call for papers for AAA panel

Andrea Jacobs amjacobs at DCA.NET
Tue Mar 25 17:20:37 UTC 2003

We are looking for one or two more participants for a AAA panel on
issues of trangressing gender boundaries through language practices.
Below is the proposed session abstract. If you are interested in
participating please contact session co-organizer Andrea Jacobs at
amjacobs at

thank you Andrea Jacobs

"Crossing Talk: Transgressing Gendered Borders through Linguistic Practices"

The concept of linguistic "crossing" [Rampton] has generated, of late,
much theoretical interest in how language practices may challenge
cultural and naturalized constructions of ethnicity. This panel focuses
on applying the "crossing" concept to the linguistic negotiation of
cultural gender norms. Research presented in this session examines how
alternative, transgressive, or non-traditional language practices can be
understood as attempts to "cross" restrictive, cultural borders of
masculinity and femininity. Panelists also examine how such subversive
gendered language is "policed" and silenced by other speakers and marked
as inappropriate or "unnatural." Analysis of these practices helps us to
understand how contested language practices figure centrally in
dismantling and renewing hegemonic gender identities.

The panel also addresses the theoretical challenges of applying the
concept of "crossing" to language and gender research. As Ochs notes, a
variety of linguistic features indirectly come to be associated with (or
"index") gendered identities; thus gender construction and its
de-construction occur upon shifting semiotic ground. Not only do aspects
of "gendered" language vary cross-culturally, the tenuous link between
gender and language itself is contextually dependent upon how speakers
gender, sexuality, class affiliation, and ethnicity are interpolated by
their interlocutors. Studying the language use of speakers who are
interpreted as transgressing traditional gender boundaries gives us a
lens through which to examine how gender ideology is embedded in
conventional practices of language use. In this regard, discursive
practices are instrumental for enacting emergent gender ideologies as
well as for challenging pre-existing gendered boundaries. The papers on
this panel examine how breaking the gendered "rules" of language use may
or may not result in new alternatives for expressing gendered
identities. The "crossing" practices of speakers that panelists discuss
provide examples of how talk among these "gender crossers" may
successfully challenge existing gender constructs and facilitate the
creation of alternative communities of practice. We also demonstrate how
transgressive linguistic practices may be misunderstood by other
speakers, which can result in the marginalization of transgressive
speakers. In determining the relative success of these linguistic
strategies, we are attentive to the ways "crossing" behaviors are
interpreted and perceived in interactions by both "crossers" and

Contributions include explorations of metalanguage, linguistic style,
and rhetorical devices, as well as considerations of speech genres, such
as teasing and ritualized insult exchanges, and demonstrate that
speakers draw upon a variety of linguistic resources for their crossing
practices. The cultural contexts from which the participants draw their
observations are equally diverse, including data on language use
practices of Israeli feminists and female politicians in ROC (Taiwan)
and the discursive strategies of adolescent American boys and
Algerian-French teenage girls. As a group, the papers examine how
individuals and communities that exist on societys margins use language
to negotiate existing gender norms in an effort to establish and reflect
their own gendered experiences of social reality. As well, our research
explores the role of "crossing" for defining transitional historical and
social moments, by opening a space for the re-negotiation of gender

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