On October 16, 2023, the Department of English and Humanities presented the second forum of the 9th DEH Curriculum Integration Program via an online event where Dr. Shamsad Mortuza, Professor and Special Advisor to the ULAB Board of Trustees, was invited as the guest speaker to expound on the theme of the term's CI program, "Language as a Weapon". He focused on language weaponization in Literature and Culture.
Hosted by Dr. Abu Saleh Mohammad Rafi, Assistant Professor, the program began with welcoming the speaker, faculty members, and students present at the forum. Dr. Rafi then briefly introduced the purpose of the Curriculum Integration along with the theme of the term. He further provided historical and scholarly evidence of how language is used as a weapon.
Dr. Mortuza then began his meaningful and enlightening information exchange by sharing how language is used as a weapon in literature. He began by reiterating the key points of Forum One. Then, using a storytelling approach, he drew examples from literary texts, such as the Bible and Homer’s Illiad, to explain manipulation of language and victimization as a result of language weaponization. He also spoke at length about George Orwell’s treatises on weapons, politics, and language. According to Orwell, “If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.” Political leaders have also used language to dehumanize others and becomes a tool of oppression. Language can also be used to discriminate (“linguicism”). While still recognizing the necessity of using language as a tool to shape society, the speaker emphasized on its negative aspects. He stated, "Innocence of language can be lost by weaponization," and supported it through the example of how Covid-19 was called China virus which victimized the Chinese. Dr. Mortuza ended on a positive note with a reference to Toni Morrison who spoke about the power of language to distinguish humans from other creatures: “But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
The event concluded with a question and answer session to address any concerns the attending students had.
The Curriculum Integration Program is a tool used to guide students towards the practical application of their learning materials to real-world issues.
Dr. Mortuza’s lecture and the comments following are available on the DEH YouTube Channel.
Report by Kazi Bushra Orpy (203013003)