Program in Comparative Literature

Summer 2018 Newsletter for the Program in Comparative Literature

Mon, July 23, 2018
Summer 2018 Newsletter for the Program in Comparative Literature
Program in Comparative Literature - 2018 Summer Newsletter



 Director’s Note

To say that we live in a “post-factual” world is, for those of us who work in Comparative Literature, a statement which is pressing in its implications for today, but it could equally have been a description offered by Plato or Chuang Tzu of the Greek and Chinese empires in the classical period. As words and images proliferate today, the careful close reading of those words and images, of all modalities of human expression, has never been a more crucial task. Whether in the intellectually driven enterprises of the academy or in engagements with the public and the popular, words matter as do the ideas and values that they express, interrogate, and revise. With such a diverse and accomplished community of students and faculty, our program continues to welcome the chance collegially and collaboratively to engage with the world around us through the investigation of how meaning is made and received. In 2018, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of our program, we affirm the importance of continuing such critical work.

Working in a dozen departments with students at all levels and in all majors, the members of our program energetically and effectively help to ensure that UT’s undergraduates are proficient in foreign languages, write with eloquence and critical insight, and emerge from our classrooms better able to understand and transform our world in positive ways. Whether as faculty or as graduate instructors, whether on the 40 Acres or in partnership with Travis County, whether with a student attending their first class ever at UT or a graduating honors student, members of our Comparative Literature community continue their dynamic presence in a variety of classrooms and beyond. Among the many accolades received by our students, about which you will read in the pages that follow, the three students who have been selected for the Mellon “Engaged Scholar Initiative” epitomize the distinctive ways in which members of our program combine a commitment to creative, risk-taking, and public-facing scholarship with a mission of generosity and conviction. 

The agility and immediacy of our work was captured by the 2017 GRACLS conference, the centerpiece of our conversations each year. This year’s symposium directly addressed the place of the academy within a public and popular conversation, focusing on “Reclaiming the Swamp (Thing): Popular Culture and the Public Academy.” With Dr. Richard Rodriguez’s keynote “Latino/U.K.: Postpunk’s Transatlanic Touches” to inspire us to think seriously and reflectively about unexpected affinities, the conference brought together more than fifty presenters and movingly demonstarted the reach and range of our field and our program.

This year our graduate program is undergoing an external review, and we have spent this spring conducting a process of internal reflection, one in which the strengths of the program, its origins, history, and aspirations have been very much on our minds. Both the faculty and students (including alumni) have taken this activity very seriously, appropriately taking pride in what has been accomplished and striving to make the program ever more successful by seeking out moments when we could have done better, more, or different. In fall 2018, our external reviewers will give us fresh insights and advice. Before transitioning into our next half century, we hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading about what impressive work our colleagues have done as we continue to celebrate them and our golden jubilee.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Richmond-Garza - Program Director

You can view the entire Summer 2018 Newsletter here


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