Department of Languages and Literature celebrates 50-year milestone

Fifty years ago, Geneseo’s department of languages and literatures separated from the English department to form an independent department.

Beverly Evans, professor of French and western humanities, said that to celebrate this milestone, faculty, students and staff will reconnect with alumni to present the hard work of all department affiliates.

In order to showcase its 50 years of accomplishments, the department will host a four-day series of events from Wednesday Oct. 31 to Saturday Nov. 3 that will feature the different languages and cultures within the department of languages and literatures.

“The whole idea is to have all the languages represented,” said Joaquín Gómez, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee.

One programming highlight is Repertorio Español’s play “En el Tiempo de las Mariposas” which will take place in Wadsworth Auditorium on Thursday Nov. 1. Based on Julia Álvarez’s novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, the play follows the story of the three Mirabal sisters’ revolt against Dominican Republic dictator Gen. Rafael Trujillo.

Fatima Rodriguez-Johnson, coordinator of multicultural programs and services, and Robert Bonfiglio, vice president of campus and student life, contributed Campus Auxiliary Services programming funds toward bringing Repertorio Español, an English and Spanish contemporary play company, to Geneseo.

The department of languages and literatures “takes very seriously the idea that a liberal arts education combines a rigorous curriculum and a rich co-curricular life,” said Bonfiglio. He added that Repertorio Español, along with other events that Geneseo funds, “really enhances and fortifies what the department brings to the campus.”

Rodriguez-Johnson described the play as a beneficial experience for students due to the Spanish dialogue and open audience participation.

The Arts Council for Wyoming County, Geneseo Migrant Center, Literacy West N.Y., Inc. and the WNY Performance Center, Inc. also made contributions to host Repertorio Español as part of the Hispanic Heritage Festival of Western New York on Nov. 1-4.

The rest of the anniversary events emphasize the hard work of the student language and culture clubs on campus. Without these organizations, Gomez said, the event wouldn’t happen.

The German, Slavic, Asian, Arabic, Spanish and French clubs, as well as the Italian classes, will host presentations and activities featuring various cultural experiences through learning activities.

To conclude the celebration, assistant provost Enrico Johnson will lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the department’s new memorial lounge at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 3 outside of Welles 211.