MA Hispanic Studies


Lecture Series


Upcoming lectures

October 2, 2014

Prof. Jane E. Mangan (Davidson College, NC)

“In her mother’s power she cannot be raised with good breeding”: Indigenous Family and Colonialism in Sixteenth-Century Peru

In collaboration with The First Peoples Studies Program


HSGSA Latinocanadá Writers Talk Series:

April 25, 2014

Ángel Mota Berriozábal

March 28, 2014

Francisco García González

February 28, 2014

César Reynel Aguilera





The MA in Hispanic Studies Lecture Series brings renowned scholars in Hispanic Studies to Concordia.


Dr. Laura Vidler:

The Poetics of Performance Reconstruction: Reviving and Revising the Comedia

April 3, 2014

Watch the full lecture (45:56)



Frustratingly, the reinvigoration of a contemporary Spanish comedia performance tradition has sprung up with an intensity inversely proportional to the scholarly study of its 17th-century staging practices. Postmodernism has demanded that we rethink the very nature of performance, articulate the relationship between dramatic and performance texts, delineate notions of "doubling" and "restored behavior" on the stage, and consider the role of audience reception and cognitive function in the creation of meaning (Peirce, Eco, Foster, McConachie). Furthermore, the cultural intersections of postmodernity push us to seek how we communicate meaning over vast (or tiny) expanses of space-time. As a result, the wave of scholarship on Spanish Golden Age staging practices in the 1960s through the 1980s (which was very late in comparison to comparable work on Elizabethan theater) was effectively put on hold while theorists developed performance taxonomies based on contemporary, rather than classical, performances.
While it seems that poststructuralism and other literary theories may be used to dismiss each of these approaches out of hand, I argue that an interdisciplinary approach to staging reconstruction can, in fact, result in valid and illuminating conclusions. In spite of the ephemeral nature of performance, through a detailed analysis of approaches to space, the body, the stage object and the spectator, it is possible to discern analyzable artifacts that permit us to reconstruct significant aspects of early modern stagings.


Laura L. Vidler is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the department of foreign languages at West Point. Her monograph entitled The Poetics of Comedia Reconstruction: Reviving and Revising Performance is forthcoming with Palgrave MacMillan.



Dr. Bruce R. Burningham:

Performance, Cognition, and the Oral Tradition

January 23, 2014

Watch the full lecture (1:01:55)


Through an engagement with the work of various cognitive theorists this paper will examine some of the residual texts of the pan-European oral tradition - particularly the Spanish epic and the Romancero, but also Beowulf - in order to articulate a more expansive theory of medieval theater, one that does not depend on written "playscripts" for its definition, but rather focuses on the cognitive and performative aspects of the Iberian "oral" tradition.


Bruce Burningham is Professor of Hispanic Studies and Theatre at Illinois State University, where he specializes in medieval and early modern Spanish and Latin American literature, Hispanic theater, and performance theory. He is the author of Tilting Cervantes: Baroque Reflections on Postmodern Culture (Vanderbilt UP, 2008) and Radical Theatricality: Jongleuresque Performance on the Early Spanish Stage (Purdue UP, 2007).



Maria Fionda:

Executive Function and Second Language Processing of Morphosyntax

October 24, 2013

Watch the full lecture (50:35)


The present study seeks to further our understanding of the relationship between one general cognitive system, Executive Function (EF), and Spanish L2 online processing of clitic placement errors in the object clitic + finite verb construction involving the pronouns lo, la, los, las, le and les. EF is a complex neuropsychological construct whose definition includes the notion of mental flexibility, the ability to filter interfering information, as well as practice goal-directed behaviours (Ardila, 2008). While there is considerable research regarding the role of EF in native language processing (e.g., Biegler, Crowther & Martin, 2008; Ye & Zhou, 2009), little is known about the relationship between EF and adult L2 processing (e.g., Bialystok & Feng, 2009; Hernandez & Meschyan, 2006), particularly that of morphosyntax. Specifically, then, this study examines whether individual differences in EF abilities predict native English learners' perception of Spanish clitic placement errors when the erroneous word order mirrors English syntax.


Maria Fionda is an assistant professor of Hispanic linguistics at the University of Mississipi. She is a doctoral candidate and is expected to receive her PhD in Spanish from the University of Florida in 2014. Her research interests include Hispanic and cognitive linguistics and languages in contact.


Dr. María Inés Martínez:

The Awakening of Black Identities in the Context of Violence in Columbia

March 7, 2013

Watch the full lecture on YouTube (1:24:05)


This lecture will focus on black communities in Colombia, with particular emphasis on the adoption of Law 70 in 1993, which established the principle of collective rights of black communities. In spite of this law, the extreme violence of the 1990s disrupted communal territories, and left black communities vulnerable and at the mercy of paramilitary groups. This has effectively blocked the implementation of Law 70 and demonstrates that Colombia remains a deeply divided country, and racism and the exclusion of black communities lie at the centre of this division. Prof. María Inés Martínez will show how the leadership of black communities remains mobilized, capable of challenging the Colombian state in the name of collective rights, while they remind us all of the necessity of building an inclusive democracy.


María Inés Martínez is an expert in testimony and human rights in Colombia. She is the author of El despertar de las comunidades afrocolombianas [The Awakening of Afro-Colombian Communities] (LACASA University of Houston and Centro de Investigaciones Sociales [Centre for Research on Social Sciences] of the University of Puerto Rico, 2012), a ground-breaking book which features five testimonies of Afro-Colombian leaders. Anthropologist Arturo Escobar considers the book to be “an impressively vivid and profound portrayal of the emergence of collective black identities, one of the most important developments in Latin American social movements of the past decades”. The book was 5th on the Best Seller List in Colombia during the week of July 30, 2012. Dr. María Inés Martínez currently teaches 20th-century Latin American literature, literary theory, popular culture, oral literature and testimony. She is already preparing a second major research project based on interviews with Fabiola Lalinde, one of the most prominent Colombian human rights activists.



Dr. Laura Colantoni:

L2 Speech as an Experiment

March 29, 2012

Watch the full lecture on YouTube (58:16)


What can we learn about the first language by studying second language (L2) speech? The goal of this talk is to explore this question by analyzing data on the acquisition of segmental and prosodic features. Professor Colantoni will discuss experimental data on the acquisition of French and Spanish consonant clusters by native English speakers (Colantoni & Steele, 2006, 2008, 2009), in order to determine why some structures are particularly difficult to acquire. She will then present data from an on-going study on the acquisition of English intonation by Spanish and Mandarin speakers (Colantoni et al. 2011; Ortega-Llebaria et al. 2011), which seeks to determine the relative role of meaning vs. form in the acquisition of intonation.


Laura Colantoni is Associate Professor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto, where she is also an Associate Faculty Member in the Department of Linguistics. She received her BA in Linguistics from the University of Buenos Aires and her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on sound change and categorization and the second language acquisition of variable phonetic parameters. She is currently preparing two books: Second Language Speech: An Introduction (with P. Escudero, & J. Steele), forthcoming in Cambridge University Press; and Perspectivas teóricas y experimentales sobre el español de la Argentina (edited with C. Rodríguez Louro), forthcoming in Iberoamericana. In recent years, she has been working on several research projects, such as "Gestural Origins of Speech Errors" (SSHRC Standard Research Grant; with Pascal van Lieshout, Jeffrey Steele and Kevin Munhall; 2009-2013), "Quantitative and Laboratory Approaches to the Study of Micro and Macro Sound Variation and Change in Spanish" (SSHRC Standard Research Grant; 2005-2009), and an experimental study on the phonetics, phonology and acquisition of obstruents-liquid clusters in French and Spanish, in collaboration with Jeffrey Steele.


Dr. William Childers:

The Moriscos and “Race” - Exploring the Roots of Modern Racism in Sixteenth-Century Spain

November 24, 2011

Watch the full lecture on YouTube (54:40)


Moriscos - as the descendants of Spanish Muslims were known after their forced conversion to Christianity - looked like everybody else in early modern Iberia. As far as we can tell without photographic records, their range of hair and skin color were similar to that of their neighbors. Unless they were dressed in their traditional garb, physical appearance alone did not distinguish them. Yet state policy toward the minority combined genealogy with ethno-religious difference to form them into a racial group. Belonging to this legal category assigned one a distinct set of privileges and restrictions. Still absent was any discernible visible sign of their belonging to a distinct “race.” But racial thinking supplies such signs even where they are lacking, imagining that darker skin, particular facial features, or even a naturally shorter foreskin can serve as indicators of exclusion from the dominant Old Christian majority, which increasingly came to define the Spanish nation. Thus racial formation existed prior to biologically-based theories associating genotype with phenotype; the pseudo-scientific theory of race arose subsequently, in order to justify racist political and social structures.


Dr. William Childers is Associate Professor of Spanish at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Transnational Cervantes (University of Toronto Press, 2006), which won the MLA’s Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, awarded annually to one book in Spanish and Latin American literature and culture. He has published numerous articles on Cervantes and other aspects of early modern Spanish literature and culture. His current book project is Morisco Questions: State Power and Cultural Identity in Castile, 1570-1610.


Dr. Keith Ellis:

Evolving Trends in Caribbean Studies

Inaugural lecture March 21, 2011

Watch the full lecture on YouTube (1:47:22)


The surge of optimism that was prominent in the initial critical work that appeared under the postcolonial rubric has to be tempered in light of the cultural, political and economic consequences of the reaction of imperialism to the supposed new freedoms. New assessments have to be made of the status of the freedoms won by people who were previously formally colonized and of the ways being sought by them to preserve or achieve their authentic self-expression, taking into account such institutions as the media, the church, and the creative arts in specific national contexts, particularly in the Caribbean.


Dr. Keith Ellis is Emeritus Professor at the University of Toronto, where he taught Latin American Literature and Culture from 1963 to 2000. He is considered one of the world's authorities on the Caribbean poet Nicolás Guillén. He has published more than 100 scholarly articles and 18 books. In 2010, he received the Andrés Bello Medal, the Dulce María Loynaz International Prize, and the Medal of the University of Havana, where in 1998 he became one of the few scholars to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate in its 270-year-old history. His work has also been recognized with the Nicolás Guillén Medal (2002) and his membership in the Royal Society of Canada since 1988, among other distinctions.


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