Cleaning Up Our Language: A Rant For Academia
This blog has, among others, the desire to expunge from academic language some of those words which are held cleft to the hearts of the intellectually vapid. Some of these words, not all of them bad or meaningless in themselves, should be removed from the vocabularies until the purveyors of such words can use them carefully and precisely, if even such usages are possible:
discourse (Is there anything more idiotic than hearing poetry described as 'discourse'?)
patriarchal (the word is not synonymous with 'hegemonic')
matriarchal (the word is not synonymous with 'nurturing')
collage (and mosaic)
gendered (see also transgendering, regendering, and general gender studies)
womyn (and womynization, and its equally ponderous cognates)
fetishization (why is every trope these days considered a fetish of some form or another?)
'framing the gaze' and other such proliferant optic terms
phallocentrism (uggidy ugh ugh ugh)
colonization and de-colonization
tropological (not necessarily a word to discard, but as is...)
theory (again, not necessarily to discard, but...)
'shifting cultural forces'
dialectic and 'dialectical interplay'
historicism (and New Historicism, which is really just modified Marxism)
interiority and exteriority
'rethinking the canon' and 'canonical'
'historical power structures'
racism (see also misogyny, anti-Semitism, and the entire ilk)
modernity (and postmodernity)
positioning and positionality
Barthesian, Foucauldian, Derridean (basically any adjective referring to a theorist you only think you understand)
contextualization and recontextualization
'impact' as a verb
Queer Theory (as if 'sexual identity' could proffer such simple categorizations and simplifications)
'semiotics of difference'
semiotics (not worthless in itself, but in its general application)
Oh, there are so many.... and I'm certainly leaving out far more than I'm including here. And even the words I've invoked here shouldn't necessarily be thrown into the trash bin of verbal history. But chances are that when you are reading something that leans heavily on the vocabulary above, or if you're writing something that does so, the words have become crutches, and very often meaningless. That is, bullshite. When you use such words, make sure they're used precisely.
Let us find the right words, let us find the right words.