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What Else Are You Reading? > Please Help - Need Recommendations

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message 1: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Language, as much as it is a means of free expression, has also been a tool for repression. The structuring of language in a particular way is symptomatic of the power relations within any society - and it has repercussions way beyond the era. Language is also a tool for manipulation, systematic brainwashing and a means of gaining control over those who have been silenced.

With this view in mind, can anyone suggest books/articles regarding this topic (preferably academic ones) - how language is used as a tool for marginalizing women (whether or not its emphasis is on sci-fi)?

Even if you cannot think of any books, simply names of theorists/authors who have dealt with this issue too will be of great help.

I am familiar with the works of Cultural Studies theorists, psychoanalysts, Marxists and feminists (not necessarily in the same order) like Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Antonio Gramsci, Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in this respect and am searching for similar works.

Freudian theory is out of bounds due to its supposed patriarchal/phallic roots, so I'd appreciate the works of his and Lacan's successors.

Also I'd be grateful to be recommended works on Marxist theory with reference to Gender on the lines of the works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - a postmodern Marxist feminist - to be precise.

More specifically, I'd like works with postmodernist leanings - but even modernist ones are okay. The request is put forward in order to help me with my research so if anybody is familiar with critical works on the subject of gender and language in sci-fi/cyberpunk/feminist sci-fi/feminist cyberpunk, it would be absolutely wonderful.

Thanks.


message 2: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 832 comments Have you checked with Suzette Haden Elgin? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzette_...

I get the impression she'd be happy to give you resources and discussion. (This is based on like fifteen years ago, but still...)


message 3: by Frog (new)

Frog Jones | 7 comments http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fem...

Check the bibliography. Done.


message 4: by kvon (new)

kvon | 562 comments Check out Samuel Delaney's Babel-17 for language as power. Also the Elgin above, including The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense. And I think there was something by Joanna Russ as well...


message 5: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments kvon wrote: "Check out Samuel Delaney's Babel-17 for language as power. Also the Elgin above, including The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense. And I think there was something by Joanna Russ as well..."

Thanks to all of you! The link in post no.3 was great and systematic!

Hadn't heard of Babel 17 or the other book either, but they seem highly relevant! Thanks a ton :)


message 6: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments 1) Since you are already familiar with Marxist critiques of language, I hesitate to suggest these but ...

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol 1: Reason & the Rationalization of Society

Caveats - First, I only read portions of the Theory of Communicative Action in college (and understood somewhat less of it) and I felt that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was slightly more polemic than analysis. Second, neither work is feminist but both include deep consideration of the power dynamic in communicative models.

2) If you haven't read it, I would strongly recommend:

In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development

Some of her research and conclusions may seem wholly obvious to you but I guarantee they were not so obvious in 1982.

3) And, in the spirit of this being a Sword & Laser discussion group and in honor of Jack Vance, who just passed away, I'd like to suggest:

The Languages of Pao

A science fiction book where different language structures are shown as the reason for certain societies succeeding or failing and language structure is explicitly cited as a reason for one of the societies having a particularly brutal form of patriarchal domination and exploitation of women. To be honest, the arguments about language and sexism in the book are so explicit as to make the book clumsier than Vance's better work but I think you might get a kick out of it.


message 7: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Alan wrote: "1) Since you are already familiar with Marxist critiques of language, I hesitate to suggest these but ...

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol 1: Reason & the Rationa..."


Well, I'm familiar with some of Marxist critiques of language, but haven't delved deep in it - thanks!!! Hadn't heard of any of these. Glad to get these recos :) And thanks for the summary of these titles.


message 8: by Ben (new)

Ben Rowe (benwickens) Much of what I have read around language and oppression has not been in relation to marginalizing women but rather other groups. For instance in the UK, refugees are often categorized as "asylum seekers" as a prelude to being denied rights and treated in ways that would seem cruel to "refugees".

There are lots of great SF works that look at gender (Left Hand of Darkness, Herland etc) but I am not aware of any that focus specifically on linguistic issues. In any case you are perhaps after more academic consideration.

I enjoyed dipping into my sisters copy of Larbalestier, Justine.
Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century (2006) and you would probably find this mix of feminist sf short fiction and essays about the stories of interest but again it is not quite what you are looking for. As Herland is such a quick read it might be worth giving it a try.

I have not read it but The Language of Oppression seems to be the type of thing you are looking for.

I think there are also lots of examples in poetry, for instance some of Langston Hughes poems that highlight how language has been used to oppress people but cannot think of a more specific example at the moment.


message 9: by Dharmakirti (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments I would suggest checking out the excellent sci-fi novel Embassytown.


message 10: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Ben wrote: "Much of what I have read around language and oppression has not been in relation to marginalizing women but rather other groups. For instance in the UK, refugees are often categorized as "asylum s..."

Thank you for the detailed observation and suggestion - I am looking for theoretical frameworks that I can use to dissect feminist cyberpunk works. So what I'm looking for are not works of fiction, but literary theory. However, it is now okay since I have finalized on a postmodern approach, and I found a great book that will be my rudimentary guide - Key Concepts in Feminist Theory and Research. It is an amazing book.

So I'm also on to Derrida's notions of deconstruction.

Still, I'm open to more suggestions as well :)


message 11: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Dharmakirti wrote: "I would suggest checking out the excellent sci-fi novel Embassytown."

Oh yes, I'm on the look-out for it! Loved The City and the City, though it was urban fantasy


message 12: by Phil (new)

Phil (phil_rozelle_oz) | 34 comments Babel 17 by Delaney is one of my go to books and influenced my thinking about language.

Next would be Seeing Voices by Oliver Sachs. Not SF or fantasy obviously, but brilliantly exposes that language can be divorced from voice. It made me realise that Sign is a fully expressed language.

This in turn led me to create a project to put a group of deaf teenagers into a SCUBA diving course and qualify as Open Water divers. This put them in an environment where their 'handicap' gave them a supreme advantage - they could communicate perfectly..


message 13: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments That's very interesting! It is a wonder how language can enable people to do what other "normal" people cannot...

I'll look up Babel-17 right away and see how I can use it for my research - Also Sachs book - even if it isn't SF, it might be of use to me.

Thank you!


message 14: by Hesper (last edited Jul 01, 2013 10:47AM) (new)

Hesper | 85 comments Although it's not about sci-fi, and a little dated here and there, you may want to take a look at The Madwoman in the Attic. I've only skimmed through it, but it seems to address a fair amount of your specific concerns.

ETA: The bottom of this page has a short bibliography that might be of some use.


message 15: by Dharmakirti (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments Lit Bug, are you aware of the Goodreads group Linguistics Discussion 2013 & Beyond? I bet if you posted your question there, you would get some excellent recommendations.

http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/8...


message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim (OldJim) | 15 comments Dharmakirti wrote: "I would suggest checking out the excellent sci-fi novel Embassytown."

Excellent suggestion! One of the best inter-species (alien/human) novels I've ever read...


message 17: by Dharmakirti (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments Jim wrote: "Dharmakirti wrote: "I would suggest checking out the excellent sci-fi novel Embassytown."

Excellent suggestion! One of the best inter-species (alien/human) novels I've ever read..."


And the aliens are truly alien.


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (OldJim) | 15 comments Dharmakirti wrote: "Jim wrote: "Dharmakirti wrote: "I would suggest checking out the excellent sci-fi novel Embassytown."

Excellent suggestion! One of the best inter-species (alien/human) novels I've ever read..."

A..."

There's a tiny little bit in the novel, when the protagonist is explaining her time as a space traveler, where she mentions that the different aliens have different methods of FTL travel, implying that there is a psychological/physiological piece to it...sort of a you go your way I'll go mine.


message 19: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Well, I'm almost halfway through Embassytown!! And it's very interesting...

Lit Bug, are you aware of the Goodreads group Linguistics Discussion 2013 & Beyond?

I wasn't, but I'll immediately post it there... Thanks a lot!!!

@Hesper, I've heard of it, it is quite well-known, but not read it - going by what you say, though, I guess I'll read it...

Thanks all!!


message 20: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Hesper wrote: ETA: The bottom of this page has a short bibliography that might be of some use.

The link took me here - http://www.goodreads.com/topic - is it correct?


message 21: by Hesper (last edited Jul 02, 2013 10:57PM) (new)

Hesper | 85 comments That is strange. When I click on it I go here: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/...

ETa: In case that doesn't work, the url is (without spaces) www. sf-encyclopedia. com / entry / feminism


message 22: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Hmmm - even stranger, I too got to the intended page correctly this time. Thanks for the link, it was great - I read it only superficially right now, but I see it might really be of help. :)


message 23: by Hesper (new)

Hesper | 85 comments Glad to hear it. Btw, I read the first chapter of Madwoman in the Attic this morning, and so far it definitely deals with the topics you mentioned. I'll probably start on it in the next week or so, since it's been on my TBR forever, so I'll be able to tell you more.


message 24: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Thank you very much for the info on The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination - I seriously think I will get a copy. I read the link you suggested closely and realized I'd already read it before, but hadn't paid attention to the sources cited below - thanks for bringing that to my attention, they will be useful, I think.


message 25: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Virginia Woolf might be a good author to check out. Orlando deals with a protagonist who changes from male to female as the story progresses so it does a fair amount of playing with language.

I a..."


Thanks! Not read Orlando but did read A Room of One's Own... Will look it up.


message 26: by Hesper (new)

Hesper | 85 comments Quick Madwoman update. It absolutely addresses the use of language in setting up paradigms of power. The first four chapters are more of a general theory discussion, and they're probably your best bet for getting at the information you want quickly.

The rest of the book deals with individual writers; familiarity with the works mentioned will help a great deal. Even so, a judicious skimming will probably still give you some pertinent material.

Great research topic, btw!


message 27: by Lit Bug (new)

Lit Bug | 287 comments Thank you for the update! Now I think I really must get it and read it - it is already a landmark book on feminism, and am pretty optimistic I'll get a good deal from it.

Thanks again!


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