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WGSS 350
Queer Tongues & Lavender Linguistics Spring 2021
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ANTH 350 / AMST 351 / WGSS 350

Class Details

This course in linguistics provides an introduction to linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, and folklore studies using topics and approaches related to gender and sexuality. It is a methods course based in empirical research principles, but a basic familiarity with the broad strokes of queer/feminist theory may be helpful. One goal of the class will be learning to read and write in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and how to construct and use IPA “change charts.” We then build on this as we turn to sociolinguistics as students will learn how to do Discourse Analysis and Conversation Analysis, using WGSS-oriented topics (e.g., upspeak, vocal fry, so-called “gay voice,” the gendered nature of turn-taking and interrupting.) We then turn to an extended unit on queer folklore and folklife, learning how anthropologists and folklorists use motif type indexes (e.g., Propp Functions, Thompson Type Index, etc) to study oral narratives and how feminist/queer theorists can use these to analyze gender in folk/fairytales and other stories. We also read several linguistic anthropologists’ ethnographies of queer communities’ language practices in global context. The semester concludes with a unit on LGBT slang, argots, and profanity.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 4473
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Prerequisites: None; prior coursework in WGSS may be helpful, but is not required
Enrollment Preferences: WGSS majors; short statements of interest will be solicited in the event of overenrollment
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ANTH 350 Division II AMST 351 Division II WGSS 350 Division II
DPE Notes: This course examines the centrality of power in communication as broken down along axes such as sex, gender, and sexuality. It deliberately takes a canonical field (i.e., linguistic anthropology) that often neglected the gendered nature of communication and puts these questions at the center of the curriculum. Assignments are structured in such a way as to build awareness of the role of gender and sexuality within human interactions and how sociolinguistics reveal power imbalances.
Attributes: WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses

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