The Undergraduate Symposium in Modern Foreign Languages and Classics fosters and promotes the intellectual development of Siena College students and offers them an opportunity to exchange ideas in a collegial environment. Preparing and presenting research in a public forum enhance our students’ resume and help develop their professional skills.

The symposium provides students a space to present their scholarly research in Classics and/or Modern Languages Studies, including, but not limited to the following areas: Literature, Film, Theatre, Music, Visual Arts, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Politics.


The Undergraduate Symposium in Modern Foreign Languages and Classics takes place every year in April. CFP’s are out at the end of the Fall semester and announced in the Faculty and Student Digest.


Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words. They should be written in English (check abstract samples below).

Abstracts should include:

  • Title of paper
  • Statement of the thesis

In order to preserve blind review process, do not include author’s name in the abstract or any references that could reveal the identity of the author. Contact information (name and email address) should only be indicated in the email that accompanies the submission.


“Ancient and Contemporary Heroics”

Anna Vescio

The concept of heroism is present throughout the historical record, starting at the head of the western literary tradition with Homer’s epics and stretching across time and continents into contemporary literature. This paper aims to examine the qualities of a hero in both ancient and contemporary contexts by comparing Achilles as he appears in the Illiad and one of the most universal modern heroes—Harry Potter. Even though the situations in which these two figures prove to be heroic differ immensely their heroisms share remarkable commonalities, most interestingly the idea of self-sacrifice.

“Symbolism in Propagandistic Posters– A Visual Analysis of the Propaganda Used by the Franco and Hitler Regimes”

Patricia Erickson

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Second World War (1939-1945) were defining years in the histories of Spain and Germany, respectively. Both regimes, that of Francisco Franco in Spain and Adolf Hitler in Germany, made use of propaganda to influence and shape the beliefs of the people in their

countries. This study analyzes the various symbols that can be found in the posters, focusing specifically on the significance of their incorporation, as well as the manner in which they were incorporated. The posters of the two regimes will then be compared to one another, noting the similarities and differences.

“Secular by trade; Catholic by culture”

Allye McDaniel

What is it to be a secular nation? Most commonly, it is a nation that has no religious affiliation within the culture; politically, socially, governmentally or in any such way. But what happens when a religion is already intrinsic in a culture, this is the case with the country of France. When looking at the French society, it is difficult to remove the catholic base that resides within. Historically, Catholicism has held prevalence within the nation, dating back to the beginnings of the French state. Then how, one may ask, can France be considered secular? Through numerous cultural, political and societal institutions, it is clear that Catholicism not only reigns supreme in France, but affects the “secular” nature of its country in regards to other religious groups, and even social group.


Q: What’s a symposium?

A: A symposium is simply a conference or meeting where people gather to discuss a particular subject. The faculty committee will organize the presentations into panels that share a similar theme or approach.

Q: How long can my presentation be?

A: Your presentation should be 10-12 minutes long. Your presentation will be cut off at 12 minutes in order to accommodate other speakers.

Q: I’m not sure if I can say everything I need to in 10-12 minutes.

A: Don’t worry, no one expects you to say everything about a topic in 10-12 minutes. Moreover, there will be a question and answer period during which you can add things that you didn’t have time to cover.

Q: Can I use a PowerPoint presentation, show images, or movie clips during my presentation?

A: Yes. It is highly recommended. Keep in mind, however, that your total presentation time is no more than 12 min.

Q: How should I deliver my presentation?

A: While presentation styles differ across disciplines and even depending on the personality of the presenter, one common and widely accepted practice among scholars in the humanities is for presenters to read their papers while still engaging their audience by making eye contact, referring to images, etc.. Be sure to practice your presentation by reading it out loud and be sure it doesn’t exceed 12 minutes.

Q: Who can submit an abstract and participate in the Modern Languages & Classics Symposium?

A: As long as their papers are related to the topics mentioned above, the symposium is open to

Any student at Siena College.

Any student at Siena College who might be interested in going to graduate or professional school.

Q: Do I need to have my paper written by the time I submit my abstract?

A: No. Many times, scholars will submit an abstract for a paper they have yet to write. Think of an abstract as an outline or as a proposal. Your paper doesn’t have to 100% match your abstract; as long as it is on the same general topic you’ll be fine.

Q: Is there any fee for participating in the Modern Languages & Classics Symposium?

A: No.

Q: Can I submit my paper as part of a preformed panel consisting of three or four other papers?

A: Yes. Many times, scholars collaborate and submit an abstract for a pre-formed panel of three or four papers.

Adapted from: Undergraduate Humanities Symposium