Course Spotlight: Language, Gender, and Sexuality in African Contexts

Image of "I love you"
“I love you” written with beads on a bed by Swahili women in Zanzibar as they teach a new bride how to be a “good Muslim wife.” (Photo by Katrina Daly Thompson © 2011)

Course Description

An exploration of how gender and sexuality are constrained, constructed, performed, and resisted in and through language. Readings will include theories of language and gender, queer linguistics, and feminist discourse analysis, followed by case studies in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology from Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa, and the Swahili Coast. The final paper will be a field work funding proposal. Students working in other linguistic areas are also welcome and may write the final paper in relation to any language.

Sample readings

Allah Made Us: Sexual Outlaws in an Islamic African City
Gender and Language in Sub-Saharan Africa
Language and HIV/AIDS
Pronouncing and Persevering: Gender and the Discourses of Disputing in an African Islamic Court

Enrollment details

African Languages & Literature 669, Section 2
3 credits
Tu/Th 2:30-4:30 PM, Van Hise 482
Professor Katrina Daly Thompson, Department of African Languages & Literature

About the instructor

Katrina Daly Thompson is an associate professor in the Department of African Languages and Literature, with affiliations in Second Language Acquisition and Religious Studies. Her interests concern language, power, and identity in African verbal arts, and her current research is on Swahili talk about gender and sexuality in the context of Islam.