Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Language and Societies abstracts, vol. 10 (2018)

The abstracts below are summaries of papers by junior scholars from the 2018 edition of my course, Language and Societies. The authors are undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology and linguistics at Wayne State University. Comments and questions are extremely welcome, especially at this critical juncture over the next two weeks, when the authors are making final revisions to their papers.

Yen-ting Chang: “Found My Best Self”: Women’s Fitness and Body Transformation Discourse

Asa Choate: French Naming Practice of Assimilating English-based Internet Terminology

Grace Fusani: Languages in Dreams: A Look into the Influencers of Bilinguals & L2 Learners in the Dreamworld

Ashley Johnson: Language, gender, and uncertainty in writing about sex identification in Maya bioarchaeology

Robert McCallum: Tensions, Power and Words: The Use of Authoritative Brand Identity Language on Ad Agency Websites

Andrew McKinney: Sorrow, shame, and lament in Irish folk lyrics

Kelsey McKoy: The Interpretation of African American Vernacular English in Museums

Craig Meiners: Metaphors in Branding and Design of Professional Basketball Players’ Shoes

Haley Scott: Melancholia, A Lover’s Rejection, and Fortune Teller’s Reading: A linguistic analysis of suicide obituaries in a historical newspaper

Carly Slank: Dogespeak: a Heckin Good Descriptive and Contextual Analysis

Samantha Spolarich: The magical discourse of Harry Potter: how spells came to be

Cory Taylor: The Language of the Time Lords: A linguistic study on the effect of invented languages on the social hierarchy of fandom communities

Jami Van Alstine: Voice in postcards related to the woman’s suffrage movement in the United States in the early 20th century

Anna Zabicka: “Rigvir, Anyone?”: A Discourse Analysis Of Oncolytic Virotherapy Medication Websites

 

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April 2, 2018 Posted by | Editor | Leave a comment

Language, gender, and uncertainty in writing about sex identification in Maya bioarchaeology

Language, gender, and uncertainty in writing about sex identification in Maya bioarchaeology

Ashley Johnson

The long-stigmatized language use of women is finally being studied under the third wave of feminism in the United States. The influence of feminism on academia has encouraged those of all genders to look critically at stereotypes thought to belong to each of the genders’ use of academic language. I seek to contribute to this ongoing movement through my own work. My project aims to discover if men and women use different writing styles in academic literature, specifically whether they express their uncertainty differently. Demonstrating uncertainty in academia can be a difficult task. I worked to understand whether men and women discuss differently their sex determination of skeletal individuals from Mayan populations due to its well-studied nature. To conduct this study, I performed a discourse analysis. Several papers on Mayan bioarchaeology were placed into categories based on the authors’ genders. Then, number of hedges were counted as a basis for the study, but all recognizable patterns were discussed. I determined that men and women use hedges at an equal rate and in similar fashions. And, that the overall patterns in language were less related to gender and more related to the audience and the subject. Instead of expressing uncertainty, both genders used a method of blame displacement that allowed their uncertainty to transfer to those who created the methodology they used, which was often Jane Buikstra and Douglas Ubelaker. Overall, men and women both expressed uncertainty on their sex determination of Mayan individuals equally and similarly, proving that perhaps language differences between genders does not exist as intensely as previously speculated.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Dogespeak: a Heckin Good Descriptive and Contextual Analysis

Dogespeak: a Heckin Good Descriptive and Contextual Analysis

Carly Slank

Varieties of language that arise in the medium of the internet give contemporary linguists an unprecedented opportunity to study linguistic change and enregisterment. Because of the global and frequently anonymous positions of internet users, registers of internet language often rely on common interest or opinion rather than status, occupation, ethnicity, or locale to bind their communities of speakers. Dogespeak is a variety of ludic language or language play that rests on a cross-cultural common interest in dogs, humor, and manipulation of language that began with a single forum post; in the past five years, the style of language play used in that forum post has been enregistered and gradually incorporated with lexical, morphological, and syntactic conventions to constitute what is now known as dogespeak. Using forum, blog, and social media posts from several popular online hubs of dogespeak, the introduction of each precept of the register can be identified, resulting in a timeline of dogespeak enregisterment. Here, the current lexical, morphological, and syntactic features of dogespeak are described and positioned within the developmental history of the register. While the first enregistered feature of dogespeak, the syntactic “wow-modifier” rule, has been the subject of linguistic inquiry before, the present research offers a more extensive diachronic analysis of this and many more recently enregistered features including the “heckin” modifier, the “-boi” morpheme, and the “doin me a (frighten)” clause.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Voice in postcards related to the woman’s suffrage movement in the United States in the early 20th century

Voice in postcards related to the woman’s suffrage movement in the United States in the early 20th century

Jami Van Alstine

Cartoons which have a voice, an audience, dual-semiotic meanings have been a part of socio-political discourse in the United States since prior to the American Revolution.  Similarly, postcards, sharing these characteristics were an inexpensive and widely shared media in the early decades of the 20th century that often reflected the attitudes, pastimes, sentiments, and tastes of the American people.  By analyzing the voice, audience, and dual semiotic meanings in a small random sampling of pro- and anti-Woman Suffrage postcards in circulation between 1890 and 1920 in the United States we are able to show that women, both suffragettes and remonstrants, were active agents of change in the claiming and use of their voice in the period leading up to the adoption of the 19th Amendment.

 

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Languages in Dreams: A Look into the Influencers of Bilinguals & L2 Learners in the Dreamworld

Languages in Dreams: A Look into the Influencers of Bilinguals & L2 Learners in the Dreamworld

Grace Fusani

It is not often thought about but when we dream, the dreamworld produces language that is drawn from our experiences in everyday life. What occurs in dream speech when an individual knows more than one language or is learning another language is explored and detailed in this paper. This paper aims to explain bilingualism and learned languages and their effects on the dreamworld through interviews with a set of college students as well as extensive literature reviews. Some of the areas examined are how languages influence dreams, the difference between L2 learner and bilingual dreams, and if dreaming in a learned language is a sign of fluency. This research found that a person’s mentality, environment, attitude, and dream setting directly influence the dream language and that dreaming in a learned language is a sign of better comprehension rather than fluency. Also detailed are how bilinguals identify with certain languages, both culturally and emotionally, and how they code-switch in dreams.

 

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 6 Comments

Tensions, Power and Words: The Use of Authoritative Brand Identity Language on Ad Agency Websites

Tensions, Power and Words: The Use of Authoritative Brand Identity Language on Ad Agency Websites

Robert McCallum

Ad agencies create and manipulate linguistic semiotics that coalesce into brand personalities for their clients. The intent is to convey authoritative and authentic experiences for consumers that will result in sales. As hired intermediaries, agencies also have to create these brand personalities for themselves to attract clients — a type of reciprocity. On their websites, agencies utilize language of authority, as described by Bourdieu, to mobilize the action of attracting clients. The resulting discourse creates tensions within what is a negotiated and contested power relationship — potential clients have many choices in a highly competitive market — and the resulting attraction process plays out like a courtship. This paper explores authoritative branding language approaches utilized in this courtship ritual as manifested on the websites of 30 agencies. Websites are spaces in which the value and power of an agency’s linguistic capital are used to leverage power. A comparative methodology was used to examine the similarities and differences in the approaches these agencies take in their use of language of authority — specifically power-word choices and themes — on their home and about-us web pages. The sample consists of the 2017 Ad Age (a respectable trade paper) A-list winners, and it is presupposed that by being so honored, they represent successful case studies. The study provides insight into ways agencies distinguish themselves from other agencies while retaining a recognizable agency schema within this courtship ritual.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 6 Comments

The Language of the Time Lords: A linguistic study on the effect of invented languages on the social hierarchy of fandom communities

The Language of the Time Lords: A linguistic study on the effect of invented languages on the social hierarchy of fandom communities

Cory Taylor

Constructed languages or conlangs are consciously created for many reasons, including the exploration of new ideas, finding an alternative way to communicate or to connect with others. This connection is also a reason why many people join fan communities, places where many of these conlangs are used. BBC’s “Doctor Who” is a popular television show that is celebrated within some of these fandoms. The language of the main character’s home planet is Gallifreyan, seen at various points throughout the show. Although seen in written form, Gallifreyan has never been contextualized within the show. The first objective of this paper was to establish why and how conlangs are created, done through a review of the literature already published on the subject. The second was to examine why conlangs are learned by fans and the third was to determine how knowing a conlang affects the social standing of members of fandom communities. These two objectives were accomplished through a survey, posted on various blogs and received 315 responses. The respondents were asked about their age, gender and whether they had heard of Gallifreyan. Additionally, respondents were asked why they thought people learned conlangs and if they thought learning a conlang positively or negatively affected their social standing within their fandom community. The majority of respondents stated that people learned conlangs because it is fun and it immerses them further in their fictive world. Additionally, respondents felt that learning a conlang positively affected one’s social standing within a fandom community.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 12 Comments

“Found My Best Self”: Women’s Fitness and Body Transformation Discourse

“Found My Best Self”: Women’s Fitness and Body Transformation Discourse

Yen-ting Chang

This research aims to answer the question of how fitness shape women’s perceptions of their health and bodies by examining the “Before and After” transformation posts and its discourses on Instagram shared by the SWEAT fitness app users. Recent study trends indicate the idea of “fitspiration”, the amalgamation of the words fitness and inspiration, which consists of images and text that are designed to inspire people to pursue a healthy lifestyle through exercise and eating well and has been promoted as a healthy alternative to “thinspiration”, a blending of thinness and inspiration, and aims to encourage strength and female empowerment. The women users from the SWEAT app construct two types of self-image: before and after fitness practice. The before image represents the lack of confidence and discomfort with their bodies. This contrasts the after image which is the “better-self” that demonstrate a slimmer and stronger body image with confidence and self-disciplines. In these posts, they do not explicitly describe their body shapes but instead their mental state and overall health. The determination and self-discipline are major means and attitudes to achieve the goal for fitness. Although the fitness goal is set up by the individuals, there is emphasis on online community engagement and peer pressure to help achieve that goal. The results of the fitness practice are correspondent with the posts, which is an image of a better self who is physically and mentally healthier. The explicit judgement of body type was rarely mentioned, instead, they used the less extreme word to express their body dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, they suggest that fitness is a sign of health and that appearance is the primary rationale for exercise, reinforcing societal healthy and appearance ideals.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Melancholia, A Lover’s Rejection, and Fortune Teller’s Reading: A linguistic analysis of suicide obituaries in a historical newspaper

Melancholia, A Lover’s Rejection, and Fortune Teller’s Reading: A linguistic analysis of suicide obituaries in a historical newspaper

Haley Scott

Obituaries and other death notifications such as funeral announcements and news reports have long been the method of death notice for the public. Typically including information ranging from date of birth and death, the deceased’s greatest accomplishments, late and surviving family, and occasional cause and/or manner of death, they provide insight into cultural perspectives of death. By examining aspects such as linguistic devices used and positive or negative language association, patterns in how attitudes surrounding death, specifically in cases of suicide, can be identified. This paper seeks to address the various linguistic ways in which suicide in obituaries have been recognized. Utilizing 254 historical New York Times suicide notifications between 1858 and 1922, a database was constructed documenting year of publication, age and sex of the deceased, the method and description of death, words used to describe the act of suicide itself, and circumstances surrounding the death, in order to examine the extent of evasive methods of death discourse. Death notifications within this paper are shown to serve more than the sole purpose of public notice. Explicit details of suicide notifications allow for readers to comment on death and discuss a taboo subject without consequence. By exploring the broader social context for suicide and the perception of death at the time of this historical death notification study, one can begin to understand how views of suicide, death, grief, and death-related language have changed over time.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 7 Comments

“Rigvir, Anyone?”: A Discourse Analysis Of Oncolytic Virotherapy Medication Websites

“Rigvir, Anyone?”: A Discourse Analysis Of Oncolytic Virotherapy Medication Websites

Anna Zabicka

RigVir is state-approved oncolytic wild-type virotherapy medication for the treatment of malignant cutaneous melanoma in Latvia. It has never been tested in the EU standard clinical trials and thus is not EU approved. Currently, there is no conclusive evidence for the efficacy of RigVir as a melanoma treatment and RigVir has been repeatedly accused of unethical patient deception. Following the accusations and the idea that deception can lead to the changes in language use, this article investigates the changing discourse and possible deceptive means used on several websites associated with RigVir. The analysis is based within the debate of the demarcation problem in science, recognizing the specificity of biomedical discourse, and the role that language, including deception, plays in the demarcation problem. Using the publicly available website Internet Archive “Wayback Machine”, changes in the used expressions, language, and content on the International Virotherapy Center (IVC) website were tackled and linguistically analyzed from 2015-2017. Additional analysis of the RigVir official website was used to bolster the argument. The discourse analysis revealed significant changes in content and linguistic means used on the IVC website since 2015. Changes from more exaggerated, boastful to more cautious, scientific language in such patterns as assurance of harmlessness, suitability, scientificity, and uniqueness of RigVir suggest that the language is adapted to the discourse beneficial for the particular period of time. Therefore, the specific changes of linguistic patterns in the RigVir case indicate not only deception but also the kind of storytelling that involves changes to keep the story to seem truthful and sincere. In contrast to ignorant and genuine belief in untrue statements, the discourse analysis confirmed suspicions of deliberate intention to deceive that conform to science fraud.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

The magical discourse of Harry Potter: how spells came to be

The magical discourse of Harry Potter: how spells came to be

Samantha Spolarich

Historically, the discourse of magic has included words such as “abracadabra” or “alakazam”. This trend of using “nonsense” or “foreign sounding” words can still be seen today in popular culture, such as the curse “Avada Kedavra” in Harry Potter. This paper seeks to answer the question: in what ways has the historical perspective on magic influenced the ways in which the spells from Harry Potter have been constructed? By examining literature on historical magical discourse, magical discourse in religion, and the discourse of modern entertainment magic, the relationship between magic and nonsense or foreign sounding words can be explored. J. K. Rowling carefully constructed the spells that are found in Harry Potter by combining words from various languages including Latin, Greek, and English. In doing so, she followed a time-honored tradition of using foreign sounding words to help readers suspend their belief and enter the magical world of Harry Potter.

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Metaphors in Branding and Design of Professional Basketball Players’ Shoes

Metaphors in Branding and Design of Professional Basketball Players’ Shoes

Craig Meiners

This paper seeks to understand the role of metaphors in the branding and design of professional basketball player’s shoes. Shoe design varies widely among basketball players and each design works to enhance the brand of the player though metaphors. An effective brand is one that directs its followers though storytelling but leaves the story unfinished for the consumers to finish the story with their own experiences with the brand and create connections. This paper works to understand how these metaphors are used in shoe design and their importance and relevance in building a brand. Looking at the most recent NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles, this paper evaluates the shoes of four of the top players in the world. These players all have their own signature shoe deal and released a new version of their shoe during the All-Star week. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the design metaphors in the shoes, in building a brand. This is done though a discourse analysis of press releases and twitter comments about the shoes. Four main metaphors were identified (shoe as person, shoes as a place, shoes as performance, and shoes as activism) that are used to help drive the narrative of the player’s personal brand and ultimately that of the shoe company. In looking at the shoes through the identified metaphors, the shoes are evaluated on their effectiveness of building the brand. The shoes that used a consistent brand and design language seemed to build stronger connections among consumers.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

French Naming Practice of Assimilating English-based Internet Terminology

French Naming Practice of Assimilating English-based Internet Terminology

Asa Choate

This study analyzed the process of assimilation that English internet terminology undergoes allowing France to adopt a new French term over an English loanword and the overall effectiveness of this system.  The alarming influx of English loanwords, or Anglicisms, related to the internet and telecommunication necessitated a method to mass produce an entire collection of new terminology by French language authorities.  Reviewing research done during the internet’s growth in use in France to present in addition to the list of official French words aided in gauging the effectiveness of the system used in France.  Overall, the process has been effective in implementing official French terminology over English while still maintaining the source without sacrificing the appearance of natural French.  Evidenced by the decreased yearly output of terminology in this domain, the French government has efficiently offered replacement vocabulary for the specialized technical aspects of the internet, which are only understood by those who study them, and many public domains widely used.  However, in the public domain of social media and other communication media, the English loanwords have gained popularity over the French replacement.  These special cases can be attributed to the increased length of the French word compared to the English one, or the replacement’s failure to encompass the system as effectively as the loanword.  Despite the success in implementing key terminology over an English loanword, the popularly used features of the internet have changed so rapidly that the system of loanword assimilation fails to effectively cover every area of the internet.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

The Interpretation of African American Vernacular English in Museums

The Interpretation of African American Vernacular English in Museums

Kelsey McKoy

As human beings, the way in which we interpret the world around us and establish our agency and identity is largely based on language and our interaction with one another as well as with our environment. In the paper that follows I seek to address how African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is interpreted within exhibits conveying the history of slavery at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Historical Museum? Museums are cultural institutions that aid in providing information pertaining to the events of slavery that are not commonly (if at all) taught in schools, it is important that the information is understood to its fullest extent. In this instance, these institutions create exhibits that are intended to appeal to a wide range of visitors from various backgrounds. Thus, I predict that in order to maintain its universal appeal exhibits that interpret the history of slavery, do so by way of Standard English (SE) as juxtapose to AAVE. In gathering the data for my research, I collected material from various sources of linguistic literature and visited two exhibitions one from each museum. The first was the “Doorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad” at the Detroit Historical Museum and the second was “And Still We Rise” at the Charles H. Wright Museum. During my visit, I collected photos and conducted interviews with the collections and exhibitions manager from both museums. As a result of my data it was indicated that SE was commonly used in exhibitions interpreting slavery as it is universally easier to understand.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Sorrow, shame, and lament in Irish folk lyrics

Sorrow, shame, and lament in Irish folk lyrics

Andrew McKinney

Folk lyrics often evoke emotions; this is especially true of Irish folk lyrics written or sung in the English language. Common emotions associated with Irish folk lyrics are sorrow, shame, and lament. This paper questions the origin of these feelings, and why the listeners and readers of Irish folk lyrics place meaning upon them. The theoretical framework of this paper draws upon James A. Wilce’s research on language and emotions. Additionally, Eric Hobsbawm and Helen O’Shea’s research is used to investigate the myth associated with Irish folk lyrics stemming from a pure Gaelic past. Data collected for this research comes from lyrics that highlight these emotions. These lyrics were obtained from A-Zlyrics.com and Google Lyrics. A qualitative linguistic analysis found that the inspiration for the Irish folk lyrics stem from the historical events associated with the eight hundred years of conflict between Ireland and England. The lyrics encompass complex issues of gender, family, and kinship concerns as they relate to the aforementioned conflict. Ultimately, these lyrics express emotions that are felt on a personal level which in turn represent the illusion of sorrow, shame, and lament being felt on a national level.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | abstract | 6 Comments

Language and Societies abstracts, vol. 9 (2017)

The abstracts below are summaries of papers by junior scholars from the 2017 edition of my course, Language and Societies. The authors are undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology and linguistics at Wayne State University. Over the next few weeks, some students will be posting links to PDF versions of their final papers below their abstracts. Comments and questions are extremely welcome, especially at this critical juncture over the next two weeks, when the authors are making final revisions to their papers.

John Anderson: Symbolic Meanings of the “Rune Poems”

Bridget Bennane: A Woman Ran for President: A Political and Gender Discourse Analysis on Hillary Clinton

Kaitlin Carter: Ubermess: Corporate Social Responsibility Responses as a Dialogue through Social Media

Lynn Charara: Portraits of The Orange Man

Rebecca Cornejo: Identity at 70 MPH: The crafting, meaning, and importance of personalized license plates

Nadine Duchaine: Native American Code Talkers: Life before the Code

Katilyn Gerstner: Differences in opportunity teaching styles between multiparous and uniparous chimpanzee mothers suggest that experienced mothers are better teachers

Michael Henson: Critical Discourse Analysis of Media: A Systematic Approach to Analyzing Child Welfare Representation in the Media

Miriam Jacobs: Metaphors of Poverty

Kelsey Jorgensen: Displaying the Dead: Assessing Agency Through Museum Linguistic Practices

Travis Kruso: Updating the Fashion System? Using Language to Create and Maintain Authenticity in the Online Avant Garde

Colleen Linn: Legitimatizing the right to water in Michigan’s post-industrial cities

Emily K. Lock: Gettin’ Fit to Push a Bit: Medical advice about exercise during pregnancy (1900-present)

Stacy F. Markel: Power Play: gender, power, and language of nurses and doctors

Kailey McAlpin: Analyzing Detroit’s Racialized Public Discourse of Urban Renewal through Metaphor

Luke Pickrahn: The language of extreme metal

Terri Renaud: Language Construction and Cultural Representation in Fantasy Video Games

Elizabeth Riedman: The discourse of Detroit: A critical look into the use of language within Detroit documentaries

Rebecca Sawyer: Beisbol and Tostones: Constructing Narratives of Puerto Rican Identity in Secondary Level, First Year Spanish Textbooks

Maria Schell: Discipline or Domestic Violence: Distinctions in discourse about interpersonal violence

Jasmine Walker: Lexical and Performative Cues for the Provocation of an Altered State of Consciousness in the American Evangelical Church

Hannelore Willeck: 18th Century Advertising Language and the Shift from British Colony to New Nation

Josh Wolford: Anishinaabe Toponyms in Michigan: A History of Colonized Folk Etymology and Anishinaabe Cultural Renaissance

Athena Zissis: Memories of Unrest: Placing the Detroit 1967 Project within the Riot vs. Rebellion Debate

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Editor | Leave a comment

Updating the Fashion System? Using Language to Create and Maintain Authenticity in the Online Avant Garde

Updating the Fashion System? Using Language to Create and Maintain Authenticity in the Online Avant Garde

Travis Kruso

There is a certain type of language used in online discussion boards and personal blogs in the self-described Avant-Garde Artisanal fashion community that utilizes many of the “Variants of Existence” conceptualized by Roland Barthes.  It is through the use of these variants in praising and criticizing the outfits of others, and in describing their own outfits, that individuals are able to express both an understanding and an appreciation for this particularly niche sort of fashion while simultaneously creating a knowledgeable and legitimized online persona for themselves within the community.  It is language, and language alone, that provides the power and influence within online Avant-Garde Artisanal fashion communities; but it should be noted that there is a certain type of language used.  This language is shared, learned, and experienced through collaborative efforts.  Further, the very act of participating in online discussions helps to democratize fashion, as it places the power to make meaning in the hands of “regular” people (i.e. not fashion editors). But even with that power shift, it’s dubious whether or not fashion becomes more accessible, or if accessibility simply shifts into new hands.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Language Construction and Cultural Representation in Fantasy Video Games

Language Construction and Cultural Representation in Fantasy Video Games

Terri Renaud

Hierarchical structures and racism are found in a great number of fantasy video game storylines and worlds. These worlds are immersive and incredibly detailed including the language construction and background history of playable characters’ non-human racial groups. Language construction and representation in books and movies have been studied with great frequency but there remains a lack of study in regards to video games. This research begins to fill that gap.  My research explores how video game languages are constructed and used to represent race and ethnicity.  This project explores the motives behind and functions of language creation in fantasy video game contexts.  Analysis of interviews with the game creators, the history of the in-game worlds, exploration of the research regarding J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, language comparison and analysis are all employed in this investigation. The fantasy genre in all its forms cannot fully escape the characterizations formed by Tolkien but today’s creators are working hard to create their own unique interpretation of their world. Future research should focus on more expansive multiplayer fantasy games and other video game genres.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Beisbol and Tostones: Constructing Narratives of Puerto Rican Identity in Secondary Level, First Year Spanish Textbooks

Beisbol and Tostones: Constructing Narratives of Puerto Rican Identity in Secondary Level, First Year Spanish Textbooks

Rebecca Sawyer

While new methods of foreign language learning have been developed over the past thirty years that emphasize the importance of cultural context, language textbooks have been slow to adapt. In an increasingly complicated and politicized world, it is especially important for language learning texts to accurately reflect the perspectives of the target cultures. Opportunities for rich discussion of culture are even more important in the context of colonized cultures, with Puerto Rico as the most salient example for Spanish students in the United States. This study builds upon and updates existing research on the cultural messages within first year Spanish textbooks for secondary students with a specific focus on the representation of political perspectives in Puerto Rico. The discourse in six first year, secondary level Spanish texts was analyzed for the amount of information about Puerto Rico, kind of information, and how it is presented to the student. Rather than showing uptake of past recommendations, the results show that the most updated texts are ill suited to address topics that are more complicated than baseball or food.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Gettin’ Fit to Push a Bit: Medical advice about exercise during pregnancy (1900-present)

Gettin’ Fit to Push a Bit: Medical advice about exercise during pregnancy (1900-present)

Emily K. Lock

This paper examines how medical discourse concerning risk associated with exercise during pregnancy has changed over time. It focuses on how these changes reflect western biomedical ideas of “healthy bodies” at different points in time and how they relate to larger cultural changes surrounding the bodies of women and their role in society. Using theories of risk, agency, feminism and the body; this research tells a larger story about how women, reproduction and women’s bodies are, and have been medicalized and conceptualized within western society. Data for this project was drawn from pregnancy self-help books written by biomedical practitioners between 1901 and 2016. The pregnancy discourse is contextualized within the timeline of pregnancy medicalization and the feminist movement to give a broader cultural picture of conceptions of reproduction through the 20th and 21st centuries. This research finds that while exercise has been prescribed for pregnant patients since 1901, the types of exercise suggested has changed overtime from simply “routine housework” to jogging and light weight-lifting. However, the most pronounced change in pregnancy exercise discourse over the last 116 years was the language doctors used to engage their patients, early discourse talks down to the reader, directing them, while more recent discourse engages the reader in a more conversational style of writing that speaks to them as intelligent, individuals with agency over their bodies.

April 6, 2017 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments