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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

A Job at Oxford

Are there any Spanish linguists here who want to work at Oxford? Here is your chance.

The demand for the (absolutely ridiculous) field of Spanish Linguistics is insane. There is a general push these days to promote toothless, ideology-free fields at the expense of the fields of knowledge that might express a political message.

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15 thoughts on “A Job at Oxford

  1. You might not agree with the ideologies or political messages in Spanish Linguistics or Linguistics generally, but they are certainly there.

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  2. TomW on said:

    I have to agree with Emmagale. There is some very political work in Linguistics. Not everything in Linguistics is political, but neither is everything in literary studies.

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    • Ok, let’s say that if you try really hard you can find something political in linguistics (although I can’t begin to think of any examples) and something apolitical in literary criticism. šŸ˜„

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      • TomW on said:

        This is a good example of some very political work in linguistics.

        I think most work in Sociolinguistics and the Sociology of Language is clearly more political than most scholarship on medieval literature. Not that medieval work can’t be political, but lots of it just isn’t.

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        • Actually, medieval literature is the most ideological of fields. The issue of whether the arrival of Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula was the worst thing ever or a positive development is very hotly debated right now for obvious reasons. I’ve already been asked by 2 organizations here in Illinois to give talks on medieval Spain because of this. These are non-academic organizations.

          As for linguistics, outside of the hoary debate on all the reasons to exclude black children from normalized speech patterns, there’s nothing political. And even this particular issue is really economic.

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          • TomW on said:

            The study of medieval Spain is not the whole of medieval studies, things aren’t so heated everywhere. And since when are economic issues not political?

            But it doesn’t really matter, you’ve made up your mind and I’m not going to change it. When it comes to Linguistics you remind me of someone I knew in grad school who had taken a single course in Linguistics (one that sounded like it was very poorly taught) and decided that that one course was representative of how everything was done in the field. I get the impression that you’ve encountered some of the fluffier work in Applied Linguistics/Second Language Acquisition (and yes, there is some fluffy work out there) and written off the entire field of study based on that.

            I really enjoy your blog and your insights on many topics, but I don’t think your opinions in this area are well informed.

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            • My father is a linguist. ā˜ŗ His doctoral dissertation was on the subject of the uses of the indefinite article in the English language. I first started hearing lectures on linguistics at the age of 3. Cumulatively, I spent more years studying linguistics than I have in my own field. And I started publishing my own work in the field back in the 1990s, actually. šŸ¤— That was, of course, long before I discovered the second language acquisition field.

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              • “My father is a linguist”

                Okay, that explainst it. Everyone has the right (if not duty) to diss their parents’ fields of expertise.

                Probably Klara will some day sniff in derision at the idea of studying literature (and you’ll be healthy enough to congratulate her).

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              • I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with my father. But it doesn’t mean that I should refuse to notice the patently obvious, which is that it’s a very apolitical field. Which is something I’m sure he’ll agree with.

                Hey, ophthalmology as a branch of knowledge is entirely apolitical. Let’s see crowds of irate ophthalmologists descend on the blog now. šŸ™‚

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            • Medieval studies is if anything even more political in other fields. Its origins lie in political movements of the 19th century, when various European nations were seeking/developing their myths of origin. Linguistics, or philology as it was then known, was also a political instrument, focused on the purity of languages and on tracing them back to some powerful imaginary past: the Romans! Ancient Germanic tribes! Or whatever your flavor was. And great German scholars of the early/mid 20th century, like Curtius and Auerbach, who took all European literature as their subject, were reviled because they found value in French and other “decadent” literatures and so were disloyal to the Fatherland. Today’s political battles among medievalists pale in comparison.

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              • Absolutely. I’m trying to find a book on medieval Spain that’s a bit less politicized but it’s impossible. On Amazon lay readers are debating the intricacies of medieval historiography and connecting them to the current events. I love medieval studies precisely because they are so political and so incredibly relevant.

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  3. “might express a political message”

    Universities are supposed to be about knowledge, not politics!

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    • For me, accumulation of knowledge only makes sense if it can serve to draw some conclusions on “the modes of living together”, which is what politics is. Spanish literature is but a pretext for me. If it weren’t, I would probably be very happy – and well-compensated – studying the regional differences in the pronunciation if the consonant “f” on the Iberian Peninsula in 1240.

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  4. Anonymous on said:

    Ok, so. I am an assistant prof. in linguistics. I don’t see any reason why linguistics, especially of the kind that’s associated with any particular language group, should be squeezing out literature positions, and of course if that’s happening, people have the right to be annoyed about it! I can also tell you that I am not sure it is really experiencing any sort of “boom”: I’m in a subfield of linguistics where we are lucky to have exactly 2 tenure-line jobs in any given year (for example, this year). Spanish linguistics, I would say, is at about the same place job-wise. I keep track of these things (though I do not keep track of lit. jobs).

    Also, linguistics can be pretty political, when it touches on the following issues:

    how language is/should be learned
    language revitalization, especially how to help native peoples revive their dying languages — that’s an important topic and also a minefield politically
    any kind of language legislation or discrimination.

    Whether it is political or not, though, it’s an area of study which, like any other, yields interesting knowledge about human cognition. Is biochemistry political? Does that mean it’s not worth studying? I don’t really understand the objection.

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    • Pedagogy and linguistics are two different things. But hey, if there is a field I dislike more than linguistics, it’s the field of education. šŸ˜„šŸ˜„šŸ˜„ The only one that’s worse than these two is sociology. Worse than that, I can’t even imagine.

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