At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
Sociolinguistics simultaneously addresses the roles played by language in human society and the influence of social factors on the structures of language itself. At Bennington, students of sociolinguistics examine the use of language in the construction of identity and its contribution to both passive perceptions and active expressions of social positionality. From specific instances of interactional accommodation and pragmatic stance to broader notions of gender/sexuality, group affiliation, and social mobility, they ask questions not only of what is said in the course of human communication but how it is said, by/to whom, and why. Students additionally study cognitive and structural aspects of language as a system and as a contextualized behavior, and learn to fruitfully combine qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis through the critical evaluation of traditional and current approaches to this quintessentially human topic.
How do social factors shape our use of language, and how does language use in turn impact our construction and perception of society? A sociolinguist, Thomas Leddy-Cecere addresses these questions through his research in Arabic and contemporary American English.
Visiting Faculty & Technicians
Leah Pappas is a documentary linguist who collaborates with language communities in Indonesia. She researches language and gesture to understand how socially-mediated interaction with the environment results in linguistic diversity.