Since Caitlyn Jenner, Renaming Ceremonies Gain Visibility

7185524912_be4002da2d_mTransgender individuals frequently mark their transition by exchanging their birth name for a new, self-chosen name.

In recognition and celebration of this significant personal transformation, many progressive religious institutions have begun to offer members special re-naming ceremonies. The Congregational Church of San Mateo (CCSM) holds special baptisms for its congregation. As one CCSM member who was recently re-baptized revealed in an interview with the New York Times: “It was pretty powerful and moving […] to be able to say ‘My name is Constance’.”

Outside the United States, in an effort to better respond to the pastoral needs of the Christian transgender community, Reverend Newlands, the Vicar of England’s Lancaster Priory, has petitioned the General Synod to officially allow re-baptisms.

ANS Panel on Literary Onomastics at the Modern Language Association Conference, Austin, TX, January 8, 2016

On the 8th of January 2016, the ANS will be hosting a special panel on literary onomastics during the annual conference of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in Austin, Texas. The title of this year’s panel is “Names in the Literary Workplace”.2000px-Texas_flag_map.svg

Three papers will be presented during this event:

  1. Linguistic Imperialism in Doctor Dolittle (to be presented by Jonathan Rey Lee
  2. Screen Names: Names and the Limits of the Human in Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist (Candace Caraco)
  3. Naming and the Work of Revolution: Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies (Christine De Vinne).


The official scientific abstracts for this event can be found here.

The panel will take place from 10:15am to 11:30am, in the Austin Convention Center.

Conference on Taboo Humo(u)r, Barcelona, Spain, September 20-21, 2016

5623867633_93a49307a1_mFrom the 20th to the 21st of September, 2016, the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain will be holding a conference on Taboo Humo(u)r. The purpose of the conference is to investigate the intricacies of taboo in language and the intersection between culture, society, media, and humor.

Individual proposals or pre-organized panels addressing one or more of the following themes are especially welcome:

  • sex and sexuality
  • death and dying
  • sickness
  • disability and deformity
  • scatology
  • politics
  • religion and blasphemy
  • money
  • violence

The deadline for proposal submission is the 15th of January, 2016.

After Ruling, Paul Smith’s College Won’t Get Weills’ $20 Million Renaming Gift

4029317113_ec40177b56_mNestled in the forests of upper New York State is Paul Smith’s College (PSC). The College of the Adirondack’s owes its name to Phelps Smith, a generous 19th century hotelier, who agreed to give a sizable donation to the college on the condition that it forever carry the name of his father Paul Smith.

Nearly eighty years later, the college, which specializes in forestry, was offered another sizable endowment on the condition that it change its name to honor a new benefactor, Joan Weill, the wife of Wall Street billionaire Sanford Weill. Although many PSC officials were eager to swap the institution’s original name for the $20 million gift, New York State Judge, Justice John T. Ellis, ruled that the renaming condition was unacceptable as directly violated the college founder’s will.

In a statement released to the New York Times, the loss of the Weills’ gift was tragic as the majority of PSC students depend on financial aid. The shock waves of the ruling extend far beyond the Adirondacks. As Doug White, Director of Columbia University’s MS program in Fundraising Management noted, the ruling serves as a warning to organizations tempted to accept donations tied with perpetual benefactor naming agreements.