Language, Gender and Sexual Identity
Heiko Motschenbacher | Goethe University Frankfurt
This book makes an innovative contribution to the relatively young field of Queer Linguistics. Subscribing to a poststructuralist framework, it presents a critical, deconstructionist perspective on the discursive construction of heteronormativity and gender binarism from a linguistic point of view. On the one hand, the book provides an outline of Queer approaches to issues of language, gender and sexual identity that is of interest to students and scholars new to the field. On the other hand, the empirical analyses of language data represent material that also appeals to experts in the field. The book deals with repercussions of the discursive materialisation of heteronormativity and gender binarism in various kinds of linguistic data. These include stereotypical genderlects, structural linguistic gender categories (especially from a contrastive linguistic point of view), the discursive sedimentation of female and feminine generics, linguistic constructions of the gendered body in advertising and the usage of personal reference forms to create characters in Queer Cinema. Throughout the book, readers become aware of the wounding potential that gendered linguistic forms may possess in certain contexts.
[IMPACT: Studies in Language, Culture and Society, 29] 2010. xi, 209 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements | p. xi
Chapter 1. Introduction: Poststructuralist perspectives on language, gender and sexual identity | pp. 1–4
Chapter 2. Queer Linguistics | pp. 5–20
Chapter 3. Queer approaches in linguistic research: Overview and suggestions for future research | pp. 21–44
Chapter 4. Redefining genderlect | pp. 45–60
Chapter 5. The sedimentation of structural gender categories | pp. 61–88
Chapter 6. The discursive materialisation of female and feminine generics | pp. 89–122
Chapter 7. The discursive construction of the gendered body | pp. 123–140
Chapter 8. Linguistic identity construction in Queer Cinema | pp. 141–168
Chapter 9. Thinking further: Language, gender and wounding | pp. 169–180
References | pp. 181–200
Language index | pp. 201–202
Subject index | pp. 203–209
“This book is an excellent account of the multidimensional relations between language, gender and sexuality, placing language and gender research in the larger context of transdisciplinary poststructuralist discourses of gender. Taking an explicitly Queer Linguistic perspective, the book combines a highly theoretical and critical approach with rigorous and extensive empirical language data from various discursive contexts such as false generics, naming conventions, advertising discourse, and Queer Cinema.”
Marlis Hellinger, J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main
“With this book Heiko Motschenbacher will definitely succeed in establishing the new field of “queer linguistics”, a mainly poststructuralist approach to language, gender and sexuality that in its latest phase also addresses issues of practical applicability. The critique of a strictly binary gender categorization and of the still omnipresent and dominant heteronormative discourse is relevant not only for linguists or for specialists of gender and queer studies, but for all of us who communicate and use apparently innocent everyday categories, which are never objective, but can still exclude and hurt all those who are just a bit 'different'.”
Martin Stegu, Vienna University of Economics and Business
“As a whole, the book works towards achieving Motschenbacher’s goal of “critically scrutinizing manifestations of gender binar- ism and heteronormativity in language [and] destabli[zing] naturalised notions of gender and sexual identity and ... relativi[zing] their absoluteness.”
Alexander Buchner, University of Colorado–Boulder Boulder, in Language in Society 41 (2012) doi:10.1017/S0047404512000139
“Despite the rather unoriginal title, Language, Gender and Sexual Identity: Poststructuralist perspectives is an extremely original book.One thing that this reviewer greatly appreciated was the author's synchronic and diachronic comparative linguistic approach in order to put gender in a wider perspective, and question the naturalness of gender in any one particular language or at any specific time. Most publications in the field deal with the English language, and studies in other languages have been largely missing from the field sofar. Motschenbacher's work therefore helps to fill this gap. He succeeds at combining structural and post-structural linguistics, as well as quantitative and qualitative approaches, both of which arer are in the field. The Queer perspective of the language as a structural system, as well as how it is used pragmatically, opens up many paths for future research, including breathing a new post-structural life into studies on linguistic sexism. Through methodical and insightful analysis, the author shows just how unstable gender binarisms are. Without necessarily rejecting them wholeheartedly, we are strongly encouraged to question their naturalness as categories, and to see them in the light of their discursive history. All in all, Language, Gender and Sexual Identity: Poststructuralist perspectives is a fascinating, cutting edge piece of work, accessible to both newcomers to the field of gender and language as well as experts.”
Ann Coady, Sheffield Hallam University & Aix-Marseille Université, in Journal of Pragmatics 44: 1381-1384, 2012
“All in all, this high quality book can be recommended to students and researchers in the areas of language and gender research.”
Lijing Deng, Ningbo Dahongying University, PR China, in Discourse Studies 15(5): 660-662, 2013
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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 11 september 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.
Main BIC Subject
CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis
Main BISAC Subject
LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General