Jargon in Academia

I’m having a little brainstorm over here about my frustration with jargon in academia and the way disciplines borrow from each other and then deposit that jargon on students as though they already know what these things mean, and it’s not all coming together yet so I thought I’d just throw some words out here and some of them will have notes on my understanding but others won’t yet.

space and place - this is what launched this brainstorm, because I was reading about bringing a spatial perspective to the internet and because I’m doing work on affinity spaces. A quick Google tells me that this comes from geography, from the work of Yi-Fu Tuan, and I have heard people throw this around so much in educational research and to a lesser extent in information science research, and I think it’s probably a really useful concept but at no point did anyone offer me an introduction to it as though it were a new thing.

Paulo Freire - I really ought to have read this guy’s stuff. I haven’t yet. Maybe I’ll get there one day.

Habitus (Pierre Bourdieu) - SAME. In my second semester of my doc program, John Martin was all “Bourdieu’s habitus” and, like, I know, he was right, this is a thing I should know, because I’m researching practices, and practice theory is a thing, and this is another one where it’s like, okay, I’ll get there someday I hope.

Bakhtinian carnivalesque - I ran across this because of cosplay but I first came across Mikhail Bakhtin’s work when I was doing a paper on expansive learning, and guess what, I could probably stand to read some more Bakhtin.

semiotics - this comes up a lot for me right now because Gee’s work is all over semiotics and Discourse/discourse and blah blah discursive practices blah.

hermeneutics - Ran across this one in an English class that I thought was about Digital Editing, which it technically was, I just didn’t know that editing has a different meaning in academic English circles than it does in the circles where I ran prior to starting a PhD.

I’m a fourth-gen postgrad and I struggle with this jargon. I don’t know how anyone makes time to deeply understand theory, especially theory translated into English from other languages, and I’ve taken two theory classes and three qual methods classes.

All of this language, in my experience, serves the purpose of gatekeeping and alienating people who could be doing phenomenal work. (Epiphenomenal?) How do we fix it? Can we fix it?

I kind of want to make it my job to fix it.

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Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
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