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La Gaceta Internacional
Department of Spanish and Portuguese Alumni Newsletter
College of Arts and Sciences
Department Website | Newsletter Archive Volume 23 | Summer 2018


Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Steve Wagschal

Jonathan Risner

Managing Editor
Jane Drake

Editorial Assistants
Robin Reeves and Stephanie Estrada

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

Steven Wagschal

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Greetings from Bloomington! The Department has continued to thrive and excel in research productivity and teaching excellence in the last year. In this issue, you can read about the many accomplishments of individual faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.
In particular, this was an amazing year for developments of the undergraduate program and the recognition of our undergraduate students. We are very proud of the record number of our majors who were awarded scholarships, Senior Recognition awards, and were admitted to Phi Beta Kappa.

The Department hosted a major conference in 2017-18 organized by Professor Kimberly Geeslin, a bi-annual conference that began at the University of Minnesota and was co-organized by Professor Geeslin 10 years earlier. The conference showcases approaches to and findings from the study of second language phonology and has grown into a major event in the field.

We had other splendid developments this year, including a successful tenure and promotion case to associate professor (Patricia Amaral) and two successful promotion cases to full professor (Anke Birkenmaier and Steven Wagschal). In addition, senior lecturer Israel Herrera was awarded the 2018 National Outstanding Spanish Teacher of the Year by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). You can learn more about faculty publications and achievements here.  

Three graduate students were awarded year-long fellowships from the College of Arts and Sciences, nine defended their dissertations successfully, and five recent PhDs took positions at colleges and universities across the country.

Many of the culturally and intellectually-enriching activities highlighted in the newsletter are funded in part with the generous support of our friends and alumni, without which we would not be able to do many of the things that we do. We are incredibly grateful to all of our alumni and friends who have made a commitment to the excellence of the department by contributing intellectually, personally, and financially. You can read here about one particularly amazing development in this regard, the transformational commitment for an endowed gift to the department in the amount of $2.5 million by Dr. Andrew C. Thieneman.

I also have some sad news to share with you: our emerita colleague, Professor Maryellen Bieder, passed away on January 31, 2018. Her life, career and influence were remembered and celebrated by her former students and colleagues at a memorial event in the spring.

If you will be coming to town, please be sure to let us know so that we can welcome you personally. The "Events" section of the department's webpage will be the place to look if you are interested in attending any of the activities planned for 2018-19, including the 2018 MESDA lecture which will be delivered by Professor Monica Díaz (PhD 2002)  in conjunction with our annual Fall party on September 7, 2018. 

Hasta luego, Até logo, Fins aviat,
Steve Wagschal
Steven Wagschal
Chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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Distinguished Alum Niraldo de Farias Presents 2017 MEDSA Lecture

MESDA Lecture

Niraldo de Farias.

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’ 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 honors Professor Simmons by inviting a distinguished alum 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. The 2017 lecture, entitled “Rethinking the Latin American Novel in the Light of Surrealism,” was presented by Dr. Niraldo de Farias.

Professor de Farias is currently an associate professor of Literary Theory and Brazilian Literature at the Federal University of Alagoas, in Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil. Professor de Farias earned his PhD from Indiana University in 1995, and his dissertation focused on Brazilian poet Jorge de Lima. Professor de Farias is the author of two monographs O desejo de absoluto: sobre a arrogância do literário (Maceió: EDUFAL, 2007) and O Surrealismo na Poesia de Jorge de Lima (Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, 2004). He is also the editor of a collection of essays entitled Literatura, Cultura e Sociedade (Maceió: EDUFAL, 2001), and the author of more than a dozen articles and book chapters. At the Federal University of Alagoas, Professor de Farias was Dean of Graduate Studies (2003-2007) and the Head of the International Office (2007-2016). He also served as President of ANPOLL, Brazil’s National Association of Graduate Programs and Research in Linguistics and Literature, between 2002 and 2004.

This coming fall, Professor Mónica Díaz (PhD 2002, Indiana University) will present the MESDA lecture. She is Associate Professor in Hispanic Studies and History and head of International Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on colonialism, religion and indigenous cultures, women’s writing, and race and ethnicity. Professor Díaz is the author of Indigenous Writings from the Convent: Negotiating Ethnic Autonomy in Colonial Mexico (2010), and she has edited and co-edited two collections of essays. She has also published articles in journals, such as Colonial Latin American Review and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, as well as in various edited collections. We hope you will plan to join us on September 7, 2018 for this exciting lecture and the reception that follows! 

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Current Approaches to Spanish and Portuguese Second Language Phonology

Madrid Anniversary Photo

Confernce participants and alumnae Avizia Yim Long,
Rebecca Ronquest, Prof. Kimberly Geeslin, and
recent alumna Silvina Bongiovanni

Madrid Anniversary Photo

CASPSLaP panel disscussion with alumna Megan Solon,
second from left.

The tenth anniversary meeting of Current Approaches to Spanish and Portuguese Second Language Phonology (CASPSLaP) was held in Bloomington in February of 2018. The biannual conference brings together researchers who connect the disciplines of phonology and second language acquisition in order to study the acquisition of Portuguese and Spanish in second and additional language contexts. It is the only event of its type. Several Indiana University alumni returned to campus to present their research, including Bret Linford, Megan Solon, Rebecca Ronquest, Avizia Yim Long and Elena Schoonmaker-Gates. Additionally, many current students presented original work as part of the conference program, and served in various capacities on the organizing committee. Two special features of the conference were the Roundtable on Second Language Sounds in Context and the IGNITE pedagogical session. The Roundtable featured invited panelists Mary Zampini (LeMoyne College), Gillian Lord (University of Florida), Christine Shea (University of Iowa) and Megan Solon (University at Albany), each of whom addresses issues of the linguistic, social and learning context in their own scholarship. The panelists reflected on progress in the field and future areas for new research while connecting their own research pursuits to this broader context. Dr. Avizia Yim Long organized the IGNITE event, which featured mini-sessions with best practices for teaching second language pronunciation. These events were attended at capacity with an audience that included international scholars as well as several current Indiana faculty and students. The event was sponsored by more than 30 individual units as well as the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, the College of Arts & Sciences, Horizons of Knowledge, and the College Arts and Humanities Institute.

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The Gift That Keeps Giving

This year the department received an extraordinarily generous commitment for an endowed gift from IU alumnus Dr. Andrew C. Thieneman (BA Chemistry ‘74; MD ‘77) to help support study abroad and research scholarships for Spanish and Portuguese students, and to create three endowed professorships. Dr. Thieneman’s gift totals $2.5 million, 90% of which will be matched by the university as part of the Bicentennial Campaign matching program. The donor also contributed funds this year to initiate the Dr. Andrew C. Thieneman Scholarship. Four separate scholarships were awarded to students participating in study-abroad programs led by departmental faculty in the Dominican Republic this summer.

The Spanish Conversation and Service Learning Program ( was held in the Dominican Republic in May. In addition to coursework, students took tours to culturally significant sites and participated in service projects to assist local communities, including housing, community education, and environmental initiatives.


Lindsey Altum


Isaak Spain


Alyssa Anglin


Blake Bradley

The Santiago DR-IU program ( convened for five weeks during the summer. The program included advanced language and culture courses taught by IU Spanish faculty at the Pontífica Universidad Católica de Madre y Maestra in Santiago de los Caballeros, the second-largest city in the DR, as well as field trips, experiential learning opportunities, and a three-day excursion to the coastal town of Bayahibe.

Among the first four Thieneman Scholars, Lindsey Altum (senior; Speech and Hearing; Spanish minor) and Isaak Spain (junior; Linguistics and Central Eurasian Studies; Spanish minor) participated in the May 2018 DR Service Learning program, while Alyssa Anglin (senior; Biology major; Spanish minor) and Blake Bradley (junior; Business major; Spanish minor) joined the Santiago DR program. Bradley, who is paying his own way through college, notes that it was the Thieneman Scholarship that made it possible for him to attend the six-week DR program, and that he hopes to use the experience to develop further his knowledge of the Hispanic world and his sense of global citizenship. For Altum, who participated in the May program, the scholarship helped to provide a sense of moral support in addition to lessening the financial burden, enabling her to explore and learn about another culture while also revisiting previously acquired knowledge. The department joins these scholarship winners in expressing our profound gratitude for the generous support provided by Dr. Thieneman. His gift will continue to open doors for students and scholars in the years and decades to come.

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Professor Vieira Leads Inaugural Global Lisbon Program

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Inaugural Global Lisbon Program participants explore
the sights and city.

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Global Lisbon Program

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Global Lisbon Program

In May 2018, Professor Estela Vieira led an IU study abroad group of nine students to Lisbon, Portugal—one of the world’s safest countries (it ranked 3rd in the global peace index in 2017). During the three weeks, students from the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Informatics, and School of Education received 3 credit hours for HISP-P290 “Global Portuguese: Arts and Culture,” a course carrying College and General Education credits. The Global Lisbon program had classes most mornings at the University of Lisbon’s School of Economics and Management’s downtown campus next door to the Portuguese parliament. In the afternoon, students met for guided visits of different cultural sites and museums. Highlights included a tile-making workshop at the National Tile Museum, experiencing a jail for political prisoners of the Salazar dictatorship at the Aljube Resistance Museum, eating famous custards, or “pastéis,” during a visit to Lisbon’s landmarks in Belém, and walking among peacocks at the City Museum. Students shared two large apartments, and their unlimited transportation card let them explore Lisbon by metro, train, bus, tram, boat, and elevator! Besides some delicious shared meals, several day trips were enjoyed, including visits to Mafra, Óbidos, Sintra, and Coimbra. In Coimbra, in addtion to visiting the centuries-old university, the group also had a private tour of archival material documenting Portugal’s colonial wars. During the two free weekends, some students travelled to the Algarve for beach-filled days. The Global Lisbon program, based in one of Europe’s culturally rich capital cities, allowed students to discover the country’s historic and global connections to Asia, Brazil, and Africa.

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Global Lisbon Program

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Indiana University Mexico Gateway

IU panel presenters, from left to right: Professors César Felix-Brasdefer, Anya Peterson Royce, Daniel Suslak, and doctoral students Pedro Ramón, and Alex Badillo                     

Within the past few years, IU has opened international offices, or Global Gateways, in New Delhi, Beijing, Berlin, and, as of May 2018, Mexico City. These gateways build upon IU's longstanding history of international engagement. They offer both a physical space for holding conferences and meeting with alumni and others, as well as an extension of IU’s presence and activities for the purposes of research, study abroad, and more, thus affording the IU community important opportunities to engage with contemporary issues and developments in the host nation.

Professor César Félix-Brasdefer was invited to attend and present at the opening of the IU Gateway in Mexico City, May 28-29. The IU Mexico Gateway is located on the campus of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), a UNESCO World Heritage site. The IU Mexico Gateway staff provides services and resources to support events that advance Indiana University's academic mission in Mexico and Latin America.  President Michael McRobbie gave welcoming remarks, followed by the panel organized by Chancellor’s and Provost’s Professor Anya Peterson Royce (Department of Anthropology). As part of the panel on “Lenguas Indígenas, Literatura, Culturas Vivas,” Professor Félix-Brasdefer delivered a presentation entitled “Formal and Informal Teaching of Indigenous Languages: Intercultural Competence and Language Attitudes.” Presenters included experts working in different indigenous languages, including Zapotec (Oaxaca region), Nahuatl (Central Mexico), Maya, Ayapaneco, and other languages spoken across Mexico. Professor Félix-Brasdefer’s presentation focused on teaching and the pragmatics of Nahuatl. 

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Performances and Workshop by Royal Academy Actors

Royal Academy Actors David Boceta, Juan Hernández and Isabel Rodes

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese provided an exciting opportunity for students and faculty to participate in a theater workshop and see live professional drama performances in Spanish this year in the Global and International Studies Building Auditorium. The performances featured Spanish principal actors David Boceta and Isabel Rodes, who each spent five seasons with Spain’s National Classical Theater Company, along with accompanying actor Juan Hernández. All three actors were trained in Madrid at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático [RESAD]).   

On Sept 21, the actors performed Entre bambalinas which featured short scenes taken from a selection of early modern Spanish plays including Lope de Vega’s El castigo sin venganza and El perro del hortelano. In the accompanying workshop, audience participants learned how trained actors think about creating a character based on a text and were also invited to come up to the stage to practice recitation of passages in meter. 

On Sept 22, the group performed Haciendo memoria, a play they created based on a selection of scenes from other texts dealing with the complexities of memory. In this work, Carmela and Paulino, two actors who are stranded in the Francoist zone during the Spanish Civil War and who are the protagonists of Ay, Carmela! (1986) by José Sanchis Sinisterra, discuss whether they are alive or walking dead. After the moving performance experience, the actors led question and answer session with engaged audience members.

The actors were invited to perform by IU’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, which co-sponsored the event with generous financial assistance offered by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Office of International Affairs and Dean’s Office.

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National & International Guest Lectures

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

Aline Menezes, Universidade de Brasilia, visiting scholar at Indiana University, “Ariel e Corola: Afinidades na poética de Sylvia Plath e Claudia Roquette-Pinto.”

Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy, Universidad de Murcia, Spain, “Sociolinguistic Patterns of Stylistic Variation” and “Gravity Models and the Difussion of Linguistic Change in Geolinguistics.”

Claudia Nina, Brazilian writer, “Strangers in Landscape and in Fiction: Questions of Identity, Culture and Genre.”

Irene Ramalho Santos, University of Coimbra, Portugal, “Being Blind, Being Nobody, Being a Poet: Emily Dickinson ‘Reads’ Fernando Pessoa".

Joan Ramon Resina, Stanford University, “Writing Up the Self: Jorge Semprún’s Fictional Autobiography.”

Frederick De Armas, University of Chicago, co-sponsored by Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, “Recovering the Maternal Voice: Cervantes and Galdós in El abra del Yumurí.”

Catalina Fuentes Rodríguez, Universidad de Sevilla, “Marcadores Discursivos: Conexión y Subjetividad.”

Claudia J. Fischer, University of Lisbon and Visiting Professor in Comparative Literature at IU, “Fernando Pessoa – escrita(s) entre línguas.”

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An Evening of Music, Culture, and Community

Song Festival

2018 Song Fest winners

The Spanish and Portuguese Song Festival celebrated its 8th anniversary this year. The event was founded by Israel Herrera as a unique opportunity for advanced learners of Spanish and Portuguese to put their language and musical skills to practice and compete for a prize. “Many foreign language students, surprisingly, are also passionate about music,” says Lindsay Giacomino, one of this year’s graduate student organizers and next year’s coordinator. “Or they started studying Spanish or Portuguese because of the music,” which was Lindsay’s case.

Six IU undergraduate students delivered a true pop-cultural lesson in the Hispanic music diversity, past and present. A freshman, Emily Rojas, majoring in Human Resource Management, won first place and the audience favorite vote with Cristian Castro’s “La nave del olvido.” Two seniors tied for second place, Adam Corya and Rachel Goodman, stunned the audience with their respective self-accompanied renditions of “Recuérdame” from the recent Disney movie Coco and Luis Fonsi’s piano version of “Despasito.” Argentina was represented by Miriam Fakhoury, accompanied by Jannalyn Niebbia on a traditional charango, performing a hit from Los Nocheros. Joshua Bender brought in the waves of Puerto Rican bachata with Prince Royce’s “Darte un beso.” Spain’s last half of the 20th century was commemorated in Sydney Hargis’s performance of Jeanette’s “Soy rebelde.” She was especially gratified when an audience member came up to her and shared how her song brought back some great memories from the past. “That is really what it’s all about,” says this year’s festival organizer Valentyna Filimonova, “although I always enjoy getting some giggles out of the auditionees when I ask if they are in it for the money (i.e. $100).”

The select jury panel this year consisted of four expert judges: Allen Davis, director of the Basic Language Program, senior lecturer, and an Amigo Fields vocalist, evaluated vocal performance; Paul Coats, core lecturer and one of the directors of Grupo de Teatro Vida, scored language and diction; Daniel Duarte, lecturer in the Guitar Department at the Jacobs School of Music, rated musicianship; and Daryl Spurlock, a PhD student in Hispanic Literatures, gave marks for stage presence and artistry.
In addition to the student competition, this year featured an exciting lineup of guest performers, including a stellar opening act by the Mariachi Perla del Medio Oeste, a heart-melting performance by La Escuelita para Todos, a dance closing act by Movement Exchange, and a series of graduate and undergraduate group and solo performances. Lindsay Giacomino comments on the importance of such community partnerships as La Escuelita para Todos that reinforce the linguistic, cultural, social, and academic connection between children, parents, IU students, faculty, and our community. “Most importantly,” Giacomino says, “it shows both the children and their parents that Spanish is respected and appreciated in their community, during a time when the news is constantly saying Spanish-speaking people are not welcome in the United States.”

Thanks to guest graduate and undergraduate performers, the festival lived up to its name with the Portuguese element. Maria Cintra, a PhD student in Portuguese, played and sang “The Bachianas Brasileiras, no. 5,” accompanied by Iván Maceda on the guitar. Ricardo Martins, also a PhD student in Portuguese, performed two self-accompanied children’s songs “Leãozinho” and “Tigresa.” After a solo performance of self-translated “Taylor, el latte boy,” Rebecca Clay, a PhD student in Hispanic linguistics, joined a music band of undergraduate performers in “Fora da memoria” with a Spanish major Tommy DeNardo as a lead male singer and his musician friends Sanjeev Rau (guitar) and Jacob Worrell (cajón).

This year, for the first time, the Song Festival video is available to view on Kaltura, courtesy of the Center for Language Technology (CeLT). We hope you can enjoy the festival online and perhaps plan to attend one in the future.

This year’s event was possible with generous support from the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs (DEMA), Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), Institute for European Studies (EURO), IU First Year Experience, IU Latino Studies Program, and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

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Grupo de teatro VIDA: Visión/Visão, Identidad/Identidade, Drama/Drama, Arte/Arte Season 2017-2018

Vida Image

Vida “Chis!!” The duendes Clara Ganun and Jessica McClintock
in Amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín

This year’s production of Grupo de teatro VIDA, entitled Por el amor de/Pelo amor de, centered on the human condition and what makes us tick.  With the collaboration of 28 talented and hardworking actors (26 of them undergraduate students), four directors, and a dedicated tech crew, the VIDA ensemble presented four pieces for the spring production at the Bloomington Playwrights Project: Juan Rana Muger by Cáncer y Velasco, Os vivos, o morto, e o peixe frito by Ondjaki, Una mariposa blanca by Roepke, and García Lorca’s Amor de Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín.  A few members of Teatro VIDA also volunteered their time to help high schoolers from The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship workshop plays that they had written for their Spanish IV class.  Many of the undergraduate students who participated this year compensated their time and effort by enrolling in the one-credit course for Experiential Learning, an opportunity that is newly offered by the department for VIDA participants. We would like to thank the actors and directors for their dedication and hard work to put on a phenomenal and quality production, and also thank the IU Funding Board for putting funds towards this year’s endeavors. The VIDA ensemble is also grateful to attendees of this year’s show, whose generosity helped to raise over $200 to go towards the ongoing hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. ​

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Upcoming Events

For more information about these and other events, please see our website:

August 25 2018 

Annual GSAC Picnic, 11:00am - 1:00pm, Bryan Park North Shelter

September 7, 2018

Annual Merle E. Simmons Distinguished Alumni Lecture and Department Fall Reception, 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Frangipani Room/Tudor Room IMU

September 28-29, 2018

Visual and Material Cultures in Global Perspective Conference, sponsored by the Cultural Studies Program. W.J.T. Mitchell will give keynote address on Sept. 28 at 4:30. For more information, visit

October 5, 2018

Indiana University Fall Break 

October 19-20, 2018

VIDA performances, Bloomington Playwrights Project

October 25, 2018

“Bossa Nova Longplay: Getz/Gilberto after fifty years (or so)”
Lecture by Bryan McCann (Chair, History, Georgetown University and President of Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA). Location TBA

October 25-27, 2018

“International Education at the Crossroads Symposium”
Professor Deborah Cohn and Assistant Dean Hilary Kahn are co-organizing this symposium sponsored by IU’s Office of the Bicentennial, which marks the 60th anniversary of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) and the legacy of its Title VI programs. This symposium brings together experts in language, area, and global and international studies with policy makers and other stakeholders to assess Title VI’s lasting impact, while also looking towards the future needs of international education in an increasingly interconnected world. Dr. Jonathan Fanton, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, will deliver the keynote address. The program will also feature IU Spanish and Portuguese alumni Kathleen Claussen (BA ’06) and Eric Hershberg (BA ‘81) among others.  For more information, see

November 1, 2018

First Thursday event organized by the Arts and Humanities Council. Part of the program is a staged reading (in English) of a theater play by Tijuana-born playwright Hugo Alfredo Hinojosa, at the Wells-Metz Theater. The play is called Deserts, and the translator is Caridad Svich. The actors will be IU theater students, and Svich will be there for a Q&A afterward.

November 2, 2018

Launch of photo exhibit “Braceros” on Mexican farm workers in the United States during the 1940s, curated by John Mraz. John Waldron Arts Center in downtown Bloomington.

November 5, 2018

Workshop for HISP faculty and students by Mexican writer Carmen Boullosa.

December 15, 2018- January 6, 2019

Indiana University Winter Break

March 10-17, 2019 

Indiana University Spring Break

Spring 2019

“Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: On the Event”, a conference hosted by the Center for Theoretical Inquiry in the Humanities. Our website will be updated with dates and further information. 


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