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March 18, 2019

Faculty Profile–Devin Grammon

Devin Grammon joined the Romance Languages faculty as Assistant Professor of Spanish Sociolinguistics in fall, 2018, having earned his PhD at The Ohio State University.

Grammon identifies three pillars of his research interests: sociolinguists, language contact, and language learning. His research revolves around questions of what it means to know a language or to be a speaker of a language, which is linked to a broader platform of combating inequality and making linguistics and language learning more accessible to more people. He describes his interests as arising out of reflections on his own experience as a person who learned Spanish in high school and has lived and traveled in Peru, Bolivia and Mexico. He’s done extensive research on language contact between Quechua and Spanish in Cuzco, Peru.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently digging deep into a set of interrelated questions that revolve around the theoretical construct of sociolinguistic competence, which is about the ability to use language in ways that are socially and culturally appropriate. What is the nature of sociolinguistic knowledge and how do we implement it? How do we determine what is appropriate and for whom? What metrics do we use? These issues relate to my dissertation research and several articles I’m working on about language learning, study abroad, and heritage tourism in Cuzco. Lately, I’ve been rereading work by Oregonian sociolinguist Dell Hymes from the 1970s on ‘communicative competence’ that has helped me to problematize a lot of settled knowledge in both second/foreign language education and contact linguistics. So much of what we traditionally thought about second language learning rests on assumptions that don’t really match the reality we’re living with in 21stcentury. Globalization, mobility, and technology all play a part. People increasingly learn and use language in ways that don’t sit well with the idea of the ‘native speaker’ and bounded languages that reside in the brain. Through my work, I imagine what sociolinguistics might look like if we move away from essentialist views of language and society and ask who benefits from viewing language and competence in particular ways. I feel encouraged to engage those lines of inquiry here at UO.

How did you come to be interested in sociolinguistics?

I got interested in sociolinguistics through studying Spanish. I took Spanish on a whim in high school, as one of several options to fulfill a requirement; I didn’t think about it too hard—it was something new and different. I grew up in small towns, where those kinds of classes weren’t really offered; in high school, we moved to Cañon City, Colorado, a town of 12,000 people. That was the first time I had the opportunity to take a class in another language.

The first two weeks in Spanish, I was completely lost, just really overwhelmed, and then it started to click. What made me push through?I couldn’t easily get out of the class. But more than that, the intense process where you feel vulnerable, and make connections with other students and the teacher. This interpersonal dimension was a big reason I kept taking Spanish. And once you start to get it, it’s sort of addictive, it builds its own momentum. A process of self-discovery gets bound up in language learning. I never thought that it would be something I would do as a career; it was an interest, an add-on. Even in college, I didn’t take Spanish right away, but when I did, I really liked it. I was going to be a Spanish minor. When I was almost finished with the minor, another student and I were in the library speaking in Spanish, and I was showing her photos from my study abroad program in Mexico. A student across from us got really upset, cursed as he called us foreigners, threw a stapler, and told me to leave the country. I was in total shock. It was another moment of deep introspection; confronted with my own privilege in a lot of ways, it made me want to continue, take the next step and become a Spanish major.

What other languages to do you speak or read, even a little?

After Spanish, the two languages I know best are Quechua and Portuguese because I studied them for many years. I conducted research on/in Quechua during my 18 months of fieldwork in Peru. I’m most familiar with the Cuzco-Qollaw dialect of Southern Quechua, which is spoken in Southern Peru, Bolivia, and parts of Northern Argentina. My Portuguese is rusty, but I can read it really well; I would have considered myself close to fluent at one point. I have also studied French (family ancestry) and taken Catalan. I’ve done a bit of research into Aymara, and other major indigenous languages of the Americas (Nahuatl, Maya), in order to understand some of the complexities of language contact situations.

What courses have you most enjoyed teaching—or most look forward to teaching—at the UO?

I have really enjoyed teaching Spanish in the US (SPAN 428). It’s interesting to me because, even though my research is not on Spanish in the US per se, I was already very familiar with that literature; many aspects of the situation of Spanish in US make me reflect on the situation of indigenous languages in Latin America. What’s been exciting about that class is that it has given me and the students a space to explore issues, myths, discourses, and ideologies surrounding the past, present, and future of Spanish.

Next quarter, I’m really looking forward to Language Contact in Latin America and Spain (SPAN 420/520). The course will focus a lot on social and cultural dimensions of language contact, looking at questions of linguistic diversity in the Spanish-speaking world. Looking at Rapa Nui on Easter Island, for example, will allow students to make a lot of connections to the situation in the US with Spanglish. We’ll look at more historic cases as well, such as varieties of Italian in Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20thcentury.

Did anything surprise you about UO or Eugene?

The biggest surprise was just that I was coming here to join you!  At times it’s been overwhelming, a big transition between grad school and starting a job on the tenure track. Students seem very familiar, easy to connect to. I’ve been struck many times at their level of preparation.

If anything has surprised me, it’s the extent to which I feel really at home here, in all respects. I get up in the morning, and I can’t wait to come in and get to work. And on the weekends, I can’t wait to go explore.

March 1, 2019

Grammon named 2019-20 Sustainability Faculty Fellow

Assistant Professor of Spanish Sociolinguistics Devin Grammon has been named a 2019-20 Sustainability Faculty Fellow. The fellowship will aid in the development of Grammon’s combined research and pedagogical project on the linguistic landscape and public use of Spanish in Eugene, focused on issues of sustainability. This fellowship comes with financial and programmatic support in conjunction with a three day workshop in June that will provide Grammon with opportunities to initiate ongoing community partnerships and develop community-engaged learning activities.

 

February 6, 2019

Prof. Millar Publishes Article on Cuban and Angolan Poetry

Lanie Millar, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, has published an article titled “Luanda in Santiago and Santiago in Luanda: Trans-Atlantic Dimensions in Cuban and Angolan Poetry” in the most recent issue of  MLN (vol. 133, no. 5, December, 2018, pp. 1277-1303). The article examines how several groups of twentieth-century Cuban and Angolan poems portray trans-Atlantic exchange between the Caribbean and Africa. It analyzes both mid-twentieth-century anti-colonial poems as well as late-twentieth-century poems written about Cuba’s support for the leftist party during Angola’s civil war, focusing on works by Cubans Nicolás Guillén, Antonio Conte, and Víctor Casaus and Angolans Agostinho Neto, Viriato da Cruz, and Manuel Rui. The poems are often considered only in their limited service to particular political messages. However, Millar argues that poetic nuances often remain hidden or unnoticed if we ignore the poetic in overtly political poetry. The article shows that these poems conceive of a more complex and nuanced idea of the Atlantic world than the simple notion of Africa as the sole origin of cultural inspiration for communities formed through slavery and colonization, which poets in the Americas imitate or copy.  As a result, the article argues, considering these groups of poems together reveals something much more complex than facile political messaging: an alternative social and political community that stretches between the Caribbean and Africa, founded on networks of readers and writers of poetry.
November 6, 2018

Prof. García-Caro publishes article on recently recovered play

Pedro García-Caro, Associate Professor of Spanish, has published an article, “A Play for Branciforte:  Early California and the Survival of Astucias por heredar un sobrino a un tío, a Banned Comedia from Bourbon New Spain,” in the latest issue of Early American Literature (Vol. 53, Number 3, 2018: pp. 773-884). The article traces the provenance of a recently recovered literary manuscript from the Bancroft Library in California: Astucias por heredar un sobrino a un tío. This original text written in Spanish by Fermín de Reygadas is considered to be the earliest secular play performed in a European language in California. Authored in 1789 by a Spanish colonist in Mexico, and banned from the stage by the censor’s office in the spring of 1790, this satirical family drama was never printed, and was only performed (circa 1797) in the newly settled secular town of Branciforte (East Santa Cruz). It was preserved there in private archives, and then briefly rescued by Guadalupe Vallejo and Hubert H. Bancroft to be stored away again, having thus received almost no critical or scholarly attention until now. García-Caro considers some aspects of the textual origins as well as recent performances of the play.

As Tricks to Inherit (translated, adapted, and directed by Olga Sanchez Saltveit), the play was performed at the UO in spring of 2018.

UO Theatre presents “Tricks to Inherit”

 

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

May 14, 2018

RL Undergraduates Receive Prestigious Awards

Two of our outstanding Romance Languages majors received impressive recognition from the awards committee. Please congratulate these students for their wonderful contributions to the UO community and their impressive academic efforts. We are very fortunate to have such inspiring undergraduate students in our department.

Sara Espinosa, RL (FR & SPAN) & Journalism (PR) major Vernon Barkhurst Sophomore Award: (THE sophomore award) This award is given to a sophomore who best exemplifies academic excellence, university service and good citizenship. This award was established in 1984 in honor of Vernon Barkhurst, who served as Director of Admissions, Associate Dean of Students, and Conduct Coordinator.

Cecelia Barajas, RL (FR & ITAL): Junior Award – Gerlinger Cup (one of only five awards given to juniors): The Gerlinger Cup, first presented in 1914, is the gift of the late  Irene Gerlinger, a member of the University Board of Regents from 1914 to 1929. The cup is awarded to the outstanding junior woman selected for scholarship, leadership, and service to the university.

Congratulations, Sara and Cecelia!

 

April 11, 2018

RL Orientation Session on April 17th

Want to declare a minor or major? Have questions on our different tracks or some of our requirements? Come meet us, have some coffee and cookies!

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/685428888501994/

April 2, 2018

García-Caro Contributes to Cambridge History of Latina/o American Literature

Pedro Garcia-Caro has recently published a book chapter entitled “Performing to a Captive Audience: Dramatic Encounters in the Borderlands of Empire.” The Cambridge History of Latina/o American Literature edited by John Morán González and Laura Lomas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. 51-73. 
In his chapter García-Caro contours different practices of cultural performance by Spanish conquistadors and settlers in areas that would go on to become part of the US throughout the nineteenth century. From the early military campaigns and displays of religious and military power staging the colonial “claim” to the land through the “Requerimiento” in the sixteenth century, the staging of miracles and dance-dramas, through to satirical drama in the eighteenth century, public performance underlines the formation of cultural captivity of the colonized indigenous others, while increasingly revealing the divide and competition between religious and secular cultural agendas in the Spanish-speaking colonial space. García-Caro offers a comprehensive survey of the configuration of cultural hegemonies around public performance which relegated indigenous agency and cultural legitimacy to the role of spectator of incoming imperial narratives. Drawing from his recent research on the first Californio secular play Astucias por heredar, and contextualizing the long history of Hispanic colonial presence in the North American continent, García-Caro proposes an original framework to consider the relation of colonial cultural production as constantly tied to the objective of control, acculturation, and domination.
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.

February 15, 2018

The Center for Open Educational Resources for Language Learning has given the RL a Badge as “OER Master Creators”

The Center for Open Educational Resources for Language Learning (COERLL) has given us a Badge as  “OER Master Creators”, for our work on the “Empowering Learners of Spanish” collection.

 

The Empowering Learners of Spanish project is published by the Center for Open Educational Resources for Language Learning (COERLL) at the University of Texas at Austin and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Using a critical pedagogical approach, these activities teach sociolinguistics and critical inquiry into language ideologies. This collection reach over 250 students per year at institutions like the UO and Western Illinois University in addition to K-12 teaching workshops in Oregon, Texas, and Illinois.

The ELS project developers are,

Claudia Holguín Mendoza  (Romance Languages, University of Oregon)

Robert L. Davis (Romance Languages, University of Oregon)

Julie Weise (History, University of Oregon)

Kelley León Howarth (Romance Languages, University of Oregon)

Munia Cabal Jiménez (Western Illinois University)

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