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La Gaceta Internacional
Department of Spanish and Portuguese Alumni Newsletter
College of Arts and Sciences
Department Website | Newsletter Archive Volume 21 | Summer 2016


Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Interim Chair            
Kimberly L. Geeslin

Patricia Amaral

Managing Editor
Jane Drake

Editorial Assistants
Robin Reeves

College of Arts & Sciences

Executive Dean
Larry Singell, Jr.

Executive Director of Advancement
Travis Paulin

Director of Alumni Relations
Vanessa Cloe

Department News

Letter from the Chair

Department Chair

Kimberly L. Geeslin

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Warm Greetings from our new location in the Global and International Studies Building (GISB)! We have had a busy year settling into our new home.  If you haven’t had the chance to do so, please come by, say hello and let us give you a tour! The move kept us very busy but there are many other accomplishments to celebrate as this academic year and my year as Interim Chair come to a close.

This year was filled with great news of promotions at all levels. Laura Gurzynski-Weiss was granted tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, and César Felix-Brasdefer was promoted to the rank of full professor. Congratulations to both for their accomplishments and contributions to the Department and beyond! I am also happy to announce three successful promotion cases from the rank of lecturer to senior lecturer. Israel Herrera, James Lynch and Robin Reeves were all promoted based on excellence in teaching. We thank all three of them for their essential contributions to our teaching mission. You can read more about faculty scholarship and activities in the faculty news section that follows.

The newsletter highlights the varied academic, cultural and interdisciplinary experiences that our students and faculty have engaged in during the last academic year. We have enjoyed invited lectures by Juliana Maia de Queiroz, Federal University of Pará, Brazil, Manuel Delicado Cantero, Australian National University, and Vicky Unruh, University of Kansas. We also hosted a video conference with non-fictional literature author Bernat Dedéu from Barcelona. More information about their talks can be found in this newsletter as well. In the fall of 2015 we had the pleasure of hosting the Symposium on Interlocutor Individual Differences (organized by Laura Gurzynski-Weiss) on October 1-2 and the Transatlantic Dialogues Symposium (Organized by Estela Vieira and Luciana Namorato) on October 23-24 (see this issue for details). Our graduate student symposium “Diálogos”, held in February 2016, was a great success, featuring keynote talks by Erin Graff Zivin (University of Southern California) and Joan Bybee (University of New Mexico). Our students had the opportunity to attend all of these events as well as participate in our Annual Song Fest competition (Organized by Israel Herrera).

The "Events" section of the department's webpage will be the place to look if you live in the region or will be travelling here and are interested in attending one of the activities planned for 2016-17, such as the 16th Colloquium of the North American Catalan Society (organized by Edgar Illas), which will be held May 17-19, 2017, or the 3rd International Conference of the American Pragmatics Association (AMPRA) (organized by César Félix-Brasdefer), which will be held November 4-6, 2016.   

Many of our myriad activities are funded in part with the support of our friends and alumni. Thus we are incredibly grateful to all of our alumni and friends who have made a commitment to the excellence of our departmental missions by contributing intellectually, personally, and financially. You can read more about the MESDA (Merle E. Simmons Distinguished Alumni) lecture given by Dr. Malcolm Compitello in September, 2015. We were thrilled that so many of his IU classmates returned for the occasion! We would be honored by your attendance at our upcoming MESDA lecture and reception. The event will be held September 9, 2016 and our invited lecturer is Juan Pino-Silva. No matter the date, if you will be coming to town, be sure to let us know so that we can welcome you personally.

As we welcome back Steve Wagschal as Chair on July 1, after what we hope was a restful and productive sabbatical in Spain, I would like to thank all of you as well as the faculty, students and staff who have provided your support and enthusiasm during the current academic year.

Steve Wagschal

Kimberly L. Geeslin
Professor & Interim Chair
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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Spanish & Portuguese Welcomes Alum Compitello for MESDA Lecture

MESDA Lecture

Malcolm Compitello

Since 1996, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese has paid tribute to a long-serving and distinguished emeritus professor through an alumni lecture in his honor. Professor Merle E. Simmons was a professor and scholar of Spanish American Colonial literature at IU from 1942 to 1983. Professor Simmons’s contributions to the department and to scholarship included authoring seven books, developing the program of study in Spanish American Colonial literature at Indiana University, and serving as director of graduate studies for seven years and department chair for five.

Each fall, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese honors Professor Simmons by inviting a distinguished alum of the department to visit Bloomington, speak to the department’s faculty and students, and reconnect with his or her roots as a part of the Merle E. Simmons Distinguished Alumni (MESDA) Lecture. This year’s lecture, entitled "The place of Tiempo de silencio", was presented by Dr. Malcolm Compitello.

Mesda photo

Alumni Pat Brooks, Malcolm Compitello and Dagmar Varela
chat during the department’s annual fall reception after the
MESDA lecture.

Professor Compitello is Professor and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona. He received his PhD in Hispanic Literature with a minor in Comparative Literature from Indiana University. Dr. Compitello has written extensively on Civil War fiction and is a leading scholar in Spanish urban cultural studies. He is the author of Ordering the Evidence: Volverás a Región and Civil War Fiction (1983), as well as several edited volumes. Professor Compitello is the Executive Editor of the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Revista de ALCES XXI: Journal of Contemporary Spanish Literature & Film, MVM: Cuadernos de Estudios de Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, and the Palgrave MacMillan Series on Hispanic Urban Cultural Studies. In 2012, Professor Compitello was the subject of a special edited volume, Capital Inscriptions: Essays on Hispanic Literature, Film and Urban Studies in Honor of Malcolm Alan Compitello (Ed. B. Fraser), in recognition of his contributions to Hispanic studies. Most recently, Professor Compitello was named the 2016 recipient of the Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession from the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages.

This coming fall, the MESDA lecture will be given by Dr. Juan Pino-Silva (MA ’83, PhD ‘89, Indiana University). We hope you will plan to join us on September 9, 2016 for this exciting lecture and the reception that follows!

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Interlocutor Symposium Brings Renowned Linguists to Bloomington

Madrid Anniversary Photo

Invited guests with Laura Gurzynski-Weiss (far right)

On October 1st and 2nd, 2015 the Research Network (ReN) on Interlocutor & Instructor Individual Differences in Cognition and Second Language Acquisition hosted its inaugural conference, the Symposium on Interlocutor Individual Differences. The Symposium brought together leading and junior scholars from several second language acquisition frameworks to discuss the theoretical role(s) of the interlocutor within their approach, consider how the individual differences of the interlocutor in each perspective may influence second/foreign language (L2) opportunities, present original, robust, peer-reviewed empirical research on interlocutor individual differences from each theoretical approach, and collaborate and outline existing trends and future areas for research.

Madrid Anniversary Photo

Guests enjoy dinner at FarmBloomington

Invited speakers included: Kimberly L. Geeslin, Indiana University (Variationist perspective); James Lantolf, The Pennsylvania State University (Sociocultural perspective); Diane Larsen-Freeman, University of Michigan (Complexity theory perspective); Jenefer Philp, Lancaster University (Cognitive-interactionist perspective); and Luke Plonsky, Georgetown University (Methodological perspective). These invited speakers discussed important and thus-far overlooked questions such as: Who are the interlocutor(s) in this particular theoretical approach? What are their theoretical roles? How have they been considered empirically? And, could the individual differences of these interlocutors, much like learner individual differences, influence L2 development opportunities?

Madrid Anniversary Photo

IU graduate students giving a talk at
the Interlocutor symposium.

The Symposium also included competitive empirical presentations within each theoretical strand. Competitive papers were given by speakers from the United States, France, and Poland, including current Indiana University faculty Sun-Young Shin, Kimberly L. Geeslin and Laura Gurzynski-Weiss, and students Mark Black, Jaesu Choi, Carly Henderson-Contreras, Avizia Y. Long, Laura Merino and Travis Evans-Sago. The Symposium was organized by ReN Convenor Laura Gurzynski-Weiss and made possible by the tireless work of committee members Danielle Daidone, Vanessa Elias, Valentyna Filimonova, Jordan Garrett, Jeanne Gilbert, Carly Henderson-Contreras, Robert Baxter, Avizia Y. Long, Laura Merino, Eliot Raynor, Travis Evans-Sago, Megan Solon, and Yucel Yilmaz, IU Spanish & Portuguese administrators Jane Drake, Jennifer Howard, and Tracy Sheets, as well as the generous support of the College of Arts and Humanities Institute, the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office for the Vice Provost of International Affairs, the Department of Linguistics, and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Hispanic Linguistics Program. Additional information regarding the work of this ReN, including an in-progress edited volume, can be found on its website,

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Portuguese Program Organizes International Symposium: Transatlantic Dialogues

Madrid Anniversary Photo

Organizers Luciana Namorato, Kathryn Sanchez
and Estela Vieira

Madrid Anniversary Photo

IU graduate students Rebecca Clay and Nilzimar Vieira with
keynote speaker Carlos Reis at the Portuguese symposium

The IU Portuguese Program organized an international symposium on October 23-24, 2015. “Transatlantic Dialogues: Realism and Modernity in Eça de Queirós and Machado de Assis” took place in the President’s Room of the University Club and in the Lilly Library with a special reception at the IU Art Museum. The event brought together fifteen invited guest speakers—some of the most renowned experts on the two great nineteenth-century writers. The invited scholars traveled from Portugal, Brazil, and US institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, University of Chicago, and Vanderbilt to share their innovative research and dialogue with the IU community. The Symposium was co-organized by IU Associate Professors Estela Vieira and Luciana Namorato, as well as Professor Kathryn Sanchez from the University of Wisconsin. In addition to two keynote addresses by Professors Carlos Reis from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and Pedro Meira Monteiro from Princeton University, there were five thematically organized panels on pressing questions related to Portuguese and Brazilian literary and cultural topics. Each panel involved two discussants; a graduate student from the Spanish and Portuguese department, and a faculty member from other IU units, including Comparative Literature, Germanic Studies, History, Libraries, and Anthropology. Faculty members from the department moderated the panels. Opening remarks were given by Vice President Emeritus Patrick O’Meara, Executive Dean Larry Singell, and Acting Chair Kimberly Geeslin. The symposium was very well attended and students, both undergraduate and graduate, were involved logistically and academically. Students prepared readings and wrote essays in advance of the symposium. Many participated in a semester-long film series related to the conference theme in spring 2015. The symposium also featured musical performances by Jacobs School of Music students, and was accompanied by two exhibits: one at the Wells Library, organized by Librarian Luiz González, and another one at the Lilly Library, organized by its Director, Joel Silver. The Revista de estudos literários, a high-ranking peer-reviewed academic journal at the University of Coimbra, will publish a forthcoming special number with a selection of extended versions of the essays presented at the conference. The event brought great visibility to the IU Department of Spanish and Portuguese and national and international attention to our Portuguese program, one of the oldest in the US. It has also initiated long-term collaborative and inter-disciplinary research projects among the scholars present.

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National and International Guest Lectures

In addition to hosting a number of conferences and ongoing internal lecture series, the department welcomed the following invited scholars this year, offering exciting new research to students and colleagues in the university community:

Video conference with Bernat Dedéu, writer, journalist and music critic from Barcelona (known as an extraordinary writer of non-fictional literature in new formats).

Juliana Maia de Queiroz, Federal University of Pará, Brazil, “Romances brasileiros em Portugal pelas mãos de dois editores franceses” and “American and British Authors in Nineteenth-century Brazil and Portugal.”

Manuel Delicado Cantero, Australian National University, “Adpositions Meet Clauses in Romance: A View from Historical Syntax.”

Vicky Unruh, University of Kansas, “Intimations of Mortality. The Cemetery in Post-Soviet Cuban Film and Fiction.”

This summer, the department hosted visiting scholar Professor Irene Donate, Centro Villanueva, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Her research project, “La ficción periodística azoriniana según Vargas Llosa” was supervised by Prof. Reyes Vila-Belda.

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Overseas Study Program
Adventures in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Trip

Dominican Repulbic program participants at the base of base of the 150 foot waterfall el Salto de Limón

Professors Anke Birkenmaier and Erik Willis led an IU study abroad group of 21 students to Santiago, Dominican Republic (May 10-June 6, 2015) for 6 credit hours of linguistics and culture credit. Classes were held at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra during the morning and typically there were museum activities or excursions in the afternoon. Students stayed with host families and were able to experience the culture and linguistics topics from class as they discussed them and interviewed their families.  Several excursions were included to develop the cultural experience. The group visited Capt. Kidd’s underwater shipwreck, which was discovered and turned into an underwater museum by IU faculty (led by Charlie Beeker), swam in an underwater Taíno watering cave, visited mangrove forests in the Haitises national park, swam at the base of the 150 foot waterfall el Salto de Limón, and so on. The program also visited the home of the Mirabal Sisters who were instrumental in the overthrow of the Dominican dictator Trujillo. Everyone was very tired by the end of the program due to the rapid pace and the material covered, but all wanted to go back, especially during the winter months.

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Spanish and Portuguese Song Festival

Song Festival

Song fest winners celebrate with department representatives
Olivia Salzano, Valentyna Filimonova, Israel Herrera,
and far right, Alejandro Mejías-López

The 2016 Spanish and Portuguese Song Festival took place on April 8 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. In its 6th year, the festival was a great success, highlighting the talents of several of our undergraduate majors, minors and graduate student guest performers. It takes a lot of volunteers to present such an event, and we appreciate the efforts of all who participated, those who hosted, judged, organized and entertained. The Song Fest winners were: 3rd place Lynette Krick; 2nd place and winner of audience favorite award Jayme Gerring; and 1st place Sarah Maddack. A special thanks to Israel Herrera, founder and force behind the festival, and Valentyna Filimonova for their efforts in staging this year’s event.

The 7th annual Spanish and Portuguese Song Festival is scheduled for Friday, April 7, 2017. Mark your calendar and plan to join us for this lively and entertaining evening.

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VIDA - La Larga Espera, or The Waiting Game

Vida Image

Scene from O auto da compadecida

Vida Image

Scene from El Quijote en una nuez

Grupo de Teatro VIDA, the Spanish- and Portuguese-language performance group on the Bloomington campus, staged another sucessful production last fall. The show, La Larga Espera, or The Waiting Game, was presented at both the Bloomington Playwright Project and the IndyFringe Theater in November. In the show, the 10th annual for VIDA, each piece dramatized events that occur “in the meantime” – that is, in anticipation of a climactic moment that may or may not arrive, or in pursuit of a perhaps unattainable goal.

Pieces performed were Maruxa Vilalta’s Una mujer, dos hombres, y un balazo (Mexico, 1981); Julio Cortázar’s Dos juegos de palabras (Argentina, 1948); El Quijote en una nuez, a graduate student-written adaptation of Cervantes’s classic; and Ariano Suassuna’s O auto da compadecida (Brazil, 1955).

Alysa Schroff, PhD candidate in Hispanic Literature, is in her third year as director of VIDA. Plans for this fall’s production are well underway so be sure to check the VIDA website for information about the upcoming show @

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