The Modern Language Association’s annual convention, which gathers in Austin through Sunday, highlights Latino culture in numerous featured sessions and presentations of academic research. The gathering of more than 7,500 scholars includes more than 800 sessions on language and literature, among other topics.

Latin American writers and musicians such as legendary Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso are among the featured speakers. Presentations focus on everything from the legacy of Gabriel García Márquez to Latino/a comics.

At a Friday afternoon session on Materiality and Mexican Culture, Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody of Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar presented the paper "Like a Virgin: Distroller and the Mass Production of the Virgin of Guadalupe," where he explores the holy image of the Virgin and how its been replicated as well as the role of kitsch and camp objects. He introduced audiences to a popular cartoon version of the Virgen de Guadalupe, called Virgencita Plis.

Other papers featured the poetics of Nahui Lin and the pyramids and stones of late 18th century Mexico. In the paper "Talking Furniture: The Human Science of Psychopedagogy and Hygiene in Postrevolutionary Mexico" by Susan Antebi of the University of Toronto, Antebi looked at the roles of school medical inspectors in the first decades of the 20th century in Mexico who, she says, had the job of simultaneously observing the health of the school children and the conditions of school buildings.

Many MLA sessions are free and open to the public. Here’s a complete list for the rest of the conference.