Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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Student Initiatives

Kaleidoscope Graduate Student Conference

The Kaleidoscope Graduate Student Conference is an event hosted and run entirely by the graduate students of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The goal of the conference is to allow graduate students from Madison and other universities around the country an opportunity to present their research in a scholarly environment while also providing the chance to meet and interact with the renowned scholars who are invited each year to give the keynote addresses during the conference.




M@d-Istmos is a group of graduate students and professors who are dedicated to exploring Central American cultural production. With millions who have left their respective countries, Central American culture is also that which has been produced outside of its borders. With this in mind, the title “M@d-Istmos” encompasses a variety of ideas and regions. It blends the multiple idioms and isthmuses of Central America along with our location in Madison, WI. A few questions the group has explored are the relationship between trauma and cultural memory, the impact of neoliberalism on Central American societies and the oeuvre of Roque Dalton. Currently, our objective is to draw students and faculty from other departments in order to foster a more robust dialogue on the challenges that Central America faces.

About the Group

Four graduate students and one professor established the group in 2011. As members, we work collectively and equally. Although initiated within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the group is open not only to other departments, but also members of the community. While many of us focus on contemporary works, we welcome individuals who study earlier periods as well. Over the years we have worked in collaboration with Kaleidoscope, the Conference of the Graduate Students of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese to bring guest lecturers. These include Prof. Rose Marie Galindo, novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya, poet and translator Nelson López and renowned scholar Jean Franco.

To learn more about the group see our Facebook page  “Mod-Istmos Organization”

Modern Peninsular Research Group

Faculty members and graduate students who specialize in modern Peninsular literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison meet once a month to discuss current approaches to contemporary Spanish literature and culture. In these meetings, students formally present their research to professors and peers in order to polish their presentational skills and initiate an open exchange of ideas. The group provides a forum for graduate students to share their scholarly work and receive feedback, as well as acquire a breadth of knowledge regarding contemporary Peninsular scholarship.

Contact: Katie Ginsbach (


The Organization Committee of the AXOLOTE [a.xo.ˈlo.te] Group of Mexican Students and Friends is the organization responsible for the planning of activities related to raising awareness and bring visibility and support to the socio-political situation of current Mexican issues. Our mission is to promote cultural and social awareness of Human Rights violations and sponsor International support amongst the entire student body, faculty, and staff of our university. On campus, we aim to raise awareness, hold events, and take action to end violations of human rights.

Contact: Edith Beltrán (

Grupo Teatro 10 Piso


Teatro 10º Piso is a Hispanic theater group dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of performance in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. As aficionados of theater, one of our primary goals is to bring written scripts to life so that we can experience both the practical elements and the academic elements of the theater. We hope to grow a community of spectators within our department and to foster collaboration among our colleagues. As members of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, we also aim to take Hispanic theater and the community that we have created outside the walls of the tenth floor of Van Hise.

About The Group:

Teatro 10º Piso was established in August 2012 by graduate students of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. We work collectively and equally as members of the group, and choose leadership roles like director, assistant director, producer, etc. democratically. This creates a very communal and representative dynamic. The group welcomes students of all areas of study to participate. In the past, literature, linguistics, and second language acquisition students have been members, and we welcome Portuguese area students. Advanced undergraduates, faculty of the department, or interested community members are also welcome to take part in the group. Though in prior years the group has mainly read and produced plays in Spanish, we are open to reading and producing works in Portuguese, Catalan, U.S. Latino, or other languages. We have produced works from Spanish and Latin American playwrights, and works ranging from the 17th to the 21st centuries. This breadth demonstrates our commitment to explore pieces from all geographical regions and time periods in Hispanic culture. In past years, the group has met to read out loud and discuss short works of theater in the Fall semester before choosing one or two to produce in the Spring semester. Since 2013, Teatro 10º Piso has worked in collaboration with the Kaleidoscope Spanish and Portuguese Department Graduate Student Conference (which takes place annually in mid-March) to receive funding, production space, and to reach a wider audience.

Contact: Megan Bailon ( / Marin Laufenberg (

Colonial Spanish American Colloquium

Interdisciplinary research group of faculty, postdocs and graduate students working on literary and cultural aspects of Spanish America (from the 15th to the 19th centuries). We have a monthly meeting to share and discuss our current work, and we will also bring relevant scholars for public lectures with the purpose of developing a strong community of scholars on Colonial Spanish America across campus.

Contact: Jaime Vargas Luna (

Ñan. Camino Andino / Andean Way

Interdisciplinary research group of faculty, postdocs, graduate students and other members of the community working or interested in the Andean region. Our activities comprise: Monthly film screening on or off campus; monthly discussions on relevant global issues from an Andean perspective. Social gatherings. The final goal of Ñan is to incorporate an Andean perspective into dialogues of global issues.

Contact: Jaime Vargas Luna (

En Nuestro Patio

Spanish speaking radio show that covers local and global news and topics relevant for Hispanic communities. It is hosted every Tuesday—from 7pm to 8 pm at WORT 89.9 fm—with the goal of providing a space for critical thinking and discussion for the members of Hispanic communities in Madison.

Contact: Jaime Vargas Luna (

Hora Felix

Hora Felix was founded by graduates of a Latin for Reading Knowledge class as a way to maintain and develop their Latin skills. It soon developed into its current form, weekly meetings in which graduate students and professors collaboratively translate Classical texts into Spanish and English. Past authors have included Caesar, Ovid, Vergil, Seneca, and Cicero.

Contact: Ben Post (

French Reading Group

Founded in 2013, this group aims to improve members' French reading and speaking skills while allowing us to draw connections between our research and French literature. Graduate students and professors meet weekly to read aloud and translate selections from important French texts. Past authors have included Rabelais, Montaigne, Molière, Dumas, Flaubert, Verne, Camus, and Beauvoir.

Contact: Ben Post (

Medieval Group

The Medieval Group is a research circle formed by students and faculty interested in the Middle Ages in general, and Iberian medieval literature in particular. We typically meet once a month to read and discuss essays covering a variety of topics related to our field; present and discuss our own research; or work on collective projects, such as the semi-paleographic transcription of medieval and early modern texts.

Contact: Prof. Ivy Corfis ( / Prof. Pablo Ancos-García (

Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Diversity and Inclusion Committee was founded in January 2014 by graduate students to address issues related to the climate of the department. We conceive of ‘climate’ as consisting in the feelings of belonging and inclusion of groups such as minorities, women, non-gender-conforming individuals, older or returning students, and students with families in our classrooms and as academic colleagues. We have worked since then to develop workshops and foster conversation in the department around these issues in order to create a more inclusive and accepting environment for everyone.

We have developed a sustainable group that has facilitated discussion of issues of diversity and inclusion and also fomented effective changes in our approaches to teaching and research as students and scholars in the department. With the leadership of a graduate student organizer or co-organizers, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will continue to organize annual workshops as well as to host informal discussion groups, invite speakers and host film screenings among other events that have been requested by our graduate student body. These events are led by graduate student volunteers and are co-sponsored by the department chair, professors and graduate students.

Contact: Monica Styles ( / Marin Laufenberg (