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Two major literary works of the 19th century are occupying the time and the mind of Ramona Bejan this summer.

Bejan, a rising sophomore from Romania, is participating in Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students assist faculty members with research while earning a stipend. Working with George M. Rosa, an associate professor in the department of foreign languages and literatures, she’s investigating parallels between the novel The Red and the Black by Stendahl and the satiric poem “Don Juan” by Lord Byron.

Bejan is translating German-language criticism of the works. In the past there was relatively little German scholarship on Stendhal, Rosa explains, but that output has increased in recent years. Bejan’s knowledge of German fits the bill, he says.

“She’s very gifted and has lots of different interests, including physics, chemistry, and the humanities,” Rosa says. “It’s unusual to find a student with her language skills. This language exercise is very valuable for her.”

Bejan came to Rosa after doing a computer search for a Lafayette professor interested in Stendahl. She likes the passion of Stendahl’s writing, she says.

“It tells you a lot about how people lived and their system of values,” she says. “Stendahl really knows how to get inside a character.

“Both works I am studying have heroes with the same inner conflicts, love affairs,” Bejan continues. “They are very young and fall in love with married women.”

Rosa says Byron, an Englishman who was the literary superstar of his age, wielded a great influence over the Frenchman Stendhal, particularly after the two met in 1816 in Milan.

“Stendhal greatly admired Byron’s poetry,” says Rosa. “He was highly critical of many writers, including Byron, but still he was under the spell of Byron, whose death in the cause of Greek independence made him even more famous.”

“I find it very interesting,” Bejan says of her EXCEL work. “It’s also very organized, and that’s very good for me.”

The EXCEL research also offers her a break from her other challenging studies she is undertaking this summer, including economics and business and electrical and computer engineering.

Another Side of Ramona

She’s a member of the Lafayette Forensics Society, French club, chess club and theater. She plays the violin.

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