Archive for November, 2010

18
Nov
10

mothering as everyday practice

BAMBI CHAPIN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY

What makes a good mother? Bambi Chapin has co-edited (with Kathleen Barlow) a new special issue of the journal Ethos on “Mothering as Everyday Practice.” The articles explore not just what mothers say about parenting, but what they actually do, and how they understand what defines a good mother. These ideas are far from natural or universal. Instead, they are informed by a diversity of value systems, social structures, traditions, habits and life circumstances.

Chapin undertook the research that inspired this publication while parenting her own child in the field, and she describes how others’ reactions to her mothering shaped her field relationships in unexpected ways. Likewise, her personal reactions to others’ mother-child interactions—feeling surprise or dismay—often prompted her most notable insights.

Bambi Chapin is co-editor of the December 2010 issue of Ethos on “Mothering as Everyday Practice.”

15
Nov
10

j.k. rowling’s medieval bestiary

SENIOR LECTURER OF ENGLISH GAIL ORGELFINGER

As did so many others, I read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books first for pure pleasure; it wasn’t until The Prisoner of Azkaban that my medievalist antennae began to tingle. My “aha” moment came when Harry’s patronus—a white stag—appeared across the lake to save him and Sirius Black from the Dementors. The white stag is a ubiquitous and multi-layered symbol in the Middle Ages. So that connection prompted my own research quest into whether the many animal allusions in Harry Potter’s world might resonate with what I knew about their appearance in medieval literature.

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Having written Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander, Rowling signaled both her interest in and knowledge of the rich tradition of medieval animal symbolism. Fantastic Beasts is essentially a bestiary. In the Middle Ages, a bestiary was an illustrated manuscript that described both real and imaginary animals, with interpretations of them according to points of Christian doctrine. Early bestiaries had around 40-50 chapters, each typically beginning with a Biblical quotation, continuing with a précis of the creature’s natural history—some of it truly fantastic—and ending with an allegorical interpretation.

Continue reading ‘j.k. rowling’s medieval bestiary’

02
Nov
10

language variation in schools

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LANGUAGE, LITERACY, AND CULTURE CHRISTINE MALLINSON

As a sociolinguist, I study how and why Americans talk differently from one another, based on our diverse histories, identities, and cultures. Language variation can have concrete implications when it comes to the classroom, however. In educational settings, the language that students bring with them to school can significantly affect how they perform academically. Some students already speak the standardized variety of English that is viewed as being the most correct. Not surprisingly, these students are often more likely to succeed. But many other students come to school without already knowing standardized English and as a result may face linguistic hurdles.

In our book, Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools, published by Teachers College Press in the Multicultural Education Series, Dr. Anne Charity Hudley of the College of William & Mary and I provide essential linguistic information about the language patterns of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In our ongoing research, funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and from UMBC, we are also collaborating with educators in public and independent schools in Maryland and Virginia to explore best practices for integrating knowledge of language, literacy, and culture into classroom pedagogy. Through these partnerships, we are working to apply linguistic and educational theory to the real world, to help all students achieve academic success.


Christine Mallinson is the co-author of the forthcoming book, “Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools”




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