Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Proper Names, Raw Poetry, and the Birth of Writing

October 4th, 2013
4 PM

102 Dinwiddie Hall

Dr. Marc Zender, visiting Assistant Professor at Tulane University will give a talk entitled “Proper Names, Raw Poetry, and the Birth of Writing.”

The talk abstract is as follows: At least 100,000 years ago, language emerged as a uniquely human trait, and it has now become a universal one: all humans everywhere rely on language as a key vehicle of cultural identity and cultural transmission. Much more recently, just over 5,000 years ago, but equally uniquely, humans innovated writing: the graphic record of language. Recent discoveries in the comparative study of writing (grammatology) demonstrate that writing was invented independently on at least six separate occasions. Given the vastly different cultures, distinct languages, and diverse geographical settings of these primary inventions of writing (grammatogenies), we might have expected a heterogeneous group of early writing systems. Yet the first writing systems are strikingly similar in appearance, structure, and application. They are all highly pictorial, but with abstract signs for sounds, words, and ideas, employed in the recording of proper names, either as captions to figural art, or as purely textual markers of identity. How do we explain such strong similarities between independently innovated systems? And what are their implications for our understanding of the relationship between language, writing, and culture?

A reception will follow.

Sponsored by the Tulane Anthropology Student Association.





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La Hora del Cuento: Summer Bilingual Story Hour at the Pebbles Center

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This summer, join us for La hora del cuenta bilingual readings series at the Pebbles Centers of the New Orleans Public Libraries!

On the first and last Saturday of every month, we will read a bilingual book at the Algiers Regional Library and the Children’s Resource Center Library beginning on Saturday April 28 until Saturday, August 25. Children and parents welcome!

Story Hours Dates and Locations

Algiers Regional Branch
Saturday, May 5
2:30 PM

Saturday, June 2
2:30 PM

Saturday, July 7
2:30 PM

Saturday, August 4
2:30 PM

Children’s Resource Center Library
Saturday, April 28
12:00 PM

Saturday, May 26
12:00 PM

Saturday, June 30
12:00 PM

Saturday, July 28
12:00 PM

Saturday, August 25
12:00 PM