TABLE Colloquium Series: Bax

November 15, 2021

TABLE: Toward a Better Linguistics Environment, a colloquium series taking place this fall, concludes on Monday, November 22, with a presentation by Anna Bax (CSU Long Beach), held via Zoom and in person in Dwinelle 370 (hybrid) from 3-4:30pm. Those who would like to attend, including Berkeley linguists, need to register for the event regardless of mode of attendance (Zoom registration; in-person registration). The presentation is entitled "Teaching linguistics for social transformation," and the abstract is as follows:

In this presentation, I show how linguistics pedagogy can function as a “liberatory practice” (bell hooks) and pathway toward social transformation, especially for students who are themselves linguistically minoritized. I begin by outlining some lessons learned from my initial pedagogical training in sociolinguistic justice during my 5 years spent teaching in UC Santa Barbara’s SKILLS (School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society) program, including the limits of an individualistic "error-correction"/"mythbusting" approach to linguistics education. We will then discuss an undergraduate Language and Social Justice course that I taught for the first time in Fall 2020, at a moment when students (and I) were reeling from multiple overlapping social crises. I recount the decision-making process behind my choice to redesign the course around the linguistic aspects of these ongoing crises: language access and healthcare for d/Deaf communities and users of minoritized spoken languages during COVID; the linguistic components of police brutality against Black and Indigenous communities, d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, and non-English speakers; and the roles of media discourse and metaphor theory in the rise of far-right populism, among others. By bringing linguistics scholarship into conversation with topics not typically discussed in a linguistics classroom, such as transformative justice and abolitionism, mutual aid, and direct action, the course is structured to guide students away from despair towards activism and social change. I conclude by laying out several necessary considerations for those interested in incorporating a social justice approach in their own linguistics pedagogy, including ways to weave these issues throughout the linguistics curriculum.