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Anthropologist and Linguist Michael Silverstein on
“Culture, Conversation and Creativity”

Michael Silverstein, distinguished professor of anthropology, linguistics and psychology at the University of Chicago, will discuss “Culture, Conversation and Creativity,” as part of Marlboro College’s celebrated Monday Night Lecture Series on creativity on January 30 at 7:00 p.m. in Whittemore Theater at Marlboro College.

Silverstein will explore how conversation--a social interaction--links culture and creativity both in everyday conversations and in more public realms of artistic and scientific creativity. Creativity has often been identified in the context of a heroic mythology, the result of an individual’s imaginative powers. For, Silverstein, creativity is found in the rhetorical and cultural power of discourse, of which language is the prime but not only vehicle. He finds that consequential innovation occurs in the everyday commonplaces of what we call “conversation” as it is in more public realms of artistic and scientific “creativity.”

Silverstein is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Psychology, and for the Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities at The University of Chicago, where he has been on the faculty since 1971.  Silverstein studies problems of language structure and function, language history and prehistory, the history of linguistics and ethnographic studies. He has conducted fieldwork in North America and Australia, and is investigating language use and textuality as sites for the transformation of cultural values in contemporary American society.

Silverstein is the author of numerous articles in a range of journals, and his research was the subject of a special issue in Language and Communication. In 2003, he published a book, Talking Politics: The Substance of Style from Abe to “W.” He earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics from Harvard University in 1972.

This lecture is free of charge and open to the public. The Whittemore Theater is fully accessible. Monday Night Lectures are funded by the Thompson Trust, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, the Freeman Foundation, the Vermont Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and an anonymous donor. For more information, contact Elena Sharnoff, Marlboro College Public Affairs Officer, at (802) 251-7644. For cancellation information, please call the Events Hotline: (802) 451-7151.

Founded in 1946, Marlboro College offers undergraduate education in the liberal arts and, since 1997, graduate study focused on Internet technologies. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 350-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont. Marlboro has been selected as one of 40 Colleges that Change Lives. (http://www.marlboro.edu/news/promotional/change_lives).

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