Register by April 9 for Training Exploring Borders, Belongings and Politics of Language

Presenter Lillian Gorman, director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language Program at the University of Arizona and assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Photo courtesy of Lillian Gorman

Presenter Lillian Gorman, director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language Program at the University of Arizona and assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –  A free webinar and workshop for the community that explores borders, belonging and the politics of language will be available virtually on April 14-15 from the University of Arkansas.

The project, “Arkansas Participation in a 500 Million Person Community: Building Capacity for Innovation in Spanish Teaching Statewide,” is being funded by the U of A Chancellor’s Grant for the Humanities and Performing Arts Initiative and its first in a series of events is tailored toward K-12 classroom teachers, administrators, undergraduate and graduate students, instructors and professors.

Instructors of all levels who attend all this April’s sessions are also eligible for a 3-hour professional development credit, approved by the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Both the workshop and the accompanying webinar will be presented by Lillian Gorman, director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language Program at the University of Arizona and assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Lecture and Workshop

“Borders and Belonging: The Politics of Language, Regional Latinidades, and Linguistic Crossovers around the Claiming of Selena”
Wednesday, April 14 from 5-6 p.m.

Lillian Gorman

“My presentation highlights the U.S. Latina/o/x cultural icon of Selena as a case study in linguistic recovery, decolonial cultural and linguistic practices, and Latina/o/x belonging,” Gorman said.

In her talk, Gorman will also explore the ways in which Selena’s music, memory, and what she terms her “linguistic crossovers” are deployed in distinct contemporary regional U.S. Latina/o/x contexts. Specifically, she will interrogate the ways that distinct communities “claim” Selena in the regional sites of Chicago and Tucson.

She will also unpack the discourses generated by the completion of two recent 2019 murals of Selena in each city, as well as the narratives drawn from several focus groups of U.S. Latina/o/x undergraduate students and community members in both cities. Ultimately, Gorman makes the case that studies reveal the present-day cultural work that Selena’s persona and language experience are doing for young U.S. Latina/o/xs. 

“This cultural and linguistic work illustrates the ways Selena’s decolonial linguistic and cultural practices create dynamic spaces for belonging among U.S. Latina/o/x Spanish heritage learners, as well as new sites for connecting regional U.S. Latinidades,” Gorman said.

“Yo soy mi lengua: Navigating Cultural and Linguistic Borders through Critical Approaches to Spanish Heritage Language Pedagogy”
Thursday, April 15 from 5-7 p.m. This is the accompanying workshop after Gorman’s presentation.

This workshop will address key elements of Spanish heritage language pedagogy from a critical perspective. Gorman will ground SHL pedagogies through critical approaches within the fields of education, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and Latina/x/o studies. The workshop will underscore the complexity of heritage learner identities and highlight effective classroom strategies, key practices for mixed classrooms, and program/administrative concerns.

“Overall, the workshop focuses on the importance of valuing the complex heritage learner identities and linguistic practices of our students within a framework of sociolinguistic justice and cultural empowerment,” Gorman said.

The workshop portion of this series will consist of two sessions, session one will contextualize grammar instruction and focus on curriculum and project-based learning in the SHL classroom.

After a short break, the second session will focus on differentiating instruction and mixed classes, as well as program and administrative concerns. 

To register for the webinar and workshop duo, please visit Priority registration is now through Friday, April 9.

For more information or questions, please email

These events are also sponsored by the university’s Spanish Program in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures; the Latin and Latino Studies Program; and the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society.

About Lillian Gorman: Lillian Gorman is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was part of the first class of McNair scholars at the University of New Mexico and graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in Southwest Hispanic Studies from the University of New Mexico. She graduated with her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Hispanic Studies with concentrations in Latina/o/x cultural studies and sociolinguistics. She developed and directed the Spanish as a Heritage Language Program and the Spanish for Heritage Learners Nicaragua Study program at New Mexico Highlands University and she served as the Assistant Director of Spanish for Heritage Speakers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Gorman is currently the director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language Program at the University of Arizona and an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She has nearly 20 years of experience teaching in and leading Spanish heritage language programs. Her research agenda is committed to engaging Latina/x/o cultural studies with sociolinguistics and her research interests focus on issues of language and identity within U.S. Latina/x/o communities and U.S. Latina/o/x popular culture. She recently served as a University of Arizona HSI Fellow and as the Scholar-in Residence at the Center for Regional Studies at the University of New Mexico. Her essays have appeared in multiple edited volumes and she is currently working on her book manuscript, Ethnolinguistic Contact Zones: U.S. Latina/o Identities and Language among Mexican-Nuevomexicanos in northern New Mexico.

About “Arkansas Participation in a 500 Million Person Community: Building Capacity for Innovation in Spanish Teaching Statewide”: Through pioneering research and public programming, “Arkansas Participation in a 500 Million Person Community: Building Capacity for Innovation in Spanish Teaching Statewide” aims to put the U of A at the lead in addressing the profound growth of Spanish-speaking populations in our community, state and nation. In Arkansas alone, there are now more than 60,000 Hispanic students in public schools and more than 9,000 at higher education institutions. This project has the potential to make Arkansas a model in Spanish language teaching through a research program that will harness widely dispersed data to shape policy and symposia with public school teachers, university faculty and community leaders. By building a more multilingual citizenry and workforce through improved language training, colleges and universities can bind communities together and better prepare native English speakers for vigorous participation in a globalized economy and energetic engagement in an increasingly diverse world culture.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


Andra Parrish Liwag, director of communications
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences


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