Directed by Robert Joe Cutter, the School of International Letters and Cultures is organized into five language areas/faculties, which are headed by world-class faculty members.


Robert Joe Cutter, Director came to ASU in 2005 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he had been a professor of Chinese for 22 years. At UW he also served terms as chair of East Asian Languages and Literature and director of the Center for East Asian Studies. Cutter earned his PhD in Asian languages and literatures (Chinese) from the University of Washington in 1983. His research specialization is medieval China, and today he is a leading scholar in premodern Chinese literature and cultural history.


Juliann Vitullo, Associate Director, Administration's current research explores the rise of monetary economy and masculinity, particularly fatherhood, in early modern culture. She recently co-edited "Money, Morality, and Culture in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe" (2010). Vitullo is a member of the French & Italian faculty.



Markus Cruse, Associate Director, Graduate Studies was initially attracted to French language and Francophone culture after living in Paris for a year during college. He studies the French-speaking world, which for centuries has been a global community. Cruse came to ASU's School of International  Letters and Cultures in 2005 and teaches courses in French and Francophone cultures.



tuellerPeter Suwarno, Associate Director, Undergraduate Studies earned his PhD in Language and Communication at Ohio University in 1992. His teaching includes Indonesian language and linguistics; and his research interests include linguistics and religious communication in Indonesia. Suwarno came to ASU in 1993 and teaches courses in Indonesian language and culture. Oringinally from Indonesia, Suwarno's native language is Javanese and his second language is Indonesian. He authored “Dictionary of Javanese Proverbs and Idiomatic Expressions.”


Faculty Heads 

Classics & Middle Eastern Letters and Cultures

Souad T. Ali, Associate Professor, Arabic Literature and Middle East/Islamic Studies, is acting Faculty Head for fall semester 2014, and Director of Arabic Studies. She is simultaneously an Affiliate Faculty in the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Women and Gender Studies, African and African-American Studies, and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  A Fulbright Scholar, Professor Ali is the author of A Religion, Not A State: Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s Islamic Justification of Political Secularism (University of Utah Press 2009) that reached the top of Amazon’s List for “Bestselling New and Future Releases in Turkey” when it was released. Her scholarly articles have been published internationally and translated into different languages. 

Professor Ali's research interests cover a wide area including Arabic Literature, women and gender in Islam, Classical Islamic Texts, Islam and Secularism, Islamic Law; Sufism, Islam and Democracy, Islam and modernity, Quranic and Hadith Studies, feminist movements in Islam and the Middle East, Arab & Arab-American women, the emergent scholarship of Muslim-American women scholars, Sudanese women and Sudanese politics.


East & Southeast Asian Letters and Cultures

Stephen West, Foundation Professor, Chinese is formerly Louis Agassiz Professor of Chinese, East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley. Professor West's original research interests are in Chinese performance literature and cultural history of the 11th-14th century. While these may not seem particularly “global” in nature, in fact many of the features considered to be marks of modernity appear in Chinese society at this time as features of a society undergoing rapid urbanization, an explosion of print media, and a rapid change in the nature of its governing class. His work has centered on texts from popular culture. His languages are Mandarin dialect of Chinese, classical Chinese, and German. He has a reading knowledge of French and Spanish. He has lived and done extensive archival and field work in China and Taiwan. 


French & Italian Letters and Cultures

Helene Ossipov, Associate Professor, French earned a BA in Russian literature from Queens College of CUNY, an MA in Russian Area Studies, an MA and PhD in French linguistics from Indiana University.  Her main area of interest is computer-assisted language learning and North American French. 



German, Romanian & Slavic Letters and Cultures

Ileana Orlich, President's Professor, Romanian is the Honorary Counsul General of Romania in Arizona and Director of Romania's Academic Lectorate of Romanian Studies at ASU. Orlich was born in Bucharest, Romania, and came to Arizona in 1975. After earning her doctorate in English and comparative literature, she was a lecturer in ASU’s Department of English before becoming an assistant professor in 1998, and a full professor of Romanian studies and comparative literature in 2005. Founder and director of the largest Romanian studies program in the United States, Orlich has been introducing students at ASU to a broad global perspective, and encouraging them to expand their world experience geographically, historically, linguistically and culturally for more than 25 years.


Spanish & Portuguese Letters and Cultures

Cynthia Tompkins, Professor, Spanish was born and raised in Argentina where she graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, with degrees in English language, literature and translation as well as Licenciada en Letras Modernas. As a recipient of Fulbright Fellowship and an Edwin Sparks Research Fellowship (1982-83), she pursued degrees (MA and PhD) in Comparative Literature at Penn State University. In addition to her latest book, “Experimental Latin American Cinema: History and Aesthetics” (2013), she authored “Latin American Postmodernisms: Women Writers and Experimentation” (2006) and co-authored a number of books on Latin America, including translations. Her work on Latin American film, women writers, feminism and cultural production has appeared in the most respected refereed journals.


Learning Support Services

Andrew Ross is Head of Learning Support Services, which provides technology-focused support for the teaching and learning of languages, cultures and literatures within the School of International Letters and Cultures.  He graduated from Washington State University with a BA in French and later earned an MA from the same institution, specializing in Late Medieval literature.  He completed his PhD at the University of California - Berkeley in French, and got his start in language technology at the Berkeley Language Center and the Mellon Foundation's Project 2001 at Middlebury College.  Ross came to ASU in 2010 from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island where he was the Director of the Language Resource Center and Associate Director for Emerging Instructional Technologies.  In addition to supervising the operations of Learning Support Services, he is involved in the Hispanidades Project in collaboration with Columbia University and other institutions, and works on issues of culture and computer-mediated communications.