Carnegie Mellon University

Fall 2015 Events

Film FestFrom September 20 to October 18, five films will be screened at Carnegie Mellon during the Hispanic Studies Film Festival. The festival is part of the Spanish Film Club (SFC), a program conceived of by PRAGDA, an organization that helps universities in the U.S. and Canada bring the best in contemporary Spanish and Latin American cinema to their campuses. The festival will provide students and other attendees with a unique opportunity to engage with Spanish and Latin American culture through a selection of films not widely known or viewed in North America. Films will be shown in their original language (with English subtitles).

The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Therese Tardio, Associate Teaching Professor of Hispanic Studies.

Sponsored by CMU Department of Modern Languages, Global Studies, and the Office of Student Affairs. This festival is part of the Spanish Film Club series, which was made possible with the support of PRAGDA, SPAIN arts & culture, and the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain.




Arturo Menéndez / El Salvador/70 min/2013/Spanish with English subtitles
Gregg Hall (Porter 100) at 7:00 p.m.

A humble man of limited means arrives home one day to find a letter on his doorstep: he either coughs up $500 (a small fortune for him) or loses his life. The protagonist first tries to raise the money and later decides to confront the perpetrators.


Los Bañistas

Max Zunino/Mexico/83 min/2014/Spanish with English subtitles
Gregg Hall (Porter 100) at 7:00 p.m.

A rebellious teenager and her grumpy neighbor learn to relate to each other during an economic crisis.



Ignacio Ferreras / Spain / 89 min / 2014 / Spanish with English subtitles
Gregg Hall (Porter 100) at 7:00 p.m.

A 2D animated film about two aged men who befriend each other in a care facility. Miguel helps his new friend Emilio—who recently arrived and is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s—avoid relegation to the top floor of the building, where “lost causes” are sent.


Mr. Kaplan

Álvaro Brechner / Uruguay, Spain, Germany / 98 min / 2014 / Spanish with English subtitles
Gregg Hall (Porter 100) at 7:00 p.m.

Jacob Kaplan, a Jewish man who fled from the Nazis during WWII, is living a quiet life in Uruguay when he learns of a mysterious German man who Kaplan believes is a Nazi-in-hiding. Kaplan teams up with a cop to kidnap the man and bring him to justice.


Operación E

Miguel Courtois Paternina / Spain, France, Colombia / 108 min / 2012 / Spanish with English subtitles
Gregg Hall (Porter 100) at 7:00 p.m.

A thriller about a family taken hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

chalkboardIn 2007, three Department of Modern Languages professors of Hispanic origin established El Círculo Juvenil de Cultura, a biannual workshop that aims to create an environment where children gain exposure to Spanish language and Latino culture by participating in various activities alongside their peers. El Circulo's fall workshop, Cuéntamelo (tell it to me), is a multimedia storytelling lab for children between the ages of 6 and 12. It will be conducted in Spanish. The children will use Latin American and Hispanic folktales as a springboard for (re)creating their own stories using different types of media and their own imaginations. They will explore a variety of ways to tell these stories through comics, digital animation, games, theater and video, among other media. At the end of the workshop, stories will be showcased for the children’s families and other members of the Pittsburgh community.

Date: September 27 to December 6, 2015
Time: Sundays, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Porter Hall 225B (Carnegie Mellon University)

For more information, please contact Mariana Achugar or Felipe Gómez or visit the El Círculo blog.

AshkenaziBoth during the Weimar years and in the early decades of the Cold War, Heimat imagery played a vital role in German identity discourse. While the significance of Heimatfilms within this trend is well documented, the fundamental contribution of Jewish artists to the formation of the Heimatfilm genre has been surprisingly overlooked. My talk analyzes the ways Jewish filmmakers in Germany appropriated conventional Heimat imagery in order to participate in and influence the constitution of German nationality. I argue that, regardless of the different settings, these filmmakers used similar means to advocate an alternative notion of a German national community, which thrives in an alternative Heimat, devoid of its blood and soil connotations.

Ofer Ashkenazi is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Koebner-Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of the books Weimar Film and Modern Jewish Identity (2012) and Reason and Subjectivity in Weimar Film (2010, Hebrew).

Date: September 29, 2015
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Dowd Room, Cohon University Center

Sponsors: CMU Department of Modern Languages, CMU Department of English, CMU Department of History, University of Pittsburgh Department of German, University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program

vaterlandLa Mère-patrie and Das Deutsche Vaterland: French and German Concepts of Nationhood and the 2015 Migrant Crisis

How to account for Germany and France’s startlingly different response to the current migrant crisis in Europe? Merkel’s Germany is reestablishing itself as a promised land for the persecuted and has pledged to welcome an estimated 800,000 refugees. Meanwhile, France has welcomed 20,000 refugees. The country’s confused response is a mix of fear of invasion and belated expression of welcome. Taking this crisis as a starting point, we will attempt to understand France and Germany’s responses by exploring their respective attitudes towards nationalism, “home” and integration.

Date: October 14, 2015
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Baker Hall 154R

Gabriele Eichmanns Maier specializes in questions of home and identity in contemporary Germany. She is interested in responses to globalizing tendencies after the fall of the Berlin Wall and how Germans negotiate their desire to become global citizens while, at the same time, fearing the loss of a sense of belonging in a heterogeneous world.

Mame-Fatou Niang conducts research on contemporary France, media, and urban planning. Her recent research examines the development of Afro-French identities, and the works of second- and third-generation female immigrant writers of the banlieue.

GlobeThe Modern Languages Student Advisory Council (MLSAC) will host Polyglot Café, an annual event where Modern Languages students can ask questions and converse with department faculty members from different language groups about language learning, majoring or minoring in a language, study abroad, and so on. All current and prospective language students are cordially invited to attend. Beverages and snacks will be provided.

Date: October 16, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Peter-McKenna-Wright, Cohon University Center

Have you ever thought about taking a course in the Department of Modern Languages, but couldn’t decide which one to sign up for? Do you have questions about the department’s courses or degree programs, but you’re not sure where to turn to get answers? If so, we have good news for you: On November 2, faculty from the Department of Modern Languages will be on hand in the University Center and in Baker Hall to share information about courses and to answer any questions you might have. Look for our “Welcome!” poster and smiling faces in the Wean Commons area in the University Center and inside the main entrance to Baker Hall. We invite you to stop by to chat about Modern Languages while enjoying light snacks. We hope to see you there!

Date: November 2, 2015
Place: Baker Hall (outside of BH 160) and University Center (Wean Commons on the first floor)
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Baker Hall); 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Wean Commons)

speakerSave the date! The third annual Dietrich Undergraduate Colloquium (DUC) will be held on Friday, November 6, beginning at 3:00 p.m. The DUC is a unique opportunity for undergraduates in the Dietrich College to present their research and creative work in a formal but low-stakes setting. The colloquium is open to any undergraduate majoring (primary or secondary) or minoring in an area of study in the Dietrich College. Attendance at the DUC is open to any individual from Carnegie Mellon desiring to see fifteen minute presentations or poster presentations of the thoughtful and original work by Dietrich College students. There is no cost to attend.

For more information, please contact Dr. Bonnie Youngs or Margaret Marchese. Students who are interested in volunteering can also contact Dr. Youngs or Margaret. We hope to see you there!

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University’s Latino/a Graduate Student Association (LGSA) and the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at CMU, welcomes everyone in the community to the 20th Latin American Social and Public Policy (LASPP) Conference.

The LASPP Conference is a student-organized event where undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members can present their scholarly work involving social and public policy in Latin America. This year’s presentations will be organized around the following four topics: (1) Public Policy and Development; (2) Democratic Stability and Governance; (3) IT and Public Policy, Open Government and Transparency; and (4) Humanities. In addition to the panels, several guest speakers will make opening and closing remarks.

Please visit the LASPP Conference website for more information.

Topic: Reading in Asian Languages

With presentations by Sue-mei Wu and Keiko Koda

Character Learning and Literacy Training for CFL Students
Sue-mei Wu, Teaching Professor of Chinese Studies

Achieving literacy in Chinese, in particular learning to read and write Chinese characters, can be a challenging task for students accustomed to alphabetic writing systems. This presentation will demonstrate pedagogical strategies, experimental research studies, and an online character-learning project designed to help learners overcome some of the difficulties inherent in becoming literate in Chinese.

Sue-mei Wu received her Ph.D. in Chinese linguistics, with a minor in language pedagogy, from the Ohio State University. She has taught at Ohio State University, Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University. During her more than two decades of CFL teaching, she has devoted her linguistic, pedagogy and technology expertise to creating and developing innovative Chinese courses, textbooks, online courses and web pages. She has received several awards and grants to support her research and the development of online Chinese character learning, and culture and folk performance modules to enhance students’ learning outcomes.

The Complexities of Japanese
Keiko Koda, Professor of Japanese and Second Language Acquisition

Japanese employs arguably the most complicated writing system ever used by a sizable population. It is written using two typologically different writing systems: syllabic Kana and morphosyllabic Kanji. The concurrent use of the two systems is not accidental. In this talk, I will describe how the two systems evolved from Chinese characters, what kinds of complexities arose from the evolution process, and how such complexities affect reading acquisition in Japanese.

Keiko Koda is Professor of Second Language Acquisition and Japanese in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. Her major research interests include second language reading, biliteracy development, psycholinguistics, and foreign language pedagogy. She has been involved in a number of projects related to second language reading research and assessment in collaboration with Development Associates, the Center for Applied Linguistics, Educational Testing Service, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language, and the US Department of Education, among others. She has served as a member of the editorial boards of many highly regarded journals, including Reading Research Quarterly, Reading and Writing, Research in Second Language Learning, and International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching. She was also a member of the National Literacy Panel. She has edited and co-edited special issues of Language Learning and Reading in a Foreign Language. Her books include Insights into Second Language Reading (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Reading and Language Learning (Blackwell, 2007), and Learning to Read Across Languages (Routledge, 2008).

Date: November 18, 2015
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Baker Hall 154R

The Department of Modern Languages is recruiting students for the sixth class of its Masters in Applied Second Language Acquisition to begin in the fall of 2016. This one-year intensive program prepares students for careers in second language teaching in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and English as a Second Language (ESL). The program will interest three groups of students with undergraduate degrees: 1) native speakers of English with a major in foreign language studies; 2) native speakers of English with humanities degrees and second-language experience; 3) international students with degrees in humanities and language-related fields.

All applications must be completed online. Applications open December 1st with a deadline for the Fall 2016 class of February 1, 2016. For additional information please see the program website.

During the fall semester, children participating in El Círculo Juvenil de Cultura’s current workshop, Cuéntamelo, used Latin American and Hispanic folktales as a springboard for creating their own stories with the help of different types of media and their own imaginations. The stories will be showcased for family, friends, and other community members on Sunday, December 6.

Date: December 6, 2015
Time: 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Porter Hall 225B

Learn more.

Felipe Gómez, associate teaching professor of Hispanic studies, has been teaching a class this semester called Popular Music and Countercultures in Latin America. In the course, students observe how countercultural identities (national, social, sexual, racial, economic) are formed, articulated, and negotiated through playing, listening, and dancing to popular music. On Thursday, December 10, Ruby Julaj—a student currently enrolled in the course—will speak about Rock in Guatemala and the band Alux Nahual on the radio program “Barrio Latino.” Turn the radio to WRCT 88.3 FM or visit at 6:30 p.m. to tune in.

Date: December 10, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Station: WRCT 88.3 FM

Will Crichton, a student taking the class Chinese Folk Performance Traditions taught by Sue-mei Wu, will give a performance on December 10 based on a traditional Chinese performance art called Shandong Kuaiban. The performance consists of rhythmic comic talk or a monologue accompanied by bamboo clappers, and is commonly performed in Shandong Province in Northeast China. Afterwards, a short film will be shown about hand puppet theater, a traditional performance art in Taiwan.

Date: December 10, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Location: Porter Hall A19C

Students taking the course Chinese Calligraphy: Culture and Skills will showcase poems written in calligraphy this semester. Each student will display one or two pieces of work. Everyone is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

Date: December 10, 2015
Time: 4:30 to 5:20 p.m.
Location: Baker Hall 154R (Dean’s Conference Room)