Re: words

Julie L Bevins (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 11:47:41 -0600

Hi Folks!
I understand the frustration with hearing particular words invoked too
frequently, and I have also been in situations where I have felt as if the
individual speaking to me was putting on academic airs with his/her vocabulary
selections, but I feel a need to say something about these words we are
maligning. I remember that when I started graduate school certain words really
helped me figure out who I was in this field, what I was doing and why I was
doing it. I am almost afraid to say it, but words like "situate" and
"problematize" came to mean significant things to me: I began to think about
how I am located in our field, among our histories/theories/practices, and how
I must constantly re-examine my positioning (by "problematizing" my
"situadedness"!) When I hear (or use) these words (and others like them)
today, they draw up images for me that (I hope) help me from becoming stuck in
one dull, safe place--a place where I "know" everything. Now, I am only too
aware of how much I still do not know, of how even that which I *think* I know
is subject to revision...but it is easy to say "well, this is X" just because
constantly re-thinking what I "know" takes work. Words like
"problematize"--given their history in my life as a student--help me remember
why I *want* to re-think. Given the significance certain words have for
me, and knowing how they have helped (continue to help) me see some
connections among theory and practice, I feel uneasy about blacklisting any
terms--even those terms that drive me right up a wall because they sound
pompus and whatever else--because I imagine they might hold significance
for someone else--perhaps the person speaking them. Does this make sense?

Julie Bevins



The Margin: