Signs of Race : Volume 3

Signs of Race : Volume 3

English and Ethnicity

Edited by Janina Brutt-Griffler, Catherine Evans Davies, Lucy Pickering

This symposium focuses on the way English represents ethnicity as an aspect of sociocultural identity. Our theoretical position is that ethnicity is potentially an aspect of the identity of every person, and that English can be used to signal a wide range of ethnicities in a wide range of contexts. Such a position problematizes certain key notions: the notion of identity must be conceptualized as complex, multifaceted, and socially constructed through a process of situated interpretation; the notion of ethnicity must be conceptualized as both subsuming and transcending earlier notions of "race" as well as including a wide range of perceptions of relevant cultural background; English itself must be conceptualized not as a monolithic linguistic entity with one "standard" form, but as a highly complex linguistic construct with spoken and written forms, and a wide range of dialectal variation that can be conveyed through shifts at all levels of linguistic organization (prosodic, phonological, lexical, morpho/syntactic, pragmatic, discoursal). The symposium will include papers which address regional, national, and international contexts in the exploration of the relationship between English and ethnicity. We would like to attract a diverse audience, including linguists, literary scholars, creative writers, students, educators, psychologists, journalists, film buffs, and local community leaders.

Catherine Davies is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama. Lucy Pickering and Janina Brutt-Griffler were both formerly at the University of Alabama.