Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Title

Marshall Sociology & Anthropology Authors Book Signing

Participation Type

Organized Session

Participant Type


Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Abstract

The Marshall University Department of Sociology & Anthropology

is pleased to host a group book signing for our colleagues who have published within the past year. Each in their own way, these important books express contributions of engaged social science to the common good.

Confronting the Death Penalty: How Language Influences Jurors in Capital Cases

Robin H. Conley – Oxford University Press

This book speaks to how jurors make the ultimate decision about whether another human being should live or die. Drawing on ethnographic and qualitative linguistic methods, this book explores the means through which language helps to make death penalty decisions possible - how specific linguistic choices mediate and restrict jurors', attorneys', and judges' actions and experiences while serving and reflecting on capital trials. The analysis draws on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in diverse counties across Texas, including participant observation in four capital trials and post-verdict interviews with the jurors who decided those cases. Given the impossibility of access to actual capital jury deliberations, this integration of methods aims to provide the clearest possible window into jurors' decision-making. Using methods from linguistic anthropology, conversation analysis, and multi-modal discourse analysis, Conley analyzes interviews, trial talk, and written legal language to reveal a variety of communicative practices through which jurors dehumanize defendants and thus judge them to be deserving of death. By focusing on how language can both facilitate and stymie empathic encounters, the book addresses a conflict inherent to death penalty trials: jurors literally face defendants during trial and then must distort, diminish, or negate these face-to-face interactions in order to sentence those same defendants to death. The book reveals that jurors cite legal ideologies of rational, dispassionate decision-making - conveyed in the form of authoritative legal language - when negotiating these moral conflicts. By investigating the interface between experiential and linguistic aspects of legal decision-making, the book breaks new ground in studies of law and language, language and psychology, and the death penalty.

Walking on the Wild Side: Long-Distance Hiking on the Appalachian Trail

Kristi M. Fondren – Rutgers University Press

The most famous long-distance hiking trail in North America, the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail—the longest hiking-only footpath in the world—runs along the Appalachian mountain range from Georgia to Maine. Every year about 2,000 individuals attempt to “thru-hike” the entire trail, a feat equivalent to hiking Mount Everest sixteen times. In Walking on the Wild Side, sociologist Kristi M. Fondren traces the stories of forty-six men and women who, for their own personal reasons, set out to conquer America’s most well-known, and arguably most social, long-distance hiking trail. In this fascinating in-depth study, Fondren shows how, once out on the trail, this unique subculture of hikers lives mostly in isolation, with their own way of acting, talking, and thinking; their own vocabulary; their own activities and interests; and their own conception of what is significant in life. They tend to be self-disciplined, have an unwavering trust in complete strangers, embrace a life of poverty, and reject modern-day institutions. The volume illuminates the intense social intimacy and bonding that forms among long-distance hikers as they collectively construct a long-distance hiker identity. Fondren describes how long-distance hikers develop a trail persona, underscoring how important a sense of place can be to our identity, and to our sense of who we are. Indeed, the author adds a new dimension to our understanding of the nature of identity in general. Anyone who has hiked—or has ever dreamed of hiking—the Appalachian Trail will find this volume fascinating. Walking on the Wild Side captures a community for whom the trail is a sacred place, a place to which they have become attached, socially, emotionally, and spiritually

Opting for Elsewhere: Lifestyle Migration in the American Middle Class

Brian A. Hoey – Vanderbilt University Press

"Do you get told what the good life is, or do you figure it out for yourself?" This is the central question of Opting for Elsewhere, as the reader encounters stories of people who chose relocation as a way of redefining themselves and reordering work, family, and personal priorities. This is a book about the impulse to start over. Whether downshifting from stressful careers or being downsized from jobs lost in a surge of economic restructuring, lifestyle migrants seek refuge in places that seem to resonate with an idealized, potential self. Choosing the "option of elsewhere" and moving as a means of remaking self through sheer force of will are basic facets of American character, forged in its history as a developing nation of immigrants with a seemingly ever-expanding frontier. Building off years of interviews and research in the Midwest, including areas of Michigan, Brian Hoey provides an evocative illustration of the ways these sweeping changes impact people and the communities where they live and work as well as how both react--devising strategies for either coping with or challenging the status quo. This portrait of starting over in the heartland of America compels the reader to ask where we are going next as an emerging postindustrial society.


Marshall University Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Presentation #1 Title

Come Meet the Authors

Presentation #1 Abstract

Join us for some refreshments in the Exhibition Hall.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #1

Robin H. Conley, Assistant Professor, Marshall University

Kristii M. Fondren, Associate Professor, Marshall University

Brian A. Hoey, Associate Professor, Marshall University


Commodification, Demographics, Discourse, Engaged Anthropology, Ethnography, gentrification, Identity, Linguistic Anthropology, Migration, Immigration and Diasporas, Personhood, Social Justice, Tourism

Start Date

4-8-2016 5:00 PM

End Date

4-8-2016 8:00 AM

This document is currently not available here.

Apr 8th, 5:00 PM Apr 8th, 8:00 AM

Come Meet the Authors

Big Sandy Conference Center - Rhododendron Room (Exhibit Hall)

Join us for some refreshments in the Exhibition Hall.