This is the third in a planned series of LSA webinars on "Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Linguistics Curriculum."  Please watch LSA communications for notifications about upcoming webinars.

This IS Linguistics: Scope, Positionality, and Graduate Apprenticeship when Diversifying the Linguistics Curriculum

  • deandre a. miles-hercules (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Jamaal Muwwakkil (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Kendra Calhoun (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Panelist slides:  miles-hercules          Muwwakkil       Calhoun

View a recording of the webinar

Friday, September 11, 1:00 - 2:30 PM EDT

Expanded access to this webinar was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1924593. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webinar are those of the presenters and authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

The webinar was ASL-interpreted

Read on for panelist bios and a description of the webinar.

Panelist bios:

deandre miles-hercules is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their research focuses on language as a nexus for the construction and performance of race, gender, and sexuality, specifically as they pertain to Black, femme, queer, and trans communities. Most recently, deandre has written about the linguistic intersection of Blackness and queerness in a forthcoming chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality. Their work has also included research on the phonetic analysis of nonbinary genders, discursive enactment of postmodern racial politics in media production, and the embodied poetics of language in interaction. deandre’s work is supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Jamaal Muwwakkil is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Interested in sociocultural linguistics, African American Language and Culture, political discourse, and educational linguistics, Jamaal is mindful to center the human experience in his research. His M.A. work highlighted the discourse strategies of conservative student groups on a liberal university campus, with his follow up work detailing how his positionality as a Black liberal man influenced the ethnographic research context. Informed by his experience as the UC Student Regent and work on the UCSB-HBCU Scholars in Linguistics Program, his dissertation will engage with Black undergraduate student development, diversity discourses, and institutional policies.

Kendra Calhoun is a Ph.D. Candidate in Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a sociocultural linguist who studies the intersections of language, identity, culture, and power in face-to-face and mediated contexts. She specializes in language and race, social media discourse, institutional discourse, and humor, with a focus on the linguistic and cultural practices of Black communities in the U.S. Her dissertation research examines diversity discourses, ideologies, and practices in U.S. higher education and their impact on graduate students of color at two Minority Serving Institutions. Her co-authored paper on inclusive pedagogy, “Attracting Black Students to Linguistics Through a Black-Centered Introduction to Linguistics Course,” will appear in the December 2020 issue of Language.


Description of the webinar:

This three-part webinar will engage with a series of critical questions about how to address long-standing inequities in linguistics as individuals, as departments, and as a field. In addition to offering immediate action items, the presenters will discuss questions about the historical realities and desired future of linguistics that should shape how linguists approach both short-term and long-term efforts to diversify linguistics curriculum.

deandre miles-hercules will begin the webinar by interrogating and deconstructing the disciplinary boundaries around the scientific study of language. They will highlight early foundational contributions to the development of linguistics’ status as a discrete field of study from related fields, principally by engaging Saussurean and Chomskyan paradigms. deandre suggests that similar types of interdisciplinary interventions from more socio-politically engaged areas of study in the present can serve to redress limitations of linguistics undergirded by its colonial and racist roots. By “scoping the scope” of linguistics, they provide recommendations on locating productive and effectual scholastic spaces for the study of language moving forward. deandre will explore some answers to the following questions, among others:

  • How did dominant conceptions of the scope of linguistics emerge over time?
  • Who gets to decide what linguistics is and should be?
  • In what ways do ersatz disciplinary boundaries between linguistics and some fields, but not others, reinstantiate repressive tendencies observable in the field over time?
  • Where can we locate bridges between fields of study that actualize the potential to dismantle asymmetrical power relations in linguistics?

Next, Jamaal Muwwakkil will explore considerations of positionality in curriculum design, pedagogy, and research. His discussion will center on the practice on acknowledging one’s subject position in research, implications of marking the authors’ subject positions for papers assigned in courses, and the potential consequences of not engaging with this practice. Questions that will be addressed in this talk include:

  • What does it mean to reflect on one’s own positionality as an educator?
  • How might one’s positionality constrain affordances in research contexts?
  • How does overtly engaging with one’s positionality impact classroom dynamics?
  • How does overtly marking one’s positionality contribute to equity and inclusion within Linguistics?

In the final part of the webinar, Kendra Calhoun will discuss the role of graduate students in department-level efforts to diversify linguistics curricula and the broader implications of these efforts. Her discussion will expand undergraduate-focused frameworks of curriculum change by engaging questions about what diversity and inclusion in graduate linguistics programs looks like. She will use a framework of apprenticeship to discuss the faculty-graduate-undergraduate relationship and the need to account for graduate students’ simultaneous roles as students, teachers, and researchers.  She will address a series of reflective questions for graduate students and faculty, including:

  • What are our next steps when efforts to diversify undergraduate curricula successfully attract more minoritized and underrepresented students to graduate linguistics programs?
  • Is diversification of graduate students in the department accompanied by structural changes to ensure equitable classroom and research experiences?
  • How are faculty modeling inclusive teaching practices in both undergraduate and graduate courses?
  • Which “extracurricular” needs are actually inseparable from the curriculum?

The Q&A session will follow the third presentation.