Christine Mallinson, associate professor of language, literacy, and culture, recently joined NPR’s “All Things Considered” for a discussion of the use of “yo” as a gender-neutral pronoun.
Mallinson said that kids in Baltimore have solved a very old problem in linguistics: English doesn’t have a gender-neutral pronoun. That makes it difficult to refer to people if you don’t know the person’s gender. Youth in Baltimore often use “yo” instead of “he” or “she” when they don’t know a person’s gender. But they also use “yo” as a substitute even when they do know the gender.
Mallinson, and other linguists, are interested to see if the pronoun sticks around. A number of other proposed gender-neutral pronouns – including ‘zee’ and ‘zeer’ – have failed to catch on.
“It’ll be interesting to see whether they keep that usage as they become adults. Do they keep that in the workplace? If that’s the case, it might persist,” said Mallinson. “But sometimes slang or linguistic innovations in middle or high school get dropped out as people become adult users of English.”
The segment, entitled “’Yo’ Said What?” aired on April 24.
On Wednesday, May 8, at 4 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery, the Humanities Forum will present “Charisma in the Age of Digital Reproduction” with Raphael Falco, the 2012-13 Lipitz Professor and professor of English.
Charismatic authority, the most fluid form of leadership, should thrive in the new media environment of digital reproduction, emerging amid swiftly forming groups and capitalizing on unrestricted, private access to the bearers of charisma. Yet, the status quo of charismatic groups dependent on digital reproduction is systematically undermined by reproducibility itself—the driving force of new media. My talk explores how this inescapable conflict destroys charismatic authority and abandons logged-on group members to isolation.
Raphael Falco received his B.A. and his Masters degrees from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from New York University. In his latest book, Charisma and Myth (Continuum Publishing), Professor Falco has explored areas beyond his usual precincts of early modern literature. He hopes to engage intellectuals of all stripes by introducing a completely new element to the study of myth—the idea that myth and myth systems operate in the same way as charismatic groups.
This event is sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences with support from the Dresher Center for the Humanities
Join environmental activist Sandra Steingraber at UMBC for her first public appearance following her incarceration for civil disobedience.
Steingraber, an Ithaca College professor, was recently sentenced to 15 days in jail for blocking access to a storage site for fracked gas, then refused to pay $375 in bail. She has been a leader of the fight in New York state to keep frackers at bay.
Steingraber’s lecture at UMBC, scheduled for Monday, April 29 at 4 p.m. on the 7th floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, will be her first public appearance following her release.
“My children need a world with pollinators and plankton stocks and a stable climate. They need lake shores that do not have explosive hydrocarbon gases buried underneath. The fossil fuel party must come to an end.” Steingraber wrote in a letter from jail.
Steingraber’s incarceration has been reported in several media outlets, including the “Wall Street Journal,” the “Ithaca Journal,” and the blog “Grist.”
Join the American Studies Department for “Hairstories,” a night of individuality and personal experience, as we comb through the culturally diverse perspectives of our hair.
The event will take place in the UMBC SportsZone (Commons) on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 7 p.m.
The event is planned by assistant professor of American studies Kimberly Moffitt’s “Black Hair and Body Politics” class.
“We will spend the evening sharing, laughing, reflecting, and maybe even shed a tear or two as we explore the ways our hair, skin hue, or body type impacts our daily lives,” says Moffitt.
Amy Bhatt, assistant professor of gender and women’s studies, was recently a guest on KUOW Seattle’s “Weekday with Steve Scher” program.
Bhatt discussed her new book, Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest, in which she and co-author Nalini Iyer draw on oral histories from the South Asian Oral History Project at the University of Washington Libraries, archival material, and popular culture representations to explore the various routes that brought South Asians to the Pacific Northwest, their motivations for leaving their homelands, and their experiences upon arrival.
“We’re interested in thinking about how we can use the stories of contemporary immigrants to shed light on older histories of migration, as well as thinking about contemporary debates about immigration more generally,” Bhatt said.
The interview can be heard here.
A segment of associate professor of history Kate Brown’s recent book, “Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters,” was reprinted on April 18 in the online magazine “Slate” under the headline “Life in a Real Nuclear Wasteland.”
“In pop culture, irradiated wastelands are fascinating… Part of the fantasy is surviving alone in an abandoned place no longer fit for the living, but the sad fact is that there are irradiated zones that are fully inhabited, and have been since the first years of the nuclear arms race,” Brown writes. “No one has lived longer on contaminated terrain than people in the village of Muslumovo in the southern Russian Urals located downstream from the Maiak plutonium plant, built in 1948 to produce Soviet bomb cores.”
Brown goes on to describe the conditions in Muslumovo, which often afflicted children: “hydrocephalic children, children with cerebral palsy, missing kidneys, extra fingers, anemia, fatigue, and weak immune systems.”
“[Soviet doctors] determined that radioactive isotopes weaken immune systems and damage organ tissue and arteries, causing illnesses of the circulation and digestive tracts and making people susceptible to conventional diseases long before they succumb to radiation-related,” she writes.
Constatine Vaporis, director of the Asian studies program and professor of history, was featured in a blog post on the PBS blog “The Rundown.” The post was entitled “For Hundreds of Years, Cherry Blossoms Are Matter of Life and Death.”
Vaporis said that as seppuku (ritual suicide) became a key part of the samurai’s Bushido code, the samurai “identified with the cherry blossom particularly because it fell at the moment of its greatest beauty, an ideal death.”
Manil Suri, professor of mathematics, was recently a guest on the BBC World Service program “The Forum” to discuss “Obsessions, new and old, in literature and technology.” Joining Suri on the show, which was hosted by Bridget Kendall, were internet analyst and cyber-sceptic Evgeny Morozo and Spanish novelist and translator Javier Marias.
Suri discussed his recent novel, “The City of Devi,” in which the main character is obsessed with bringing a pomegranate to her missing husband.
“She feels that having this symbol almost will somehow lead her to her husband. And in a way it does tell her something about her marriage, but in a very unexpected fashion,” he said.
The guests also spoke about our obsession with technology. “There’s this belief in technology and computers – these are going to really save us from having to think,” Suri said.
Nicole Else-Quest, assistant professor of psychology, is the author of an April 9 post in the “Huffington Post” blog entitled “Contextualizing the Conversation on Women and STEM.”
Else-Quest is the lead author of a recent study that found that female students perform as well as males in STEM classrooms, but report less confidence about their abilities. It also found that Asian American students outperform other ethnic groups.
In her piece for the Huffington Post, she argued that “the national conversation about women and STEM cannot progress until it considers gender within the context of other social identity variables, such as ethnicity, class, and immigration.”
“We don’t think of ourselves as only having gender or only having race. We think of ourselves as multifaceted and complex individuals – because we are multifaceted and complex individuals,” she writes.
Nicole Else-Quest, assistant professor of psychology, is in the news for a forthcoming paper in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly. The study shows that male and female students earn similar grades in math and science, while Asian American students of both genders outperform all other races. The study also found that male students of all ethnicities reported a greater perception of their abilities in math, while female students associated greater value to science-related courses.
The findings have been covered in an April 4 story in “Voices of America” entitled “Asian-American Students Outpace Other Groups in Math, Science,” a March 29 story in “Medical Daily” with the headline “Asian Students Better at Math and Science; Girls Equal to Boys in STEM Career Potential,” a March 29 story in “Council and Heal” entitled “Despite Stereotypes, Girls and Boys Do Equally Well in Math and Science,” a March 31 story in “The Indian Express” titled “Asian-American students outperform other ethnic groups,” and a April 9 story in “Asian Scientist” with the headline “Asian Americans Outperform Peers In Science & Math Study.”
Else-Quest told “Voices of America” that she doesn’t want the data to further the “model minority” perception about Asian-Americans.
“I think that stereotype is harmful for everyone, whether benevolent or not,” she said. “They put us in boxes or restrict us in some way. When we talk about Asian-Americans, we have to recognize it’s a tremendously diverse population with a variety of cultures and varying levels of status and language proficiency.”