Section: News

MLL Colloquium to feature student work, alumni stories

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) will host its annual MLL Colloquium on April 29. At this event, selected students will present language- and literature-related projects they have worked on, and invited MLL alumni will introduce themselves and the diverse career opportunities they found after Kenyon. 

The colloquium in its current format has been a tradition at Kenyon since the spring of 2018, according to Associate Professor of Russian Anna Aydinyan, though there was a brief hiatus due to the pandemic. In the past, selected students have shared translations, research papers and audiovisual presentations.

Although many of the presenters each year are seniors from the department showcasing their capstone projects, students from any department are encouraged to submit proposals to the organizing committee. According to Visiting Instructor of Spanish Agnė Karosaitė, this year’s selection process was especially competitive, as only 12 out of the 20 submitted proposals were selected. 

Professor of French Mortimer Martin Guiney, chair of the department, said that although many of the student projects are often originally completed in the language of study, all of the presentations at the colloquium will be in English so that they are accessible to a larger audience. “It’s always interesting to see what other Kenyon students do in other departments, for the same reason why a student would visit the seniors’ studio art exhibits in the gallery or go to the recitals by the music students,” he said. 

He noted that the presentation topics will likely be of interest to students not especially passionate about literature as well. “Some of them will be about literature, but a lot of them will be about other kinds of topics: economics, politics, society,” he said. “And because these papers were selected in part on the quality and on the originality of the research, they’ll get kind of an interesting, unusual take.” 

One of the projects Guiney has found most memorable in the past was a translation of a collection of short stories written by Junzō Shōno (庄野 潤三), a Japanese writer who lived in the United States for one year, all of which he spent in Gambier from 1957-1958. The collection, “Gambia Taizaiki” or “Sojourn in Gambier,” is about his experiences living at Kenyon. Guiney noted that this work has only been published in Japan and was never, to his knowledge, previously translated into English.  

Community members interested in attending this year’s colloquium can look forward not only to learning from several impressive projects, but also to hearing from alumni who have found themselves on unique, rewarding career paths after studying in MLL. Two of these alumni are recent graduates: Mijal Epelman ’20, who studied Spanish, Japanese and international studies, and Sam Hosmer-Quint ’21, who studied Spanish and history. 

Homser-Quint said that his senior capstone project, for which he researched how representation of the border has changed in literature, greatly influenced the direction of his pursuits after graduation. After leaving the Hill, he first worked at a migrant shelter in Tucson, Arizona, for about six months before he moved to Colombia on a Fulbright scholarship, where he serves as an English teaching assistant. 

After graduation, Epelman worked as a legal assistant in San Francisco serving impoverished and undocumented immigrants before moving to rural Japan, where she taught as an elementary school teacher for one year. She is currently studying at Yale Law School and after earning her degree hopes to continue serving members of the Latinx community. 

After Homser-Quint completes his scholarship at the end of May, he hopes to work as a paralegal or legal assistant for a nonprofit that focuses on migration asylum, though he noted that he is excited to learn about other possibilities at the colloquium. “I’m still trying to figure out my options when I get back to the States next month, so maybe some students will give me some ideas about internships or work they’re interested in that’ll give me a lead as well,” he said. 

Karosaitė is confident that the MLL Colloquium is sure to offer something worth appreciating to anyone who attends. “It’s a good display of creativity, and when you go to these events, you always get inspired,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “There’s always going to be a thought that comes to you just because you saw something.” She added that considering the excellence of last year’s event, she expects this year to be another great experience. “Last year, it was a great success that all the projects were very interesting; all the presentations were really fantastic,” she said. 

Karosaitė noted that Administrative Assistant for Modern Languages and Economics Pamela Sheasby contributed immensely in organizing the event. “She’s the heart of the department and all events would collapse without her help,” she said.

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