Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

2020-21 Postdoctoral Fellow Matt Schafer Publishes Article in New Political Science Based on Talk for Mitchell Center's "Free Speech Battles" Series

Friday, March 4, 2022 - 1:00pm

See the abstract here.

2020-21 Mitchell Center Postdoctoral Fellow Matt Schafer has published an article in the February 2022 issue of New Poltical Science. The essay, "Silence in Violence, and So Is Speech," is based on a lecture delivered in the “Free Speech Battles” series at the Mitchell Center in April 2021 (see the video of the event here). Schafer reflects on contemporary impasses in the cultural politics of language, arguing that current controversies about linguistic violence reflect an unresolved tension between two distinct registers in which debates about language operate. One framework, best characterized in terms of the basic categories of discourse and power, is oriented toward the critique of structure; the other, which instead emphasizes speech and harm, is oriented toward the criticism of behavior. The tension between them is itself a symptom of deeper dynamics in contemporary political life. Schafer argues that we cannot resolve debates about linguistic violence simply through conceptual analysis or reinterpretation; instead, we must reexamine how language itself is being transformed by more fundamental kinds of social, political, and technological change.