Dedicated this year to the late professor Timothy McGovern, the Ninth Colloquium on Mexican Literature begins today and continues tomorrow to explore the real and the imagined.

The two-day colloquium, the theme for which is “Realities and Fantasies,” features various speakers from the UCSB Spanish and Portuguese Dept., other UC campuses and elsewhere. Presenters will discuss the works of Mexican authors Octavio Paz and Juan Rulfo among others. The opening session begins at 2 p.m. in the MultiCultural Center Theater and Saturday’s program begins at 8:30 a.m. at la Casa de la Guerra in downtown Santa Barbara.

Several of the professors speaking at the colloquium are members of the UC-Mexicanistas – a group of students and professors that McGovern helped organize – which focuses on Mexican literary and cultural studies in the UC system.

In addition to analyzing aspects of Mexican literature, professor Harvey L. Sharrer of the UCSB Spanish and Portuguese Dept. and professor Juan Bruce-Novoa of UC Irvine’s Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese will be two of many speakers to honor McGovern, who passed away from a heart attack at the age of 41 on Oct. 9. McGovern was the language program director of the Spanish and Portuguese Dept.

McGovern, who specialized in Mexican and Spanish literature, participated in the colloquiums from 1998 to 2005.

“We will celebrate his life and his happiness,” said Sara Poot-Herrera, a close friend and fellow professor.

At the close of the colloquium on Saturday, there will be another ceremony in remembrance of McGovern, which will feature various colleagues and teaching assistants speaking about his life. The event will be held in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Catalan and Italian.

“Every time I saw him, he talked so fast, and was such a vibrant and unique part of this department,” Poot-Herrera said.

The Spanish and Portuguese Dept. is currently in the process of searching for a new faculty member to replace McGovern. Eduardo Raposo, department chair, said it will take until next fall to find a permanent replacement.

According to Raposo, a faculty committee will make the final decision on the new language program director after screening a number of Ph.D.-holding candidates.

“We have to think about what we want in a new director, because it will be a tough process,” Raposo said.

Professor Esperanza Jefferson will hold the position of language program director until a candidate is selected.

Jefferson will speak at the closing ceremony of the colloquium on Saturday.

“I’m trying to make some special memories for him, because he was so helpful to students and faculty,” Jefferson said.

In addition to his language programming duties, McGovern taught two classes at UCSB: a freshman seminar on queer studies – a class he pioneered – and a graduate class on language methodology. Professor Silvia Berm