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Affirmations of Blackness: Reading the Black Enlightenment

Surya Parekh, Penn State
Monday, November 3, 2014
102 Kern, 12:15 p.m.

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

Child awareness of subtle probabilities in adult language use: Evidence from Spanish DO pronouns

Pablo E. Requena, Penn State
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
102 Kern, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Those aspects of language that display optionality or variation are in general not entirely free or unpredictable. Actually, most language variation has been shown to be affected/constrained by either language-internal (e.g. grammatical category, gender marking) or external factors (e.g. speaker’s age, gender, social class), or both. For example, one case of variability in Spanish is represented by Direct Object pronouns called clitics. In constructions with a finite and non-finite verb (as shown in 1 below) they can go either before or after the verbal construction without any evident difference in meaning.

(1)  a. Lo voy a comer  (Proclisis)  
I am going to eat it’ 
b. Voy a comerlo  (Enclisis)
I am going to eat it’ 

Such variation has been described within sociolinguistics as constrained by lexical, semantic and discourse factors. Data from adult spoken Argentine Spanish that will be presented here confirms these previous studies. Even though language acquisition studies have shown early mastery of these forms, no research has examined whether preschool children’s use of clitics is also constrained by the same factors as is the case with adult speakers. Therefore, I present data from naturalistic, imitation and elicited production tasks showing that children’s use of clitics is constrained by at least two of the three types of constraints mentioned above (namely lexical and semantic). This research points to a usage-based view of language acquisition in which children are aware of subtle patterns in the input and are able to match probabilities.

Originally from Argentina, Pablo E. Requena graduated with an undergraduate degree in Education from the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba. He holds an MA in Hispanic Linguistics from Penn State and is currently completing his final year as a PhD. student in Language Science and Spanish Linguistics at Penn State. Pablo’s research encompasses both first language and second language acquisition and his research has focused on speakers from variety of Spanish dialects, including Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Southern Spain. With support from the College of Liberal Arts and the Center for Global Studies, Pablo has conducted research with Spanish-speaking children and adults in Argentina on how children use pronouns in variable contexts.

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

Blister you all: The Calibanic Genealogy in Brazil

Pedro Meira Monteiro, Princeton University
Monday, November 10, 2014
102 Kern, 12:15 p.m.

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

Edgar Allan Poe, 1845, and the “Invention” of American World Literature

Micah Donohue, Penn State
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
101 Old Botany, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Since 2006 and the publication of Wai Chee Dimock’s Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time, the concept of “American literature as world literature” has become increasingly popular, and it has been championed by other prominent scholars such as Lawrence Buell, Susan Stanford Friedman, and Paul Giles. In the introduction to Shades of the Planet: American Literature as World Literature (2007), Dimock calls for a mode of literary analysis which would “bring the circumference of the globe to bear on the circumference of the nation” since “American literature [i.e. U.S. American literature] as a spatially determinate set is a thing of the past.” Rather than debate the merits of the American literature as world literature project—although Theo D’Haen’s recent concern that texts such as Shades of the Planet risk “‘englobing’ the world through, and in, American literature” bears noting—this presentation challenges the idea that there is anything new about U.S. American writers thinking globally about U.S. literature. Dimock may be correct when she claims in Through Other Continents that “American literary studies as a discipline began” with the analysis “of one nation and one nation alone,” but printed discussions of U.S. American literature found in anthologies, newspapers, and journals going back to the nineteenth century demonstrate anything but an isolationist focus on “one nation alone.” As Edgar Allan Poe wrote in 1845, “the world at large is the only legitimate stage” for the American author.

This presentation focuses on the mid-nineteenth-century “invention” of an American world literature by Edgar Allan Poe, Cornelius Mathews, and Evert A. Duyckinck. (Quotation marks remain around “invention” because the worldliness of Anglo-American literature can already be seen in eighteenth and even seventeenth-century texts.) The 1840s—and 1845 in particular—form a crucially important moment in the conceptualization of U.S. American literature as a global phenomenon. During this period, the Young America literary-political movement begins, New Democrat policies of territorial and economic expansionism are championed and adopted, and military hostilities between the USA and Mexico flare into an outright war of aggression. When Poe, Mathews, and Duyckinck write about U.S. American literature in both local and international terms, they do so from within a country that was experiencing its own rampant internationalization and transformation—economically, politically, and militarily—into an imperial power on a global scale. These tensions within the United States at midcentury become the contradictions galvanizing Poe’s, Mathews’s, and Duyckinck’s statements about U.S. American literature, a literature that should, in Mathews’s words, “insist on nationalism and true Americanism” while also leading “a movement, to whose march the whole world will, ere long, be beating joyful time.” American world literature begins as an imperial and expansionist formulation, and the “englobing” that worries Theo D’Haen in the twenty-first century had already begun by the middle of the nineteenth.

Micah Donohue is an ABD doctoral student in the Department of Comparative Literature currently finishing a dissertation that explores the intersections of irony, metaphor, translation, monstrosity, and poetic recombination in the literature of the Americas. His work focuses on literary texts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries written in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. He has taught a variety of courses at Penn State, in the Departments of Comparative Literature and Spanish, including Latina/o Literature and Culture, Spanish 3, Introduction to Literatures of the Americas, Native American Myths, Legends, and Literatures, and Crime and Detective Fiction in World Literature. His work has been supported by a number of grants and awards from Penn State such as The Center for American Literary Studies Summer Graduate Award, a Research and Graduate Studies Office Grant, and the Susan Welch/Nagle Family Graduate Fellowship Award.

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

The United Nations: An Overview of its Work, its Agencies, and the Hiring Process

Said Maalouf, UN Public Information Assistant
Friday, November 14, 2014
112 Katz Building, 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This talk will focus on the composition of the United Nations, its history, and structure as the Headquarters of international diplomacy worldwide. It will also address the current issues faced by the Organization as it thrives to achieve its mission and its role in achieving development and peace. The talk will conclude with an explanation of the hiring process, career opportunities, and the importance of language training within this process.

Fulbright Scholar Said Maalouf graduated from The School of International Affairs at Penn State in 2013. Prior to coming to Penn State, Mr. Maalouf had various experiences working in the private and non-profit sectors in both Beirut and Paris. After his graduation, he was hired at the United Nations' Division for Public Administration and Development Management as a Consultant in Public Administration, contributing to the Division's flagship publication "The 2014 UN e-Government Survey". Mr. Maalouf's current post at the UN is Public Information Assistant, working on outreach programs, addressing public inquiries, and promoting the mission and work of the UN to the people it serves. He speaks fluent English, French, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese.

This lecture is sponsored by the Center for Global Studies and the School of International Affairs.


James O’Sullivan, Penn State
Monday, November 17, 2014
102 Kern, 12:15 p.m.

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

Poetry Without Borders, Tides of Change

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Foster Auditorium, 06:00 p.m.

Poetry without Borders is an annual, university-wide, student-run poetry reading forum where students and faculty expose the audience to different languages and cultures. The event aims to bring together people with different backgrounds and passions. In the past, there was contributions from languages such as German, Chinese, Mongolian, Kazakhs, Norwegian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Turkish, Hebrew, Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, and Portuguese, and students and faculty from different majors and research fields. The theme of 2014 is “Tides of Change,” an inspiration for the readers to comment with poems on the current political and social events or to reflect on their own spiritual journey.

Sponsored by the Center for Global Studies, the Department of Comparative Literature, the college of Liberal Arts, the Woskob Family Endowment in Ukrainian Studies, the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Penn State University Libraries.

Theorizing Gender and Islam Conference

Monday, December 1, 2014
Alumni Lounge, Nittany Lion Inn, 9 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Alumni Lounge, Nittany Lion Inn, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Keynote speakers:

Sa'diyya Shaikh, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town

Nina Hoel, Department of Anthropology, University of KwaZulu Natal

On Affect and Articulation: Reading Oe’s Anti-Nuclear Speeches

Margherita Long, University of California, Riverside
Monday, December 8, 2014
102 Kern, 12:15 p.m.

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

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
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