The goal of this group is to examine the construct of entitlement in the Latin American cultural, literary and linguistic context, through analyses of issues of identity and ethics, the concept of personal rights, the literary representation of the entitled person, and the representation of the subject in grammar and narrative. In English, the meaning of the word has evolved from the original interpretation as a legitimate claim to an illegitimate claim, the illusion that one is inherently deserving of privileges. Spanish has no equivalent term, but marks the contrast between the legitimate and non-legitimate interpretation by using a reflexively marked verb; i.e creer (‘believe’) vs. creerse (‘feel entitled to’).
We aim to explore relevant texts from Spanish-speaking colonial discourse to contemporary narrative and film, in order to build a methodology for analyzing the language of entitlement. Through sustained interdisciplinary dialogue we seek to (i) develop a framework for examining how the concepts of common language supervene into higher order cultural constructs that define entitlement; (ii) study whether certain linguistics markers can be tools for characterizing the entitled discourse, and for describing the challenge of mutual recognition, or its absence inherent in the entitled context. Such examination is urgent within the current context in which the language of rights and access to rights is used by antagonist sectors of society, ranging from corporate leaders to the advocates for the homeless, from #metoo to the incel fringe, from the religious right to the trans movement, from #BlackLivesMatter to white supremacists. The necrotic individualism and accretion of subjectivity that is seen to emerge in the formation of some local subcultures, as well as in the rise of the current international cohort of narcissistic heads of state, calls for an inquiry into the entitled discourse.
These are some of the general questions that will guide our group discussions and interactions with invited guests: Is entitlement a legal structure, as in the original sense, or an affective state? How do we distinguish between entitlement and rights in the current context of highly fluid, abrupt shifts in societal norms? When the victim and the victimizer use the same language, what is norm and what is transgression?
Faculty, University of Toronto
Sanda Munjic, FAS Spanish & Portuguese
Victor Rivas, Instructor, Latin American Studies program
Jeffrey Steeles, FAS French
Naomi Nagy, Linguistics
Faculty outside University of Toronto
Susan Ehrlich, Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, York University
Graduate Students, University of Toronto
Yadira Alvarez, Spanish & Portuguese
Ailen Cruz, Spanish & Portuguese
Paula Karger, Linguistics
Ruth Maddeaux, Linguistics