What does it mean for millions of people to learn English for a global market when the humanities are so undervalued within academia? Additionally, what are the responsibilities of English departments in this increasingly anglophone world?

Dr. Shirley Brice Heath will address such concerns in her presentation “The Future of English” on Friday, December 14 at 10 a.m. in Robert Bell (RB) 361. This talk will focus on English not as a language, but as a humanity.

As an anthropological linguist, Dr. Heath studies the acquisition and socialization of language, including the role of literature in these processes.

Dr. Heath has written 10 books about the intersection of linguistics and anthropology. These works include Words at work and play: three decades in families and communities (2012) and Ways with Words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 1983/1996).

Dr. Heath earned her B.A. from Lynchburg College in 1962, her M.A. from Ball State University in 1964, and her PhD from Columbia University in 1970. Dr. Heath has held positions at many prestigious institutions, including University of Pennsylvania and Brown University. From 2003 to 2010, she served as Professor at Large at Brown University. Currently, Dr. Heath holds the Marjorie Bailey Professorship in English and Dramatic Literature and is also a professor of Linguistics, Emerita, at Stanford University.

Dr. Heath will also present “My Granny’s Wishbone Pin and Other Tales of Hope” as part of the Teachers College Centennial Events on Thursday, December 13 at 7 pm in the recital hall of the Fine Arts Building.

We are also pleased to announce that during commencement on Saturday, December 15, Dr. Heath will receive an honorary doctorate for her contributions to the fields of anthropology and linguistics.

More information on Dr. Heath’s work can be found on her website.