8.  REBECCA D. FREEMAN,  University of Pennsylvania

Language in Education Division
Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215)898-5937 (office)
(410) 788-4404 (home)

To Others Teaching Language and Gender:

In this letter, I will briefly describe my goals in teaching a 
course on Language and Gender, the students I have, the 
reason for the approach I adopted, problems I have had, and 
solutions I have come up with.  Spring 1993 was the first 
semester I have ever taught this course, and I have been 
experimenting with course design.  I look forward to talking 
with others who are struggling to teach a course in such an 
interdisciplinary field, because it seems to me that 
interdisciplinary work that aims for social change requires a 
new pedagogical approach.

* make students aware of the role of language in defining 
people relative to each other so that they will then be able to 
use language to position themselves and each other more 
equitably.  To accomplish this, I wanted to encourage 
students to look critically at contexts they were involved in 
on a regular basis. 

* give students an idea of major issues in the field including 
a critical look at 1) representations of women (and other 
underrepresented groups) in a variety of contexts, 
traditionally by men, more recently by feminists as a 
reaction against traditional patriarchal representations, and 
even more recently by underrepresented feminists as a 
reaction against traditional feminist representations; 2) 
binary categorizations, how else might we talk about gender, 
i.e. as a continuum?; 3) language in interaction: difference 
and/or dominance: e.g. men and women in conversation, 
women's/men's language, powerful/powerless language, 
women in conversation with women, 4) strategies for 
individual and social change.  This list is by no means 

* provide students with an introduction to tools they would 
need to conduct their own research.  This would include at 
least field-based research, experimental designs, and written 
text analysis.  I wanted to expose them to discourse analysis 
(including narrative, conversation, written texts, metaphors, 
attitudes/stance/ideology, positioning, etc.), so that they 
would know what kinds of analysis they could do.  Each 
student then would have to do some kind of discourse 
analysis in their project.  I wanted to emphasize creativity in 
methodological approach in order to attempt to resolve some 
of the problematic areas, i.e. what do we mean by context?, 
by power?, how do we relate micro and macro levels?, how 
do we account for the interaction of gender and culture? etc. 

I knew that the majority of my students would be graduate 
students.  I assumed that some, but not all, would have a 
background in linguistics.  In addition, I assumed that each 
student would have some background academic, 
professional, and personal experiences that we would want 
to draw on.  As it turned out, I had twenty five students who 
represent a variety of cultural backgrounds: four 
undergraduates, mostly masters level students of TESOL and 
Intercultural Communication, a few doctoral students in 
Educational Linguistics, and a few graduate students from 
other departments.  About half of the students had done 
some discourse analysis or conducted some original 

Since there has been a tremendous amount of work done on 
Language and Gender in sociolinguistics, social psychology, 
anthropology, social theory, literary criticism, etc., I knew 
that any attempt to cover the content of the field would be 
impossible.  At first,  I was having a very difficult time 
deciding on course readings, because I was always leaving 
out something crucial.  Then the reading list was beginning 
to become overwhelming.  I was also reluctant to choose 
which was "the most important", because what is the most 
important to me may not be the most important to my 

Because of the scope of the field and my goals for the course, 
and my assumption of the students' diverse backgrounds 
and goals, I decided to take a cooperative learning approach 
and organize the course around the students' interests.  I 
selected the texts for the course because they represent a 
wide range of issues, theories and methodologies, and have 
extensive bibliographies.  The syllabus is in two parts, and is 
self-explanatory for the most part.

Generally, I think this approach has worked quite well.  I 
want to mention a few things that I did which the syllabus 
doesn't emphasize, and also point out a problem that I 

I asked the reference librarian to organize a special session 
for our class when I got the students' preliminary ideas for 
projects, which worked beautifully.  The librarian put 
together an hour and a half presentation, in which she 
showed the students how to research their topics on the 
library computer system.  She also introduced the students 
to special resources for Language and Gender.  This session 
provided the students with the means (including confidence) 
to generate their parts of our syllabus  (the student-
generated syllabus is clearly explained on the syllabus).  If 
you have this service available at your library, I highly 
recommend it. 

I strongly recommend the student-generated syllabus.  The 
students seemed to enjoy taking on the responsibility, and 
have done a great job.  Organizing the course this way really 
changes the student -teacher role relationship.  They 
assigned me readings, and they lead the discussions.  My job 
is to make sure they have covered the issues that I want 
them to cover without dominating the discussion, and to help 
them synthesize issues (the synthesis papers help in this 
part too).  Teaching like this is a challenge, but the students 
are much more involved in their work and in the class 

The only problem I've really had is getting the students to 
understand what group facilitation means.  Although I 
clearly told them that I don't want them to report on their 
individual projects and summarize individual readings 
(because we don't have time - there are too many students), 
and that I wanted them to work together to use their 
projects and readings to help them facilitate our exploration 
of the larger group theme, they seem to resist working as a 
group.  I'm not sure if I need to require group products 
(more than just the facilitation) in order to get group 
process, or if I just need to be more explicit and provide 
them with more concrete ideas of options available to them. 
Any suggestions for how to get groups to work as groups 
without too much teacher imposition would be greatly 

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this syllabus 
collection project.  It's a great idea, and I can't wait to see 
what everyone else has come up with.

Language and Gender Syllabus: Part I

Course Schedule:  Mondays  2-4.
Professor: Rebecca Freeman

Course Description: A critical investigation of the relationship 
between language, gender, and social structure which 
explores the role of language in reflecting and perpetuating 
gender inequities, as well as the potential of language for 
challenging and transforming gender relations.  Students' 
ongoing discourse analytic projects are integral to our 
exploration of issues related to sexism in and through 
language.  Implications for individual and social change are 

Course Requirements:

I. Project:    By the end of Part 1, "Issues, Theories, and 
Methods: An Overview", each of you will have selected an 
issue that you want to investigate in more detail.  You can 
work individually or in groups.  At that point in the 
semester, please submit a PRELIMINARY description of the 
issue you would like to investigate, and the kind of approach 
you would like to take.  Your projects will then form the 
basis for our course. 

II.  Research Proposal:  By the end of Part 2, "Methodological 
Approaches", each of you will submit a research proposal 
that includes a problem statement, brief literature review, 
and an outline of your methodology (data collection and 
analysis).  Please include discussion of any problems you are 
having or anticipate having, and a general schedule so that 
you can be sure to allow enough time to complete the 

III. Syntheses.  Based on your preliminary proposals, I will 
divide the course into three to five sections that correspond 
with your interests.  Let's say, for example, that several 
students are interested in investigating some issue related to 
Language Socialization.  There will be a section of our 
syllabus (to be organized when I receive your preliminary 
proposals) dedicated to Language Socialization.  At the end of 
the section, each of you will be responsible for writing a 2-3 
page synthesis of your thinking in response to the articles 
we read, the issues we discuss, your life experiences, your 
project etc.

Each synthesis will be due the week following the end of a 
section so that you will have opportunity to reflect and 
integrate.   Your syntheses and my responses will then 
become a kind of dialogue journal between student and 

IV.  Group Discussion Facilitation:  As mentioned above, 
when each of you proposes an idea of the issue you would 
like to research for your project, I will organize the course 
into sections.  Each of you investigating an issue related to, 
e.g, the section on Language Socialization (if there is one), will 
form a group who will be responsible for facilitating our 
exploration of that section.  At that point, your group can 
decide which readings from our texts or outside readings 
you want to include.  I will then provide a new syllabus that 
outlines the course. 

Your group will get together and organize your group 
facilitation.  While there is a lot of flexibility in how your 
group approaches this task, there are two requirements: 
Each group must work together as a unit to facilitate the 
class's understanding of the general theme (as opposed to 
individual presentations of a reading and of each project), 
and each group must bring data to help the class explore the 
issue.  Outside of these requirements, you could, for example, 
raise questions about the readings, talk about further 
reading you are doing, your own experiences, your research 
projects etc.  Your group will decide together how to best 
approach the issues/data you are working with in more 
detail in order to facilitate all of our learning. 

Required Texts:

Cameron, Deborah (ed.). 1990.  The Feminist Critique of 
   Language.   NY: Routledge.
Coates, Jennifer.  1986. Women, Men and Language.  New 
   York: Longman.
Todd, Alexandra Dundas and Sue Fisher (eds). 1988.  Gender 
   and Discourse: The Power of Talk.  Norwood, NJ: Ablex 
   Publishing Company.
Thorne, Barrie, Cheris Kramerae and Nancy Henley (eds.). 
   1983.  Language, Gender and Society.  Rowley, 
   Massachussetts: Newbury House Publishers.

Course Schedule:

Week 1:   Introduction to the course and to each other.
Week 2:   Issues, Theories and Methods :  An Overview.
Cameron-Introduction: Why is Language a Feminist Issue?
Coates- Part One:  Introductory.
Todd and Fisher-Intro: Theories of Gender, Theories of 
Thorne, Kramerae and Henley- Introduction, and A Second 
   Decade of Research.

* Please bring approximately five questions to class.  The 
questions can be about the readings specifically, or about 
observations you've made that the readings stimulated. 
Your questions will help me see how you are relating to the 
reading, and will form the basis for our next class discussion.

Week 3:   Continued discussion of Issues, Theories and 

*  Please hand in your PRELIMINARY idea for your project.


Week 4:   Library Tour

First hour:   Generate individual and group bibliographies. 
Second hour:  Divide into groups and beginning discussing 
readings/approaches for your group facilitation.  You only 
need to pick a few articles (e.g. 2-4) for the entire class to 
read and discuss.  For the facilitation, your group is 
encouraged to draw on your individual projects, and help the 
entire class synthesize the ideas that you cover.

Week 5:   Methodology Part 1:  Field based design.
Readings:  In T, K & H:  Nichols, Fishman 
In Todd and Fisher: Davis, Goodman 
Coates:  finish book.

Goal of discussion: a critical look at methodology.  Some 
discussion of issues is fine, but not the primary focus at this 
point.  To be facilitated by students with experience in these 

Week 6: Methodology Part 2:  Experimental Design 
In T, K & H:  McKay
West & Zimmerman

Week 7:   Written Text Analysis: 
In T, K & H:  Penelope & Wolfe
In Todd & Fisher:  Cultural Discourse
   Institutional Discourse

Read a few of the readings in either Cultural Discourse or 
Institutional Discourse.  Try to pick ones that look the most 
relevant to your project.

DUE:  Group Syllabus: required and recommended readings.

Week 8:   Research Design small group workshop.

Bring Research proposal to class. 

For the majority of the class, you will work in pairs or small 
groups to discuss your research design and any problems 
you may be having.  I will give back the group generated 
syllabus, and we'll get ready for facilitation of topics. 

Week 9:   BREAK!

Language and Gender Syllabus: Part 2

After the syllabus, you will find a brief description of each of 
your projects.  Please use each other as resources in working 
on your projects in any way you can. 

Week 10:   Group Facilitation 1
Naming and Representation Part 1: In the Medical Profession
Facilitated by Lisa, Jody, Brenda, and Heidi.

Binion, Victoria Jackson. 1990. "Psychological Androgyny: A 
   Black Female Perspective." in Sex Roles, vol. 22, nos. 7/8, 
   pp. 487-506.
Brown-Collins, Alice and Deborah Ridley Sussewell. 1986. 
   "The Afro-American Woman's Emerging Selves." in The 
   Journal of Black Psychology, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1-11.
Stone, Linda. 1992. "Cultural Influences in Community 
   Participation in Health." in Social Science Medicine, vol. 35, 
   no. 4, pp. 409-417.
Ussher, Jane. 1991. "Madness and misogyny: My mother and 
   myself.S" in Women's Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? 
   Amherst: University of Massachusettes Press. pp. 3-15.

Week 11:  Group Facilitation 2

Naming and Representation Part 2:  Other Areas of "High 
Facilitated by Rae, Karen, Kate M., Rebecca, and Nacha.

In Cameron:   Schultz (pp. 134-147)
   Kramarae and Treichler (pp. 148-159)
   Elgin (pp. 160-163)
In Todd and Fisher:   Penelope (pp. 255-273)
In Cameron:   Hofstadter (pp. 187-196)

Week 12: Group Facilitation 3
Cross Cultural Perspectives
Facilitated by Ellen and Noriko

deAnda, Diane. 1984. "Bicultural Socialization: Factors 
   Affecting the Minority Experience." in Social Work, March-
   April 1984.
Hong Kingston, Maxine. 1975. "A Song for a Barbarian Reed 
   Pipe." in The Woman Warrior. Vintage International. pp. 
Inn, Kalei. "Assessment of Self-Concept: Bilingual Asian-
   American Children." in Asian and Pacific American 
   Perspectives in Bilingual Education. M. Chu-Chang (ed.).
Schweickart, Patrocinio. 1986. "Reading Ourselves: Toward a 
   Feminist Theory of Reading." in Gender and Reading, E. 
   Flynn and P. Schweickart (eds.), The Johns Hopkins 
   University Press. pp. 31-62.

Chan, Sucheng and Ling-Chi Wang. "Racism and the Model 
   Minority: Asian-Americans in Higher Education." in The 
   Racial Crisis in American Higher Education. P.G. Altbach 
   and K. Lomotey (eds.).
Chow, Esther Ngan-Ling. "The Feminist Movement: Where 
   are all the Asian American Women?" in Making Waves.
Faithorn, Elizabeth. 1986. "Gender Bias and Sex Bias: 
   Removing Our Cultural Blinders in the Field." in Self, Sex 
   and Gender in Cross-Cultural Fieldwork. T. Whitehead and 
   M. Conaway (eds.), University of Illinois Press. pp. 275-
Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor and Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet. 1991. 
   "Clinical and Cultural Issues in the Treatment of Biracial 
   and Bicultural Adolescents." in The Journal of 
   Contemporary Human Services.
Smith-Hefner, Nancy. 1990. "Language and Identity in the 
   Education of Boston-Area Khmer." in Anthropology and 
   Education Quarterly, vol. 21, pp. 250-268.

* Synthesis 1 Due.

Week 13:   Group Facilitation 4
Interaction Part 1:  In the Classroom
Facilitated by Ako, Rachel, Julie, Kristin, and Kate L.

"Sexism in the Schoolhouse." in Newsweek, February 24, 
"Sexism in the Schoolhouse." in U.S. News and World Report, 
   March 9, 1992.
Judd, Eliot. 1983. R"The Problem of Applying Sociolinguistic 
   Findings to TESOL: The Case of Male/Female Language." in 
   Sociolinguistics and Language Acquisition. N. Wolfson and 
   E. Judd (eds.), Newbury House.
Tannen, Deborah. 1992. "How Men and Women Use Language 
   Differently in Their Lives and in the Classroom." in The 
   Education Digest.
Wolfson, Nessa. 1989. "Language and Sex." in Perspectives. 
   pp. 162-187.

Bem, Sandra and Daryl Bem. 1973. "Does Sex-biased Job 
   Advertising 'Aid and Abet' Sex Discrimination?" in The 
   Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 6-18.

Week 14: Group Facilitation 5
Interaction Part 2:  In Conversation
Facilitated by Hae Sook, Hi Jean, Kim, and Miriam.

Holmes, Janet. 1990. "Politeness strategies in New Zealand 
   women's speech." in New Zealand Ways of Speaking 
   English. A. Bell and J. Holmes (eds.), Multilingual Matters 
   Ltd. pp. 252-276.
Shapiro, Johanna, Ellen McGrath and Raymond Anderson. 
   1983. "Patients', Medical Students', and Physicians' 
   Perceptions of Male and Female Physicians." in Perceptual 
   and Motor Skills, vol. 56, pp. 179-190.
Simkins-Bullock, Jennifer and Beth Wildman. 1991. "An 
   Investigation into the Relationship Between Gender and 
   Language." in Sex Roles. vol. 24, nos. 3/4, pp. 149-160.

Week 15:   Language and Gender Synthesis.
Class discussion which will synthesize what we have 
covered, and emphasize issues and methods for future 

*  Synthesis 2 due.

*  Final project due.


Group 1:  Naming and Representation in the Medical Field.
Lisa:   Representations of childbirth in midwive's texts as 
   compared to physician's texts.
Brenda / Heidi:  African-American women in conversation 
   about their bodies.
Jody:  Women and depression.

Group 2:  Naming and Representation in other areas of "High 
Rae:  Compare New Church publications and sermons during 
   three periods for representation of Lillian Beekman, a 
   controversial woman in the church.
Karen:  How are women represented in rap music?: A 
   comparison of male and female rappers. 
Kate M:  Feminist Dictionaries:  A comparative study.
Rebecca:  Gender representations in advertising.
Nacha:  Representation of women in the original and most 
   recent Peruvian constitutions.  A critical look.

Group 3:  Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Ellen:  Beliefs and practices about literacy, gender, and 
   culture among two generations of women in two 
   Cambodian families.  How the women view themselves and 
   their emergent literacies.
Noriko:  Japanese-American women's stories about growing 
   up biculturally with respect to gender identity.

Group 4:  Interaction Part 1:  In the Classroom
Ako:  Gender relations in a Wharton Business School class.
Rachel:  Differences in the way men and women speak out in 
   class; the comments they make, questions they ask, how 
   they form their questions, and teacher's responses in an 
   Arts and Science class.
Julie:  How teachers and ESL texts deal with sexism in 
   language.  How are the teachers and curriculum practicing 
   or avoiding sexist language use.
Kristan:  Looking at language socialization of ESL 
   kindergarten students in ESL classes with respect to 
   gender identity; among students at play and/or in official 
Kate L:  One intermediate speaking/listening in ESL class. 
   Possibly looking at politeness phenomena.

Group 5:  Interaction Part 2:  In Conversation
Hae Sook:  Gender differences in language use among Korean 
Hi Jean:  Relationship between changes in Korean social 
   structure and women's language use in conversation.
Kim:  Male/Female doctors' language use with patients.
Miriam:  Gender differences in politeness strategies in 
   conversations with members  of two New Zealand 

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