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Meet Ariane, a professor at Concordia University

19 Dec 2020

The benevolent gaze and warm smile of Ariane, a young medieval literature professor at Concordia University, immediately sets a friendly tone for our discussion. For this Montrealer, the holiday season brings some well-deserved downtime.
“After the hectic end of the session, I feel like keeping cozy and relaxing,” says Ariane who, in 2019, wrapped up her PhD and began her teaching career... at the same time!

Ariane’s parents, who live very close by, are part of her daily life. Her father, Charles, is even the official walker of her beloved dog, Cléo. “I’m very close to my family. On Christmas Day, we usually make music and sing all day long. We play all the old traditional songs.” She sings a familiar tune. Her masterful voice hints at a long history in music.

At a very young age, she studied classical trombone, then developed a marked interest in older pieces around age 14 or 15. As a teenager, she always had a Renaissance album in her CD player. “My more intellectual inclinations stem from music,” she says.

Ariane initially wanted to become a musician. “I studied history in CEGEP to improve my general knowledge in that field and play better, but I got hooked!” explains the literature buff.

Her eyes light up when she describes her experience with the Liberal Arts College program: “The students are amazing. Teaching them is a delight! Since the classes are small, I’m on a first-name basis with each them and get to see how they grow. I love that!”

In order to maintain this bond despite the switch over to online classes, the professor wanted to schedule a video call with each of her students to give them her feedback directly. “I also wanted to know how they were doing and if they were facing any difficulties, so I could adapt my lesson plan accordingly.”

Ariane’s deep empathy toward others is clear throughout our conversation. Well-educated, but not at all snobbish, she sees her speciality as a great opportunity to meet people. To those who would argue that ancient history is obsolete, elitist, and homogeneous, she wisely answers: “I don’t teach medieval literature because it’s the best, but because the world we live in was born of this heritage. Knowing the past helps us better understand the present. If we want to add our voice to the global chorus, we need to know what’s already been said.” 

For the benefit of our community’s music lovers, I asked what her favourite old song is. “Vespers for the Blessed Virgin by Monteverdi. It’s a beautiful, epic piece,
one of the world’s most beautiful compositions. I must’ve listened to all of it
at least a thousand times!”, the professor admits enthusiastically.

Recently, her osteopath asked her the same question. “He loved it. He told me: ‘I’ll give you a free session if you explain this piece to me.’ That was the first time I traded knowledge with someone!” she says amusedly.

Before wrapping up, I promise to write about our interview while listening to Monteverdi. In this rich piece, I see all the diversity, passion, and thirst for connection that’s at the heart of Ariane’s life.