Portland State University. Department of English
Multiculturalism in literature, Publishers and publishing, Editing
In the conversation about mindful editing, a conundrum exists with regards to marginalized groups for whom all possible labels to identify the group contain loaded histories and connotations, and different subsets of these marginalized groups are in disagreement about what terminology is most appropriate. This contested in-group terminology places editors in a position where any editorial choice they make has high risk of offending or alienated members of the very group the editor hopes to represent. How, then, do mindful editors approach the matter of contested in-group terminology in an ethical manner? This study examines the approaches to contested in-group terminology used by the publishing industry in the past decade, examining word-choice and framing in the back cover copy and titles from three datasets of books featuring characters that belong to the following identity groups: fat, disabled, and queer. The data shows that publishing has been taking different approaches to language for each of these groups and that mindful editors cannot expect one approach to navigating contested in-group terminology to translate easily to other groups. The data also reveals some areas where the publishing industry and readers are in disagreement about appropriate labels for marginalized groups. In order to address contested terminology, mindful editors need to understand the histories of the terminology in question, consider the audience and the author’s intention with their word-choice, and research arguments for or against particular word-choice from a variety of in-group sources to make well-reasoned and deliberate choices for terminology and framing.
Gower, Jasmine, "Approaches to Contested In-Group Terminology for Mindful Editors" (2019). Book Publishing Final Research Paper. 43.