Learn about the history of divorce and married women’s rights with Dr Tim Stretton

You’re invited to hear the stories of women from the 16th-18th centuries who found themselves in broken marriages, and challenged a legal system that viewed them as subordinate to men and denied the option of divorce.

Continue reading “Learn about the history of divorce and married women’s rights with Dr Tim Stretton”

Travel to China with Dr. Eric Henry

At a time when many of us are missing international travel, the next Faculty Author Series event might help fill that void.

On March 25 at noon, travel via Zoom to Shenyang, China, with Dr. Eric Henry, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Henry will discuss his new book, The Future Conditional, and his twelve years of research on the globalization of the English language.

In particular, the book explores why and how English has become so important in China, and what effect this fascination with learning English has had on Shenyang, the largest city in China’s Northeast.

“I taught English in China after my masters as a way to learn Mandarin and make a bit of money,” explains Dr. Henry. “Everyone wanted to talk about English and treated me as an expert. I started to wonder, why is it a national project to teach everyone English? Why is it such an important part of people’s lives, even for people who don’t need it?”

While this phenomenon is often studied from a linguistics lens, Dr. Henry’s approach is from an anthropological perspective. What does learning English mean to Chinese speakers? What does the ability to speak English represent in contemporary China? How has English become a lucrative commodity?

Dr. Henry also notes that there are lots of types of English in China, including words and phrases that are unfamiliar to native English speakers. According to Dr. Henry, this raises questions about how languages evolve within cultures, and which “versions” are considered “right”: “Correctness is really the result of perspective, position, and authority”.

The Future Conditional will be available through the SMU Library later this year, and is currently available for pre-order.

Register for this event.

International Women’s Day Event: A Faculty Author Talk with Dr. Rohini Bannerjee & editor Christina Myers

Looking for a way to celebrate International Women’s Day tomorrow? We’ve got you covered!

Our next Faculty Author Series event is set for 12 pm on Monday, March 8, where Dr. Rohini Bannerjee and editor Christina Myers will unpack Big: Stories about Life in Plus-Sized Bodies.

Described asa collection of personal and intimate experiences of plus size women, non-binary and trans people in a society obsessed with thinness,” these short stories invite readers to question- “and ultimately reconsider- our collective and individual obsession with women’s bodies.”

“When I saw the call for it, I kept thinking “they’re not going to accept it’”, says Dr. Rohini Bannerjee, whose short story, “Barbara Streisand or Bust!”, appears in the collection. Dr. Bannerjee describes herself as having always been a “secret writer” despite her initial focus on science; her family has always been influenced by art and culture, including listening to ghazals in Urdu, a form of Persian poetry, and her father would write down couplets or shayaris, reflecting on life and philosophy, and share them with her. Dr. Bannerjee “wrote in her head instead”, noting: “I always found solace in writing”.

As for choosing the title for her short story, Dr. Bannerjee, who dreamt of being an opera singer, loved Streisand as a kid, “I remember taking my mother’s hairbrush and singing like Barbara, a mega superstar who herself struggled with imposter syndrome.”

Dr. Bannerjee describes the collection as a “celebration of body shapes” that brings out into the open the very real “struggle between honouring your body as it is in its present state, and loving and improving your body so it serves you in the best way possible.”

“International women’s day is all about choice: exercising our right to choose how to be the best versions of ourselves. “

Big is available through the SMU Library, or at https://caitlin-press.com/our-books/big/