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Join us for our first lecture of this year’s series

SOCIAL JUSTICE (for Jeantel, Trayvon et al.):


Dr. John R. Rickford

The lecture flows directly from Dr. Rickford’s long-standing focus on sociolinguistics, especially his exploration of the relation between language, ethnicity, class and social structure. Demonstrating how language is inextricably woven into all domains of social life, including structures of justice and policing, he makes clear that we ignore the critical role of language in the everyday at our own peril. He has taken a strong professional interest in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman (which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement), and the treatment of Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin until moments before he died. Her African American Vernacular English during the shooter’s trial was pilloried on social and news media and, given dialect prejudice, contributed to the jury’s disregard of her testimony.


Dr. John R. Rickford (portrait)

Dr. John R. Rickford received his BA with highest honours in Sociolinguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University. He is also professor by courtesy in Education, and Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. His many honours include his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017 and his presidency of the Linguistic Society of America (2015). His 2000 book Spoken Soul won an American Book Award. His most recent book publication, co-edited with Samy Alim and Arnetha Ball, is titled Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas about Race (2016).

Entry to the event is free, but space is limited. Email us now to save your spot!

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