LiLaC: Literatures, Languages and Cultures in the 21st Century

LiLaC is a learning community to improve practices and teaching models in foreign language, literature and culture departments across the University of Arizona. It is supported by funding from the UA College of Humanities.

LiLaC’s inaugural event on September 27, 2019, is an opportunity for faculty and graduate students at UA to focus on the question of what it means to teach and study world languages, literatures, and cultures in the 21st century, and how that might continue to shape the design of programs on our campus. It will open with a panel showcasing programmatic innovations undertaken by colleagues at other institutions, followed by small group discussions / working groups centered on specific topics related to research and best practices around how we can provide meaningful and relevant learning opportunities for students in our programs. Through these conversations, we will identify future directions to explore as a campus. In subsequent years, these groups will meet for activities that may include, but are not limited to, materials development, the execution of pilot studies, and the invitation of guest speakers.

Designed for UA faculty, administrators and graduate students, September 27th’s event will feature renowned speakers on innovative program development: Gillian Lord (University of Florida, Professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies), Charlotte Melin (University of Minnesota, Professor of German), and Domna Stanton (City University of New York, Distinguished Professor of French; former President of the MLA). See below for presentation titles and abstracts. A reception will follow the breakout discussion groups.

This event is full, but if you are interested in becoming part of the LiLaC community, please email 

Presentation Details:

Gillian Lord, University of Florida

Transdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching Language in the 21st Century

Following the Modern Language Association’s (2007) recommendations, and in the face of declining enrollments nationwide, language programs are beginning to undertake some serious self-reflection with respect to our curricula and our pedagogical approaches. This process is all too often revealing an uncomfortable truth: that we cannot continue on the path we have been on, and that our survival may depend on our willingness and our ability to re-envision our approach to teaching languages, literatures and cultures. More specifically, I argue – again, following guidelines offered by the MLA, ACTFL, and others – that we must explore how we can maximize cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to increase enrollments and to better foster “translingual and transcultural competence.” In this presentation, I highlight a selection of successful innovations and collaborations we have undertaken in my department, ranging from individual class development to campus-wide alliances.

Charlotte Melin, University of Minnesota

Foreign Languages and the Environment: The Turn toward Sustainable Humanities

How can language departments catalyze curricular change and foster collaborations with STEM fields by developing environmental humanities initiatives? This talk will explore the ways in which the landscape of higher education is evolving toward integrative models that signal both the potential for a new relationship to content within language programs and a more fundamental rethinking of educational priorities as a whole. Drawing in part on examples from the essay collection Foreign Language Teaching and the Environment: Theory, Curricula, Institutional Structures (MLA publication forthcoming in 2019), it will reflect on key actions for creating curricular renewal in the midst of accelerating climate crisis. 

Domna Stanton, City University of New York

Forging Alliances, Developing New Trans-fields: A Future for the Modern Languages

Despite the crisis in the humanities and the reduction in the languages-other-than-English offered on U.S. campuses– in fact, because of these developments– departments and their scholars need to move beyond their discipline’s walls, work collaboratively and proactively within their academic community and be even more innovative in their curricular offerings. I focus on two possible aspects of this endeavour: forging alliances, beyond the humanities, with STEAM departments and professional schools (e.g. business and law, medicine and pharmacy); and becoming an integral part of emerging trans-disciplinary fields: e.g. ecology and the environment; human rights, refugee studies in particular. In this uncertain climate, thinking capaciously about languages, literatures and cultures is productive and rewarding.