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Grad students launch conference on languages

Ethan Summers

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Graduate students in the modern languages department will host the first Alabama Modern Languages Conference Friday and Saturday.

The conference itself will be housed in the Ferguson Student Center. Registration is free and begins at 8 a.m. Friday in the Anderson Room, and an official welcome will follow.

The focus of this year’s conference is “Transnational Topics in Language and Literature,” said Larissa Clachar, a second year Ph.D. student in Latin American literature and member of the conference’s organizing committee.

Clachar said the department is organizing the conference to provide students with opportunities to meet people and share their projects.

“We are doing this because we’ve never had one, and our department has good students that want to share their work,” she said. “This will be a first conference for a lot of people so it’s a learning [and] training experience and a good networking opportunity since we have participants from over 15 different universities presenting.”

The 15 universities involved include Vanderbilt University, University of Georgia, Indiana University, University of Texas at Austin, Emory University, Ohio State University, University of Chicago and Auburn University, Clachar said.

The conference will cover topics in multiple languages, she added.

“We will have papers in Spanish, French, German and of course English dealing with literature, linguistics and second language acquisition,” Clachar said.

Brad Holley is a Ph.D. student in French and another member of the organizing committee. He said the conference would be a first showcase for many students.

“This conference is bringing in both current and future scholars from various universities. For some, this may be the first venue in which they are able to present their research, and the University of Alabama benefits from that in a few ways,” he said. “Some of these presenters may currently be involved in a master’s program at their university and be looking to continue onto a doctorate program. This conference puts Alabama onto their radar.”

Holley continued by explaining how the conference would benefit the University in the future.

“Likewise, for those who continue onto an academic career and will be in the position of advising students who wish to pursue post-graduate degrees, this conference has the potential showcase our own university’s strengths,” Holley said. “Our own graduate students will benefit from this conference by being presented with a new flow of ideas which they may not have come into contact with previously.”

Clachar said the high point of the conference is their keynote speaker, Jo Anne Engelbert.

The keynote address is scheduled for Friday Nov. 19 in the Heritage Room of the Ferguson Student Center, Clachar said.

“Everyone is welcome, and it’s free,” Clachar said.

“[Engelbert] founded the program in translator training at Montclair State University,” Clachar said.

She published translations for 40 Latin American authors and translated the official magazine for the Americas Society for 10 years, Clachar said.

Holley said the support for the conference is impressive.

“There has been substantial support from various organizations and departments from the University which have helped to bring this conference to fruition, including the department of modern languages and classics, the graduate school and the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as others,” she said. “While we as graduate students bore a good amount of work, [we] could not have done it without their encouragement and support.”

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Grad students launch conference on languages