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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2008

E 364T • The English Language and its Social Context (35418 and 35420)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35418 TTh
MEZ 1.120

Course Description

The English Language and Its Social Context is a course designed for English majors, future teachers of English and rhetoric, and other language-oriented students who want to know more about the English language, especially about its social meanings and political uses. The course aims to acquaint students with the language theory, history, and research most relevant to teachers of literature and rhetoric. Specifically, we will study: basic principles of language structure and change; the social dimensions of language variety; the linguistic history and linguistic diversity of the U.S.; English and commercial culture; language attitudes; pedagogical issues involving language acquisition and linguistic difference; linguistic diversity and the teaching of English language and literature; and problems of language and public policy. The primary goal of the course is not solely to convey information, though of course this will be important, but to encourage students to think in new ways about the language(s) they speak.

Grading Policy

Minimum requirements are: 1) satisfactory work on (possible) quizzes and on linguistics problems; 2) satisfactory work on four minor written assignments (2-3 pages each); 3) a passing average score on exams (three; no exam may be missed); 4) a satisfactory final paper (approximately 8-10 pages, two drafts); 5) discussion informed by familiarity with the required readings; and 6) regular attendance. Note that these are minimum requirements.

Grades are based half on problems and tests (quizzes and problems 5%; exams 45%, 15% for each of three) and half on writing assignments (minor written assignments 10%; final paper 40%). Discussion and attendance are considered essential, and unsatisfactory marks in these areas are deducted from the final average.


--Bauer, Laurie, and Peter Trudgill, eds., Language Myths
--Delpit, Lisa, and Joanne Kilgour Dowdy, The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom
--Lippi-Green, Rosina, English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States
--Tse, Lucy, Why Don't They Learn English?: Separating Fact From Fallacy in the U.S. Language Debate
--Wolfram, Walt, and Natalie Schilling-Estes, American English
--Additional readings (available through links to electronic reserves or in the course packet at Speedway Copy in Dobie Mall).


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