Erin Hogan, Assistant Professor: I earned a Ph.D. from the University of California Los Angeles (2011) in Hispanic Languages and Literatures, where I specialized in the contemporary literature and film of Spain. Prior to joining UMBC, I taught upper-division courses in advanced Spanish language and composition, the cultures of Spain, and the dark comedy in Spanish literature and film and directed the tutoring program as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego.

My interdisciplinary research focuses on the biopolitics and representations of children in contemporary Spain. I am interested in how children’s voices and bodies are appropriated for political ends and the relationship between voice, selfhood, and human rights. My theoretical framework engages childhood, film, and gender studies and theorizations by Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben of biopolitics. I have published on the construction of childhood in the Spanish literary, visual and cinematic arts from the eighteenth century to the present. My recent article, “The voice, body and ventriloquism of Marisol in Tómbola (Lucía 1962),” appears in the current issue of Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas. For MLLI’s Research Day (November 2013), I had the pleasure of presenting my work on the Catalonian film Black Bread (Pa negre, Agustí Villaronga 2010) that is a part of my book project on child-starred features from and depicting Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

I find that teaching and research are complementary endeavors and exercises. In both, I am concerned with representations of Otherness by virtue of, for instance, language, gender, race, ethnicity, and age. I aim to reveal the constructions of difference so as to open a third space of intercultural symbolic thinking in the classroom, per Claire Kramsch. I share the philosophy that the study of language, literature, and film and the experience of studying abroad are invaluable in our formation as global citizens.

Currently, I am teaching a survey of the cinema of Spain in MLL213 and advanced language in SPAN302. For spring 2014, I look forward to teaching SPAN311 (España y sus culturas II) and MLL218 (Film and Society in Latin America).

Thank you for a warm welcome to UMBC!

Tomoko Hoogenboom, Lecturer and Japanese Language Coordinator: 

I received a Ph.D. in Japanese and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. My dissertation topic was how children use repetition in three-participant conversations while at play. My teaching career started more than 20-years ago, including several liberal arts colleges in Minnesota and the University of Minnesota, before the big move to join UMBC. Besides academia, I am also a certified personal trainer. I finished my first triathlon this past summer and hope to continue training for next season.

My 3-year plan is to offer JPNS309 (Business Japanese), 310 (Japanese Translation), and two MLLI courses focusing on Japanese food culture and film, so that MLLI can offer a minor in Japanese.

I am enjoying teaching as well as learning from my students at UMBC. The students' questions keep my brain sharp and make me think about my native language from a different perspective. I am interested in introducing more content-based instruction materials for the second semester of language instruction so that students can start practicing critical thinking on a specific topic in Japanese from an early level.

Ricardo Zwaig, Recipient of 2013 UMBC Outstanding Alumni Award in the Humanities  

On July 23, 2010 Governor Martin O'Malley named Ricardo Zwaig (class of 1977) as Associate Judge of the District Court of Maryland for Howard County, the first appointment of a Latino male in the history of the Maryland judiciary.  On September 17 of the same year, Mr. Zwaig received the Outstanding Achievement award from the Hispanic Bar Association of Maryland.

These two accomplishments are emblematic of Mr. Zwaig's career and life of dedication to bringing equality to Latinos, the indigent, and others who suffer from discrimination and whose voices are not typically heard in our society; this same commitment is evident in his contributions to UMBC.  His entire career has been an outstanding example of the linguistic and intercultural training, as well as a commitment to justice for all, that were central to his studies at UMBC as a Spanish major, and of the high value UMBC places on commitment to community and cultural diversity.  Mr. Zwaig's fluency in Spanish and his keen understanding of Latino cultures have allowed him to become an effective advocate for his clients in the complex and often bewildering judicial system, especially confusing for those whose comprehension of English and U.S. culture are limited.  He has proudly served the Hispanic community so as to lessen the difficulties and barriers language and cultural differences may bring in legal matters.

Ricardo and his brother Michael, a UMBC graduate in history and an attorney who is deeply involved with the Latino community, have been contributors to and proponents of the Esperanza Scholarship fund.

Alumna Sandra Lamplugh (B.A. 2011, magna cum laude, Applied Linguistics, with minors in French and Professional Writing), writes that she has been working for the past year and a half as a project and program manager for a translation company that focuses on both private and public sector work:

“The company I work for has a number of clients, commercial and government alike, and those clients require various language services. These required services range from basic document translation into Spanish to Japanese interpretation services, Pashto audio gisting, Somali voiceovers, and beyond. These "projects" end up with project managers (like myself), who then find the resources, manage the work, and then do a quality control comparison to the source before submission to the client. After a while one learns the art of where/how to find reliable linguists that are appropriate for the project (with the right experience, country of origin, typing skills, etc.), how to identify and avoid project issues ahead of time (related to source issues and target language-specific issues such as fonts, text expansion/contraction, text direction, etc.), and how to work with linguists from wildly different cultures and backgrounds.  In the last year and a half I've personally worked with well over two-dozen languages in all kinds of formats. The subject matter can range from magazines, news broadcasts, military handbooks, legal documents, propaganda, and even fun things like LEGO manuals (naturally, I was disappointed that I did not get to work on that project). There's rarely a dull moment. Working with budgets, deadlines, and clients can add a lot of stress, but I would definitely say that I like my job.”

Anna Artapova writes about her hometown of Penza, Russia:

Before coming to America, my home was Penza, Russia. Penza celebrated its 350th birthday this year. It was founded in 1663 by Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich. The history of this city is outstanding. Many famous philosophers like V. Belinskii, painters such as K. Savitskii, and writers akin to M. Lermontov came from Penza. Tarkhany is one of the favorite places visited by tourists. That is where M. Lermontov spent his childhood in the early 1800s. The poem, Borodino and novel A Hero of Our Time are the most popular works by Lermontov.

Penza is home to the very first Russian Stationary Circus. This was the best time I spent with my family every year of my childhood!

Penza is not only outstanding by its culture, but for its sports accomplishments too. My friend Yuliya Pakhalina and her father and trainer (my Dad’s classmate) brought to Penza the Olympic Gold for Synchronized Diving in 2000. Penza gymnast Denis Ablyazin won the Olympic Bronze in London, 2012.

Penza is very dear to me. This is where I grew up, went to school, made friends, and had new experiences. I feel very nostalgic thinking about my home town, and am happy every time I have a chance to go back. Moving to a different country is very hard, and leaving behind friends and family and the city you love is even harder. However, I try to follow Penza’s slogan: “Keeping the past – we are creating the future"!

Emily Melluso shares a Paris adventure (and is inspired to minor in French):

Traveling to Paris from a relative’s house in London, my biggest fear was “The Chunnel.” For those of you who do not know, the Chunnel is a high speed train that connects London to Paris and vice versa by traveling under the English Channel. In total, the train is “under water” for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes. Silly me to think that this was the scariest part of traveling to another country, particularly one whose official language is not English.

Stepping out of Le Gare du Nord (a train station in Paris), and seeing the chaos of noises, cars and people that is Paris, I immediately knew there was more to worry about than being stuck in a train car underneath of a large body of water.

The first day was rough. Although I had taken several years of French in high school, I was astounded to find that I could barely communicate the simplest thoughts to those around me, let alone engage in intellectual conversation of any sort. Often native French speakers would instinctively transition into English at the first sign of struggle. However, on the third day, my mother and I needed to find the metro after visiting Le Panthéon (site of Foucault’s Pendulum and crypts of a multitude of famous people including Voltaire, Jeans-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and the Curies). So we approached an older woman and my mother asked for directions in English. In brief, the woman did not speak English and I had an incredible experience trying to communicate with her in my fractured version of French.

Over the course of my four days in France, I realized that the capital city was a hotbed of history and contained layer upon layer of subculture. My limited time there further sparked my curiosity regarding France and her peoples. Through this brief trip, I fell in love with the language of love and decided to pursue a Modern Language and Linguistics minor at UMBC with a specialization in French. My goal is to return to France soon and spend more time immersed in the language.

Jesse Roberts has started a Spanish conversation group this semester:

"When I transferred to UMBC last semester as a Modern Languages and Linguistics major with a track in Spanish, I was a little taken back that school didn't offer a Spanish conversational group for students learning the language. Therefore, I decided to start my own this fall semester. So far, the group has been meeting every Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 in room 258 on the second floor of the library, and is open to current or prior students enrolled in SPAN 301 or higher, as well as native speakers or any other students who feel comfortable enough holding extended conversations in Spanish. The purpose of the group is for students to expand their Spanish vocabularies to encompass subjects that may not typically be discussed in the classroom such as current events, social media, youth culture, etc. Each week the group as a whole chooses the topic of discussion for the following meeting, and the topic is then discussed as a whole. I plan to continue to expand the group over the course of the year. Upcoming events for the group include a s'more roast in Harbor courtyard and a coffee-conversation hour."


For the fifth year, MLLI German students attended the annual Sour Beef Dinner ("Sauerbratenessen") at the German Zion Church in downtown Baltimore. This event is part of a more than 100-year old tradition of over 20 German heritage institutions in Baltimore, which served meals of sour beef, potato dumplings, and red cabbage, originally to German immigrants. These days, the church is the main institution left, but in two days serves well over 1000 people. Besides dinner, guests are able to buy German-themed baked goods and authentic German steins ("Bierkruege"). UMBC's students were joined by faculty members Susanne Sutton and Hannelore Bayerl.

On Halloween, the UMBC Russian Chorus had the opportunity to go to Johns Hopkins and meet students of Russian from other schools, including Goucher and Johns Hopkins. When we arrived at the Glass Pavilion, we were shown into a small room filled with students. There was a table filled with Russian food and as we ate, everyone took turns to introduce themselves—in Russian when possible. Then we sang. The UMBC chorus opened the event with Katyusha and then went on to Moscow Nights, Byelolitsa Kruglolitsa, Tumbalalaika, Vo Kuznitse, and as many other songs as we could recall. The other students stood up to sing as well—some even did a little Russian dance. After each group sang their pieces, the Russian professors led the entire group in some other folksongs like Kalinka and they also sang some solos. After this, the students began to socialize. It was interesting to find out what motivated these other students to learn Russian, especially since many of them were not ethnically Russian. It was a very neat experience, but it is safe to say that UMBC has the best and most inspiring Russian program—and professor—by far.

Спасибо Вам большое, Professor Zhdanovych! —Lauren Adamsen

The Russian Chorus also gave a performance at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore on October 13, as part of a celebration of Russian culture. Our director is Slava Liberman; Inna Liberman accompanied us on piano. Video clips of the performance can be found at the UMBC Russian Club website. We are always looking for new voices; if you are interested in joining us next semester, please contact the Chorus's faculty liaison, Dr. Steven Young.

On 8th October 2013, a group of UMBC students and faculty of the MLLI department ventured to Washington, D.C. to experience an evening of cultural propaganda known as American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture. A grand event consisting of fine food, world class music, and important figures in US-Russian diplomacy was presented to us; an endeavour of the Russian Embassy to provide a positive portrayal of Russian culture to American students. This year’s event, dedicated to the role of jazz in US-Russian diplomacy, is the third such event since the start of this initiative. The initiative has enjoyed immense success presumably due to the appreciation of the cultural experience that it provides, however it must be borne in mind that the event offers a free full bar. Nevertheless, it was a most impressive event especially considering the last minute change of venue from the Library of Congress to the National Building Museum.

The event’s three stages (dinner, performance, and dessert) were each housed in a separate section of the museum's rather cavernous main hall, which was divided by two sets of four massive Corinthian columns. The first part consisted of dinner with a menu consisting of food representative of four major jazz cities: New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Moscow. The second part boasted various illustrious personnages speaking including Igor Butman, one of Russia’s most important jazz musicians. He recounted the history of jazz in the Soviet Union and then performed a few numbers with his band. The third part, dessert, was presented along with a promised surprise, a giant sphere onto which a Fabergé egg was projected. The room itself was presented as a jazz nightclub with each corner decorated to represent each of the aforementioned cities’ major jazz club along with desserts representative of each city. All in all, the event was rather impressive and one must wonder what is to come for next year’s event. —Ryan Kotowski

The MLLI department’s annual Award for Excellence in Language Skills has been named after its former chair, Professor Emerita Angela Moorjani.  The department will be awarding for the first time the MLLI Angela Moorjani Award for Excellence in Language Skills in Spring 2014.

Elaine Rusinko’s monograph ‘We Are All Warhol’s Children’: Andy and the Rusyns was published by The Carl Beck Papers of the University of Pittsburgh. The publication explores Warhol’s Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry and its influence on his art and his persona.

In June, Rusinko presented a lecture to the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in New York, which was well attended by Czechs, Slovaks, Rusyns, and New York Warhol fans. She is pictured here with the artist’s nephew James Warhola and 1960s Warhol Superstar Ultra Violet.

Germán Westphal has given the following invited lectures this year: "Teoría Gramatical y Adquisición de Primeras y Segundas Lenguas" (Departamento de Lingüística, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia), "Sobre el Voseo en Hispanoamérica" (with Julia M. Baquero; Facultad de Letras, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile), and has presented these conference papers: "A Synchronic Morphophonological Analysis of Rio Platense and Chilean Voseos" (co-author Julia M. Baquero; 11th International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary), "On Abstract A-Movement to Theta and Non-Theta Positions in Spanish" (Societas Linguistica Europaea, University of Split, Split, Croatia), "¿Voseo o vostuteo?" (co-author Julia M. Baquero; XX Congreso Internacional de la Sociedad Chilena de Lingüística, Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Concepción, Chile).

The MLLetter is edited by Dr. Steven Young
The deadline for our Spring semester 2014 issue is Friday, March 28, 2014.
MLLI students and alumni are encouraged to submit items.