The 7 words you can't say on WCenter

Marcy Bauman (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 22:31:47 -0600

Well, golly. In the spirit of _____ing our ______, let me say
that I've been fascinated by this discussion of what words do and don't
do, what they can and can't do. I'm extremely interested in how this
text is writing itself; how have we gotten from a generalized discussion
about the C's and conferences to a discussion of specific words that make
us twitch? Are these sorts of issues ones that inevtiably come up as an
academic discipline gains legitimacy, power, and a history? Obviously,
as this discussion has shown, we pack a lot of baggage into our words --
but also obviously, the words are never enough to say what we really
mean. What's the relationship of words to our discipline? Seems
inevitable that words both include and exclude, just as communities can
never be completely inclusive: someone's always on the margins. With any
luck, it's not always the same someone, and the margin isn't a bad
(stigmatized) place to be, any more than the center is.

I don't think that dynamic of inclusion and exclusion is a failing
as much as it is a condition of being human. I think we all move from
feeling included to feeling excluded, from feeling we share common
ground with our colleagues to feeling that we have to battle for our own
ground to stand on. Maybe the debates about words (wherever they occur,
not just on WCenter) are our way of articulating a passage from the
outside to the inside and back again, because we'e committed, by dint of
being alive, to negotiating and renegotiating that passage. (I'm
thinking Cynthia's buzzword generator is a humorous acknowledgement of
this condition.)

In any case, I'd hate to see this vibrant, thoughtful discussion
about words and what they do _become_ "the 7 words you can't say on
WCenter" . . . if that's what's going on, then I hereby promise to stand
in front of the mirror and repeat "Problematize hegemony!" while looking
at my backside 35 times a day for the next month as penance for any role
I might've played in bringing us to that (im)pass(e) . . .


Marcy Bauman
Writing Program, University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128
fax: 313-593-5552



The Margin: