalia airline in London.
After a couple of years, I moved to the US for a Master’s in English with emphasis in Medieval Studies at the University of Oklahoma. During my MA years, I worked as a TA teaching Freshman Composition I and II and I studied German. I also studied German at the Goethe-Institut in Berlin for one summer.
After completing my MA I continued to study German and in the meantime I was offered a position to teach Italian at the University of Oklahoma where I have been teaching ever since.

What topics are you most passionate about and what projects are you working on right now?

During my undergraduate years, my German philology professor gave me the opportunity to write a review of a book on Old English and one review of a book on Vikings. Both reviews were published on Schede Medievali.
Since I studied German philology during my undergraduate degree years I have been interested in the study of words and in the history of languages. It is fascinating to study how words traveled and still travel through time, why and how words, and more generally speaking languages, become what they are today. I love to learn the history that words carry with and in them. Writing my undergraduate degree thesis on the five types of future tense in English from Old English to Modern times was the most fascinating research I have ever done.
I am also interested in Women’s Studies. I have worked for many years and with several interruptions on a translation of L’Ordine Simbolico della Madre by Luisa Muraro which was published in January 2018 by SUNY PRESS.

What do you most enjoy about teaching at OU?

Teaching for me is not a job but a passion. I love to teach and I love students. My job as a teacher is to aim to give my students clarity about what they study in order to make them feel comfortable and sure about what they learn which ultimately motivates them to continue to study Italian. This is my objective. I have many years of experience teaching at the University of Oklahoma. Consequently, I know the student body well and I know how to get through to them most of the time. I am very comfortable at OU. OU is like home for me.
In all my years of teaching I have seen students’ attitude change towards studying Italian. They have become more interested and more curious about the outside world than they were some time ago. I feel a few years ago students were more guarded, less curious about what was different. Now they are eager to experience what another country has to offer to them. They are curious to know what is on the other side of the fence. I am happy to have seen a change of interest towards what is foreign to them.

What would you tell a student who is thinking about studying Italian at OU but who may be on the fence?

I would tell them how my experience studying a foreign language transported me to other cultures with different sets of rules and codes and different ways of life. Studying English and therefore moving to England and then to the US has been for me such an enrichment. I feel richer as a human being. I could not imagine my life without speaking both Italian and English. Every language with its choices of words and expressions gives a different  approach to life that makes you reflect on your own language and culture. Studying a foreign language not only can give you further opportunity to be who you want to be but it also provides different outlooks on life and consequently different responses to whatever falls on your path. There is not only one language, one culture, one way of living life. Studying languages offers many alternatives in regard to who you can be and what you can be.  
Why studying Italian? I fell in love with English because of its sound and because I fell in love with some English speaking people I met who eventually became dear friends. I guess the first thing that must attract you about a foreign language is its sound and Italian is definitely a very beautiful sounding language. That’s what the entire world says about Italian.
A second important thing is the people who speak it- how friendly and welcoming they are. I feel Italians are very helpful and warm people. Everybody seems to feel at home in Italy.
The third important thing is the beauty of the country. When I go to Italy, I am reminded of the beauty of my country. You can be transported to the Roman Empire times, to the Medieval times, to the Renaissance times, to the Baroque times and so forth. You live in the present and in the presence of the past. What an extraordinary experience! And … not to mention the culinary experience that will change your taste of food for life!
Besides making any student more marketable, studying Italian will surround you with beauty, will make you experience taste in fashion, in food, and in the environment you live. Being in Italy exalts your senses. What makes you more alive than when your senses are exalted?

What is your teaching motto or favorite piece of advice for students in your classes?

I always tell my students that the years of college are, probably, the most fascinating and important years of their lives because of the choices and opportunities offered to them. In most cases the choices they make in college will help them design their future life. College years are when students build the path of their life, when they are shaping who they are going to be and what they are going to become. I tell my students to be passionate with what they do and to take pride in their classwork since it has their name on it. Passion in what they choose to study and pride in the work they turn in. That’s my motto.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love music particularly jazz and classical music and I like art, museums, and design. Being in a city awakens and inspires me.
Whenever possible I like to go hiking in the mountains. I really like mountains and woods.
I enjoy cooking but my husband is an extraordinary cook so I let him delight me with his culinary creation.
I wish I had my family closer. It is wonderful to be able to spend time with family and friends. At the end of each day I wish I had more energy and time to see friends and to do all the things that are still in my bucket list.