Tag Archives: languages

Spanish grad students reject suspension

In an open letter, grad students and alumni of the PhD program voice their shock at the Dean’s actions. Note the discrepancy between their report and that of the Chair, who has claimed the department was well informed. They comment on the none-too-subtle racial/ethnic bias behind declaring Spanish a non-canonical field of study (it’s been an American language since Cotton Mather!) and prove their excellence and eminence, generally speaking.

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Flyer bombardment

The campus has been awash in posters and morbid props lately.

The white flyers show the Emory logo cut with scissors and dripping blood, and the word “Arts” in Arts and Sciences has been slashed out of the poster.

The rainbow thunderbolt poster announces a protest of Chick-Fil-A, a fast food chain with a history of sponsoring anti-gay organizations, and which operates a franchise on campus.










 

The Modern Languages Building brings the pain:


Finally, a call to artists and graphic designers: The Student Re-visioning Committee is looking for a new iconic image. The first “Reject the Cuts” flyer was intended to bring disparate departments together, but the focus of activism has shifted. Furthermore, the original woodcut carries with it the legacy of colonial America and was mobilized on both sides of the Civil War; one student describes it as a little Tea Partyish.

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Meet some students learning Hindi

Students talk about about the value of South Asian cultural connections and the relevance of Hindi to students from all ethnic backgrounds, the way Emory stood out among other universities for offering the program, and the importance of India in the world.

The credits contain a long list of students who support the program, followed by this card: If we can study Contemporary China, why not Contemporary India?

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Forman speaks to Creative Loafing

Here’s a revealing interview by Max Blau: http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2012/09/21/qanda-with-emory-college-dean-robin-forman.

I appreciate that the first question deals with the fine-toothed semantic distinction between “excellence” and “eminence” (remember?). Actually, semantics is a recurrent issue. Witness also the craftiness with which Forman glides from “cuts” as in programs to “cuts” as in college-wide budget.

Blau raises the question of why one department chair (namely Karen Stolley of Spanish) seemed to have been included in the deliberation process in a way that most faculty were not. Forman tries to lodge the answer in practical terms. In relation to Spanish, as well, he describes a shift from Spanish and Portuguese to a broader Hispanic/Latino Studies program. Indeed, students in Spanish, comparative literature and a few other departments have been thinking along those lines. There has been a large, successful Comparative Caribbeans conference, as well as a smaller colloquium on Native American and Latino/a contributions to sexuality studies (with presentations on reggaeton, science fiction, and sovereignty). No one is explicit about how suspending the PhD program would contribute to these developments.

Forman nods to the vigorous yet civil handling of Monday’s outdoor meeting:

I’ve been, in many settings, arguing for a couple years that we need to do more to make the Emory campus a place where dissent is not only safe and tolerated, but encouraged. A great university should be a place where ideas, often-inconsistent ideas, have their chance to be heard by the community. I thought the idea of the discussion was a great one and an important process. I was grateful for those who made an effort to organize it.

We agree. Of course, we have questions about the way dissent is handled at the systemic level, with several arrests from last year still fresh in our minds.

And come to think about it, we never did get a definition of excellence or eminence out of him.

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Openings in Spanish?

Another Tumblr dig, from MLA Jobs. Hey, if the acronym JIL means anything to you, or makes you shudder reflexively, you might as well check out the whole site.

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Learning another language

Catherine Porter’s 2009 presidential address at the Modern Language Association convention was called “English is Not Enough.” It was a response to the growing number of cuts to language and literature departments at universities and colleges and to the spread of “English only” policies and sentiments throughout the U.S. (and anglophone Canada). Since then, the MLA, National Council of Teachers of English (pdf), American Sociological Association, History of Science Society, and several other major organizations have all released statements stressing the importance of studying other languages.

Here in Georgia, where some elementary schools wisely recommend introducing Mandarin to increase students’ options in the global workforce, some educators deny the same significance to Spanish. One county superintendent declared that Spanish belongs to the country’s “past,” not its future. It’s up to those of us with the resources to do so to correct these false, tacitly racist assumptions.

Those of us who specialize in English–or in one or more world/historical Englishes–know that globalization makes learning other languages more, not less, important. Linguists and anthropologists have long known this, and literary scholars are finally catching up. New histories of American literature include chapters on Chinese and Yiddish-language novels from the early 20th century. Our vocabularies and traditions have been artificially separated from those of Spanish (especially Mexico and the Caribbean), French, and Latin; from German, Anglo-Saxon and Greek; from dozens of indigenous North American languages; from Hindi, which is genetically closer to English than many European languages. “Standard” English is constantly being reshaped from the peripheries. American Sign Language, C++, and lolspeak are all recent, more or less intentional developments, but they have expanded our conceptions of what language is and how it works.

Language programs under attack at Emory: Farsi or Persian (world population nearly 24 million), French (nearly 68 million), Hindi (181.7 million), Russian (143.5 million), Spanish (328.5 million).

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