Language of Privilege and Politics

Oct 27, 2018 | 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM | Main Loft

Vanessa Lilly, MA University of Western Ontario 

The Adapting Language of Resistance: An analysis of Hashtags Resisting Sexual Violence

In April 2014 the Canadian media was subjected to a statutory publication ban by Judge Jamie Campbell of the Nova Scotia Provincial court. This prevented all Canadian media from publishing the name of the since deceased victim of a 2011 sexual assault. Her name is Rehtaeh Parsons. Despite Rehtaeh Parsons’ next of kin explicitly opposing the ban and several Nova Scotia media outlets seeking advice from legal counsel to overturn the ban, it remained in place. The incredible irony and injustice lies in the fact that when Rehtaeh Parsons reported she was sexually assaulted, she was never granted the privacy and protection she deserved. The publication ban served to further victimize Rehtaeh Parsons through the silence imposed by hiding her name and skewing her narrative. One platform in particular that was used regularly to discuss this case is the social media site, Twitter. I examine the discussion on Twitter to understand the various strands of online discourse during the publication ban. The analysis exposes the extent to which Twitter restored the victim, Rehtaeh Parsons’, own narrative and provides insight into the way that activist language changes and has taken the form of the hashtag.

Cheryl Comeau-Kirschner, PhD  Borough of Manhattan Community College    

The Language of Parole: Sex Offenders’ Discourse Strategy Use in Indeterminate Sentence Review Board Hearings

Discourse analysis of 19 video-recorded Indeterminate Sentence Review Board hearings in the State of Washington Department of Corrections revealed that sex offenders used 45 distinct linguistic strategies. We found that discourse strategy use among offenders who were subsequently paroled differed from those offenders who were subsequently not paroled. Offenders who were subsequently paroled used apology, withholding information, and topic management strategies; in contrast, offenders who were not subsequently paroled used minimization, denial, rejecting the Parole Board’s concern, courtesies, repair, self-repair and other repair, and use of “I mean” as turn-grabbing and forewarning strategies.

Naveen Joshi, PhD  Humber College

Voices of Privilege: Understanding and Teaching Privilege in the Digital World

This paper draws on semi-structured interviews with 80 college students, examining how they understand and talk about the notion of privilege in the process of self-representation in online social networks. I first highlight how interview data indicate that racialized students [self-identifying as brown and black] understand and practice the process of self-representation very differently from their white counterparts. I next examine how popular culture not only serves to fill a gap in the literature/research on privilege, but is a useful tool in getting students to think about how we speak about privilege in our world. I conclude with outlining my current research study on privilege.


Vanessa Lilly, MA

Vanessa Lilly is a doctoral student in the department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research at Western University, in London, ON. Her research hovers the intersections of gender, girlhood, activism and social media and the way in which such intersections manifest in the public imagination shaped through discourse. Oriented in this way allows her research to address power and ideology in its overlapping nature, furthering her passion for bridging activism and scholarship.

Cheryl Comeau-Kirschner, PhD

Dr. Cheryl Comeau-Kirschner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Academic Literacy and Linguistics at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She has a B.A. in Business Journalism from Baruch College, M.A. in TESOL (Adult Track) from Hunter College, and a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Learning from Fordham University. In addition to forensic linguistics, her research interests include: English language learner literacy assessment; metacognitive awareness and self-efficacy in adult learning; tutor-training methodology and practice in college-level writing centers; and communities of practice and knowledge management in educational and professional settings. Selected publications include the following: Comeau-Kirschner, C. (2017). Critical thinking one tweet at a time. BMCC Inquirer, 24, 4-5. Comeau-Kirschner, C. (2016, April 18). Taking on the text with your student writer. Retrieved from NCTE’s Conference on Writing Education Writers Who Care blog: Cochran, E. P., & Comeau-Kirschner, C. (2016). The language of parole: sex offenders’ discourse strategy use in Indeterminate Sentence Review Board hearings. WORD, 62(4), 244-267. Maloy, J., Comeau-Kirschner, C., & Amaral, J. (2015). Building a human rights curriculum to support digital service-learning. In Adrian J. Wurr & James M. Perren (Eds.) Learning the Language of Global Citizenship: Strengthening Service-Learning in TESOL, (pp. 244-273). Rochford, R.A. & Comeau-Kirschner, C. (2015). An innovative developmental reading experiment: Integrated Collaborative Teaching and thematic curriculum, NYS TESOL Journal, 2(1), 17-27.

Naveen Joshi, PhD                                      

Dr. Naveen Joshi is a professor at Humber College. He completed his PhD in Communication and Culture from York University, and his MA in Popular Culture from Brock University.  He teaches courses in Film Studies; Race, Gender, and the Digital Age; Online Social Networks; Popular Culture; and Research Methods. His current research project investigates how privilege is practiced in the digital world. He has published an analysis of Shaadi,com, the world's largest South Asian matrimonial website and is the chair for Internet Culture area for the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association.