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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Ellen Cushman

Name: Ellen Cushman, University of California-Berkeley

Presentation Title: "An Everyday Fight for US to Get Simple Respect: Institutional Language in an Inner City"

Date: April 16, 1998

Abstract

Through a discussion of oral and literate interactions between social service gatekeepers and adult African-American women, Dr. Cushman will explore the language strategies community members use in the face of social servants' oppressive assumptions. Drawn from her three-and-a-half years of activist ethnographic fieldwork in an upstate New York inner city, these exchanges reveal area residents' linguistic aptitudes, critical awareness, and everyday forms of resistance. These findings seriously challenge the validity of the notion of false consciousness as well as call into question long standing views on the nature of systematic oppression.

Further Reading

Ellen Cushman has published on this topic in the journal of College Composition and Communication: "The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change." 7-28 (47.1) 1999.