Discourse & Semiotics: Tiffany Dillard-Knox on "Coded in Black and White: An analysis of racialized language in the United States"

Tiffany Dillard-Knox, PhD Candidate in Pan-African Studies, will present on her dissertation research.

Abstract: In 1976, linguistic anthropologist Michael Silverstein recognized the usefulness of performatives to explain that the total meaning of constituent linguistic signs is more expansive than just semantics.  However, he also recognized that philosophers J.L. Austin and John Searle’s articulation of performatives remained incomplete as it was still semantic in nature.  As such, Silverstein argued that there are other functional modes, such as cultural functional modes, that provide usefulness in determining meaning.  This dissertation asserts that there is another functional mode, racialized performatives.  Racialized performatives have been used since slavery to fold symbolic meaning onto the lived realities of all people constituted as black in the United States.  An examination of major cases, laws, and political compromises regarding race in the United States provides a means by which to explore the racialized coding system that undergirds contemporary manifestations of antiblackness.  Specifically, there are two major political eras that created the master frames and strategy through which racialized performatives function.  The first begins with the 1857 Dred Scott v Sandford case and continues through the 1860s with the black codes and vagrancy laws.  The second era begins with the 1968 presidential election and continues through the 1972 presidential election.  The master frames were developed, during the first era, by legally codifying blacks as property and criminal.  During the second era, a rhetorical strategy was devised that appealed to racial fears and antagonisms without explicitly talking about race.  Together, these rhetorical shifts in U.S. history laid the foundation for the law and order rhetoric that would justify the system of mass incarceration. 

Friday, April 19, 2019 at 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Stevenson Hall, 417
101 E. Centennial Walk , Louisville, Kentucky, 40208

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Arts & Sciences, Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, Pan-African Studies, College of Arts & Sciences



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Andrea Olinger

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