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Words and Their Consequences

taylor mali
Taylor Mali
Photo by Lars Blackmore
jcld pub 

Though mighty, words are often used without taking their consequences fully into account. The Dartmouth Centers Forum’s 2011–2012 Words and their Consequences built on the previous year’s theme, Speak Out/Listen Up!, by focusing intently on the impact of words.

Used well, words can communicate positively. Uncivil discourse, however, permeates the airwaves and corridors of power. And, while institutions of higher learning seek to instill a culture of civil communication, even the academy is sometimes prey to vitriolic and intemperate language. Given the productive possibilities and the often dysfunctional realities of verbal communication, the DCF considered it an opportune moment to examine Words and their Consequences. During the 2011–2012, the DCF’s thematic programming:

  • Examined communication ranging from aggressive to pacific expression, and gauged the impact of both. 
  • Illuminated the weaponizing of language as well as the challenges of turning strong language to good ends. 
  • Engaged with the repercussions of unintended consequences—how can we control words, can we control them and should we?

The DCF addressed these and related themes in a series of public events throughout the 2011-12 academic year. Examples of the events hosted can be found on the Past Events page.

For the past two years, through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, during the fall and winter terms, the DCF also has provided funding to students, faculty, and staff interested in hosting a program based upon the DCF's theme.  In the fall term, the DCF awarded funding to the Journal of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth for the spring term launch of the Journal which focused on the "Words and their Consequences" theme (see promotional poster at right).  In the winter term, the DCF awarded funds to five programs that took place in the spring 2012 term, including:

Last Updated: 7/9/12