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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Salman Rushdie come to Asheville with new novel

Atheist believes in genies, novel revealsby Rob Neufeld             Salman Rushdie’s latest novel—“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (1,001 nights)—has permitted me to come up with a headline as wild as the one above because the book is so exuberantly and infectiously…See More
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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jan 31
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

73 classic works about Appalachia going online

Key Appalachian studies publications now going onlinefrom press release, Jan. 27. 2016 Appalachian studies scholars and those interested in regional history will have greater access to out-of-print works thanks to a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Open Book Program grant totaling $88,000 awarded to Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.  Pamela Mitchem, the library’s coordinator of digital scholarship and…See More
Jan 30
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

John Parris' home-grown prose

South of Sylva, back of yesterday: John Parris' inspiration             “For the life of me, I just can’t understand why folks stopped usin’ cradles,” John Parris’ 97-year-old maternal grandfather had told him 60 years ago.            The oil lamp, the buggy, and the spinning wheel—they all were replaced by things…See More
Jan 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

James Sturm expands scope of graphic novels

James Sturm blazes cartoon path to a new worldby Rob Neufeld             Why is it that when an author combines pictures with words, the medium is considered juvenile, like comics?  Words create literature; images, art.  Why, when you marry them, is it like pairing a milk cow with a mop?            Nothing against…See More
Jan 24
susannah eanes posted a blog post

The Writer as Pilgrim

Two articles leapt at my consciousness this week, both about writing. And suddenly, I know how to go forward from here. The first, The Price I Pay to Write, by Laura Bogart and published online in Dame Magazine, reflects on the difficulties of…See More
Jan 24
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Tired of thrillers with no soul?

Why read a 1940 man-on-the-run classicby Rob Neufeld             After reading a classic novel, you might think, “Oh, look at this superior ancestor of today’s fiction.”              For instance, “The Power and the Glory,” Graham Greene’s 1940 thriller about political oppression in Mexico, exemplifies the…See More
Jan 17
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Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Art of Grace by Sarah Kaufman

Dance critic applies grace to every moveby Rob Neufeld             It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W.…See More
Jan 9
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Jan 9
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Jan 8
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Fire and Ice Roses interview with author/gardening blogger Kathryn Hall

Fire and Ice Roses has been interviewing gardening bloggers and gardening experts and were kind enough to include this short interview recently which was quite fun and very much appreciated! http://fireandiceroses.com/ask-an-expert-kathryn-hall/See More
Jan 5
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

History in the making, January 2, 2016

History in the making: items of note, January 2, 2016It was reported in today’s print edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times that a new state law went into effect, requiring people who’ve filed for unemployment benefits to make at least 5 job contacts a week.  It had been 2.  How will that work?  Are there that many jobs for which a person is qualified?  Can you apply to the same job twice if it continues to be listed? Paul Bonesteel, noted Asheville filmmaker, revealed on Facebook that a…See More
Jan 2
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Local event of the day, Jan 1 2016

Tarantino, eminent domain, and emancipation Tarantino comes to townQuentin Tarantino’s New Year’s gore and gabfest, The Hateful Eight, is gutted by New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, who says that Tarantino toys with rather than explores history, using it “for boyish fantasies of revenge, as if enormous crimes could be undone, after the event, by lone and wanton acts of humiliation.” …See More
Jan 1
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Railroad history in Western North Carolina: a close-up and bottom-line look

Railroads in WNC: the perils, the people, and the profitby Rob NeufeldWritten in conjunction with exhibit, "How The West Was Won," in Rural Heritage Museum, Mars Hill University PHOTO CAPTION: The entrance to the railroad show at the Rural Heritage Museum is commanded by a mock-up of Climax engine…See More
Dec 24, 2015

ASU name expert, Dr. Donna Lillian, reveals fruits of study

Words with friends; Appalachian professor leads American Name Society

Article from Appalachian State University

BOONE—Onomastics. It’s a word a computer spellchecker won’t recognize but one that speaks volumes to those who study names and naming practices.

Dr. Donna L. Lillian, director of the women’s studies program at Appalachian State University and an associate professor of English, is an onomastician and has begun a two-year term as president of the American Name Society (ANS), the oldest scholarly society devoted to the study of names in the United States. She took office earlier this month during the society’s annual meeting held in Boston in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America.

“Names have a lot to do with identity,” Lillian said. “So if we want to know who we are, then one way of exploring that is what we call ourselves, all the things we do and interact with.”

Onomastics also encompasses a range of academic areas of interest, Lillian explained. For example, areas of interest to researchers include names in politics, religion and literature. Society members who are geographers study names of cities, towns, streets, mountains or rivers.

“If you look at the place names of North America, you can learn a lot about history, migration patterns and values,” Lillian said. “Scholars of literature will often study names in favorite pieces of literature or those used by certain authors, such as Dickens who did interesting things with his characters’ names,” Lillian said.

Dickens’ colorful and character-defining include Mr. Sloppy, Artful Dodger and of course, Scrooge. Others study trade names.

“Trends in name choices for children can say something about what we as a society are preoccupied with,” Lillian said. “If a particular individual such as an athlete, actor or politician gains quite a bit of popularity, then a lot of people start naming their child after that person. Historically you can look back and see what were some of those preoccupations.” 

Each year during its annual meeting, the American Name Society votes on the preceding year’s top personal name, place name, trade name and fictional name.  Winners were Malala, Gangman, fiscal cliff and Downton Abbey, respectively.  Malala was selected because the name has become associated with a cause – advocating for education of Pakistani girls, particularly in an area controlled by the Taliban.

The society’s overall name of the year was Sandy for its association with Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook Elementary School, Lillian said.

Lillian’s interest in names was fueled while teaching a language and gender course while a master’s degree candidate at the University of Toronto. “I began thinking about women’s marital name choices, our naming practices in general and how the family surname is virtually always the father’s surname,” she said. “For my master’s thesis, I did an empirical study on patterns of women’s naming choices and the courtesy title Ms.”

She has continued her research on women’s use of surnames when they marry and their use of the courtesy titles Miss, Ms. or Mrs. and how those trends have changed during the past 30 years.

“There have been some interesting shifts,” Lillian said. “In the mid-80s, there was a growing trend toward women keeping their surname when they married. Professional women and younger women were more likely to keep their name. Women who had married before the mid-70s changed their name.”

That trend began changing in the mid-90s. “The trend is reversing itself now among younger women. Fewer women under 30 are keeping their name when they marry,” Lillian said. Some of the women Lillian surveyed recounted the hassles their mother encountered by keeping her surname and didn’t want a similar experience. “There was also a big connection with a return to conservative values including a family all having the same surname.”

When it comes to the use of Ms., the trends are also interesting. Originally used to eliminate the distinction between Miss and Mrs., Lillian said that by the 1980s many people had a negative association with Ms., equating it with feminism or radical overtones, or a title used by divorced women.

“By 2006, people assumed it was a third title, not associated with feminism, and they are surprised to learn it was meant to replace Miss or Mrs. The women I surveyed thought it was a handy third term to indicate someone who is separated or divorced or to use as a placeholder if you don’t know their marital status. It has undergone quite a shift.”

Lillian recently has been researching the various names of the 750 college and university women’s studies programs in the U.S., any changes that have occurred over the years and why. “Within my field now, that’s a big topic of discussion,” she said.  Program names range from women’s studies to gender studies or gender and sexuality studies.

In addition to her duties as president of the American Name Society, Lillian, with the help of Dr. Cheryl Claassen from Appalachian’s Department of Anthropology,
hopes to revive the Blue Ridge Names Society and hold a conference in the fall.

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