226 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Language about their New Books
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    • Science
    • 4.1 • 15 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Language about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/language

    Herbert Terrace, "Why Chimpanzees Can't Learn Language and Only Humans Can" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    Herbert Terrace, "Why Chimpanzees Can't Learn Language and Only Humans Can" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    Through discussion of his famous 1970s experiment alongside new research, in Why Chimpanzees Can’t Learn Language and Only Humans Can (Columbia University Press, 2019), Herbert Terrace argues that, despite the failure of famous attempts to teach primates to speak, from these efforts we can learn something important: the missing link between non-linguistic and linguistic creatures is the ability to use words, not to form sentences. Situating language-learning as a capacity gained through conversation, not primarily representing internal thought, Terrace takes naming as the first step towards language. By drawing on research in developmental psychology, paleoanthropology, and linguistics, Terrace builds a case for understanding human language as grounded in social interaction between mother and child, rather than an inevitable, asocial result of a person’s development.
    Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).
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    • 59 min
    Ralph Keyes, "The Hidden History of Coined Words" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Ralph Keyes, "The Hidden History of Coined Words" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Successful word-coinages--those that stay in currency for a good long time--tend to conceal their beginnings. We take them at face value and rarely when and where they were first minted. Engaging, illuminating, and authoritative, Ralph Keyes's The Hidden History of Coined Words (Oxford University Press, 2021) explores the etymological underworld of terms and expressions and uncovers plenty of hidden gems.
    He also finds some fascinating patterns, such as that successful neologisms are as likely to be created by chance as by design. A remarkable number of new words were coined whimsically, originally intended to troll or taunt. Knickers, for example, resulted from a hoax; big bang from an insult. Casual wisecracking produced software, crowdsource, and blog. More than a few resulted from happy accidents, such as typos, mistranslations, and mishearing (bigly and buttonhole), or from being taken entirely out of context (robotics). Neologizers (a Thomas Jefferson coinage) include not just scholars and writers but cartoonists, columnists, children's book authors. Wimp originated with a book series, as did goop, and nerd from a book by Dr. Seuss. Coinages are often contested, controversy swirling around such terms as gonzo, mojo, and booty call. Keyes considers all contenders, while also leading us through the fray between new word partisans, and those who resist them strenuously. He concludes with advice about how to make your own successful coinage.
    The Hidden History of Coined Words will appeal not just to word mavens but history buffs, trivia contesters, and anyone who loves the immersive power of language.
    Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.
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    • 55 min
    Joshua Gunn, "Political Perversion: Rhetorical Aberration in the Time of Trumpeteering" (U of Chicago Press, 2020)

    Joshua Gunn, "Political Perversion: Rhetorical Aberration in the Time of Trumpeteering" (U of Chicago Press, 2020)

    When Trump became president, much of the country was repelled by what they saw as the vulgar spectacle of his ascent, a perversion of the highest office in the land. In his bold, innovative book, Political Perversion: Rhetorical Aberration in the Time of Trumpeteering (University of Chicago Press, 2020), rhetorician Joshua Gunn argues that this “mean-spirited turn” in American politics (of which Trump is the paragon) is best understood as a structural perversion in our common culture, on a continuum with infantile and “gotcha” forms of entertainment meant to engender provocation and sadistic enjoyment. 
    On this episode of the New Books Network, Dr. Lee Pierce (s/t) interviews Dr. Joshua Gunn (h) about lots of things other than Trump, from horror shows to sexting to Pee-Wee Herman, structural perversion, and, yes, some Trump.
    We are recording this episode as the second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump begins and the Trump fatigue is real. But this is not exactly a book about Trump. As Gunn puts it, “labeling Trump and his ilk as ‘fascist’ displaces our collective responsibility for their ascent to national power.” In Political Perversion, Gunn argues that “Trump’s rhetoric and person are better understood as replicating a style and genre of political discourse” that has a long history, but Gunn has eloquently re-imagined as what he calls “structural perversion.”
    Gunn argues that perverse rhetorics dominate not only the political sphere but also our daily interactions with others, in person and online. From sexting to campaign rhetoric, Gunn advances a new way to interpret our contemporary political context that explains why so many of us have difficulty deciphering the appeal of aberrant public figures. In this book, Trump is only the tip of a sinister, rapidly growing iceberg, one to which we ourselves unwittingly contribute on a daily basis.
    We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed chatting about this fascinating book. Connect with your host, Lee Pierce, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for interview previews, the best book selfies, and new episode alerts.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Ramsey McGlazer, "Old Schools: Modernism, Education, and the Critique of Progress" (Fordham UP, 2020)

    Ramsey McGlazer, "Old Schools: Modernism, Education, and the Critique of Progress" (Fordham UP, 2020)

    Ramsey McGlazer's Old Schools: Modernism, Education, and the Critique of Progress (Fordham University Press, 2020), traces the ways in which a group of modernist cultural practitioners (thinkers, politicians, artists, poets, novelists, and filmmakers) across varied linguistic and cultural contexts ((Italian, English, Irish, and Brazilian) resisted certain notions of education perceived as “progressive”. At the heart of this remarkable study, pulses a nexus of issues that are of interest to anyone teaching anything anywhere: What is education? How does it differ from “instruction”? What is education for? (if anything) What does it mean to ask the question “what is education for”? Who is education for? What are the stakes of that question? 
    Education reforms from the end of the Victorian Era until the mid-20th century sought to surpass the “sterile and narrow” forms of education that insisted on rote learning (memorization, declamation, imitation, and so forth) that did not help students of any age or grade “transform.” Resisting the ideology of “progressive” education, the figures in McGlazer’s fascinating study propose instead a “counter tradition” that sought to offer resistant strategies in “old school” pedagogies focusing on rote means, reproducing (though McGlazer will “queer” that term) ordained content. The practitioners McGlazer focuses on include figures like Walter Pater, author of the influential Studies in the History of the Renaissance, first published in 1873 and whose interest in mechanistic pedagogies anchors the first chapter. Giovanni Pascoli and his focus on grammar follows, then a chapter on “direct instruction” in James Joyce’s Ulysses. McGlazer concludes by focusing on films centering on instruction, like the pedagogy of pain in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) and avant-garde Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha’s film Claro (1975). McGlazer’s focus on this nucleus of texts and practitioners from the end of the 19th Century to about the middle of the 20th gives rise to questions about tradition, resistance, and the ideology of education that are evergreen and of interest to educators in a wide array of places and spaces and Old Schools will be of interest to anyone who has taught and anyone who has learned.
    Ellen Nerenberg is a founding editor of g/s/i-gender/sexuality/Italy and reviews editor of the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies. Recent scholarly essays focus on serial television in Italy, the UK, and North America; masculinities in Italian cinema and media studies; and student filmmakers. Her current book project is La nazione Winx: coltivare la futura consumista/Winx Nation: Grooming the Future Female Consumer, a collaboration with Nicoletta Marini-Maio (forthcoming, Rubbettino Editore, 2020). She is President of the American Association for Italian Studies.
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    • 1 hr 16 min
    Christopher Joby, "The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900): A Cultural and Sociolinguistic Study of Dutch as a Contact Language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan" (Brill, 2020)

    Christopher Joby, "The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900): A Cultural and Sociolinguistic Study of Dutch as a Contact Language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan" (Brill, 2020)

    In The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900): A Cultural and Sociolinguistic Study of Dutch as a Contact Language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan (Brill, 2020), Christopher Joby offers the first book-length account of the knowledge and use of the Dutch language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. For most of this period, the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to trade with Japan. Using the analytical tool of language process, this book explores the nature and consequences of contact between Dutch and Japanese and other language varieties. The processes analyzed include language learning, contact and competition, code-switching, translation, lexical, syntactic, and graphic interference, and language shift. The picture that emerges is that the multifarious uses of Dutch, especially the translation of Dutch books, would have a profound effect on the language, society, culture, and intellectual life of Japan.
    You can get The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900) at a discount at the Brill website by entering the code 72150 on check out. (Promo Code effective until May/31/2021)
    Jingyi Li is a Ph.D. Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.
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    • 51 min
    Joan Turner, "On Writtenness: The Cultural Politics of Academic Writing" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

    Joan Turner, "On Writtenness: The Cultural Politics of Academic Writing" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

    Listen to this interview of Joan Turner, author of On Writtenness: The Cultural Politics of Academic Writing (Bloomsbury Academic 2018). We talk about writers, writing, writers writing, unwritten subtexts, and written text.
    Interviewer: "What do you see as the step which writing practitioners can take in the direction of their discipline-based colleagues, and what's the step that researchers can take toward writing practice?"
    Joan Turner: "Well, obviously, it has to be something that has to be ongoing, and in many respects, it comes down to individuals. There are a lot of well-meaning researchers who value collaboration with writing practitioners, as there are many who don't. And I think is it probably incumbent upon the writing practitioners to kind of put themselves forward more, to kind of slough off the sense of inferiority that might surround them because of how institutions position writing development, and they just have to attempt to begin the conversation. I think that often, when they do, on an individual level, it works. Although often, another problem that occurs with that, is, if you're actually making contact with a particular department where you've got a lot of students, then you might make contact with a particular individual, who then leaves that institution or goes on to a different role in the institution, and is no longer collaborating with the writing center, and then you have to begin again with another one. So, it can be an uphill struggle, but I do have some optimism that things will get better."
    Daniel Shea, heads Scholarly Communications, a Special Series on the New Books Network. Daniel is Director of the Heidelberg Writing Program, a division of the Language Center at Heidelberg University, Germany. Just write Daniel.Shea@zsl.uni-heidelberg.de
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    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

Nirgal_ii ,

Variable quality; can be very good

Perhaps that speaks to the variety of books covered.

I suggest having an annotated transcript to allow a deeper dive, similar to SmartyPants or ScienceFriday.

August Consumer ,

Less informative than an infomercial

Talk radio on the net. The podcaster believes we are a captive audience like their students.

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