The Materiality of Language

The Materiality of Language : Gender, Politics, and the University

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Description

David Bleich sees the human body, its affective life, social life, and political functions as belonging to the study of language. In The Materiality of Language, Bleich addresses the need to end centuries of limiting access to language and its many contexts of use. To recognize language as material and treat it as such, argues Bleich, is to remove restrictions to language access due to historic patterns of academic censorship and unfair gender practices. Language is understood as a key path in the formation of all social and political relations, and becomes available for study by all speakers, who may regulate it, change it, and make it flexible like other material things.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 584 pages
  • 223.52 x 368.3 x 63.5mm | 929.86g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253007712
  • 9780253007711

About David Bleich

David Bleich is Professor of English at the University of Rochester and author of Know and Tell: A Pedagogy of Disclosure, Genre, and Membership and The Double Perspective: Language, Literacy, and Social Relations, among other books.show more

Review quote

Shows how language politics and gender politics are related and how the two together explain why, by keeping women out of the scholastic community, men also exiled those aspects of language most associated with women... Language in the university has been treated in different ways... but never for what it really is-a giving and taking between people. Bleich honors the tradition of thinkers who treat language materially... I know of no other book that explains and defends materiality of language in such a wide ranging way. For anyone grappling with the idea of materiality, this book is an indispensable place to start... It is a critique (historical and intellectual) of male-dominated modes of language use, their roots in the founding and administering of the university, their effects on what can and can't be studied, and their spill over into popular culture... This critique roams broadly over science, social science, [and the] humanities, and both the critique and the alternative are powerfully rendered. Bleich offers a theory and a set of terms that can challenge prevailing paradigms.Deborah Brandt, University of Wisconsin-Madison "A critique of male-dominated modes of language use, their roots in the founding and administering of the university, their effects on what can and can't be studied, and their spill over into popular culture... This critique roams broadly over science, social science, [and the] humanities, and both the critique and the alternative are powerfully rendered." -Deborah Brandt, University of Wisconsin-Madison "[The author's] thesis is interesting and provocative. He argues forcefully for the relevance of language, construed as a material entity, across a wide range of disciplines (and to life in general), and challenges the focus on treating language as a cognitive phenomenon and studying it in abstract terms." -New Books in Language "The scope and depth of Bleich's work in The Materiality of Language are impressive. This book offers intriguing views of historical developments in language philosophies, the ways in which rigid views of language have supported institutional hegemony and androcentrism, and the positive implications of acknowledging language's materiality. The systematic links he draws among language, gender, institutions, and politics offer generative insights that will certainly be of interest to scholars in rhetoric and composition." -Rhetoric Review "A potentially foundational text in an emergent field [of] language studies, whose work is to break up the monopoly Linguistics and Philosophy have had on the study of language... The insight that the affective operation of language is elided in nearly all approaches to [language] acquisition is brilliant and astounding... The analysis of subject creation as an affective process of recognizing and sharing the same affective state and language as the means for materializing affective states... is fascinating and persuasive... One of the book's distinctive features is the use of gender as a key normative analytical lens throughout. It would be difficult to exaggerate how rare this is among language thinkers, and how productive it is for the arguments here." -Mary Louise Pratt, New York University "A powerful, first-rate book on a crucial topic. It offers a great interpretation of the sacralization and ascendancy of Latin as a language supporting what Bleich calls 'an elite group of men.'... This is a brilliant codebook to academic language and its coercions." -Dale Bauer, University of Illinois "Powerful, engaging, beautifully written, a slam-dunk of an argument for the materiality of language. As erudite as it is, it's also accessible and even funny." -Tom Fox, California State University at Chico "In provocative and compelling fashion, David Bleich writes of matters fundamentally important to composition and rhetoric. Bleich eloquently links crucial issues of language with their implications for our students and the ways we choose to teach them. Throughout this lucid and important work, Bleich encourages us to return to the importance of language and its centrality to authority and access." -Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicagoshow more

Flap copy

The Materiality of Language sees the human body, its affective life, social life, and political functions as belonging to the study of language. To recognize language as material and to treat it as such, maintains David Bleich, is to remove restrictions to language access due to historic patterns of academic censorship and unfair gender practices. Language is understood as a key path in the formation of all social and political relations. Language becomes available for study by all speakers, who may regulate it, change it, and make it flexible like other material things. The book addresses the need to end centuries of limiting access to language and to its many contexts of use, especially by universities.The book engages the eight-century history of the university documenting how it was protected by the church, the crown, the state, and by corporate interests to this day. It describes how this protection has promoted the continuation of androcentric values that have excluded women and most men from access to language and the study of language. It shows that earlier forms of materiality, derived from nominalism, were repeatedly suppressed and censored, sometimes with death as a punishment for defiance. It suggests that even today, science and other academic subject matters, using their social and political respectability, have collaborated with universities and corporate interests to limit the study of language by depending on common abstractions such as instinct, intelligence, meaning, truth, knowledge, free market, rational choice, autonomy, and many others, treating their referents as self-evident. It offers that the historic uses and understandings of literature, which were recognized since classical times as material, have been similarly limited and censored, placed in the category of fiction, and prevented from exercising their materiality on their readerships and societies.show more

Table of contents

Introduction: The Contested Subject Part One: The Materiality of Language Chapter 1: Premises and Backgrounds Chapter 2: Received Standards in the Study of Language Chapter 3: Materiality and Genre Chapter 4: The Unity of Language and Thought Chapter 5: Materiality and the Contemporary Study of Language Chapter 6: Recognizing Politics in the Study of Language Part Two: Language in the University Chapter 7: Frustrations of Academic Language Chapter 8: The Protected Institution Chapter 9: The Sacred Language Chapter 10: Language Uses in Science, the Heir of Latin Chapter 11: Language and Human Survival Chapter 12: The Materiality of Literature and the Contested Subject Works Cited and Consulted Indexshow more

Rating details

9 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 33% (3)
4 22% (2)
3 33% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 11% (1)
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