The Colloquium on Language, Literature and Society was created in 1986 as a way of demonstrating on an on-going and dynamic basis the vitality and diversity of the cultures represented by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Loyola. In 2007, the colloquium was renamed to honor Hanna Geldrich-Leffman, long-time chair of the department and, along with Ursula Beitter, one of the co-founders of the colloquium. Conceived as an interdisciplinary event, the Colloquium explores ways in which different cultures express certain ideas in various genres and media, such as the novel or film. The aim is to foster discussion and debate on the topics selected by bringing a variety of varying perspectives to bear on each issue.
Each year, the Colloquium turns to a new theme and focuses on its development in a new set of countries or other eras. Over the course of several decades speakers have addressed a wide range of topics, including myth and folktales, the problem of immigration in different cultural contexts around the world, and the cinematic adaptation of literary texts. Important literary figures such as Majorie Agosín, Claribel Alegría, Denise Chávez, Maryse Condé, Rosario Ferré, Elena Poniatowska, and Nahid Rachlin have delighted audiences as they read from their work. Ground- breaking journalists such as André Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald and Gene Oishi from the Baltimore Sun came to challenge our conceptions on current events. Film directors, such as Euzhan Palcy from Haiti and Pierre Sauvage from France, have led discussions on their filmmaking art. Leading scholars in their field, such as Richard Zipser (University of Delaware), Kathleen Neils Conzen (University of Chicago), Timothy Corrigan (University of Pennsylvania), David Herzberger (University of California, Riverside), Harvey Sachs (Curtis Institute of Music), Philippe-Joseph Salazár (University of Cape Town), and Raymond Williams (University of California, Riverside) have each made a substantial contribution to discussions of topics of import and concern in their respective disciplines. Not infrequently musical performances coincide with the lectures. Barry Banks, Tenor, and Juan Flores, a musicologist specializing in Salsa from New York University have appeared.
The colloquium takes place each spring in April and is intended to be of interest not only to Loyola faculty and students, but to all members of the Baltimore and Washington communities.