Dr. Robin Lakoff to Speak about “Intersections of Language, Gender and Politics” on April 18th

The National Women’s History Museum and United States Studies of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars invite you to a lecture in the series The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Women’s History. Dr. Robin Lakoff of the University of California at Berkeley will give a lecture entitled: “Language Makes History: Intersections of Language, Gender and Politics” on  Wednesday, April 18, 2012 from 4pm-5:30pm at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.  Dr. Lakoff is a professor of Pragmatics and Sociolinguists.

Dr. Lakoff writes: “Language is sometimes compared unfavorably to actions as soft or unreal: “Words are feminine, deeds masculine,” according to one Italian proverb. But this antithesis, however tempting, is deceptive: words and acts go hand in hand. One place where that connection is highly visible is in the change in women’s status in America over the last half century.

Until English had the word “sexism,” for instance – which is first cited in 1967 – there was no convenient way to talk about the politics of gender: the assignment of status and power to individuals on the basis of their masculinity or femininity. And until our society had evolved far enough for a significant number of people to grasp that such a discrepancy existed, and was a problem to be solved, the word “sexism” had nothing to apply to – it could not have come into existence. So the language and the “reality” are not opposed, but are parts of the galvanization of perhaps the most significant social change the world has known.

What I will discuss in my talk is this intersection, the ways in which American society’s increasing awareness of linguistic discrepancies between the ways women and men may speak, be spoken to, and be spoken of is connected to and intrinsic to the great social and political changes in gender roles between the late 1960s and today.”

The lecture will take place from 4-5:30pm in Flom Auditorium, 6th Floor and will be followed by a reception from 5:30-6pm. The Wilson Center is located at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20004. This event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are requested. Please respond with acceptances only to swinston@nwhm.org. Please allow time to go through building security. Directions to the Wilson Center are available at: www.wilsoncenter.org/directions

2 Responses to “Dr. Robin Lakoff to Speak about “Intersections of Language, Gender and Politics” on April 18th”

  1. Kathryn Meyer says:

    Am simply looking for a transcript or summary of Dr. Lakoff’s entire speech. Am very interested in applying within an international context. Will also seek book(s). Thank you for any help you can provide.

  2. Psychology Student says:

    Words certainly are important, but not in the way most people perceive them to. Swearing is often regarded as the epitome of rudeness while to me subtle manipulation and distortion is far more offensive. In fact, bad words are a more honest communication to me than diplomacy is.

    Of course actions are also important, but we should be far more concerned about the conscious and subconscious intentions.

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