Dream of a Common Language: A Women’s Thesaurus

Here’s a recording of a talk I gave at the 92nd Street Y on February 25, 1992: What Do the Words We Use Say About Women? I got to delve into the history and development of the National Council for Research on Women’s thesaurus project and my own fascination with language and gender norms. A Women’s Thesaurus: An Index of Language Used to Describe and Locate Information By and About Women (Harper & Row, 1987) was our first major NCRW project/publication: my dream job! I got to coordinate amazing groups of women librarians, researchers, policy specialists, writers, and activists and then edit lists and more lists of our language, inspired in no small part by Adrienne Rich’s Dream of a Common Language. We changed the Library of Congress Subject Headings and significantly improved online access to existing databases before the arrival of full-text searching!

Apologies about the recording: the taping did not capture some very interesting questions but did catch some longer responses, and Part 2 finishes with readings of Ursula LeGuin’s short story “She Unnames Them” and Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Transcendental Etude.”

What Do the Works We Use Say About Women? Parts 1 and 2: A 92nd Street Y talk by Mary Ellen Capek  Sound


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