The Anti-Slump: Unpacking those buzzwords

Slump

I have a long and troubled history with epistemology. I have no beef with the branch of philosophy that it refers to, but the word itself caused me a good deal of grief last year.

Like, I presume, most first years, I arrived at Brown with little knowledge of academic buzzwords. One of the most intimidating things about being in class as a first year is the volume of specialized vocabulary that you seemingly must learn in order to receive a passing grade and/or carry on a coherent conversation. (Let me add here that during freshman fall I took a couple of Anthro classes, which are essentially glorified buzzword orgies.)

Some of the most common academic catchphrases are easy enough to understand. To “unpack” is to dissect the complex meaning of a phrase, action, or thought; a “dichotomy” happens when there are two things; and “problematizing” is the process of realizing that something you like actually sucks.

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