Academic Events

Red Statue right

Featured Event

CGS Brown Bag Series

Upcoming Events

Sexual and Artistic Transgressions: Pedro Almodóvar and Pedro Lemebel’s Fictional Writing and the Hispanic Literary Market

Ana Cortejoso De Andres, Penn State
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

During the second half of the 20th century Spain and Chile have suffered suppressive and suffocating decades under military regimes whose consequences are still latent in society nowadays. As a result of these regimes, many intellectuals who witnessed the disasters of the dictatorship as well as the changes that came with the instauration of the Democratic Era have dwelled on retrieving history and memory through art. Thus, my talk focuses on two literary works in which the recuperation of memory is problematized from a sexual and social approach: the Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar’s Patty Diphusa y otros textos (1998) and the Chilean writer and performer Pedro Lemebel’s Tengo miedo torero (2001). These literary works depict two different stories whose main characters, both of them transvestite, deal with the direct repercussions of the sociopolitical systems existing in Spain and Chile during the 80’s. As I analyze, the transvestite’s inner dispute stands in the two texts as a metaphoric representation of the confusion and disorientation that both Spanish and Chilean cultural spheres were facing at this time. Moreover, by publishing these two stories both Almodóvar and Lemebel challenge the Hispanic literary market and reclaim its necessary openness to the LGBT artistic dialogue.

Ana Cortejoso de Andrés is a doctoral student in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Her dissertation entitled “Born to be a Star: Representing the Writer as a Global Celebrity in Hispanic Contemporary Narrative (1995-2010)” focuses on the fictional representation of the Spanish-language business market and the narrative construction of the writer as a conflicted character who struggles between artistic aspirations and celebrity. Her main research areas include contemporary narrative from Spain and Chile as well as literary works written by Latin American immigrants established in Spain. She also explores the connections of this type of narrative with other cultural productions such as cinema, artistic performances and music. Her research has been made possible through support from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and the Center for Global Studies.

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.

Sounds of Resistance: Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus vs. “actually existing Socialism” between 1970 and 1989

Juliane Schicker, Penn State
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

In 1989, the city of Leipzig was the center of political opposition to the party dictatorship of the German Democratic Republic. Nicknamed “hero city,” Leipzig was home to the Monday Demonstrations that exposed the political foundation of the East German state as vulnerable and damaged. It became clear that “real existierender Sozialismus (actually existing Socialism)” could not prevail. Kurt Masur—then chief conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and former music director of the New York Philharmonic—helped to keep these demonstrations peaceful with an appeal that was broadcast in the city on October 9, 1989, which made him known as the “hero of Leipzig.”

The media recalls this appeal each year in interviews for Masur’s birthday, to remember the reunification, and to honor the victims of those political uprisings. But what many of these articles overlook is a long tradition of social criticism within the space of the Gewandhaus that Masur had practiced since his inauguration as Gewandhauskapellmeister in 1970.

This talk will examine how Kurt Masur used his concert hall as a space of political dissidence for more than twenty years. His personal actions and artistic choices contributed to a vision that countered “actually existing Socialism” and advocated a humanist utopia within a restrictive state. Considering Masur’s artistic choices and the connections between the classical music apparatus and the East German state, I claim that classical music was used to overcome censorship, surveillance, and physical borders. I show how the position as Gewandhauskapellmeister provided Masur with a level of cultural authority that allowed him to take certain liberties in dealing with the political and cultural party officials without the fear of negative repercussions. The talk will question the still commonly held assumption that in East Germany, classical music performances were merely an extension of the state. The findings will contribute to the research on resistance culture in the GDR, and help explain the varied ways in which people in the state tried to adapt to or change the political apparatus.

Juliane Schicker is a doctoral student in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Her research has been supported by grants from the Max Kade Foundation, the Penn State Center for Global Studies, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State, and the College of Liberal Arts at Penn State. Her research interests include questions of identity, the artistic expression of the Self and the other, the connection between literature, music, and society, as well as the cultural past of East Germany. Her dissertation advisors are Dr. Bettina Brandt (German) and Dr. Charles Youmans (Musicology).

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.

Phonetic characteristics of Catalan and Spanish in contact

Marianna Nadeu, Penn State
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Catalan and Spanish are two genetically related languages that coexist in different territories, such as in the Spanish region of Catalonia. Even if the languages have been in contact in that region since the end of the 15th c., the arrival of 2.2 million immigrants from other regions within the Spanish state, most of whom monolingual in Spanish, changed its linguistic landscape. Despite the high level of bilingualism at the societal level and the high proficiency in both languages at the individual level, Catalan-Spanish bilinguals typically exhibit different degrees of dominance in these languages, due to differential use of the languages during their upbringing and throughout their lives, and this is reflected in their speech production. It is known that bilingual speakers may transfer features of their first or dominant language into the second or less dominant one, which may result in new linguistic norms. 

This talk focuses on a stable community of bilingual speakers and aims at investigating how their two languages interact at the phonetic and phonological level. More specifically, it investigates the realization of unstressed vowels in Spanish by Catalan-dominant speakers and the production of unstressed vowels in Catalan by Spanish-dominant speakers. Exploring the patterns of speech production of bilingual speakers helps us understand how phonetic categories are represented in the bilingual mind, whether separate categories are created for each language, and how the categories of the different languages interact. In addition, this project contributes to our understanding of the influence that languages and cultures in contact exert on one another. With increased globalization, situations of contact become even more recurrent, and it becomes more relevant for us to study the interaction between languages in contact, whose effects may range from sporadic lexical borrowing to the emergence of a new language. The study of languages in contact (contact linguistics) cannot only help predict potential outcomes in new contact situations and understand mechanisms of external and internal language change, but may also have important implications for the development of language planning policies and educational models.

Marianna Nadeu is an assistant professor of Spanish and Linguistics in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at Penn State University. She received her Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her areas of research are phonetics and laboratory phonology, and she is especially interested in the acoustic and articulatory effects of prosody at the segmental level in Romance languages, as well as in mechanisms of speech enhancement and reduction more generally. Her research interests also include language variation and change, historical linguistics, bilingualism, contact linguistics, and the expression of paralinguistic meaning through intonation.

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Faculty Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary research.

Conservatism, Orthodoxy and Intellectual Change: the Qingyuan School of Learning in Early Modern China

Courtney Rong-Fu, Penn State
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Courtney’s project explores the survival state of Cheng-Chu Confucianism during the mid to late Ming period, focusing on the Qingyuan School. It is situated in the intersections of intellectual, cultural and socio-economic histories. By examining the institutional formation of academies, textual production, cultural consumption, book markets, printing and publishing industries, and overseas trade in Quanzhou, it hopes to lay bare the larger contexts in which an intellectual lineage developed and thrived. My study reveals a complex picture of interconnections between a host of historical dynamics, showing how intellectual forces were bound up with material ones, and local developments were nested in the global contexts. It provides glimpses into a slice of Chinese early modernity, as conservatism nevertheless engendered change, and as intellectual development inevitably became enmeshed in global economic and cultural forces. 

Courtney Rong-Fu  is a Ph.D candidate in the dual-title program in the Department of History and the Asian Studies Program. Her interest is in socio-cultural history of late imperial China with a special focus on scholarly and literati activities. She is also interested in gender history of imperial China and the republican period. She was a teaching assistant for World History classes and Western Heritage. The experience of which broadens her horizon and imbues her work with global perspective. 

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.

Under Institutional Eyes: The Search for Collectivity in the Postsocialist Transpacific Novel

Darwin Tsen, Penn State
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m

Under Institutional Eyes: The Search for Collectivity in the Postsocialist Transpacific Novel, asks a seemingly straightforward question. How is "collectivity" — the possibilities of being-together in political, generational and ethnic communities — imagined through the novels of three contemporary writers of the transpacific, Mo Yan (China), Luo Yijun (Taiwan), and Karen Tei Yamashita (United States). This articulation is explained through its framing under a "postsocialist transpacific" and the concept of "institutionality", the idea I use to examine collectivity in these novels.

This lecture attempts to cover the specific forms of collectivity and institutionality imagined by Mo Yan, China's most high-profile contemporary writer. China's renunciation of socialist practice was one of the biggest stories of the twentieth century: its subsequent reforms affected everyone, especially migrant workers from rural areas, who, severed from the social safety net provided by the agricultural commune, flocked to the cities for opportunities. The collectivity of the socialist commune, once central to the organization of village life, is lost to urban sprawl. Without a project that envisions a collective exceeding the conventional ways humans live in capitalist modernity, institutions now play the largest role in shaping the people's collective life.
In this presentation, I argue that “collectivity”, as it is presented in Mo Yan's early novels — Red Sorghum, The Garlic Ballads, Thirteen Steps and The Republic of Wine — is filtered through the lenses of institutions and characterized by an unrelenting negativity. The "people" of Northeast Gaomi Township are a loose collective lacking a political project: the almost naturalist representation of the "people" repudiates and parodies the derelict project of China's socialist modernity. Its dionysian drive is embodied through Mo Yan's re-imagination of a folk tradition that criticizes official culture and celebrates the multiplicity of life, but never raises itself to the level its opponent once aspired. Within this collective teems an entropy threatening to destroy and unravel itself and the institutions it becomes entangled with, as the latter's flirtations with the Chinese state's experiments with capitalism progresses. The people's passion ensures its progeny, but also threatens itself with eradication: "cancerous collectivity" is thus the total figure of Mo Yan's efforts to think about the postsocialist present through the past, which, mutatis mutandis, can be understood as an artistic analogy for the effects wrought by primitive accumulation in postsocialist China, a tidal wave surging forth at breakneck speed and towering on a gargantuan scale.  

Darwin Tsen is currently a fifth-year, dual-degree Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies of Penn State University. His current dissertation project, Under Institutional Eyes: The Search for Collectivity in the Postsocialist Transpacific Novel examines how collectivity is imagined in the novels of Mo Yan, Luo Yijun, and Karen Tei Yamashita, three authors whose disparate geographical origins are tied together by the recession of Chinese socialism and the rise of neoliberal globalization.

Since beginning his studies at Penn State, he has worked as a teaching assistant for the Summer School of Transcultural Theory in Taiwan’s prestigious Academia Sinica; published a translation of Wang Xiaoming’s article “Toward a “Great Unity”: Theories of Subjectivity in China in the Early Decades of the Modern Era” in the journal Social Text. An article titled “Revisiting Said’s “Secular Criticism”: Anarchism, Enabling Ethics, and Oppositional Ethics”, co-authored with Charlie R. Wesley, is slated to appear in a collection tentatively titled The Geocritical Legacies of Edward Said, forthcoming in 2015.

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.

Islam and the Literary Imaginary in Twentieth Century North Africa

Hoda El Shakry, Penn State
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m

This talk will present Professor El Shakry's current book-length research project, which explores the influence of Islamic thought and philosophy on the literary milieu of the region of the Maghreb – namely, the former French colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.  Her work examines how twentieth century Arabophone and Francophone textual materials – novels, poetry, plays, as well as literary and cultural periodicals – engage with the Qurʾan, the apostolic tradition of Hadith, in addition to central debates in Islamic exegesis, jurisprudence, and philosophy.  She argues that explicating this confluence between theological and literary discourses exposes the shared formal as well as ethical concerns of both traditions.  Moreover, the imperial context of her inquiry situates this investigation within the broader transnational questions of decolonization, post-colonialism, nation-state building, and globalization.  

Hoda El Shakry is an Assistant Professor of Comparative, Arabic and African Literatures. Her teaching and research interests lie in modern literature, criticism and visual culture of the Middle East and North Africa.  Her scholarship traverses the fields of modern Arabic and Francophone North African literature, Mediterranean studies, Islam and secular criticism, postcolonial studies and narrative theory.  Her current book project explores literary engagements with the Qur’an and Islamic Thought in twentieth century Arabophone and Francophone fiction of the Maghreb.  Before coming to Penn State, Hoda El Shakry was an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU.  Her publications include: “Apocalyptic Pasts, Orwellian Futures: Elle Flanders’ Zero Degrees of Separation” in GLQ (2010) and “Revolutionary Eschatology: Islam and the End of Time in al-Tahir Wattar’s al-Zilzal ” in the Journal of Arabic Literature (2011).  She has a forthcoming piece on Arabic literary pedagogy and the Maghreb, entitled: "Lessons from the Maghreb."

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Faculty Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary research.

The Center for Global Studies
The Pennsylvania State University
102 Old Botany Building | University Park, PA 16802
ph: 814.867.4697 | fax: 814.863.3528 | email:

Facebook logo Liberal Arts logo

Nondiscrimination Statement | Equal Opportunity | Privacy Policy | Copyright Policy | Photo Credits