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Uncommon Journeys - John McWhorter '81
Fri, March 31, 2017, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT
Join us for a freewheeling conversation between renowned linguist John McWhorter and professor Brendan Mathews about John’s life, career and longstanding association with Simon’s Rock. A prolific writer, his work appears in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, and The New Yorker, and he is has been a guest on Dateline NBC, Politically Incorrect, Talk of the Nation, Today, and Fresh Air. His interests space a wide range of topics on, like, why we’re so addicted to saying the word “like,” and how to listen to Donald Trump for the next four years.
Followed by a light reception.
ABOUT JOHN McWHORTER
John McWhorter is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, teaching linguistics, Western Civilization and music history (in the Core Curriculum program) and American Studies. He is a regular columnist for Time and CNN, writes for the Wall Street Journal “Taste” page, and writes a regular column on language for the Atlantic. He has also been Contributing Editor for The New Republic, The Root.com and City Journal and a regular columnist at The New York Sun, The New York Daily News and The Daily Beast.
He earned his PhD in linguistics from Stanford University in 1993 and became Associate Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley after teaching at Cornell University. He was Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute from 2002 until 2010. His academic specialty is language change and language contact. He is the author of The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music in America and Why We Should, Like, Care and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: Untold Stories in the History of English, What Language Is, What It Isn’t, and What It Could Be, The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language and most recently Words on the Move and Talking Back, Talking Black. He has also written a book on dialects and Black English, The Word on the Street. His academic linguistics books include The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages, Language Interrupted: Signs of Non-Native Acquisition in Standard Language Grammars, and two article anthologies, Defining Creole and Linguistic Simplicity and Complexity: Why Do Languages Undress? His A Grammar of Saramaccan Creole, a product of years of elicitations with native speakers of the language and written with Jeff Good, was published in 2012.
The Teaching Company released his 36-lecture audiovisual course The Story of Human Language in 2004, The Science of Language in 2008, Myths, Lies and Half-Truths of Language Usage in 2012 and Language From A to Z in 2014. He spoke at the TED conference in 2013 and 2016, and hosts the Lexicon Valley language podcast at Slate.
Beyond his work in linguistics, he is the author of Losing the Race, an anthology of race writings Authentically Black, Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America, and All About the Beat: Why Hip Hop Can’t Save Black America. He has written on race and cultural issues for The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Time, The New Republic, The Washington Post, Forbes, Ebony, Vibe, The New York Daily News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, The Los Angeles Times, The American Enterprise, Books & Culture, and City Journal. He has appeared on Meet the Press, The Colbert Report, Dateline NBC, Politically Incorrect, Talk of the Nation, Today, Good Morning, America, The Jim Lehrer Newshour, C-SPAN BookNotes In Depth, The Charlie Rose Show, the Bill Moyers Journal, Parker/Spitzer and Fresh Air, and has done occasional commentaries for All Things Considered and has appeared often on Chris Hayes’ talk show on MSNBC. He has appeared regularly on Bloggingheads.TV since 2006.
Since January 2011, he has produced and played piano for a group cabaret show, New Faces, at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City.