1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Linguistic Anthropology Seminar -- Fall 2016

Friday, December 9, 1pm (Brooks Hall 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Grace Reynolds, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

"Cooperativism, counter-voices, and tales of transgression in activist Barcelona"

Grace will be presenting about her dissertation research on Catalan.

This dissertation, a work-in-progress, looks at activist storytelling, situated language use in social movements, and the linguistic landscape of protest discourse in Barcelona, and sees a common theme emerge: transgression. In the form of civil disobedience, certainly, but transgression in other forms as well: in norms of language use and in collective direct action. I collect the stories of a group of elderly activists who were involved in clandestine labor-organizing under Franco's dictatorship, and who continue to organize today, aligning themselves with the anti-austerity, anti-capitalist 15M movement. I also engage with the visual linguistic landscape of protest among activists in the 15M movement and especially among this elderly group, demonstrating how the elderly activists are uniquely able to claim authority not only through the competing ideologies of authenticity and anonymity, but also indexically and performatively through their very presence as reminders of a different time in Spanish history with its transgressive traditions of cooperativism and worker self-management which are not emphasized (often not acknowledged) in mainstream 21st century Barcelona. Another dissertation chapter focuses on how ideologies of linguistic parochialism and cosmopolitanism are held and enacted differently by various members of the 15M community, in particular by one elderly activist who defies tradition in order to inhabit a 'free space' in which he can make the very Bakhtinian choice of 'not choosing at all' amongst the different politically-charged linguistic varieties in his heteroglossic Catalonian repertoire. Throughout the dissertation I argue that, acting as a mediator between past and present, the trope of disobedience/ transgression is a central foundation upon which activists in Barcelona construct a moral geography that places them, as activist subjects, in the center. Transgression and disobedience are constructed via storytelling, direct action, and protest to be at the moral center of activist consciousness, and are a necessary means of preserving a collective social order in opposition to individual business for profit. 


Friday, December 2, 1:30pm *note that we are meeting at a different time than usual* (Brooks Hall 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Frank Brannon, Research Fellow, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

"Print Your Own Language"

Frank will discuss his work supporting Cherokee language revitalization through letterpress printing. The work, done through the support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, provided for contemporary art instruction while also honoring the heriage of Cherokee printing. Frank will share recently printed student work that was a part of printmaking classes at Southwestern Community College, North Carolina. More information about this project can be found at: http://virginiahumanities.org/2016/11/the-lost-art-of-cherokee-letterpress/


Friday, November 18, 3:30pm *note that we are meeting at a different time than usual* (Brooks Hall 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Dan Meliza, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

"Experience-Dependent Development of Auditory Processing in Songbirds: A Model for Early Speech Learning"

Human speech perception is profoundly and irreversibly shaped by auditory experience during the first year of life. We learn the acoustics of speech sounds and the makeup of phonetic categories from the statistical patterns of language input. It is important to understand the neural mechanisms of speech processing and how they are shaped by experience, specific language impairments, and dyslexia. Songbirds are a powerful animal model for studying these mechanisms because the ontogeny of song production is similar to speech in its trajectory and dependence on experience. Recent work in my lab has identified a candidate mechanism for how the temporal structure of early auditory experience prepares the brain to process temporarily complex inputs. 

Background reading: 

Kuhl, P. K. (2004). Early language acquisition: cracking the speech code. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5(11): 831-843.  http://doi.org/10.1038/nrn1533