Over the past year it has been my honor to serve as Chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. I always knew we were good. But by working day in and day out with RLL’s colleagues, students, and staff, I have come to see what a truly magnificent department we have. Our faculty are recognized leaders in their respective fields of research. Graduate student research is cutting edge, as was made more than evident in our 8th Annual RLL Graduate Student Association Conference, “Onward!: (R)Evolutions in the Humanities” (April 26-27, 2019). The number of public events sponsored by our faculty and students are almost too numerous to mention, but a few notable entries have to be recognized.
This year’s Zengierski Family Lecture on “Immigrants, Refugees, and Populists” brought together scholars, activists, and documentary filmmakers Lourdes Lee Vásquez and Bryan Vásquez to discuss some of the most important issues of our day. Our Italian Program sponsored the performance of “The Worth of Women,” the English translation of an Italian Renaissance play. The 6th Annual Big Buffalo Quebec Film Festival, sponsored by Melodia E. Jones Chair of French Professor Jean-Jacques Thomas, not only featured an impressive slate of films, but also a keynote address by Academy Award winner, Sylvain Bellmare. The Jones Chair also co-sponsored an impressive conference on French critical theory in the aftermath of 1968, “Buffalo: Transatlantic Crossroads of a Critical Insurrection.” In the Spring, Italian professor and co-director of the HI Modernisms Research Workshop, Laura Chiesa, co-organized a symposium celebrating the life and legacy of Kurt Weill, “Sounds: Avant-Garde, Modernism, and Fascism.” Perhaps most significantly, Prof. Maureen Jameson with Prof. Colleen Culleton started a new micro-credential program, “Career Building with Languages,” that incorporates tutoring newly arrived immigrants to Western New York.
In short, RLL is pushing research in exciting new directions, providing comprehensive education in language and culture, and engaging with our local communities in significant ways.
In May of this year, RLL approved a new Strategic Plan for the department. All of our faculty and standing committees worked diligently on this document, which charts exciting new directions for us. In coming years, expect to see exciting new Master’s and continuing education initiatives, new international programs geared to allowing our students to utilize their classroom knowledge in real-life settings, a renewed emphasis on Romance linguistics, and the creation of new hybrid online learning environments. The 21st century is here, and RLL is definitely a part of it!
Justin A. Read, Chair
Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese