Faculty Pages - Rhea Côté Robbins
Rhea Côté Robbins was brought up bilingually in a Franco-American neighborhood in Waterville, Maine known as “down the plains.” She attended Waterville High School and graduated in 1971. Her maman came from Wallagrass, a town in the northern part of the state and her father was from Waterville. Tracing the family tree back, on both sides of her parents, she found that in Québec their people settled in close proximity to each other, and on a further search into their origins in France, she discovered that in the 1600s they lived within ten miles or less of each other. At least three of the branches of the original settlers came over on the same boat. She has spent many years researching the origins and visiting the hometowns of these people in Canada and France.
She attended the University of Maine at Presque Isle, 1980-1982, graduating with an A.A. degree with a concentration in Art. In 1982-85, she attended the University of Maine on a bilingual education scholarship. This was in part funded by a federal grant in recognition of the Franco-American population that exists in the State of Maine. After teaching public high school briefly, she worked as editor of an international, bilingual socio-cultural journal entitled, Le FORUM, formerly known as Le F.A.R.O.G. Forum, at the Franco-American Center from 1986-96. She has had the luxury and opportunity to spend much time contemplating what does it mean to be Franco-American and female in the U.S. She has made contact with many people across the country that are also interested in this cultural group. She traveled to Louisiana to compare the progression of the culture within a different milieu. She has also traveled to Canada and France to visit the hometowns from where her ancestors emigrated. Currently, she teaches literature courses in Franco-American women’s experiences (http://webct.ume.maine.edu/public/FAS230_WST301/), Contact Literature (http://webct.ume.maine.edu/public/UST300Cote/), and creative nonfiction writing.
Côté Robbins was the 1997 winner of the Maine Chapbook Award for her work of creative nonfiction entitled, Wednesday’s Child. (http://www.rhetapress.com/) She has written a sequel entitled, Down the Plains. She is also working on a book of literary criticism on Grace de Repentigny Metalious, author of Peyton Place and other Franco-American women writers and their experiences. She received her Master of Arts degree from the University of Maine in May, 1997. She is a founder and Executive Director of the Franco-American Women’s Institute for which she maintains a web site: http://www.fawi.net/.