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Elaine Chun

Elaine Wonhee Chun is Associate Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of South Carolina. Her research examines how language practices reflect and shape ideologies of language, race, and racism in the United States and transnational contexts. Drawing on methods of international analysis and ethnography, she has investigated language parody and play among multiethnic youth, representations of Asian speakers in popular media, and linguistic hybridity in transnational youth spaces. Her work has appeared in Language in Society, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Pragmatics, Language & CommunicationDiscourse & Society, and in the forthcoming Language, Race, and Reflexivity: A View from Linguistic Anthropology. Oxford Handbook of Language and Race. She has won several teaching awards, fellowships, and grants including a recent Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lydia Manatou

Lydia Manatou holds a Ph.D. in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures from the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is currently Lecturer of Spanish at Fordham University. Her dissertation, “Lengua, identidad y poder: Ideologías lingüísticas en la prensa Hispanófona de los Estados Unidos (1980-2007)”, examines how the rise of neoliberalizing logics in the U.S. and beyond, set out the frameworks of newspaper discourse about language ideological debates regarding Spanish in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Her primary areas of research are sociolinguistics, critical applied linguistics, bilingualism, language and identity, language ideologies, glotopolitics, Spanish as a heritage language in the USA.

Yossi Zabari

Yossi Zabari is one of the most popular Spoken Word artists in Israel. IN this rt form he shares his experience as a Yemenite Jew and a member of the queer community. Zabari studied acting at the Beit Zvi – School of the Performing Arts in Israel. He also studied two years at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. Between 2015 and 2015, Zabari served as a member of the faculty at Beitz Zvi, teaching acting, the Spoken Word, and directing students’ plays. Currently, he teaches at The Goodman School of the Negev. As an actor, since 2012, Zabari has performed in numerous plays in the leading theaters in Israel including the Israeli Opera, the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv, and the Beit Lessin Theater. Zabari has also acted in a few popular TV sitcoms in Israel and performed his own one-man shows. Between 1996 and 1999, he consecutively won the Creative Excellent Grants program (AKA “Sharett Grants”). Currently, Zabari collaborates with the Center for Liberal Democracy and takes an active role in the protest movement against the current government in Israel.

About the MLL Vocab Diversity Initiative

 In response to the death of George Floyd and a call for action around the world the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures with generous support from Rafael Zapata, Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of The Chief Diversity Officer, proposed a collaborative overhaul of our language syllabi over the summer and a series of roundtables this fall to address the systemic racism, classism, and sexism that arise from vocabulary and its representation.

How does language, and the way we and our textbooks present and represent language/vocabulary in the classroom, create, reinforce, and normalize certain forms of bias, stereotype, and prejudice? For example, what is the vocabulary that we provide to students to discuss “the family” or “professions”? Why are only certain entities represented, how are they presented, what is the message implicitly being conveyed to students about the societies and cultures they are learning about? How have these groupings of words and their representations changed at different historical moments and in different regions where these languages are studied?

  • This fall semester, courses 1001-1502 in all languages will begin to address these problematic issues of language vocabulary teaching with the Vocab Diversity Initiative.
  • This initiative, which is funded by the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, Rafael Zapata, integrates classroom vocabulary activities, readings, talks, and workshops throughout the semester that examine questions of diversity and inclusion regarding race, gender, class, sexuality, and disability (among other topics).
  • With this initiative, we aim to build a collective lexicon and knowledge base that enable our students, at all levels and for all languages, to discuss and reflect on the diverse world our languages are used in as well as the histories of some of these words.
  • The classroom component is built directly into the common syllabi for 1001-1502 courses.
  • The specific vocabulary topics and classroom implementation vary somewhat across languages, instructors should consult their language coordinators for more in-depth details on the classroom components of this initiative for their course.
  • Workshops and talks are intended for students in all languages and levels. Further information will be shared throughout the semester.

December 2: Do You Have an Accent?

(Elaine Chun, Evangelia Manatou, Yossi Zabari)

Each roundtable starts at 2:30pm (EST) and lasts one hour. All students from classes 1001 through 1502 are asked to attend. The events are open to the public through registration.

The events will be recorded and posted to our YouTube Channel: