ENGL 210 - Honors English

Language, Sex, and Gender in America

Section B: TU 2:30-3:45—Mary Kohn

Obtain Permission from the Honors Program in Leasure 007. Are Ke$ha and Britney Spears ruining the English Language? Do women really talk more than men? Is there such a thing as “sounding gay”? Differences between women‘s and men’s speech have been anecdotally recorded throughout history, and the subject continues to be a popular topic in media ranging from self-help guides to respected newspapers and journals.  How do we measure differences between the speech of men and women? What is the role of language in creating or subverting masculine or feminine identities? How do gendered language practices intersect with other social structures like power and marketplace structures? In this course we will explore both qualitative and quantitative connections between language use and gender identity. We will critique discussions of “female language” in the media, analyze representations of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality in news reports, movies, and comedy sketches, and use insights from these activities to evaluate primary research on the topic of language and gender. Along with in-class and homework activities designed to practice quantitative and qualitative analysis of speech, students will produce written reactions to works ranging from editorials to peer-reviewed journals and structure an independent investigation into a question about language and gender. These activities will familiarize students with current theoretical approaches to language and gender studies, as well as give students tools to critically evaluate portrayals of gendered language.