An Online Conference. May 1-3, 2020. 11am-1pm EDT EACH DAY.

Everyone speaks with an accent. But not all accents are perceived as equal: some people’s speech is heard as “neutral” whereas others’ is heard as “accented.” These differences have serious implications: perceptions about language and fluency can be a passport for entry or grounds for exclusion, leading to the denial or approval of asylum claims and job or housing applications. Complex industries – call centers, cloud-based voice services, and border security – are devoted to the training, detection, neutralization, and monetization of particular accents. At the same time, critical interventions in art, literature, music, and media use accent to access not just dominance and difference, but also locality, singularity, and embeddedness.

Thinking With An Accent brought together scholars and practitioners of media, literature, law, linguistics, politics, and music to discuss these developments. The conference, held over Zoom, featured three two-hour panels over three days.

Organizers: The conference was organized by Pooja Rangan, Associate Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College, with co-organizers Akshya Saxena (Vanderbilt University), Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan (University of Arizona), and Pavitra Sundar (Hamilton College). We are co-editing an anthology of writings emerging from this conference. Please contact us if you wish to learn more, or if you wish to view captioned videos from the conference!

This website was created by Sydney Scanlon (Amherst College ’22) with help from Nam Nguyen (Amherst College ’20) and design inspiration from Isabelle Doerre Torres, Eugene Choi, and Arielle Kirven.