gender & language & social interaction course

Amy L Sheldon asheldon at TC.UMN.EDU
Wed Oct 25 22:38:52 UTC 2000

Dear Ceci,

This sounds like quite a good idea because the published work is not
organized as tightly around linguistic categories or conversational
interaction as you propose, and it could benefit from being so-organized.

It could take more time to assemble than you might imagine because the
relevant work is so scattered and has appeared over a long time period.

a few first thoughts:

-Muriel Schultz's article on semantic derrogation
-There was one that students liked a lot, published in the 70's or 80's on
street remarks to women whose author escapes me at the moment.
-Janet Holmes' work on compliments  [in Coates, see below]
-Holmes has some work on epistemic modality and tag q's
-Candace West's work on directive-response sequences {Coates, _Language
and Gender. A reader.  Blackwell]
-Debbie Cameron's article on "young Men's Talk and Construction of Hetero
Macsulinity {Coates]  which has conversational data
-Sheldon, 1992 "Conflict Talk..." in Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. about
mitigated and unmitigated conflict talk strategies in preschool girls' and
boys' conversations
-Pamela Fishman's work which is in a few places, incl. Cameron's _The
Feminist Critique of Language_ Routledge and in Thorne and Kramarae,
1980? _Language, gender & Society (?)
There's been more precise work on pmr's since Fishman.  I require students
to tape record themselves in a conversation with someone of the/an
"other" sex and choose one of Fishman's categories to use in data
analysis.  It's a very effective assignment 1- to hear how one speaks,
2-to struggle with getting a useable definition of the constructs she
talks about, 3) to talk about conversational interaction, etc.  I urge you
to have students do some self-taping.
_Tannen's piece on interpreting interruption - there are
a couple of versions, one is in Cameron's anthology, the other in Tannen's
Gender & Conversational Interaction (OUP)
-Ann Bodine's historical discussion of pseudo generic 'he' in Cameron and
other places.


This is a quick first brainstorm and not intended to be a comprehensive
list - there's a bunch of other good publications.

can you share answers that you get with this list?

 On Wed, 25 Oct 2000, Cecilia E. Ford

> Hello:
> I am putting together a course for next semester ("English in Society") in
> which I hope to combine an introduction to some structures of English with
> a the themes of language, gender and social interaction.  Perhaps this is
> too specific and too ambitious at the same time, but I have hope.  The
> course will be attended by a combination of upper division undergrads and
> graduate students, from English and other departments.  I cannot assume
> background in linguistics, but one goal of the course will be to engender
> interest in social aspects of language use (while providing an initial
> grounding in English structures in use).
> I have in mind, for example, combining such topics as noun phrase structure
> with naming practices in interaction and the interactional construction of
> gender through reference forms and address terms.  Or -- the structure of
> tag questions and the potential unequal distribution of the work such
> questions do (I am not up-to-date on this literature)....
> If any of you has suggestions of topics, articles, textbooks etc.  that
> might work for this dream course of mine, please contact me (through the
> list or privately).  I will share the responses in a summary later.
> By the way, I am aware of Celia Kitzinger and Hannah Frith's article "Just
> say no? The use of CA in developing a feminist persective on sexual
> refusal"  -- If you know of any other articles like this, I think they'd be
> very usable in this course - given a bit of linguistic elaboration.  The
> article shows the relevance of CA's findings on preference organization for
> a critical analysis of the ways women are held accountable for not being
> direct in their formulations of refusals.
> Thank you thank you thank you,
> Cecilia Ford
> ceford at
> Cecilia E. Ford
> Department of English
> 600 N. Park St.
> University of Wisconsin-Madison
> Madison  WI 53706    USA
> ceford at

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