Department of Modern Languages

The University of Mississippi

Christopher Longest Lecture Series

Longest Lecture

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 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.

Professor 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.

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Christopher LongestChristopher Longest Lecturers

Sturgis Elleno-Leavitt (Spanish), 1961
Henri Peyre (French), 1962
Ernest C. Mossner (English), 1963
Harold von Hofe (German), 1964
Arturo Torres-Ríoesco (Spanish), 1965
Urban Tigner Holmes (Romance Philology), 1966
Fredson Thayer Bowers (English), 1967
Erich August Albrecht (German), 1968
Thomas Goddard Bergin (Italian), 1969
Enrique Anderson Imbert (Spanish), 1970
Hugh Holman (English), 1971
Germaine Brée (French), 1972
Erich Heller (German), 1973
Concha Zardoya (Spanish), 1974
Roy Harvey Pearce (German), 1975
Thomas Shaw (English), 1976
Jacques Hardré (French), 1977
Theodore J. Ziolkowski (German), 1979
Emir Rodríguez Monegal (Spanish), 1979
Richard Beale Davis (English), 1980
William Leon Wiley (French), 1981
Frank Trommler (German), 1982
Kurt L. Levy (Spanish), 1983
Meyer Howard Abrams (English), 1984
Georges May (French), 1986
Maria Isabel Abreu (Portuguese), 1986
Katharina Mommsen (German), 1987
John E. Keller (Spanish), 1988
Helen Hennessy Vendler (English), 1989
Albert Valdman (French), 1990
Bernard Comrie (Linguistics), 1991
Robert Hollander (Italian), 1992
Leslie Willson (German), 1993
Andrew P. Debicki (Spanish), 1994
Naomi Schor (French), 1995
Susan Cocalis (German), 1996
Al Young (English), 1997
Merlin Forster (Spanish), 1998
Patrick Brady (Italian), 2000
Ronelle Alexander (Slavic), 2001
Ruth B. Bottigheimer (German), 2002
Jean Franco (Spanish), 2002
Gustavo Pérez Firmat (Spanish and English), 2003
Jean-Philippe Mathy (French), 2004
Howard Goldblatt (Chinese), 2005
Anatoly Liberman (German), 2006
Diego Zancani (Italian), 2007
Marjorie G. Perloff (English), 2008
John McWhorter (Linguistics), 2009
Mahdi Alosh (Arabic), 2010
Frederick A. de Armas (Spanish), 2011
Toril Moi (French), 2012
Susan Napier (Japanese), 2013
Antonia Schleicher (African Languages), 2014
Sung-Ock Sohn (Korean), 2015
Earl E. Fitz (Portuguese), 2016
Karen Evans-Romaine (Russian), 2017
Sonja Lanehart (Linguistics), 2018
Matthew Christensen (Chinese), 2019
Dagmar Herzog (German), 2020

Bondurant Columns

THE 60th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (November 2020): “Moral Reasoning in the Wake of Mass Murder: Disability Rights Activism in 1980s-1990s Germany” by Dagmar Herzog, City University of New York

Dagmar HerzogWhy was it so difficult to get the Nazi mass murder of the disabled taken seriously in the postwar period? Intensive activism, and a paradoxical conjunction of events in the 1980s-1990s, finally changed the lessons that had been drawn from the Nazi past.

Dagmar Herzog is Distinguished Professor of History and Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She writes and teaches on the history of the Holocaust and its aftermath, the histories of religion and Jewish-Christian relations, and the histories of gender and sexuality. Her publications include Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany (Princeton 2005); Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History (Cambridge 2011); Cold War Freud: Psychoanalysis in an Age of Catastrophes (Cambridge 2017); and Unlearning Eugenics: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Disability in Post-Nazi Europe (Wisconsin 2018). She is currently writing on the politics and theology of disability in twentieth-century Germany.

THE 59th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (11 November 2019): “From the BA Construction to Kung Pao Pork: Bridging the Gap Between Linguistic Competence and Cultural Literacy” by Matthew Christensen, Brigham Young UniversityMatthew Christensen

Matthew Christensen received his BA from Brigham Young University in Chinese with a minor in International relations in 1988. He received his MA in 1990 and PhD in 1994, both from the Ohio State University in the field of Chinese Linguistics. Following his graduate studies, he was hired as director of a Cantonese language project at Ohio State University where he worked for a year developing a Cantonese textbook series. He has been teaching Chinese at BYU since 1995. Dr. Christensen is also the Director of the Chinese Flagship Program and has been working with that program since its inception in 2002.

Dr. Christensen’s research interests include Chinese language pedagogy, teacher training, materials development, discourse analysis, cultural literacy, Chinese food culture, poetry, and Cantonese.

THE 58th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (24 September 2018): “Tell Me What You Really Mean: Race-ing American Language Variation and Sociolinguistic Research” by Sonja L. Lanehart, University of Texas at San Antonio

Sonja Lanehart

The 58th annual Christopher Longest Lecture at the University of Mississippi will tackle topics of language and identity through a presentation by Sonja L. Lanehart, English professor and Brackenridge Endowed Chair in Literature and the Humanities at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Lanehart’s presentation, “Tell Me What You Really Mean: Race-ing American Language Variationist and Sociolinguistic Research,” will provide a meta-analysis on language variation and change research as well as sociolinguistic research through a critical lens of race theory, black feminism and intersectionality.

She hopes the Oxford and university communities will see value in her inquiries and rethink how they view their own areas of research.

“As a black woman born and raised in Texas, I often saw how language and uses of literacy among black communities was devalued or overlooked,” Lanehart said. “I internalized this view early on and it took my college education, and some wonderful professors, to move from seeing the language of my community not as deficient, but masterful.”

“Dr. Lanehart’s lecture will help our community understand the intricacies of the study of language and how language relates to identity,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, UM professor of French and chair of Modern Languages. “It is our hope that the lecture and subsequent discussion will give faculty, students, and residents of Oxford much to think about when it comes to how they see others according to how they speak.”

THE 57th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (13 November 2017): “Angels, Demons, Martyrs, Doctors: The Power of the Musician in Russian Modernist Poetry” by Karen Evans-Romaine, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Karen Evans-RomaineKaren Evans-Romaine is Professor of Slavic Languages and Director of the Russian Flagship Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds bachelor’s degrees in both Russian and piano performance from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and she completed her PhD in Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Michigan. Professor Evans-Romaine is a specialist on Boris Pasternak, intertextuality in Russian Modernism, the interrelationship of music and literature, German-Russian literary relations, European Modernism and Romanticism, and foreign language pedagogy. She is the author of Boris Pasternak and the Tradition of German Romanticism (1997). Together with Richard Robin and Galina Shatalina of George Washington University, she is a co-author of Glosa: A Basic course in Russian, a two-volume introductory Russian textbook, now in its 5th edition. She is also co-editor, together with Tatiana Smorodinskaya and Helena Goscilo, of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Contemporary Russian Culture. 

Longest Lecture Poster: “Angels, Demons, Martyrs, Doctors: The Power of the Musician in Russian Modernist Poetry”

THE 56th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (14 November 2016): “Faulkner and Latin America: The Case of Brazil” by Dr. Earl Fitz, Vanderbilt University

Earl Fitz

Connections between Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner and South America are the focus of an annual discussion set for Nov. 14 at the University of Mississippi.

Earl E. Fitz is Professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and Comparative Literature at Vanderbilt University. He teaches courses on Brazilian and Spanish American literature, inter-American literature, comparative literature and translation. He is a long-time fan of William Faulkner and has contributed to the Faulkner Journal on Borges’ translation of The Wild Palms. He is also a passionate fan of world soccer and especially of Brazilian teams

“Dr. Fitz will address Faulkner’s importance to Latin American writers, and especially Brazilians, who love the writings of Oxford’s ‘native son,’” said Diane Marting, associate professor of modern languages and organizer of this year’s lecture. “His lecture should be a fascinating journey into the ways in which Yoknapatawpha has inspired other writers across South America.

“Anyone interested in Oxford’s legacy in fiction will discover the interesting ways Faulkner has stirred up new incarnations of his themes and characterizations.” Fitz’s discussion, titled “Faulkner and Latin America: The Case of Brazil,” examines Faulkner’s influence upon Latin American authors and their writings.

A longtime Faulkner fan, the speaker teaches courses on Brazilian and Spanish American literature, inter-American literature, comparative literature and translation. Fitz has contributed to the Faulkner Journal on Borges’ translation of “The Wild Palms.”

“While Faulkner studies have been a focus in Oxford and the university, Dr. Fitz’s comments promise to open an entirely new dimension to how we understand Faulkner’s impact on the world,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, Assistant Chair and Professor of Modern Languages.

“Moreover, as Brazil’s role in global cultural affairs only continues to grow, Dr. Fitz’s lecture is both timely and germane to a great many other fields of inquiry.”

THE 55th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (19 October 2015): “The Korean Wave, the Korean Language and Popular Culture” by Sung-Ock Sohn, University of California-Los Angeles

Sung Ock-SohnSung-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).

A renowned scholar of the Korean language, Sung-Ock Sohn is set to deliver the first-ever Longest Lecture on the language Oct. 19 at the University of Mississippi.

Sohn, a professor of Korean language in the UCLA Center for Korean Studies, will discuss the growth of enrollment of Korean language study in the United States as well as Korean entertainment and pop culture.

“The Christopher Longest Lecture is the one event the Department of Modern Languages looks forward to each year,” said Donald Dyer, UM Chair of Modern Languages. “This year, we will be excited to welcome Dr. Sung-Ock Sohn of the University of California-Los Angeles to Oxford to give the lecture.”

“Dr. Sohn is a specialist in Korean language, linguistics and pedagogy, a renowned scholar in her field. Hers will be the first Longest Lecture to feature Korean, the youngest language in our department, but a language currently enrolling over 30 UM students. Korean-language enrollments nationwide are increasing quickly and we are very proud to operate one of few Korean-language programs in the South.”

THE 54th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (27 October 2014): “The Growing Impact of African Languages in the United States” by Antonia Schleicher, Indiana University

Antonia SchleicherAntonia Folarin Schleicher is a Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. 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.

THE 53rd CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (4 November 2013): “The Last Utopian: Hayao Miyazaki and the Uses of Enchantment” by Susan Napier, Tufts University

Susan NapierThe director of Tufts University’s Japanese program explored the work of Academy Award-winning director and animator Hayao Miyazaki at the University of Mississippi’s 53rd Christopher Longest Lecture, Nov. 4, 2013 in Bondurant Hall Auditorium.

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

This is the first time that Japanese was the focus of a Longest Lecture, though the language had 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 argued that Miyazaki’s motion pictures were the last utopian films, making him the last politically and socially focused artist who “cares desperately about the past, present and future of humanity.”

THE 52nd CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (2012): “What Is Otherness? Who is My Other? What Simone de Beauvoir Can Teach Us about the Concept of the Other” by Toril Moi, Duke University

Toril Moi

Toril Moi is the 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.

Moi said she hopes her talk, “What is Otherness? Who is my Other? What Simone de Beauvoir Can Teach Us about the Concept of the Other,” will help people use the term in more helpful ways.

“The concept of ‘the other’ has been used recently to define people of a different gender, class, race, ethnicity, language, sexuality, culture, religion from ourselves. Often it is used derogatively,” Moi said. “Simone de Beauvoir reminds us that to be able to see someone as ‘other’ – and not, for example as an extension of ourselves – is also an achievement, for that allows us to enter into genuine reciprocity with them.”

Beauvoir, a French existentialist who identified herself as an author rather than a philosopher, is acknowledged for challenging the patriarchal status quo with her 1949 publication The Second Sex, which expressed the social and political injustices against women in history. The Vatican placed it on its banned books list.

“People are still fascinated by this author and especially The Second Sex, one of her best-known books,” Moi said. “In it, Beauvoir argues that women throughout history have been negatively defined as the ‘other’ and she concludes with a picture of a future in which men and women are equals, although still different.”

Donald L. Dyer, UM Chair of Modern Languages, said the annual Longest Lecture “has become an important part of the fabric of our department” and allows the department to bring prominent national scholars to campus.

“Professor Toril Moi is a noted scholar in the fields of 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,” Dyer said. “We are very excited to welcome her to our campus.”

Moi, who is the James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies and professor of English and theater studies at Duke University, said she is honored to be a Longest lecturer.

“This fantastic lecture series is over 50 years old and consistently brings prominent speakers to Ole Miss in the field of modern languages,” she said. “I was honored when Ole Miss Professor Anne Quinney called. Since Anne was once my graduate student at Duke, I am particularly delighted.”

At Duke, Moi is also director of the Center for Philosophy, Arts and Literature. She received her bachelor’s degree in French, Spanish and comparative literature (1976), master’s in comparative literature (1980) and Ph.D. (1985) from the University of Bergen in Norway. She 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.

THE 51st CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (29 November 2011): “Art Made Flesh: Ekphrasis of Incarnation from Cervantes and Lope de Vega to Galdós and Vargas Llosa” by Frederick A. de Armas, University of Chicago

Frederick A. de ArmasA 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.

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).

THE 50th CHRISTOPHER LONGEST LECTURE (11 November 2010): “Learning Arabic: The Risk of Identifying with the Adversary” by Mahdi Alosh, US Military Academy

Mahdi AloshThe 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.

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 was 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 (2 October 2009): “The Power of Babel–And Why We Can’t Fight It in Our Language” by John McWhorter, Columbia University

John McWhorterJohn 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 delivered 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 was titled “The Power of Babel – And Why We Can’t Fight It in Our Language.”

McWhorter helped 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 said he would 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 was 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 at 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 published.

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 (2008): “Beckett, the Poet” by Marjorie Perloff, University of Southern California.

Marjorie PerloffMarjorie 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).