University of Mississippi



The Christopher Longest Lecture Series was established at the University of Mississippi in 1960 by Ann Waller Reins Longest to enrich the university and to to honor her husband, Christopher Longest, for his distinguished service from 1908 to 1951 in the departments of Classics and Modern Languages. The annual lecture, sheltered in the departments of Modern Languages and English, features visiting scholars in these fields.

Christopher Longest, a native of Pontotoc County, graduated from the university in 1900. He first taught English at Johns Hopkins University, where he completed his graduate degree in 1908. He earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1915 and a doctor of law degree from Mississippi College in 1950.

Longest held several Spanish and Latin teaching positions from 1908 until he became the chairman of the Department of Modern Languages in 1947, serving until 1951. He also served as acting chancellor in 1930, registrar in 1929 and 1930 and also director of the university’s summer session from 1920 to 1934. He managed the alumni fund from 1912 to 1951. After retiring from teaching, Longest became president of First National Bank of Oxford.


THE 55th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE: “The Korean Wave, the Korean Language and Popular Culture” by Sung-Ock Sohn, University of California-Los Angeles, Monday, October 19, 2015, 5:30 P.M., Bondurant Auditorium, Reception at 4:30 in the Paris-Yates Chapel, featuring a demonstration of Korean calligraphy

Dr. Sung-Ock S. Sohn is a Professor of Korean Language in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California-Los Angeles, where she has been teaching Korean language and linguistics since 1988. As coordinator of the Korean-language program at UCLA, she oversees one of the largest Korean programs in North America and supervises undergraduate as well as graduate students majoring in Korean linguistics.

Professor Sohn received her master’s degree in Korean Linguistics from Busan University in Korea in 1982 and her doctoral degree in Linguistics from the University of Hawaii in 1988. She was recognized with UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997. Her areas of research include Korean linguistics, general linguistics (grammaticalization, functional syntax, morphology, socio-linguistics, pragmatics and language acquisition), heritage language education (Korean in K-16) and teaching Korean as a foreign language.

Professor Sohn is the author or co-author of seven books, including Integrated Korean and Tense and Aspect in Korean. She has also published more than seventy articles on Korean language and linguistics. Her recent publications include “Grammar as an Emergent Response to Interactional Needs: A Study of Final kuntey ‘but’ in Korean Conversation (2015) in Journal of Pragmatics and “The Emergence of Utterance-Final Particles in Korean” (2015) in Sentence-Final Particles (de Gruyter).


“The Growing Impact of African Languages in the United States” by Antonia Schleicher, Indiana University, Monday, October 27, 2014, 5:30 P.M., Bondurant Auditorium, Antonia Schleicher

Antonia Folarin Schleicher is a Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. She is also the Executive Director of IU Joint Language Resource Centers and the Director of the United States National African Language Resource Center. In 2010, she received the UW-Madison Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the NCOLCTL Walton Award for a Lifetime Distinguished Career in support of less commonly taught languages.

Professor Schleicher has authored four textbooks and three multimedia CD-ROMs for the learning of Yoruba and has co-authored numerous textbooks for other African languages such as Swahili, Shona and Pulaar. She co-authored African Language Pedagogy: An Emerging Field. She has edited twelve other books and six journals and has authored nearly two dozen articles in peer reviewed journals.

Professor Schleicher has degrees from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and the University of Kansas in General Linguistics and much of her current work deals with pedagogical issues in Foreign and Second Language Acquisition. She teaches courses on the Theory and Practice of Teaching African Languages and the Structure and Analysis of African Languages. She also serves as the Executive Director of both the National Council of Less-Commonly Taught Languages and the African Language Teachers Association. She is an Executive Board Member of JNCL (Joint National Committee for Languages).

Professor Schleicher has been awarded the United States President’s Gold Level Volunteer Service Award for over 500-hours-a-year of devoted and unpaid service to the cause of promoting less-commonly taught languages and cultures in the U.S. Recently she was elected for a three-year term to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) board of directors. This year she was appointed to serve as the founding Executive Director of the new Center for Language Excellence at IU and she became the President of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association.


Tufts Professor to Give 53rd Christopher Longest Lecture at UM
November 4, 2013, 6:00 PM, Bondurant Auditorium

Susan Napier

Susan Napier

The director of Tufts University’s Japanese program will explore the work of Academy Award-winning director and animator Hayao Miyazaki at the University of Mississippi’s 53rd Christopher Longest Lecture, set for 6 p.m. Nov. 4, 2013 in Bondurant Hall Auditorium.

Susan Napier, a professor who also heads Tufts’ Japanese program, plans to discuss “The Last Utopian: Hayao Miyazaki and the Uses of Enchantment.” The lecture is sponsored by the UM Department of Modern Languages.

This is the first time that Japanese is the focus of a Longest Lecture, though the language has been taught at the university for about 20 years, said Donald L. Dyer, UM chair and professor of modern languages. The lecture series, which is named for a man who served UM for decades, has also brought much enrichment to the university for more than 50 years, he said.“It’s a real joy as a department chair to be involved in this,” Dyer said. “(The Longest family) has a rich history of both working at the university and contributing to the university for over half a century.”

Miyazaki is one of the world’s most beloved animators. The Oscar-winning film “Spirited Away” is one of his films that “mix stunning imagery, powerful heroines and complex heartfelt narratives to create memorable works of fantasy.” Miyazaki is more than just an entertainer; rather, his films deliver subtle messages about consumerism, the environment, generational and gender roles, and the “ultimate question of how to live in today’s world,” Napier said.

Napier’s lecture will argue that Miyazaki’s motion pictures are the last utopian films, making him the last politically and socially focused artist who “cares desperately about the past, present and future of humanity.”

“What Is Otherness? Who is My Other? What Simone de Beauvoir Can Teach Us about the Concept of the Other” by Toril Moi, James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies, and Professor of English and Theater Studies at Duke University

Professor Moi is also Director of Duke’s Center for Philosophy, Arts and Literature. She received her bachelor’s degree in French, Spanish and Comparative Literature (1976), master of arts in Comparative Literature (1980) and doctor of philosophy (1985) from the University of Bergen. Dr. Moi has three broad areas of interest: feminist theory and women’s writing; the intersection of literature, philosophy and aesthetics; and ordinary language philosophy in the tradition of Wittgenstein, Cavell and Austin. She also works on theater. In her work on literature and theater she is particularly interested in the emergence of modernism in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Professor Moi is the author of Sexual/Textual Politics; What is a Woman?, Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism, and, most recently, the second edition of Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman.

Scholar to Discuss Concept of Incarnation in Spanish Literature for Annual Longest Lecture   

A distinguished Spanish literature scholar and professor in the humanities at the University of Chicago discussed the “Spanish Golden Age” November 29 at the University of Mississippi, Frederick A. de Armas delivered the 51st annual Christopher Longest Lecture at 6 p.m. in Bondurant Auditorium. A reception preceded the lecture at 5 p.m., and both events were free and open to the public.

His talk, Art Made Flesh: Ekphrasis of Incarnation from Cervantes and Lope de Vega to Galdós and Vargas Llosa, focused on a curious metamorphosis used by Spanish writers from the 17th century to the present, looking at instances where descriptions of a work of art within a text lead to incarnation.

“In other words, we will discuss how brief glances at artworks in plays and novels serve as a point of departure for the images to come alive, to become human and interact with other characters within the text, like handsome Frankensteins made from a painting or a statue,” de Armas said. “The talk will consider the implication of such ‘transgressions,’ the effects on other characters and on the readers; and how the uses of this ‘living art’ change through the centuries in key Hispanic literary texts.”

Each year for the lecture, the Department of Modern Languages chooses the focus of the lecture by alternating among all the languages taught at UM, and this year, de Armas stood out when Spanish was chosen.

“He is a preeminent scholar in the field of Spanish literature and students and faculty who come will receive a rare professional treat,” said Donald Dyer, chair of modern languages. “He is very well respected in the field and is the author of many books. He is currently also the chair of the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Chicago, one of the finest academic institutions in the country.”

Most recently de Armas has published Writing for the Eyes in the Spanish Golden Age,(2004); Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes, (2005); Quixotic Frescoes: Cervantes and Italian Renaissance Art (2006) and Don Quixote among the Saracens: A Clash of Civilizations and Literary Genres (2011). He has co-edited Hacia la tragedia aurea: lecturas para un Nuevo milenio (2008) and Ovid in the Age of Cervantes (2010).

Fiftieth Anniversary Longest Lecture to Examine Arabic Language and Culture

The associate dean and former professor of Arabic at the U.S. Military Academy hoped to quash anti-Muslim stereotypes when he spoke November 11 at the University of Mississippi. Mahdi Alosh delivered the 50th annual Christopher Longest Lecture at 6:30 p.m. in Bondurant Auditorium. A reception preceded the lecture at 5:30 p.m., and both events were free and open to the public.

Alosh hoped his talk, “Learning Arabic: The Risk of Identifying with the Adversary,” helped people assess the real risk of changing one’s view of Arabs.

“The media has traditionally portrayed Arabs and Muslims as evil people,” said Alosh, author of numerous Arabic textbooks. “From Hollywood movies to the aftermath of 9/11, America has been given a very negative picture of Muslims. All Arabs have been painted with one wide brush.”

Alosh is a perfect speaker to help change those perceptions, said Allen Clark, instructional assistant professor of Arabic and director of UM’s Arabic program.

“As has been proven, time and again, painting an entire race with one brush stroke only leads to recycling and enhancing the idea of ‘the other,’” said Clark, a former student of Alosh’s. “It is through education that we are able to rectify this distorted perception of Arabs and raise awareness about their diversity, their culture and their history. Alosh, in fact, is a teacher of teachers, a man who has dedicated his entire life to education and pedagogy.”

Alosh serves as both an oral proficiency tester of Arabic, certified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and as a grant proposal evaluator for the U.S. departments of Education and Defense. He previously supervised overseas aspects of the U.S. Arabic Flagship Program and conducted teacher training workshops at the University of Damascus. He received his bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Damascus, his master’s degree in linguistics from Ohio University and his doctoral degree in foreign language education from Ohio State University.

THE 49TH Christopher Longest Lecture: John McWhorter

John McWhorter, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, columnist/blogger for The New Republic and former associate professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, discussed “The Power of Babel – And Why We Can’t Fight It in Our Language.”

Nationally renowned linguist, scholar,author and columnist John McWhorter delivers the 49th annual Christopher Longest Lecture Friday (Oct. 2) at the University of Mississippi.

McWhorter, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and adjunct professor of linguistics at Columbia University, speaks at 4 p.m. in Bondurant Hall auditorium. His free, public presentation is titled “The Power of Babel – And Why We Can’t Fight It in Our Language.” An hourlong reception precedes the lecture.

McWhorter plans to help his audience better understand the concept of prescriptivism – or criticism of deviation from the arbitrary standard merely because it is deviation – of the English language, which is the main theme of his book “The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language.” He says he will enjoy “seeing light bulbs go off in at least a few people’s heads
as to a new conception, under which language is not something most people use ‘wrong.’”

“For several decades, linguists have tried to convince the general public that it is illogical to suppose that people go about
making ‘mistakes’ in their speech, yet the argument never seems to go through,” McWhorter said. “In this talk I want to see if a new approach to the argument can actually change some minds.”

Donald Dyer, chair and professor of modern languages, said McWhorter’s upcoming presentation is among the most interesting
lectures the department has featured because of the topic and lecturer.

“I think it is important to hear somebody of McWhorter’s standing speak about such controversial issues,” Dyer said. “It’s one
thing for a university professor to talk about prescriptivism in the classroom, but it’s quite another thing for someone who is a well-known specialist in the field and the author of many books to speak publicly,and of course intelligently, about the topic.”

McWhorter holds a doctorate in linguistics from Stanford University. He taught at Cornell University and the University of
California, Berkeley.

Specializing in language change and language contact, he has authored a collection of books, including “Doing Our Own Thing: The
Degradation of Language and Music in America and Why We Should, Like, Care” and “The Word on the Street,” which focuses on dialects and Black English.

He has written three books on Creole languages and was selected to deliver a 36-lecture audiovisual course called “The Story of Human Language,” in 2004. His academic linguistics book, “Language Interrupted: Signs of Non-Native Acquisition in Standard Language Grammars,” was released in 2007, and last year, his books “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: Untold Stories in the History of English” and “All About the Beat: Why Hip Hop Can’t Save Black America” were

McWhorter was a weekly columnist for the New York Sun from 2006 to 2008. He has written on racial and cultural issues for publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The National Review, The Los Angeles Times, The American Enterprise, Ebony, Vibe, New York Magazine, City Journal and The New Republic.

THE 48th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE: “Beckett, the Poet” by Marjorie Perloff, Sadie Dernham Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities at Stanford University and Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California.

Marjorie Perloff is one of the most distinguished critics of contemporary poetry. Her work has been especially concerned with explicating the writing of experimental and avant-guard poets and relating it to the major currents of modernist and postmodernist culture. She earned her Ph.D. in 1965 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she began her academic career as assistant and then associate professor. Since 1976, she has been a professor at the University of Southern California, and then at Stanford University, becoming the Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities in 1990. She is currently scholar- in-residence at the University of Southern California.Professor Perloff is the author of more than a dozen books on twentieth-century poetry and poetics and visual arts, including The Poetics of Indeterminancy: Rimbaud to Cage(1981); The Futurist Moment: Avant-Guard, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1986); Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (1991); Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary (1996); and a cultural memoir, The Vienna Paradox. This fall, the University of Chicago Press will publish her edited book, The Sound of Poetry, the Poetry of Sound.In addition to numerous articles, chapters, essays, and keynote addresses; Professor Perloff has co-edited several important books including the Columbia Literary History of the United States, and Twentieth Century American Poetry, which won the English-Speaking Union Ambassador Award for 2001. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim and an NEH Fellowship, and she is an Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served as president of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA, 1993-95) and the Modern Language Association (2006).


November 12, 2012 5:30 PM, Barnard Observatory

The basic elements of speech, as they are found in what people actually say, correspond to what has been called a complex adaptive system in sciences ranging from physics to ecology to economics. This talk will introduce the principles of complexity science in a non-technical way, and then apply properties of complexity to three areas in linguistics:  corpus linguistics, lexicogrammar, and language variation. In corpus linguistics, knowledge of complex systems can help us manage the traditional issue of balancing the need to find just the right documents (precision) versus finding all the relevant documents (recall). Complexity theory also suggests a rational method that not only specifies what rules to include for a particular grammar, but also addresses the underlying difference between generative and structuralist models of grammar. Complex systems model explains both the process for the emergence of new language varieties, and the maintenance of a wide range of varieties in the same place at the same time.  The process of adaptation that creates the new varieties can be demonstrated with computer simulation, which takes advantage of what we know about language as a complex system (and does it without relying on highly technical math and statistics).

aec sunt instrumenta bonorum operumA Symposium on Medieval Manuscript Studies
April 10, 2012, Residential College South Library (Room 123). Free of charge and open to the public.

1 p.m.:  Tra il dire e il fare…Reflections on Copy-Text Editing in the Italian Tradition of Textual Scholarship, Michelangelo Zaccarello, Università di Verona and Fulbright Scholar
2 p.m.:   Adjectives and Philology: A Woman’s Copy of Petrarch at the Turn of the Fifteenth Century, H. Wayne Storey, Indiana University
3:30 p.m.:  Lyric Poetry as Didactic Mirror in the Compilational Program of Paris, BN, fr. 12581, Christopher Callahan, Illinois-Wesleyan University
4:30 p.m.:  Debating Love and Politics in Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Palatinus 2621, Daniel E. O’Sullivan, UM
5:30 p.m.:  Altra cose: La Vie de Saint Alexis in the Saint Albans PsalterWilliam Schenck, The Croft Institute, UM

Seeing Double: Syntactic Doubling in the Linguistic Atlas of the Middle Rockies
Dr. Lamont Antieau, one of the Linguistic Atlas of the Middle Rockies (LAMR) fieldworkers, spoke about the syntactic doubling found within the LAMR data, including double complementizers, double modals, double negation, and the personal dative Thursday, February 9, 2012 in Bishop 101. As part of this discussion, he demonstrated how the KwicKwic program, a tool designed specifically for investigating linguistic corpora, can be used to conduct deductive searches of the LAMR data.

Antieau also addressed the perceived “Southerness” of the above features and the implications of finding double modals, double negation, and the personal dative outside of the geographic South.

Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle and Contemporary Latin American Fiction: An Exercise in Intellectual Honesty
Prominent writer Seymour Menton discussed Charles Darwin’s connection with Latin American literature at the University of Mississippi February 16. His lecture, titled “Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle and Contemporary Latin American Fiction: An Exercise in Intellectual Honesty,” marked  Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his famous book, “The Origin of Species.

“The American public tends to think of Darwin within the context of England, but his travels took him to Latin America, the Galapagos Islands belonging to Ecuador and Tierra del Fuego,” said Diane Marting, UM Associate Professor of Spanish who is coordinating the lecture.”Darwin wrote as a naturalist and made the wonders of Latin America known to people in other places,” Marting said. “His writings became an inspiration to Latin Americans.”The literature that resulted from Darwin’s travels is one of the many areas Menton studies.”

“Menton is a teacher and mentor for generations of college professors,” said Luanne Buchanan, Assistant Professor of Spanish. “This is someone who has been studying and writing about Latin America for a very long time.”Menton taught at Dartmouth University, the University of Kansas and several Latin American universities. He is a professor and founding Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of California at Irvine.

“We are pleased to have a scholar of Dr. Menton’s caliber speaking to our students and faculty,” said Donald Dyer, Chair of the UM Modern Languages department. “His reputation precedes him, and we are very much looking forward to his timely lecture on Darwin and Latin American literature.”The Department of Modern Languages is hosting the event, with sponsorship provided by the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the departments of English and Biology.

NATIVE TO AFGHANISTAN: Perspectives on Language and Culture Lecture by Afghan Fulbright Scholar Farima Nawabi
Farima Nawabi, a Fulbright language teaching assistant from Kabul, Afghanistan, who is teaching Dari in the Department of Modern Languages, discussed the languages and culture of her country December 1, 2008.

With her country ravaged by decades of war and oppression, Afghan-born Fulbright Scholar Farima Nawabi is following her father’s footsteps: studying in America.

In Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, Nawabi and other women were barred from attending school. Yet, once American forces crushed the “Talibs” (native for Taliban), she, her sisters and her fellow countrywomen were free again to pursue academics. Her father, who studied in Texas as a young college student, blessed his daughter’s scholarly accomplishment.

“For more than three decades, we (women) haven’t had the chance to come to the U.S. and study,” Nawabi said. “As a woman, this is a big achievement for me, a golden opportunity.”

An English instructor at Kabul University, Nawabi has lived in the U.S. since August. Starting this fall at the University of Mississippi, she has been studying to teach English as a second language as well as teaching a course in Dari, the official language of Afghanistan.

To help educate the north Mississippi community about her homeland, Nawabi delivers a free, public lecture at 4 p.m. Monday (Dec. 1) in Croft Auditorium. The “Native to Afghanistan: Perspectives on Language and Culture” discussion revolves around Afghan customs, climate, population, traditions and languages.

“Everyone talks about the war, but I don’t want to talk about it,” Nawabi said. “I want to tell things that people don’t know about my country.”

Witnessing the recent U.S. presidential election, Nawabi recalls President-elect Barack Obama’s visit to Kabul, and the promise he made to change U.S. foreign policy.

“There is no connection between Al Qaeda and Afghanistan,” Nawabi said. “My country is simply a target, a place Al Qaeda is using. The Afghans really feel bad about this. We are hopeful Obama brings change.”

Esim Erdim, director of the UM Teaching English as a Second Language program and professor of modern languages, described Nawabi as an enthusiastic and motivated student who is eager to participate and share her experiences.

“For her to leave home on her own and live in a very different culture in order to gain additional knowledge has to be inspiring for other women,” Erdim said.

Three UM students are enrolled in the Dari course. According to Nawabi, the greatest hurdle for Americans studying the language is pronouncing unwritten vowel sounds. For example, woman is spelled “zn” in Dari, but between the letters of “z” and “n,” an “a” sound is inserted.

“The opportunity to offer this exotic language was completely unexpected,” said Donald Dyer, UM modern languages chair and professor. “While enrollment was modest, Ms. Nawabi provides more than first-rate instruction; she also serves as an important cultural resource.”

To date, Nawabi speaks highly of her time in Oxford, and she looks forward to additional new friends and experiences as her Fulbright scholarship extends through the end of the 2009 spring semester.

“People are very helpful here,” Nawabi said. “Everything has gone very well so far.”