Gender studies, Linguistics

Course date

16 July - 27 July, 2001
Application deadline
15 February, 2001
Course Director(s): 

Louise O. Vasvari

Comparative Literature, State University of New York, United States of America
Course Faculty: 

Erzsebet Barat

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Tatiana Barchunova

State University of Novosibirsk, Russian Federation

Deborah Cameron

Institute of Education, University of London, United Kingdom

Miklos Kontra

Faculty of Arts, English Teacher Training and Applied Linguistics, Szeged University, Hungary

Juliet Langman

Division of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio, United States of America

Itesh Sachdev

School of Languages, Linguistics and Culture, Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom

Erika Solyom

Linguistic, New York University, United States of America
Course Objectives
The aim of this course is to introduce the main topics in gender and language research and to illustrate the diversity and complexity of feminist ideas about language. We will investigate questions such as: Do women and men talk differently? To what degree do these differences seem to be universal or variable across cultures ? How do dominant gender-based ideologies function to constrain women’s and men’s choices about their gender identities and gender relationships? How does gendered language intersect with race and class-linked language? How is it challenged by linguistic "gender bending"? What impact does gendered language have on the power relationships in given societies ? We will also examine how in recent years oversimplified notions of the relation between language and gender are having an impact on women’s lives, as academic research findings are taken up in popular media and applied institutionally for practical purposes, such as in communication training in the workplace and in self-help books about relationships, where it is still women who are directed to change their verbal behavior or to adjust to men’s behavior.
Methodology of the Course
This course will combine lecturing and discussion. In order to be adequately prepared for informed discussion, class members should assume responsibility for reading assigned materials before the date for which they are assigned. Readings are drawn from the two required readers and from additional articles from the supplemental reading list, available on reserve in the Library. Additional lists of required and recommended readings for each topic will be available. We will do an overview of the relevant literature, close examination of selected primary research, as well as analyze popular treatments of the subject. Students will also collect data based on direct observation of language use and/or attitudes. They will be required to observe a particular behavior discussed, to record what they observe, and to analyze the resulting data. For example, in order to explore principles of data collection students might note and record how women are addressed by strangers in public places, how men and women use color terms, intensifiers, or profanity. Students will also receive direction on formal aspects of preparing oral and written presentations, including background discussion of differences in the two modes of discourse and their implications. They will submit their work in both weekly and term assignments, and oral and written presentations.
Course Requirements
Requirements will have to vary somewhat depending on the number of weeks that the course lasts. But generally there will be one mid-term take home exam and one final examination. There will also be a short "fieldwork" exercise to be drawn from a list of suggestions. If the length of the course allows, a final term paper will be required; if not, then a bibliography and four to six abstracts on a given topic will be substituted.