Shonna Trinch is a linguistic anthropologist and an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at John Jay College, CUNY in New York City. Professor Trinch received her PhD in Spanish Linguistics in 1999 from the University of Pittsburgh. Her first book, Latina Women’s Narratives of Domestic Abuse: Discrepant Versions of Violence, (John Benjamins, 2003) investigates how women’s stories of domestic abuse and rape change and are changed, as they are cast from one legal genre into another. Additionally, she has published multiple articles about the ways in women talk about gender-related violence in interviews with sociolegal and law enforcement professionals which have appeared in flagship journals such as Language in Society, Journal of Pragmatics, International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, Dialectical Anthropology and Text & Talk. Professor Trinch continues her work on violence against women, and she has been developing a new project on rape that seeks to provide a more comprehensive ethnography of representations of sexual violence. For several years, she has been teaching a course in John Jay’s Department of Interdisciplinary Studies with playwright and colleague, Barbara Cassidy, called, Seeing Rape. In the course, they examine representations of rape in theater, film, literature, short stories, activism, culture and law. At the end of the course, students write mini-plays about rape that are then brought to life by professional New York City actors in staged readings in the College’s Black Box Theater. This year, the production of the student-playwrights’ works will appear in the College’s Gerald Lynch Theater.
Currently Professor Trinch is working with colleague, Professor Edward Snajdr, to write two books and several academic articles on urban redevelopment from data they collected on a 2-year study funded by the National Science Foundation’s program in Cultural Anthropology. This project examines sociocultural, sociolinguistic and discursive aspects of how cities get built. Focusing on Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, they study how people compete, collaborate and conflict in their attempts to have a say in how meanings are fixed on the land. They have recently published an article entitled, “What the Signs Say: Gentrification and the Disappearance of Capitalism without Distinction in Brooklyn.” In this article they examine how storefront signs can be both markers and makers of gentrification or can indicate and make arguments for tolerance and acceptance of otherness in place.
In a third project, Professor Trinch collaborates with Professor Valerie Allen to re-conceptualize the idea of literacy through their team-teaching (2 ISP courses: Production of Truth and Letter of the Law), service (JJC's GenEd committee) and in their collaborative research. In this project, they bring together their expertise in linguistics and literature to study contemporary and historical practices of reading and writing.
Professor Trinch lectures on these topics in the United States and abroad. This spring she will give a talk about Brooklyn’s storefront signs and their Geertzian deep (word) play in Luxembourg at the Linguistic Landscape Symposium and she has been invited to be one of the keynote speakers at this year’s International Forensic Linguistics Conference in Porto, Portugal in July.
Professor Trinch has been living in Brooklyn with her family for more than a decade.