Lecture by Michael Geisler, September 23, 2005

Metaphors to Die For: Towards a Rhetoric of National Symbols

by Michael Geisler, Dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad, Professor in Linguistics and Languages, Middlebury College, Vermont

Panel of Respondents
Fayton Henderson, Assistant Coordinator, German
Mark Kaiser, Associate Director of the BLC
Karen Moller, Coordinator, Scandinavian
Sonia Shiri, Coordinator, Arabic

More than mere decoration or official state functions, national symbols are an integral part of both collective and even individual identity formation. By defusing a nation to a state, they also play an important part in maintaining the “background reality” (Luhmann) of everyday life. Yet despite their naturalized appearance, national symbols are surprisingly unstable signifiers, subject to challenges and transformations over time. This lecture will discuss the function of national symbols in everyday communicative settings, in public discourse, and as repositories of collective memory.

Friday, September 23, 2005
3-5pm, 370 Dwinelle Hall