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Film Screening: Change the Subject

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The power of words in incalculable.  While researching immigration, a Dartmouth College student kept encountering the term “Illegal aliens” as a library subject heading. As a person who had grown up undocumented in Georgia, she was disturbed by this institutionalized form of a racial slur.  And so she did something about it: she and other students joined librarians in petitioning the Library of Congress to change its terminology. Change the Subject tells the story of these students, whose singular effort at confronting an instance of anti-immigrant sentiment in their library catalog took them all the way from Baker-Berry Library to the halls of Congress.  This film shows how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight, and how a cataloging term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

Librarian Jill Baron and filmmaker Sawyer Broadley co-directed the film, with significant collaboration from co-producers Óscar Rubén Cornejo Cásares and Melissa Padilla.  While the narrative driving the film is of the activism of students and librarians around a Library of Congress subject heading, the film extends into a meditation on the ways that language is often weaponized to divide and dehumanize people.   

D: Jill Baron & Sawyer Broadley ’08, US, 2019, 1hr

Free admission; donations appreciated.

Change the Subject Trailer from MPG@Dartmouth on Vimeo.

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