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Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism

"[Meaningles words] not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader."
—George Orwell

John Patrick Leary dismantles "Valley-speak"

Keywords chronicles the rise of a new vocabulary in the twenty-first century. From Silicon Valley to the White House, from primary school to higher education, and from the factory floor to the church pulpit, we are all called to be innovators and entrepreneurs, to be curators of an ever-expanding roster of competencies.

Think of the zealotry of the disruptive entrepreneur and the resilience of the agile thought-leader for a sense of the ideal personality traits of our time: flexible, inexhaustible, and never not at work. Many of these words have a secret history that informs their modern usage in surprising ways―innovation was once “false prophecy,” and before “stakeholder” crossed the lips of a single non-profit director it was used by conservative economists opposed to the New Deal.



Friday, October 18, 2019. 12:00 PM


Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center, 424 Santa Teresa Street


Division of Literatures, Culters & Languages, the Progra in Writing & Rhetoric, the Program in Modern Thought & Literature


Free and open to the public