The 18th annual Diálogos Graduate Student Conference took place on Friday, February 26th and Saturday, February 27th, 2021. In compliance with campus-wide health and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first iteration of the conference to be held virtually. Nevertheless, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of the 2020-21 Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC), Diálogos XVIII was a resounding success, and this year's special undergraduate panel was no exception. The panel, "The Supernatural and Society: Contemporary Readings of 20th-Century Latin American Literature," featured original research by three Indiana University students, all developed in undergraduate coursework with Professor Deborah Cohn.
The first presentation, by senior Benjamin Pyko, explored questions of political economy, social class, and intergenerational wealth as symbolized through representations of domestic spaces in works by Julio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez. The second, by senior Katherine Tilghman, offered a consideration of spectral imagery in texts by Horacio Quiroga and Adolfo Bioy Casares, arguing that these works open onto a consideration of the relation to death implicit in modern technologies of visual reproduction. The third and final presentation, by junior Vivian Grant, undertook an analysis of García Márquez's epoch-making novel Cien años de soledad from the perspective of its treatment of nature as both an object of human intervention and an agentic force intervening in human affairs. All three of the talks adroitly demonstrated the ongoing relevance of reading 20th-century Latin American literature, whose texts speak to us at the outset of the third decade of the 21st century with as much urgency as when they were first published. As such, the discussion following the three presentations was lively and wide-ranging, with each speaker thoughtfully engaging questions from the audience and demonstrating an openness to explore new connections between their talks and with broader scholarly trends in the field.
The special undergraduate panel at Diálogos XVIII reflected, on the one hand, the success the Department of Spanish and Portuguese has had in cultivating excellent undergraduate research, and, on the other hand, points to the bright future heralded by the work of emerging scholars in the field of Hispanic Literary Studies. Pyko, Tilghman, and Grant have set a worthy example for future undergraduate presenters to continue pushing research on Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures and Linguistics in new and exciting directions.