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Language Matters

Comfort Zones: Language and Human Security

Guiding Questions

  • In what ways does language matter in times of crisis and how might we better prepare students to productively address those crises as future leaders?
  • How might employing diverse methods of linguistic analyses enhance national and global approaches to migration, healthcare, criminology, or cybersecurity?
  • How might approaching themes of border security, (im)migration, violence, justice, discrimination and gender equity through the lens of literature enhance linguistic and cultural sensitivities, foster productive conversations about and lead to improved human security?
  • How might accelerated language training better prepare military personnel to go abroad.
  • How might linguistic/cognitive psychology/neuroscience collaborations facilitate veterans' smooth transition upon U.S. return?


The Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics (LLL) and other Syracuse University scholars publish on questions surrounding national security from multi-disciplinary, language-centered perspectives. A number of LLL linguists have contributed in areas such as forensic and computational linguistics, language and disease control, and accelerated language acquisition. LLL literary scholars teach and publish on topics of immigration, social justice, border security, medical humanities, blood and war and, thus, raise questions and contribute solutions on human security. Eagleton (1983:3) affirms that as a "particular organization of language," which has its own laws, codes, and structures, "literature forces us into dramatic awareness of language," "refreshes" our worldview and "renders objects more 'perceptible'." Language Matters to human security.


The Comfort Zones research initiative begins with a two-pronged approach to stimulate and prioritize multidisciplinary research on human security and to make our team more competitive for governmental grants. We are creating a Syracuse University think-tank to brainstorm bigger ideas, share current research within the university, inviting collaborators from other SU Colleges, Moynihan Institute and the Institute of Veterans' Affairs, among others, to dialogue with us around language and security. The first event will bring together campus scholars from across disciplines in a day-long colloquium, series of working papers and roundtable discussions. In 2021, we will host an international conference on language and its impact on national and human security. This event will unite national security and language experts to share work from perspectives in languages, sciences, social sciences, and the other humanities.

Future Goals

  1. Publicly showcase, document, and build linguistic, literary, and language research on human security through a campus think-tank and an international conference.
  2. Build a database of SU and external language and human security resources, procure external funding to foment new cross-disciplinary projects on the topic.


Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983.

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