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December 16, 2019

2019 Autorretrato Poetry Awards Announced

Warm congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Autorretrato Poetry Awards!


After reading Pablo Neruda’s poem “Autorretrato” during the third week of classes of Fall term—and following plenty of creative conversations about poetic descriptions—all 462 second-year Spanish students created their own poetry, writing “self-portrait” poems in emulation of Neruda’s style. Instructors selected the best poem from each of their classes, and a combined GEs and faculty committee (Mariko Plescia, Jon Jaramillo, Analisa Taylor) chose the three winners from among nineteen finalists. Senior Instructor II Rosario Murcia coordinated the awards, with the collaboration of the entire second-year teaching team. Winners received gift-certificates to the Duck Store.

And the winners are. . .

First Place: Princess Mason for her poem “La princesa” (Nathan Whalen’s student).

Second Place: Sean Kudrna for her poem “La diáspora” (Yosa Vidal’s student).

Third Place: Eleanor Davis for her poem “Yo soy el zoológico” (Paulo Henriquez’s student).


Our thanks go to:

All the Spanish 201 Instructors and Graduate Employees for their inspiration, encouragement, dedication in empowering their students to write such moving poetry in Spanish.

The Spanish 201 students themselves for the creativity of their wonderful “autorretratos”

November 7, 2019

Founkoue Publishes New Book

Ramon Fonkoue (RL PhD, 2009) has published Nation Without Narration: History, Memory and Identity in Postcolonial Cameroon

*This book is part of the Cambria African Studies Series, headed by headed by Professor Toyin Falola (University of Texas at Austin) and Professor Moses Ochonu (Vanderbilt University).

The 2010 decade marked the 50th anniversary of decolonization and independence across the African continent. Cameroonians celebrated in chorus and pomp the historical threshold, but the memory of Cameroon’s historical resistance to colonial rule continues to remain unsettled. The silence on its troubled recent past and the lack of reflection on the role of collective memory and history in nation building are puzzling. Moreover, no rigorous assessment of the road traveled since independence has taken place. The nation-state on the continent emerged in a particular context, which saw the euphoria of independence dashed by “developmentalism,” a conception of nation building that was repressive, both in the intellectual and the political sense. As a result, the elites of independent Cameroon negated the legacy of the struggles that led to the end of colonial occupation, setting the country on a forced march toward progress and modernity. The discourse, praxis and outcomes of this approach to nation building are the focus of this study.

This book traces the roots of the current turmoil and sheds light on overlooked factors impacting nation building in post-colonial Cameroon. It demonstrates the urgency of cross-disciplinary work on African societies and the continued relevance of postcolonial criticism as a theoretical framework. It extends the postcolonial critique inaugurated by Homi Bhabha’s Nation and Narration into twenty-first-century sub-Saharan Africa. It also reframes the question of modernity and development in this context, suggesting an approach with bearing on people’s lived experience. This study draws from a diversity of fields—political science, literature, history, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies—to demonstrate the limitations of a philosophy of nation building that turned into state consolidation. It is a timely study on Cameroon’s currently volatile situation that is applicable to other postcolonial contexts, in Africa and elsewhere.

Nation Without Narration is an important book for students and scholars in African studies and history, as well as governmental and nongovernmental organizations involved with Africa.


July 15, 2019

Garvin and Wacks awarded 2019 Presidential Fellowships

Congratulations to Assistant Professor of Italian Diana Garvin and Professor of Spanish David Wacks, who have been named 2019 Presidential Fellows in Humanistic Studies.

Earlier this year, the UO announced that President Schill would fund a new set of fellowships to support faculty arts and humanities research and creative projects. These awards are supported by discretionary donor funds and are intended to support productive scholars in their professional development and scholarship. Learn more about the Presidential Fellows in Humanistic Studies awards.

Diana Garvin

Diana Garvin

Garvin’s research project, “The Bean in the Machine: Transnational Coffee and Caffè Culture under Italain Fascism” tells the story coffee culture across three continents during the Fascist ventennio (1922-1945). The narrative carries the reader from Roman and Eritrean caffès to Brazilian and Ethiopian coffee plantations to underscore how coffee growing and and drinking changed under Fascism, against a background of caffeinated imperial aggression and resistance.

David Wacks

David Wacks

In his project, “People of the Book: Retellings of the Hebrew Bible in Medieval Iberia,” Wacks studies how Iberia’s Muslims, Jews, and Christians participated in a common culture of retellings of Biblical tales during the Middle Ages.  Wacks studies Biblical exegesis, translations, legends, drama, and artistic representations from the Peninsula’s three religious traditions, in order to demonstrate how each is influenced and shaped by its relationship with the others.

July 9, 2019

Jesús Sepúlveda wins first place in Oregon’s Spanish poetry competition

The Instituto de Cultura Oregoniana (ICO)—a non-profit organization that promotes the Spanish-speaking culture in Oregon and multilingualism as a source of common prosperity—awarded Chilean poet and RL instructor Jesús Sepúlveda the First Prize of Poetry in the “II Concurso de Poesía Oregoniana 2019” for his poem “Retablo de las maravillas.”

The award ceremony will take place in the Louks Auditorium at the Salem Public Library on July 13th, 2019 at 4:00 pm.

With this award, Sepúlveda finishes an academic year full of literary activities and invitations.

In 2018 Dr. Sepúlveda was invited to participate in the festival “Poetry on the Road” in Bremen, Germany; the 5th “Poésie Sauvage” Poetry Festival in La Salvetat-sur-Agoût, France; and the “Carruaje de pájaros” International Poetry Festival in Chiapas, Mexico.  Dr. Sepúlveda also spent a month in Germany as a writer-in-residence invited by the Sylt Foundation and toured Portugal presenting the Portuguese edition of his book The Garden of Peculiarities.

On March 2019 he was invited to the 11th International Poetry Festival in Puerto Rico, where the Proyecto Editorial La Chifurnia published Wirikuta—a selection of his poems.

Wirikuta by Jesús Sepúlveda

Sepúlveda’s poetry has been anthologized and featured in several publications. In 2018 two main Chilean anthologies included his work—Antología de poesía chilena. La generación post 87 and Antología de poesía chilena. His poetry also appeared in the two-volume anthology of American poetry The End of the World Project, published by Moria Press in Indiana.

Between spring 2018 and 2019, the Portuguese review Flauta de Luz, the German magazine Ostragehege, the Indian journal Six Seasons Review, and the American publication Fifth Estate published translations of Sepúlveda’s poems.

Dr. Sepúlveda with French poet Aurélia Lassaque

Dr. Sepúlveda with French poet Aurélia Lassaque

A plaquette with his poem “Platon”, translated by Dmitri Fragata and illustrated by French artist Marc Granier, was released in France while his poem “El fascismo se sienta a la mesa” (translated by UO alumna Elmira Louie) appeared in the newly online journal Periphērica edited by UO Professor Pedro García-Caro.

Sepúlveda with artist Marc Granier

Sepúlveda with artist Marc Granier

Jesús Sepúlveda was featured in Chellis Glendinning’s In the Company of Rebels (2019), a collection of portraits of artists and thinkers that gives an account of Sepúlveda’s biography and work, illustrating his commitment to poetry and world issues.



October 3, 2018

RL Ph.D. student Javier Velasco publishes edition of Bolivian author


Javier Velasco, Alejandra Echazú, Leonardo García-Pabón

Javier Velasco Camacho (a Ph.D. student in the Department of Romance Languages) in collaboration with Dr. Alejandra Echazú Conitzer (Universidad Católica Boliviana), have published Cuentos by Walter Montenegro (La Paz: Plural, 2018), an edition of short stories written by Bolivian author Walter Montenegro (1912-1991). The book was published by Plural Editores, as part of the collection Letras Fundacionales, a collection directed by Professor Leonardo García-Pabón. This edition includes the short stories, a critical introduction, a chronology of Montenegro’s life, and newspaper articles by Montenegro. Velasco Camacho and Echazú Conitzer celebrated the publication with a book presentation in La Paz this past September.

Walter Montenegro wrote two extraordinary books of short stories, and is considered a canonical author of Bolivian literature. However, his work has been overlooked by Bolivian literary critics. This edition seeks to bring critical attention to this important narrative. The volume includes the two books of short stories: Once Cuentos (1938)and Los Últimos (1947). The first book was motivated by the Chaco War with Paraguay. The second is a critical look at the new middle classes and characters emerging in the city of La Paz in the middle of the 20thcentury, and who would be main actors in the revolution of 1952 (considered the main political event for the process of modernization of Bolivia).

Presentación del libro, La Paz

March 10, 2018

Leah Middlebrook in Tanner Lecture Series

On March 19, Leah Middlebrook will deliver a public lecture at Utah State University, as part of the Tanner Lecture Series. The talk, taken from her book-in-progress, is titled “The View from Thebes: Framing Poetry for the 21st Century.”


March 6, 2018

Middlebrook on Why Read Don Quijote?

In February, Leah Middlebrook spoke at a panel on Why Read Don Quijote Now? as part of the U.C. Berkeley Designated Emphasis on Renaissance and Early Modern Studies’ series “Why Read…?” Her short talk, titled “Knight + Duenna as a Way of Life,” took a twenty-first century look at the theme of friendship in the novel.

September 25, 2017

RL Graduate receives the American Translators Association Student Translation Award

Delaney Swink, who completed her B.A. with departmental honors in Romance Languages in June 2017, has received the American Translators Association Student Translation Award to support her Spanish-to-English translations of feminist Chilean poet Rosa Alcayaga’s book Maldito Paraíso [Damned Paradise]. Assessing the project, the ATA judges admired Delaney’s “topic, translation style, and the potential for publication.” Besides the award itself, she receives a stipend toward attending its presentation at the ATA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., in October 2017.

Delaney’s project is also supported by the Global Oregon Translation Studies Working Group Undergraduate Translation Award. Together, these will help her travel to Chile for three weeks in January 2018, where she will meet and work directly with Ms. Alcayaga on the project-in-progress. Rosa Alcayaga’s work combines literary and colloquial Spanish, and its cultural allusions range from Biblical-era patriarchs and resistant women heroes to Latin American history and current social-political issues including gender violence. Delaney’s translations render these complex meanings and key contexts in lively English. The project began in Amanda Powell’s translation seminar (RL 407/507) in winter 2017.

¡Felicidades y buena suerte, Delaney!


Delaney Swink, Class of 2017


May 2, 2017

Languages Out Loud

Join Romance Languages Faculty and Students Wednesday May 3, 2017 at the EMU Amphitheatre for Languages Out Loud! An open celebration of our Multilingual Campus.

Languages out Loud-flier-1c2mtk3

January 9, 2017

Poetry takes Jesús Sepúlveda to South Africa

Sylt Foundation Invites Jesús Sepúlveda to South Africa

Chilean poet and senior instructor Jesús Sepúlveda just returned from a three-week writer’s residency in Johannesburg where he met South African writers, poets, and artists.


Renowned poet Vonani Bila and Jesús Sepúlveda

Sponsored by the Sylt Foundation, Sepúlveda visited renowned poet Vonani Bila and his wife Gudani Ramikosi, an author of children’s books, at the Timbila Writers’ Village in the Northeastern province of Limpopo. Bila completed in 2016—in collaboration with poet Max Makisi Marhanele—the edition of the first comprehensive monolingual Xitsonga dictionary, Tihlungu ta Rixaka. Xitsonga is one of the ten vernacular languages in South Africa and the 920-page dictionary represents a great recognition of the importance of South African native languages. Sepúlveda will donate his personal copy to the UO library, so the dictionary can be available in the Pacific Northwest library system.

While in Johannesburg—also known as Joburg or Jozi, the two most common abbreviations for this city, the largest one in South Africa—Sepúlveda met with Aragorn Eloff, a member of the bolo’bolo collective and responsible for the publication of his book The Garden of Peculiarities reprinted in Cape Town in 2016. On the occasion of Sepúlveda’s visit to South Africa, Eloff published an interview, “A Mockingbird in the Garden,” in the online publication Medium on December 15, 2016.


Sepúlveda and kids from the Elim

Sepúlveda and kids from the Elim

Indra Wussow, art critic and collector, translator, writer and director of the Sylt Foundation, organized several literary tertulias to connect Sepúlveda with local writers and poets such as Xoli Norman, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Phillippa Yaa de Viliers as well as pianist Jill Richards and painter Jaco van Schalkwyk. Wussow also organized visits to sites of cultural, historical, and political interest. Tumi Mokgope, project manager of the Sylt Foundation, guided Sepúlveda through these sites: the Township of Soweto, home of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu where the uprising of 1976 triggered the social movement that ended apartheid in 1990; the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves in the outskirts of Johannesburg, where the finds of ancient hominin fossils are exhibited. Sepúlveda also visited the Apartheid Museum in Joburg and the Freedom Park Museum in Pretoria to learn about the systematic and hideous regime of racial segregation installed in the country from 1948 to 1990.

During his stay, Sepúlveda also met with writers Zaide Harneker and Frank Meintjies, active members of the South African literary and political milieu, and discussed the development of the Abantu Book Festival, activism in Johannesburg, and the social and educational crisis in the country, with a 26.6% unemployment rate in 2016. Sepúlveda also discussed the current situation with Angie Kapelianis, broadcast journalist of SABC National Radio, who has been covering political news since Mandela’s presidential election in 1994.

While writing about the Soweto uprising, Sepúlveda found intriguing similarities between Chile and South Africa. “I was surprised to realize how close the recent political history of both countries are. Chile and South Africa ended their cruel regimes through massive demonstrations and civil disobedience at the end of the 1980’s, while transitioning toward modern, stable and yet neoliberal democracies. Rampant neoliberalism produces abyssal social gap and class segregation, which is the cause of huge problems in both countries. Another similarity is the nature of the extractive economies based on mine exploitation—with its negative ecological impact on the natural environment and people’s health. Another parallel is how South Africa and Chile have become in the last decade magnetic poles that attract economic immigration. While Chile has the fastest growing immigrant population in South America, receiving people from neighbor countries as well as from Colombia, Haiti, and Spain; South Africa is the second African country after Ivory Coast to receive people, making the immigrant population 4% of the total inhabitants in the country. After this residency, I have learned a great deal about South Africa, helping me to reflect with a wider perspective on Chile as well as the US, and reaffirming my conviction to honor linguistic diversity and cultural differences as the only way to build up tolerant societies for a harmonious world. I’m extremely grateful to the Sylt Foundation and Indra Wussow for this great opportunity.”


Xoli Norman

Indra Wussow

Indra Wussow

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