Romance Languages and Literatures 11th Annual Graduate Student Conference Graphic.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mame-Fatou Niang, Carnegie Mellon University

2021 has been a year for the records. So far this year, we have seen record-breaking forest fires ravage the western United States and Canada, the Mediterranean, and Siberia. We have seen record-breaking heatwaves plague the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, raising temperatures in these areas 20-35 °F (11-19 °C) above normal. We have seen cold waves and winter storms imperil supply chains and power supplies in the American South. We have seen record-breaking floods wash away people and property in Germany and China. We continue to see racial injustice and calls for change ignored. This year so far, we have seen 3.1 million more lives globally lost to COVID-19 while we prepare for another wave this winter.

In such a year of record-breaking catastrophes, the triple emergencies of climate change, an enduring global pandemic, and ongoing racial injustice have taken their tolls. Altogether these crises are so overwhelming, chilling, and traumatizing that many of us cannot entirely process or make sense of what we are experiencing. Yet, there is still hope. As Elizabeth Alexander, poet, scholar, and president of the Andrew G. Mellon Foundation, notes in a recent op-ed for USA Today (22 October 2021), “In times of chaos, it is the arts and the humanities that grant us the knowledge and the insight to understand what we are experiencing in the world around us. They help us make sense of what seems senseless. They steady us, give us context, connect us with those who came before, and show us imagined futures. They both reveal and affirm meaning in everything from the songs we sing to the dances we dance; they give us solace and hope. Relentless global turmoil may dizzy us, but with the arts and humanities we are never lost. Now is the time to hold onto them.”

As students and emerging scholars, we understand Alexander’s words all to well. We understand that the humanities are limitless, boundless, and chaotic. Through interdisciplinary means, this conference invites you to reflect on and discuss questions of the role(s) of the humanities in a chaotic world. What can we learn from the past and current examinations of emergencies and crises presented through literature, film, visual arts, creative writing, performance arts, linguistics and translation studies, foreign language acquisition, and other means of communication and expression? Have human responses to crises evolved over the centuries or simply acclimated to new social and temporal contexts without significant systemic change? Can we look to disciplines in the humanities to effect productive change in the face of crises and chaos? How might such change(s) occur?


april 8, 2022

"Title TBA"
Mame-Fatou Niang, associate professor of French, Carnegie Mellon University

april 9, 2022

Neil G. Gablenz, PhD student, University at Buffalo

Concurrent Sessions

Mame-Fatou Niang, associate professor of French, Carnegie Mellon University

Carlos M. Amador, associate professor of Spanish and culture studies, Michigan Technological University; UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar 2021-2022

conference organizers

Neil G. Gablenz, RLL graduate student association president

Sam Schifano, RLL graduate student association vice president

Théo Ricardo, RLL graduate student association treasurer

Marie Dufay-Verbié, RLL representative to UB graduate student association

Valentina Marulanda Opsina, RLL graduate student association secretary

special thanks

Prof. Amy Graves Monroe, chair,  department of romance languages & literatures

Judy Edmister, department administrator,  RLL webpage designer

Stephanie George, director of operations of UB graduate student association

our sponsors

Graduate Student Association logo.
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures logo.