Beyond heteronormativity and towards Intersectionality

Pichler, Pia. 2023. Beyond heteronormativity and towards Intersectionality. In: Pia Pichler, ed. Language and Gender. London: University of London.. [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The current chapter introduces the area of language and sexuality, which in many ways is closely connected to topics and approaches in language and gender studies. Early observations of language and sexuality mirror several of the issues in early language and gender scholarship. For example, language and gender pioneer Robin Lakoff’s (1975) concept of ‘women’s language’ has long since been critiqued for implying that all women use language in the same way (see Chapter 2). As we will see, early attempts to describe ‘homosexual slang’ or ‘gayspeak’ or ‘gay men’s English’ have also been superseded by research that does not aim to correlate specific linguistic features with a speaker’s sexuality, but instead views language as a resource for speakers to index sexual desires, practices and identities. In this chapter we will give a brief overview of the history of language and sexuality studies. We will look at a range of research and extracts of talk, mostly focusing on conversational style and discourse, although we will briefly also introduce some of the sociophonetic work on the idea of the ‘gay voice’. This chapter will also introduce you to a range of important concepts which underpin research on language, gender and sexuality, including ‘heteronormativity’ and ‘intersectionality’. The chapter will highlight the importance of language and sexuality scholarship to move beyond its historical focus on speakers from North America and Europe to include perspectives from the ‘Global South’.

Item Type:

Book Section

Additional Information:

'Language and Gender' is a subject guide prepared for the University of London International Programmes by Pia Pichler, offering advice to students taking the Language and Gender course.

This course aims to give a comprehensive introduction to the study of language and gender. We will examine how gender is reflected and constituted in language, that is, how women and men speak, how language is used to accomplish femininity and masculinity. Students will become familiar with a wide range of studies exploring the language used by women, men and children in a range of different contexts, including informal talk among friends and talk in work or public settings.

The course encourages a critical engagement with past and present approaches to the study of language and gender and draws on a range of different theoretical and methodological frameworks to show how gender and identity can be analysed in language.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 August 2023Published Online

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Date Deposited:

13 Feb 2024 13:18

Last Modified:

13 Feb 2024 15:36


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