French And Italian | Language and Gender
E104 | 0179 | Auger


This course is about language and gender: how women and men use
language and how language reflects the status of women and men in
society. Many people have specific ideas about the way women speak:
women are more polite than men and they speak better than them, they
talk and gossip more than men, they use expressions like kind of and
seek approval for what they say by making their statements sound like
questions or by adding tag questions: Itís a nice day, isnít it? In
this course, we will ask ourselves whether any of the stereotypes
about womenís language are true. We will try to determine how
differently women and men really speak and understand why this should
be the case. We will examine gender differences in various cultures
and seek to establish whether the differences are genetic or social.
We will also examine claims that English and many other languages are
sexist and that they deny women a level of recognition equal to that
granted to men. For example, is the use of masculine pronouns (he,
him, his) and words such as mankind in passages that are supposed to
refer to females and males really gender-inclusive? Is there any need
to change language and make it more gender-neutral? The primary goal
of this course is to engage students in a critical examination of the
various ways in which language and gender interact so they become able
to tell apart myth from reality. A second but very important goal is
to teach students to collect data and analyze those data. Requirements
for the course include (1) a diary in which students record
observations on language and gender and reflect on them, (2) critical
evaluations of popular and scientific articles, (3) regular
participation in discussion sections, and (4) a a final exam. Regular
attendance is required and will be encouraged through pop quizzes.