The Slaughter Salon Series is named in honor of Gertrude Slaughter and is organized as a service for our UW-Madison graduate students in French & Italian.

Gertrude Elizabeth Taylor Slaughter (1870-1963) was an author, a patron of the arts, and a French House benefactor who left us her home and the land where the French House now stands on the shore of Lake Mendota. Ms. Slaughter opened her home to students in French & Italian and often organized intellectual “salons” throughout the year to discuss subjects such as art, literature, and philosophy.

“How is Frances Street?”  was a question once posed to Mme Slaughter and to which she answered in her memoir, “Only the Past is Ours” (1963, Exposition Press, Inc.):

"How is Frances Street" excerptI had always heard echoes of harmless gossip about “the Frances Street set.” At one time it seemed to mean that the professors who lived on our street had formed a kind of cabal for the purpose of electing Charles Van Hise university president. At this later time it seemed to refer to our frequent parties at which we entertained ourselves with music and charades, birthday celebrations at which poems were read, and other such innocent amusements. We were supposed to indulge in some kind of orgies, especially when we stayed up very late – once until broad daylight – enjoying music. Even as late as 1949, Frances Street was still an entity, for when I was greeted that year in Rome by Count Carlo Sforza, almost his first words were ‘How is Frances Street?

Gertrude Elizabeth Taylor Slaughter

The Salon Series events are open to the graduate students in French & Italian and their guests. Unless otherwise noted, these events are not open to the general public.

Friday, January 23, 2:30 pm: Job Talk. The first “salon” of the series focuses on the “Job Talk,” that on-campus presentation that offers job-seeking candidates the opportunity to present their research to prospective employers.  This talk is presented by the Graduate Association of French & Italian Students and the Professional Development Committee, with the leadership of Professor Josh Armstrong.

Friday, February 16, 2:30 pm: Why Literature? What is the importance of literature (French, Italian, or otherwise)?

Friday, March 16, 4:00 pm: Digital HumanitiesThis is a particularly pertinent topic since immediately before the salon, the “Future of Open-Stack Standing Collections at UW-Madison” panel and discussion is taking place in Rm. L140 of the Elvehjem Building from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I encourage you all to join us at that panel discussion and then we can walk over to the French House together to engage in more discussion with treats and drinks.

Friday, April 13, 2:30 pm: Topic TBA