S1709 Gender Studies (Cultures of the World core)

Thorburn Jennifer


Language and Gender



Course description

This course will introduce students to the wide-ranging body of literature on language and gender. It will focus primarily on sociolinguistic and sociocultural approaches but will also draw on theoretical perspectives and methodologies from other fields, including feminist theory, sociology, anthropology, and queer studies. Beginning with the history of research on language and gender, students will see how the study of language and gender has developed while exploring the complex relationships between gender identity, sexuality, language use, and language change. Over the course of the semester, students will confront assumptions about how men and women communicate, developing an understanding of the theoretical and practical complexities of language and gender in both historical and contemporary contexts.


Teaching approach:

This course will combine interactive lectures (early in the semester) with student-led discussion, in smaller groups and as a class. Special emphasis will be placed on respectful and open-minded engagement with the material, as language and gender can sometimes be a contentious or sensitive topic. Students will be encouraged to bring their own experiences and to find narratives or contributions from other sources (online, alternative readings, etc.) that help exemplify and problematize the concepts and themes of the course. Links to students’ home cultures and countries will be made where possible.