MS 190: Authorship is the course website for the Fall 2006 Media Studies senior seminar at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
So I just got back from the most entertaining conversation at dinner. Well, it was necessarily entertaining, but it really was thought-provoking and involved three members of our Seminar and one Philosophy major. It started when I referred to the person who will be living next door to me next semester as a "rando", short for "random person" since it was not by our design that he will be living there. This word was not my own invention, but it is one of my favorites and thus I use it as much as humanly possible. We then collectively realized that this is a trend in our contemporary culture - shortening words from their original forms, as in "poss" for "possibly"; "whatevs" for "whatever"; "sitch" for "situation"; "probs" for "probably"; and I have no idea how to even begin spelling the modification for "usual" but I'm pretty sure you know what it sounds like.
"Postmodernist discourses are often exclusionary,' begins Bell Hooks in "Postmodern Blackness." Throughout her article on the relationship between postmodernism and the black experience, Hooks suggests that this discourse and its ramifications for experience and identity ought to be extended to marginalized groups (namely "black folks" and feminists). However, she also argues that black women authors should be "approached with intellectual seriousness." She simultaneously advocates for the intellectualization (is that a word?) of marginalized groups, and also the importance of making discourses accessible. I think we must have different definitions of accessible, because I don't think the majority of these marginalized groups would understand much less relate to much of the article. She dismisses "specialized audience" to which critical voice is directed, yet she is most definitely addressing this exact audience. Finally, towards the end, she truly advocates discissing postmodern ideas with "underclass non-academic black folks."
Both authors brought up the issue of language as a stumbling block in the participation of non-mainstream groups in the mainstream of intelligentsia. As someone who's grown up surrounded by academics (I'd say a good 1/3 of my family, extended and otherwise, are professors), this is not something that I ever realized was a problem, as academic-speak comes almost more naturally to me than that Spanish I took for four or five years.
As someone who would probably be considered a member of both oppressed groups that we are considering this week (as a woman, and as a "racial minority"), I have to wonder what the solution to the problem of the dominant academic language being sourced from a different "culture" would look like. As Bell Hooks discusses it, it makes perfect sense--black youth choose not (or perhaps cannot) to participate as heavily in what might be considered "high culture" or "academic" cultural pursuits simply because these activities, as we perceive them in the wider Western culture, simply have no bearing on their cultural experience... they are not framed in a "language" or set of conceptual building blocks which they can consider their own, and therefore a language they feel they cannot adequately express themselves in.