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Transcript of "Cuss Time"
About the Writer
Author of nine books of fiction
Professor at North Carolina State University
Recipient of numerous literary awards
Concerned with domestic life and human behavior
"Cuss Time" addresses the problem of context with regard to a relatively early area of language development. What exactly is it that children have a hard time recognizing about audience and context? What can it teach us about encountering new audiences and contexts?
We're taught that you never discuss politics and religion at the dinner table. If there's "a time and a place" for such talk, when exactly is the time and when exactly is the place? Is propriety a way of silencing uncomfortable speech? What is the value of silence?
Profanity is often described as "colourful language." So why is it off limits in so many contexts? Shouldn't we want more colour in our language? What is so attractive to so-called "unsophisticated" speakers about "dirty words"?
Comedian Lenny Bruce has had a profound influence on the culture of "obscenity," and throughout his life fought on stage and in the courtroom for freedom of expression.
The case of Professor Steven Salaita aroused considerable controversy this summer after he was fired for what university officials characterized as "objectionable" tweets. Lennard Davis redefines "foul language" in his response to the affair, "A Meditation on Violent Language: Professor's Impassioned Tweets vs The University Memo," available at the Huffington Post.
The Darndest Things
The Dinner Table