Dr Niamh Thornton reports on a successful conference, held in Liverpool on 8-9 November 2013.
Women in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies (WiSPS) is a network of women researching the Luso-Hispanic world, with an annual conference held in a different University in the UK and Ireland. This year CLAS’ Diana Cullel took on the task of organising the fourteenth such conference.
WiSPS’ events (we also have regular workshops) are always characterised as being friendly, supportive environments in which to present and discuss research and the Liverpool conference continued this proud tradition. Diana Cullel did a brilliant job of making sure that it ran smoothly and created a positive atmosphere. Alongside Eva Bru-Domínguez, University of Bangor, WiSPS’ conference secretary, Diana drew up a great programme, which included papers by academics from near and far – UK, Ireland, US, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and France – and covered a wide geographic reach including, Africa, Portugal, Spain and Latin America, demonstrating the physical and historical range of research by WiSPS’ members, and also the intellectual depth of what we do.
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As well as papers, there were a diverse range of keynotes reflecting on the nature of academic work and the over-emphasis on busyness to the detriment of other aspects of our lives (Patience Schell, University of Aberdeen); the evolution of gendered language in Spain (Mercedes Bengoechea); and women and printing in early modern Spain (Dorothy Severin, University of Liverpool). There were poetry readings by Virgina Cantó and Ana Merino. Cantó was supported by the Instituto Cervantes and on the previous day had given workshops at the University of Manchester and to our own students at the University of Liverpool. The conference was rounded off with two workshops for early and mid-career researchers, in keeping with the association’s mindfulness of its aim to support and nurture its members’ career development. Staff at CLAS who contributed to the conference included: Sizen Yiacoup on the Castilian Frontier Ballad; Diana Cullel on poetry slams in Spain; Claire Taylor on Latin American poetry online; and Ana Bela Almeida on Portuguese poetry.
Virginia Canto and Ana Merino
Liverpool has had a long and meaningful association with WiSPS. Dorothy Severin was one of its founding members and one of the principal energies behind its foundation. Claire Williams (former staff member who is now at Oxford) was president, I have been president up to this year, and Diana Cullel is currently membership secretary. Many previous events have been held at the University of Liverpool, so it was great to be able to hold the annual conference here, again. As ever, we have to thank the organisers for such a great event and the support staff here at Liverpool who helped us make it a success. This year’s conference was not only intellectually stimulating, but also filled with much good will, positive energy and great company.