Seminars

  • Founded
    2000
  • Seminar Number
    681

What can the study of language contribute to our understanding of human nature? This question motivates research spanning many intellectual constituencies, for its range exceeds the scope of any one of the core disciplines. The technical study of language has developed across anthropology, electrical engineering, linguistics, neurology, philosophy, psychology, and sociology, and influential research of the recent era of cognitive science have occurred when disciplinary boundaries were transcended. The seminar is a forum for convening this research community of broadly differing expertise, within and beyond the University. As a meeting ground for regular discussion of current events and fundamental questions, the University Seminar on Language and Cognition will direct its focus to the latest breakthroughs and the developing concerns of the scientific community studying language.

Seminar Website


Chair
Professor Robert Remez
remez@columbia.edu

Rapporteur
Leah Christman
lkc2137@tc.columbia.edu


All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020 fall semester. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

10/08/2020 Online Meeting
4:00 PM
Donald Trump and his Narration of Masculinity: A Book Talk
Norma Mendoza-Denton, University of California, Los Angeles
Abstract

Abstract

Donald Trump’s speeches as president provide many examples of narratives of masculinity where he elevates himself as the pinnacle of virility, strength, toughness—and whiteness. Wallace Chafe (1998) and other scholars (e.g. Norrick 1988) have written about the ways in which repeated tellings of the same story open a window not only into patterns of language, but also into the workings of the self. In the case of Trump, a revealing example of a narrative of masculinity is found in a series of retellings that Trevor Noah of The Daily Show compiled into the satirical Christmas video, “Trump’s Mythical Crying Man Yule Log” (The Daily Show 2018). In this video montage, a stone fireplace frames the center of an old-fashioned cathode-ray TV where video clips of Trump are gently licked by flames. The clips are taken from Trump’s campaign stops, speeches, and conversations with reporters, documenting fifteen distinct instances of Trump retelling the same story with minimal variations. The structure discernible in Trump’s narrative series is formulaic, with each instance filling in variable details, and recycled on many public occasions. Sometimes, the man is a steelworker, or a miner, or a farmer. Sometimes a group of men are crying. Occasionally there is one holdout in the group who does not cry. This man-crying-before-Trump sequence is a great example of not only a narrative of masculinity, but also a “comedic gesture,” where Trump dramatically drags his hands across his face to show copious crying (Goldstein, Hall and Ingram 2017). While it is well attested that politicians recycle narratives and inflect them to suit their audiences (Fenno 1978), Trump’s narratives go one step further, often revolving around self-aggrandizement, situating him as both the pinnacle and arbiter of toughness. The recurrence of this leitmotif is precisely what renders it an organizing narrative of Trumpian masculinity.





11/12/2020 Online Meeting
4:00 PM

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12/10/2020 Online Meeting
4:00 PM

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01/21/2021 Location TBD
4:00 PM

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02/25/2021 Location TBD
4:00 PM

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04/01/2021 Location TBD
4:00 PM

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