Conference at Notre Dame will explore the value of language as a tool for social activism and social change

by Julie Hail Flory

An upcoming conference at the University of Notre Dame will explore the value of language as a tool for social activism and social change. Titled “Visible Language: Power and Scripts,” the conference will be April 21-22 (Saturday and Sunday) in McKenna Hall.p. Conference participants will review historic changes in languages such as those which occurred to Arabic in the 8th and 9th centuries or Latin in the 16th century. Each shift during those periods mirrored, in terms of societal impact, such modern trends as the infusion of profanity into political speech in the 1960s, or the role of Ebonics today, according to W. Martin Bloomer, chair and associate professor of classics at Notre Dame and conference organizer.p. Presenters will include Dimitri Gutas of Yale University, who will discuss “From Arab to Arabic Culture in Early Abbasid Baghdad (750-850): State Ideology and the Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement” at 1:30 p.m. April 21 (Saturday); and Haun Saussy of Stanford University on “‘Until One Attain to the Universal Empire’: 17th-Century Language Technologies and What They Say” at 10 a.m. April 22 (Sunday).p. The conference is supported by the Henkels Lecture Series. Other presenters are:p. ? Daniel Sheerin, Notre Dame, “Barbarism Vs. Paganism: Latinity and the Struggle for Intellectual Hegemony in the Early 16th Century,” 3 p.m. (April 21) Saturdayp. ? Lionel Jensen, chair and associate professor of East Asian languages and literature at Notre Dame, “Whose Metaphor, Whose Mistake: Rhetoric and Misapprehension in Chinese Thought,” 11:30 a.m. April 22 (Sunday).p. ? Bloomer, “A Marble Language,” 10 a.m. April 21 (Saturday).p. The conference builds on the findings of a seminar in December titled “The Politics of Language.”

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