Centenary alumni return to Shreveport to launch French book project

SHREVEPORT, LA — Two accomplished Centenary graduates will visit their alma mater in January to celebrate the culmination of a unique project that began more than ten years ago. Dr. Aleksandra Kasztalska, a linguist, and Dr. Elinora Madrid, a primary care physician, will discuss their edited French-language volume of Benjamin Franklin’s Les Bagatelles, during a special event at Centenary’s Meadows Museum of Art on Monday, January 13, at 6:00 p.m. The book launch is free and open to the public and features a short lecture and question and answer session with the editors.

Les Bagatelles, a collection of short essays written in French by Benjamin Franklin during his tenure as United States Ambassador to France, was recently published by Centenary’s French-language press, Les Éditions Tintamarre. Kasztalska and Madrid began working on the book project while both were undergraduates at Centenary. After their French professor, Dr. Dana Kress, told the two friends about the existence of a largely-unknown and inaccessible collection of Franklin’s essays, Kasztalska and Madrid dove into the project.

“Under Dana’s mentorship, Eli and I began the work of transcribing and modernizing the texts, as well as researching Benjamin Franklin and his time in France,” explains Kasztalska. “Unfortunately, after we both graduated from Centenary in 2009, grad school and med school happened for me and Eli respectively, and we ended up putting the project on a back burner. About two years ago, we picked up the remaining work and worked closely with Dana to finalize the manuscript.”

Kasztalska came to Centenary as a Nancy M. Christian Scholar and graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology and French literature and language. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in linguistics from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, where she was recognized as an outstanding instructor and collected awards for her writing. In the summer of 2018, she was an ESL Writing Instructor at Anhui Jianzhu University in Hefei, China. Kasztalska is a prolific writer, having authored multiple academic journal articles and book chapters. She is fluent in Polish, English, and French and continues to study Spanish and American Sign Language.

Madrid was also a Nancy M. Christian Scholar at Centenary. She earned a bachelor of science in biology and a bachelor in arts in French and was awarded the prestigious United States Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship to continue her education at LSUHSC School of Medicine in Shreveport. Her award-winning research during medical school and academic record earned her entrance into postgraduate training at UCLA and Yale-affiliated programs. She is fully fluent in English, Spanish, and French.

Kress is editor-in-chief of Les Éditions Tintamarre, Louisiana’s only French-language academic press. The press recently launched a new Franch-language website containing its complete catalogue of rare French and Creole literature, with many titles featuring the work of past and present Centenary students as editors and designers. Les Bagatelles and other Tintamarre titles are available at editionstintamarre.com/catalogue.