Languages constantly evolve, and reflect cultural practices. They are a fluid reflection of the passage of time, influenced by many factors, including age, class, and gender. This conference will focus on a snapshot of the state of language in present-day society as it relates to, mirrors, and affects perceptions of gender. Four panels of experts, including anthropologists, authors, computer scientists, linguists, journalists, performing artists, politicians, and psychologists, will explore different facets of the interplay of gender and language.
The conference begins on Thursday evening with "Plays with Words," an evening about language and gender in comedy. On Friday, a keynote address and a full day of panels feature discussions about moving beyond binary distinctions, what the Internet and big data analysis can teach us about gender and language, and the role of gender in public discourse. Through comparative perspectives, multidisciplinary approaches, and contemporary examples, this program examines the inextricably related concepts of gender, language, and culture.
This event is free and open to the public.
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WAYS WITH WORDS
Lizabeth Cohen, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Department of History, Harvard University
John Huth, Codirector of the Science Program at the Radcliffe Institute and Donner Professor of Science, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
Panel 1: Beyond Binaries
For adults and children, gender identification is often tethered to language shaped by culture. This panel will explore how the use of language, particularly pronouns in different circumstances, childhood development, and social and gender stereotyping all affect the use and perception of language.
Bear Bergman, Author, poet, playwright, and theater artist
Wesley Thomas, Professor of Diné Cultural Studies, Chair of School of Diné Studies & Law Studies, and Dean of School of Graduate Studies & Research, Navajo Technical University
Rebecca Bigler, Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Moderator: Stephen Burt, Professor of English, Harvard University
Lunch and Exhibition Viewing
Panel 2: Big Data
The Internet, social media, and data mining have changed language and our ability to analyze usage, and increased sensitivities to the power of the words we use. This panel will explore how these new forms of discourse and analysis expand our understanding of the interplay of gender, personal narrative, and language, as well as data scraping that enables a statistical study of language usage by demographics.
Ben Hookway, Chief Executive Officer, Relative Insight
Lyle Ungar, Professor and Graduate Group Chair, Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania
Alice E. Marwick, Assistant Professor, Communication and Media Studies and Director of the McGannon Center for Communication Research, Fordham University
Moderator: Rebecca Lemov, Associate Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Panel 3: Public Discourse
This panel will examine language used in the public domain and how it both reflects and shapes cultural attitudes toward gender. The question of who defines and controls language, and the role gender plays, is an important part of political campaigns, entertainment, and business marketing efforts.
Mary Mills, Worldwide Director of Strategic Intelligence, Saatchi & Saatchi
Christine Matthews, President, Bellweather Research and Co-founder, Burning Glass Consulting
Liza Johnson, Director and Screenwriter
Moderator: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication; Walter and Leonore Annenberg Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania