Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture, and Peter Sokolowski, editor at large of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, will co-teach a seminar on the making of dictionaries this spring. The Daily Hampshire Gazette recently spoke with them about the course.
“Rather than operating as a standard course, a group capped at six students will work on a collaborative project with their professors, which will likely take the form of a book about the history of dictionaries in various cultures,” Gazette writer Jacquelyn Voghel wrote. “Students will receive a stipend and room and board for time spent outside of the semester working on the project, and they’ll be credited as co-authors of the book.”
“The course will also investigate various roles played by dictionaries today and throughout history, including how dictionaries have come to exert linguistic authority, how they reflect changing aspects of society, and differences in dictionaries across cultures and historical periods,” she wrote.
The course was borne from reaching “a certain point where I have moved from being a collector and user and maker of dictionaries to thinking that it’s time to build a new generation that is going to be interested in lexicography, and dictionaries in particular,” Stavans said.