2.  JANET BING, Old Dominion University


ENGL 477/577
Language, Gender and Power
Department of English 
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23529 

Coursepaks available from Copytron on Hampton Ave.
(Table of contents at end of syllabus.)
Elgin, Suzette.  Native Tongue. New York:DAW, 1984. (NT)

Faludi, Susan. Backlash. New York: Crown, 1991.

Thorne, Barrie et al. (eds.)  Language, Gender, and Society. (LGS)
Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 1983.

Course objectives:  Participants in this course will investigate how
language reflects the changing roles of women and men in 
contemporary society.  Students will practice examining, clarifying, 
and expressing their ideas and assumptions about language and the 
roles of men and women.
The following questions will be central in this course:
   1. How does language reveal and perpetuate attitudes?
   2. What kinds of power are there, and what role does language play 
       in empowerment or marginalization?

Readings: In addition to the readings assigned below, there may be a 
few additional readings given out in class.  If students want additional
discussion of readings or additional help in interpreting the more
scholarly readings, it is their responsibility to request this.  Otherwise,
the assumption is that students have read and understood the material 
and come to class ready to discuss it.

Journals: Each student will be required to keep a journal which will be
handed in and returned for each class.  Please date and number each 
entry.  The entire journal will be handed in for a grade at midterm and 
at the end of the course.  The journal should minimally include a brief 
summary of and reaction to some of the readings and class or small 
group discussions (including things you wish you had said). 
Additionally, students may wish to add reactions to appropriate events, 
experiences, stories, and articles from other sources.  Journals will be 
graded on thoughtfulness and quality of writing, and should be typed 
(or in very legible handwriting).  At the beginning or end of class, 
place journal entry on desk and remove the last week's entry from the 
alphabetical file.  The cumulative journal will graded at midterm and 
at the end of the course.

Tests and Exams: There will a midterm and a final exam.  Some 
questions on the midterm and final exams will be essay questions 
(similar to questions on syllabus, unit questions in the coursepak, and 
discussion questions in class); there will also be objective questions 
over the readings.

Papers: Graduate students will write a 10-15 page course paper on any
subject relevant to gender and language and will be required to make 
an oral presentation on their research.  Undergraduate students will 
write a 7-10 page paper.  If you have any doubt about whether or not 
your topic is appropriate, please ask.

Participation: Regular attendance is essential; after more than one
absence, the participation grade will drop to C and after two to F.  The
small group discussions will often discuss the questions which will be 
used on tests, so it is usually helpful to address the questions seriously.

midterm        20%
final          25%
term paper     25%
journal        20%
participation  10%

Ground Rules:
   One of the goals of this course is to help participants learn to express
themselves in writing, in small groups, and in large groups.  Students 
who have difficulty speaking before the whole class are encouraged to 
explore this issue in their journals.

  Late work is accepted, but you cannot be sure of credit or comments 
on any test or assignment which is not handed in on time.  Journal 
entries will be accepted the following class.  Missed tests or exams for 
a legitimate excuse will not be graded until the end of the course.  Late
tests and papers will be filed; at the end of the semester the instructor
will decide whether to grade them or not.  Late tests and papers will 
not be returned.
  Journal entries should be typed and term papers must be.

Tentative schedule.

9/3 Introduction to the field of language and gender; overview of the
course. Possible topics for papers. Student interests and expectations.
Small group discussion questions:
1. Why do some people insist on using Ms. but others insist on not 
using it?
2. Think of the animal (chick) and food (peach) words used to address 
and describe men and women.  What do these words reveal about 
3. In what way do forms of address indicate relative status of different
people?  Do these vary from language to language?
4. What forms of address show respect?  What forms can be insulting? 
How do forms of address vary from situation to situation?
5. How do groups of people become stereotyped?  Are the stereotypes 
often true? How can someone escape being stereotyped?
6. How are black males, black females, jews, homosexuals and older 
women often stereotyped?

9/10 Read CP (Coursepak) sections I &II (Introduction and Language 
Reality) and pp. 7-24 in Language, Gender and Society ; also look at 
pp. 153-342 in LGS to see range of subjects for paper.  Class 
presentations & discussions:
(a) The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and (b) metaphor. (c) Discussions 
questions (small groups, then entire class.)
 1. Does Nilsen accept the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis in her article, 
"Sexism in English: A 1990's Update"?  What is your evidence?
 2. What is the purpose of a deliberate language change such as Bing's
relabeling of the strong and weak versions of the Sapir-Whorf 
Hypothesis to the extreme and moderate versions?  How is this 
deliberate change related to the subject of the paper?
 3. Use the metaphors "argument is dance" and "argument is building" 
to the following situations:
a. labor union negotiations
b. arguments between men and women
c. group discussions
d. courtroom proceedings
e. family discussions
 4. Businesspeople sometimes use sport team metaphors to talk about
cooperative efforts. (See B.L. Harragen (1977) Games Mother Never 
Taught You. New York: Warner Books.) Can you think of other 
metaphors which encourage cooperation, but use different metaphors?
 5. Using the approach from the "Naming of Parts" article, think of all 
the terms you can find for sexually active women and men.  Put them 
into categories and name the categories.  What does this tell you about
attitudes towards women's and men's sexuality? (See article by Julia
Stanley.  Paradigmatic women: The prostitute. In David L. Shores and 
Carole P. Hines, eds., Papers in Language Variation. University of 
Alabama Press, 1977, pp. 303-21.)

9/17 Come to class with a potential idea for a term project. Read CP 
III, Power and Solidarity, Backlash, Chapter 1. and LGS 7-21. a. 
Lecture: Power and Solidarity. b. Privilege c. Video: Excerpts from A, 
My Name is Alice.
1. What strategies can women use against street remarks and obscene 
phone calls?
2. How do endearments such as 'Hon' and 'Dear' work as indicators of
friendship or status?
3. Why do we have Mother's Day, Father's Day, Secretary's Day, but 
no CEO Day or Millionaire's Day?
4. Compare and contrast male privilege and white privilege.
5. If Andre is correct about the words woman and lady, how do you 
explain the term cleaning lady?

9/24 CP III. Backlash, Ch. 3 and 11. LGS, pp. 140-150.  Education. 
Film: Analyzing Teaching: Three Scenes from the Classroom (N.A.K. 
Production Associates (301) 565-0355)

10/7 CP IV, Backlash, Ch. 2 & 4. Socialization through the media.
Film: Still Killing Us Softly.

10/14 CP V, Backlash, Ch. 5 & 6 Stereotypes.  Midterm journals due.
1. Does the essay about Alice Crimmins argue that she was innocent of 
the charges brought against her?  If not, what does it argue?
2. What are the stereotypes in "Putting Away Alice Crimmins"?  What 
would you expect of people fitting these stereotypes?

10/21 Video on sexual harassment.  Midterm exam.

10/28 Bibliography for paper due. CP VI, Defined In or Out of 
Existence. LGS pp. 89-124. Backlash, Ch. 7.  Conversational 
1. The most effective propaganda has the following elements: frequent
repetition, an early age of acquisition, covertness, association with 
high prestige sources and indirectness.  In what ways do dictionaries 
and books of etiquette qualify as propaganda?

11/4 LGS, pp. 25-53. Backlash, Ch 8.  Native Tongue, pp. 1-161.
1. Why have attempts to create an "epicene" (gender neutral) pronoun 
in English failed?
2. What evidence is there that generic nouns and pronouns include or
exclude women?

11/11 CP VII, Backlash, Ch. 12, finish NT. Video, "Suzette Haden 
Elgin talks about Native Tongue & the Problem of Woman's 
Language." Ozark Film and Video Productions, Inc. (501) 751-6631

11/18 CP VIII Institutions.  Papers due. Guest speaker.

12/2 CP IX, X: Violence Against Women, From Silence to Eloquence, 
Backlash, Ch. 14.

12/9 CP XI In Our Own Words; Graduate Student Presentations.

12/16 Final Exam

Coursepak, Language, Gender and Power- Table of Contents
 (Items with asterisks mark papers with copyright Janet Bing)

I. Introduction
1. *Janet Bing, "Goals of the Course."
2. Sample term paper suggestions
3. Characteristics of a good journal entry.
4. Sample journal entry.
4. Alleen Pace Nilsen, "Sexism in English: A 1990's Update. 
Copyright Alleen Pace Nilsen (English Dept., Arizona State 
University, Tempe,  AZ 85287-0302)

II. Language, and Reality: the possible effect of language on thought 
and action.
1. Janet Bing, "Penguins Can't Fly and Women Don't Count: Language 
and Thought" Women & Language XV,2, Fall 1992:pp. 11-14.
2. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (pp. 3-
3. Excerpts from June Jordan, "Nobody Mean More to Me Than You 
and the Future Life of Willie Jordan."  On Call by June Jordan (1984).
5.  Dorothy Lee, "Codifications of Reality" Psychosomatic Medicine, 
1950, No. 12

III. Power and Solidarity: the distinction between status and rapport
1. Jean Baker Miller, "Domination and Subordination." Towards a 
New Psychology of Women.  Beacon Press, 1986.
2. *Judith Andre, "Ladies and Men"
3. *Janet Bing, Power and Solidarity in Language
4. Carol Brooks Gardner, Passing By: Street Remarks, Address Rights, 
and the Urban Female.  Sociological Inquiry 50:3-4, 1980:328-56.
5. Peggy McIntosh, "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal 
Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in 
Women's Studies," Wellesley College Working Paper No. 189, 1988. 
Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, Wellesley, MA 
5. Miller, Patricia, "Letter to the Editor" South Bend Tribune March 
25, 1976.

IV. Education: socialization from early childhood through adulthood.
1. Amy Sheldon, "Kings are Royaler Than Queens": Language and
Socialization. Young Children. Jan, 1990.
2.* "You Guys Wave Goodbye," by Diana Miller (1987)
3. Myra and David Sadker, Sexism in the Schoolroom of the '80s, 
Psychology Today, March, 1985.
5. How Schools Shortchange Girls, Executive Summary.  American 
Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 1992 (To 
order, call 800-225-9998, ext. 91).
6.* Letter from an instructor in English to the department
7. Unit questions and exercises

V. Popular Wisdom: socialization through the media
1. Katha Pollitt, The Smurfette Principle.  New York Times Magazine, 
April 7, 1991.
2. *John Baird, College Men's Jokes About Women, 1991.
3. Regina Barreca, "Bringing Down the House" Ms March/April 1992, 
pp. 76-77.
4. Alan Dershowitz, It's Come to This: Laws Against Jokes.
5. Virginia Cooper, "Women in Popular Music: A Quantitative 
Analysis of Feminine Images over Time.  Sex Roles, Vol 13, Nos. 
9/10, 1985.
6.* Jane Martinson, "Proverbs," 1989
7. Unit questions and exercises

VI. Stereotypes: less than human
1. Toi Derricotte, "At an Artist's Colony"
2. Higher Education's Caste System: Injustice Is a Daily Experience.
Chronicle of Higher Education.
3. Ann Jones, Putting Away Alice Crimmins. Women Who Kill. (Holt, 
Rinehart and Winston. 1980.
4. Pat Parker, For the Straight Folks Who Don't Mind Gays. 
Movement in Black.
5. Unit questions and exercises

VII. Defined In or Out of Existence
1. *Janet Bing, "Defined In or Out of Existence"
2. Kramarae, Cheris and Paula A. Treichler, eds., "Words on a 
Feminist Dictionary," A Feminist Dictionary. Boston: Pandora Press: 
3. Selections from A Feminist Dictionary, pp. 152-167.
4. *Lili Xie, Women and Language in China.
5. Donna Gant, "Subject Headings--Equity vs. Access."
6. Unit questions and exercises

VIII. The Gatekeepers
1. What White Publishers Won't Print by Zora Neale Hurston, I Love 
Myself When I Am Laughing ed. Alice Walker. CUNY: The Feminist 
Press, 1979:169-173.
2. Sex, Lies & Advertising by Gloria Steinem, Ms. Sept. 24, 1990.pp.
3. Excerpt from Virginia Wolfe,  A Room of One's Own.
4.  *Helen Eigenberg, A. Baro, T. Desnoyers, Women and Publication 
Patterns in Criminal Justice Journals: A Content Analysis, 1991.
5. B.L. Harragan,"The Game Site Is Resplendent with Symbolism" 
Games Mother Never Taught You. New York: Warner Books, 
6. Unit questions and exercises

IX. Men's Institutions
1. William  O'Barr and B.K.Atkins, 'Women's Language' or 'Powerless
Language'?    Women and Language in Literature and Society. S. 
McConnell-Ginet et al. Praeger, 1980.
2. Mary Jo Meadow, Is God Purple?  Rosalie Maggio, The Nonsexist 
Word Finder (Orynx Press, 1987).
3.*Marilyn Seymour, The use of language in the church.
4. God Creates Humankind, An Inclusive Language Lectionary.
5. Brian Wren, "Language, Thought, and Action" What Language 
Shall I Borrow? The Crossroad Publishing Co. 370 Lexington Avenue, 
New York, NY10017, 1989, 63-83.
6. Excerpts from The Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version)
7. Unit questions and exercises

X. Violence Against Women
1. *Jaime Johnson, Dear Michael
2. Diana Scully and J. Marolla, "Convicted Rapists' Vocabulary of 
Motive: Excuses and Justifications," Social Problems, Vol 31,5, June 
3. *Denise Moyer, Entry from a journal.
4. *Tricia Maher, The language used during a violent attack
5. *Michael Cotter, Altered Space.
6. *Denise Moyer, Violence Against Women: The Vocabulary of 
7. Unit questions and exercises

XI. From Silence to Eloquence
1. Dale Spender, Constructing Women's Silence, Man Made Woman, 
pp. 52-75. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.
2. Maxine Hong Kingston, No Name Women, The Woman Warrior: 
Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Vintage Books, 1977:3-19.
3. Gong Zhebing, A Language of Their Own, Women of China, Jan. 

XII. In Our Own Words
1. * Denise Moyer, Muted Women and Regained Voices
2. *Pat Carlo, Gender Awareness in the Writings of Adrienne Rich
3  *Ethel Hellman, It Belongs to the Women, Usurpation of Power and
Menstrual Euphemism.
4. Marge Piercy, Unlearning Not to Speak
5. Jenny Yamato, " Something about the subject Makes It Hard to 
Name", Changing Our Power: An Introduction to Woman's Studies ed. 
Jo Whitehorse Cochron et al, Kendall/Hunt, 1987.
6. Unit questions and exercises

Remarks:  I have taught this course for the past 5 years using a number 
of different textbooks.  Since this is an interdisciplinary course rather 
than a linguistics course, and since most of the students come from the
Interdisciplinary Studies Program, I'm trying to develop the coursepak 
into a textbook with an emphasis on different approaches to 
knowledge.  Janet Bing 6/3/93

Back to the Language and Gender page.   John Lawler