Unit 1 contemporary language


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Unit 1 contemporary language

  1. 1. Analy Fro Unit 1: Contemporary Language m Enslavement to Freedom, a Productive Life-long Learner Unit 1: Contemporary Language Contemporary Language African‐American pop culture has developed new norms in the expression of contemporary language. Using the progression of educaOon in African‐American society from slavery through the twenty‐first century, discuss how language has evolved or devolved. In what sense, if any, has the legacy of racism influenced the ability of this generaOon of students to speak and write English? Using at least ten journal arOcles/book sources, review the literature on African‐American language acquisiOon and the challenges idenOfied in those sources. CriOque the challenges from at least two perspecOves. Tape your cri‐ Oque of the works, ciOng major premises and evidence used to support major premises. Ask students in your learning community to assess your criOque. Redrah the criOque, making sure that your grammar, syntax and ideas meet college‐level expectaOons. (Criteria for assessing your essay are contained in Appendix 2.) Unit Descrip?on: EducaOon, language, and popular culture share an inOmate relaOonship that informs all socieOes. This class looks at the interacOon of these three social pillars in the context of African‐American history and culture from the Ome of the great West African civilizaOons to the present. It addresses how people of African descent fought to preserve their heritage (despite the experience of slavery) and how this preserva Oon effort accommodated a new culture as they became Americans. Unit Narra?ve: This unit will engage in a mulO‐disciplinary examina Oon of what consOtutes knowledge, especially in terms of language acquisiOon and popular culture in the African‐American community. Through primary documents, students tackle the myth that African Americans, due to the harshness of slavery, did not have the ability
  2. 2. to engage the English language at a high level. Instead, black intellectuals have influenced all of American history in important ways—a topic further explored through other in‐class assignments. Yet, some care should be taken to indicate that the African‐American elite did not hold a monopoly over language, educaOon, and knowledge. Instead, popular culture shows that people could use language on their own terms and could mold it to suit their circumstances. The final class exercises lead to an exploraOon of how people have uOlized language to envision and empower themselves and how the acquisiOon of a “mother tongue” informs personal 6 Class Topics From Africa to America From Emancipation to the Present Timeline of Language Development Contemporary Influences on African- American language From Africa to America Readings: Olaudah Equiano, The Interes0ng Narra0ve of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Chapter 2 Frederick Douglass, What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? In‐class Wri5ng: Write in your reflecOon journal on the “Overarching QuesOon.” Aher class, amend your responses and post it to the discussion forum. In‐class Ac5vity: Break into three groups, each represenOng one of the three following people: Benjamin Banneker, Phyllis Wheatley, and Thomas Jefferson, using the brief bio and wriOng sample of each person, debate the “Overarching QuesOon” from each perspecOve. Each group will have approximately 10 minutes to make its case. Objec5ve: This secOon engages students in a discussion about educaOon and language, specifically in the context of African‐American history from the Ome of the great West African civilizaOons through the experience of enslavement, the Middle Passage, and life in the Americas. It should not just be a debate about how language evolves or devolves but whether it is even perOnent to ask if language evolves or devolves. Students should quesOon what consOtutes knowledge. They should also address how Africans fought to preserve their heritage through the experience of slavery and accommodated a
  3. 3. new culture as they became Americans. The readings highlight these issues. The Equiano piece in par‐ Ocular looks at the experience of Africans from the displacement of capOvity and the terror of the Middle Passage to the inhumanity of enslavement. SOll, Equiano clearly expanded his capacity for language. Similarly, Frederick Douglass was born into slavery and became one of the most important American intellectuals of the 19th Century. Douglass emphasizes the contradicOon embedded in an American society that celebrated its independence but enslaved millions of people. Banneker, Wheatley, and Jefferson debated this very quesOon in the 18th Century. An ardent aboliOonist, Wheatley represented the Enlightenment philosophy which believes that environment plays a major role in a person’s life. Leaders of the American RevoluOon debated whether black people were inherently inferior to white people or whether supposed black inferiority was due to enslavement. Some slaveholders like Thomas Jefferson, who held racist assumpOons, dismissed Wheatley altogether even as he carried on a long‐term affair with one of his slaves, but others considered Wheatley an example of what people of African descent could achieve if freed from oppression. Like Wheatley, Banneker championed human equality and pointed to the ideals of the American RevoluOon. In 1791, he sent Jefferson, who was then the U.S. Secretary of State, a copy of his almanac to refute his claim of black inferiority. NoOng Jefferson’s words in the DeclaraOon of Independence, Banneker took the man to task over slavery. Referring to the DeclaraOon, Banneker idenOty. In the end, students should come away with an appreciaOon for the complex relaOonship between educaOon, language, knowledge, popular culture, and power. 7 wrote, “You were then impressed with proper ideas of the great valuaOon of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were enOtled by nature; but, Sir, how piOable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of Mankind, and of his equal and imparOal distribuOon of these rights and privileges…that you should at the same Ome counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning capOvity and cruel oppression.” He did not mince words, and Jefferson responded. Both Banneker’s leIer and Jefferson’s response are available online for students From Emancipa?on to the Present Readings: Booker T. Washington, Speech before the Atlanta CoFon States and Interna0onal Exposi0on
  4. 4. W.E.B. DuBois, Of Booker T. Washington and Others W.E.B. DuBois, The Talented Tenth Ida B. Wells‐BarneI, Southern Horrors: Lynching in All Its Phases In‐class Wri5ng: Begin class with a 15‐minute reflecOon journal on the “Overarching QuesOon.” Aher class, students should amend their responses and post them to WebCT in a discussion forum. In‐class Ac5vity: Break into four groups, each represenOng one of the following arOsts from the Harlem Renaissance: Claude McKay, Countée Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston. Provide each group with a brief bio and wriOng sample of each person, and debate the “Overarching QuesOon” from each perspecOve. Each group will have approximately 10 minutes to make its case. Objec5ve: This class looks at the two most powerful black intellectuals at the turn of the 20th Century, Washington and DuBois, who had disOnct views on the role of educaOon for African Americans but both displayed a mastery of language. Wells‐BarneI breaks up the myth of the DuBois/Washington binary as the only two voices of import. She disagreed with both men, thinking that Washington was too accomodaOonist and DuBois eliOst. Her efforts to invesOgate lynchings and dispel the myths that surrounded white vigilanOsm gave her a voice that capitalized on both her educaOon and capacity for language. Their debate spilled into the Harlem Renaissance, for which DuBois was one of the earliest and most important patrons. The “In‐Class AcOvity” gives students the opportunity to further engage the “Overarching QuesOon” from the perspecOve of these arOsts. They should also consider the perOnence of the quesOon in light of 21st Century African‐American arOsts. 8 Check it out - Look on-line (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2 h71t.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h 72t.html). Read Phyllis Wheatley’s poetry online http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/par t2/2h20.html
  5. 5. Part I ‐ Personal Iden?ty: Implicit AssociaOon Test assess your racial idenOty. The professor will lead the class in taking the Implicit AssociaOon Test, a subconscious test designed to find out how you have been socialized. Aher taking this test, discuss the agents of socializaOon (e.g., schools, peers, church, parents/family…). How does one acquire negaOve or posiOve astudes toward one group over another? Discuss the various forms of racism, ranging from: Old‐Fashioned Racism (the noOon that blacks are biologically inferior to whites); The New Racism (subtle, aversive…): the noOon that blacks do not subscribe to the protestant work ethics of hard work and individualism; and Internalized Racism‐the internalizaOon of negaOve racial astudes/stereotypes projected on blacks by the dominant culture. 9 Question: Has the legacy of racism influenced the ability of this generation of students to speak and write English? Go to the website and watch the videos Birth of a Nation and contemporary clips from the Boondocks. Compare and contrast the stereotypes depicted in each video, then BLOG IT OUT on the class website. Part II ‐ Personal Iden?ty: Exercise 1 What language do you speak at home with family and friends? i) French ii) English
  6. 6. iii) Ebonics, Black English iv) Creole v) Spanish vi) Italian vii) Other Basic Truisms: Language is a cultural tool of learning and communicaOon. Language is the most important element of culture, if you take away language, the culture dies. Your first language, noted here as L1, is your Mother Tongue. It is so called because it is the language of communica Oon between a baby and it’s mother. The mother’s language is the first means of communicaOon between mother and child. In a diverse marriage situaOon where both parents come from different linguisOc backgrounds, the tendency is for the children to speak their mother’s language or mother tongue. Your second language, L2, is the formal language you learn at school as the official language of educaOon, formal communicaOon in learning, commerce and industry. The formal language in America is English (although, not the official language). Exercise 2: Review the lyrics to your favorite song and translate it from L1 to L2 or from L2 to L1, depending on the lyrics. Language is power. Language is predicated on rulership. CiOzens speak the ruler’s language in formal communica Oon as language follows the flag. Your language use defines you. It exposes your status in society, tells your degree of literacy, your knowledge of words and your competence in correct usage. Correctness and competence in English are your gateway to acquiring knowledge in your various disciplines. Lectures are delivered in formal English and you need language competence to write class essays and examina Oons and to communicate effecOvely in oral presentaOons and discussions, naOonally and globally. 10 Exercise 3 : Study the diagram below; analyze and discuss your impression. Discussion: How do we develop competence in Formal WriOng? What problems do we encounter in “codeswitching” from L1 to L2, or from conversa‐ Oonal or colloquial English to formal English? Translate the following passages from L1 to L2
  7. 7. Zora Neale Hurston – Every Tongue Got to Confess, p. 9 (Exercise in class – L1) God done preIy good when He made man, but He could have made us a lot more convenient. For instance: we only got eyes in de front uh our heads – e need some in de back, too, so nuthin’ can’t slip upon us. Nuther thing: it would be handy, too, ef we had one right on de end uv our dog finger (first finger). Den we could jest point dat eye any which way. Nuther thing: our mouths oughter be on top uv our heads “stead uh right in front. Then, when I’m late tuh work I kin just throw my breakfast in my hat, an’ put my hat on my head, an’ eat my breakfast as I go on tuh work. Now, ain’t dat reasonable, Miss? Besides, mouths ain’t so preIy nohow ‐ George Brown. Richard Wright ‐ Black Boy, pp. 23 ‐24 ( Appendix – as an example of formal wriOng in English by an African American which brings up the noOon of racial idenOty) I soon made myself a nuisance by asking far too many quesOons of everybody. Every happening in the neighborhood, no maIer how trivial, became my business. It was in this manner that I first stumbled upon the relaOons between whites and blacks, and what I learned frightened me. Though I had long known that there were people called “white” people, it had never meant anything to me emoOonally. I 11 ! had seen white men and women upon the streets a thousand Omes, but they had never looked parOcularly “white”. To me they were merely people like other people, yet somehow strangely different because I had never come in close touch with any of them. For the most I never thought of them; they simply existed somewhere in the background of the city as a whole. It might have been that my tardiness in learning to sense white people as “white” people came from the fact that many of my relaOves were “white” – looking people. My grandmother, who was white as any “white” person, had never looked “white” to me. And when word circulated among the black people of the neighborhood that a “black” boy had been severely beaten by a “white” man, I felt that the “white” man had had a right to beat the “black” boy, for I naively assumed that the “white” man must have been the “black” boy’s father. And did not all fathers, like my father, have the right to beat their children? A paternal right was the only right, to my understanding, that a man had to beat a child. But when my mother told me that the “white” man was not the father of the “black” boy, was no kin to him at all, I was puzzled.
  8. 8. “Then why did the ‘white’ man whip the ‘black’ boy?’ I asked my mother. “The ‘white’ man did not whip the ‘black’ boy,” my mother told me. “He beat the ‘black’ boy.” “But why?” “You’re too young to understand.” “I’m not going to let anybody beat me,” I said stoutly. “Then stop running wild in the streets,” my mother said Exercise 4: WORDS Let us trace the history of labels used to describe blacks. For each we shall state what it means to us. Negro Nigger Nigga Colored Bi‐racial Black African‐American African American From Nigger to African American, you are making a statement and re‐defining yourself in a posiOve and affirma Ove way. How do you define yourself and why? Define yourself in the context of American naOonhood.