Language and Culture Institute


The Institute firmly believes that in an increasingly globalized world, studying world languages is the gateway to opening minds, transcending prejudices and increasing understanding of one’s own culture by developing appreciation for others. Be the goal professional or educational, and the purpose travel, business or leisure, learning a world language is a source of pleasure and mutual understanding. Hence, our goal is to create a vibrant cross-generational community of learners coming together to develop cultural awareness through a unique language experience. Please note, the After School Language Institute is not being offered during Fall 2022.

Salon Series

Our Salon Series offers thought-provoking cross-cultural perspectives on a host of issues ranging from Identity & Justice, the Dilemmas of Free Speech, and National Identity and Challenges to Democracy. This year, the Salon Series will focus on Identities in Exile: War, Love, Art, and Democracy in the Paris-Harlem of the Roaring Twenties

Courses take into account participants’ interests as well as relevant global current events, using the most up-to-date and cross-disciplinary materials: a true pilates of the mind, as one participant called it. Classes are recommended for adults and Upper School students. 

Institute Policies and Registration Sessions

Refund: Withdrawals after the first class are nonrefundable

Salon Fall 10-Class Session: October 6-December 15, 2022

List of 1 items.

  • Fall 2022 Course Description

    Identities in Exile: War, Love, Art and Democracy in the Paris-Harlem of the Roaring Twenties

    Teacher: A. Protopappas

    Thursdays: 4-6 p.m. 

    Our 10-week Salon Series (a true "pilates of the mind!") will take place online this fall, starting October 6 and ending on December 15 and it will unfold as follows:

    At a time when national conversations around identity can be challenging on both sides of the Atlantic, our Salon Fall Series invites you to a refreshing journey, one century ago to the Paris of the Roaring Twenties: a city eager to celebrate Jazz, Joie de Vivre, love, and democracy in the wake of a devastating Spanish Influenza pandemic and a destructive world conflict that ripped apart the old order of things, while creating unprecedented opportunities to re-invent oneself through the transformative power of art to articulate new conceptions of identity and citizenship.
    Come discover the extraordinary number and diversity of American exiles who crossed the Atlantic, emulated by Lindberg, and explore their countless contributions to democratic freedoms and the Paris cultural avant-garde of Cubism, Dadaïsme, Surrealism, and Existentialism. We will examine the reasons why Paris and Harlem bloomed into thriving cultural hubs and interacting spaces of artistic expression, vibrant encounters, and cross-pollination among artists from all corners of the world and Empires who foremost defined themselves as individuals and free thinkers, firmly challenging conformity and tribalism.
    Join us and follow in the footsteps of Gertrude Stein and her legendary Salon guests Picasso and Hemingway, Sylvia Beach and her Parisian Shakespeare & Co, iconic performers Josephine Baker and “Bricktop,” Peggy Guggenheim, Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Berenice Abbott, Gwendolyn Bennett, Augusta Savage and so many lesser-known but equally fascinating others in the wandering streets of Paris, straddling the banks of the Seine from Montmartre to Saint Germain, before hopping on a Harlem tour to trace the hot spots and inspiring figures of the Harlem Renaissance.
    Open to everyone eager to engage in our Salon’s Pilates of the Mind!

    Class materials will include an interdisciplinary selection of hot-off-the press publications, films and documentaries as well as essential literary, artistic and scholarly references.   

    For any questions or additional information about this class, you can address your inquiries to

    Our Salon Series values multiple perspectives and upholds the historical tradition of disenfranchised and oppressed groups (women, African-Americans and homosexuals) who engaged in the life of the mind to fight for social recognition and universal rights. It fulfills the threefold mission of the Culture & Language Institute: Open the mind; Transcend Prejudice; Better Understand One’s Culture through Appreciating Others.

List of 1 items.

  • Language Institute Fees and Class Size

    $550 for all participants for a 10-week cycle

    Class size is limited to 20 students, and a minimum of four students is required for the class to be offered. 

List of 1 items.

  • About the Instructor

    Anne Protopappas joined The Spence faculty in the fall of 1998. A French native speaker of Greek and Vietnamese origin, Anne was raised and educated in Paris where she majored in Chinese and Japanese languages at the Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales as well as Political Philosophy, Economics and Constitutional Law at Sciences PoParis. Anne’s graduate work specialized in Asian Studies and Comparative Politics at the Beijing Language & Culture University and the School of International Affairs at Columbia, where she is currently working on her doctoral dissertation titled Genealogies of Colonizing States: Cultural Assimilation, Citizenship and National Identity in the French and Japanese Empires. Anne’s teaching career demonstrates a longstanding commitment to women’s education, with experience teaching all levels of French language, literature and post-colonial history at Mount Holyoke and Barnard Colleges and The Brearley and The Spence Schools. Throughout her 20 year-tenure at Spence, Anne has worked to weave language and civic global awareness inside and outside the classroom by integrating the study of history and current events into her French and Chinese curriculums; through her role as Model UN faculty advisor and mentor to the Debate Club; and by contributing to Assemblies and School events on issues of global relevance as early as the 2003 Spence Teach-In series prompted by the Iraq War. In her most recent role as Coordinator of the Language & Culture Institute, Anne uses her training in philosophy, multicultural history and global ethics to sharpen the focus on language and cultural identity and develop a cross-cultural and multidisciplinary framework for the Salon classes and overall programs. Having also studied Modern and African dance and classical music—cello and piano—Anne deeply values Spence’s genuine commitment to a liberal arts education for girls.

ABOUT section

“I was particularly impressed by how thorough your presentation of a balanced view on the topic of free speech in the French and American contexts and how timely in the aftermath of our recent U.S. elections and upcoming French elections... I was particularly moved by your discussion about identity, the distinction between fact and opinion, and the issue of freedom of speech vs. freedom of expression.”
— Class Participant

"I have made many attempts to learn the French language…but none of the classes I took… taught me what I learned through this class, namely "Frenchness:" how the French think, their intellectual history and how that thinking shapes their culture. This knowledge led me to comprehend that my "truths" are not universal but are shaped, as in France, by how I was raised in the United States and the cultural history I inherited. I am so very grateful for this opportunity to stretch my mind, and I could not be prouder of Spence for standing behind their motto: "not for school but for life we learn." 
— Class Participant