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2 - The gendered ‘I’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Clare Jackson
Affiliation:
University of York
Susan A. Speer
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
Elizabeth Stokoe
Affiliation:
Loughborough University
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Summary

Introduction

In English, the word ‘I’ does not contain any categorical information about the speaker; neither gender, age, class nor race. It is what Schegloff (1996c: 440) calls ‘reference simpliciter’; it does simple self-reference and its use ‘masks the relevance of the referent and the reference for the talk’ (Schegloff, 1996c: 446) because it is ‘opaque with respect to all the usual key categorical dimensions – age, gender, status and the like’ (Schegloff, 2007c: 123). Building on Schegloff's cogent analysis, the key claim I wish to make in this chapter is that there are instances where a speaker's self-referential ‘I’ can be rendered hearably gendered in the context of its production. In other words, my data show instances in which the ordinary, unremarkable form of self-reference is itself hearably gendered, without the speaker's categorical membership being explicitly linguistically produced. I call this use of ‘I’ the gendered-I. Drawing on extracts from the CTS corpus, I show how the self-reference ‘I’ can be gendered.

I locate my work in the emerging discipline of feminist conversation analysis (see Kitzinger, 2000a; 2007a; Speer, 2002a; 2005a; Stokoe & Weatherall, 2002a) in which gendered identities (and others) are seen as emergent, locally occasioned and routinely constituted in interaction. Feminist conversation analysis resonates with ethnomethodological feminisms (Kitzinger, 2000a: 166), in which men/boys and women/girls are not regarded as always-and-forever talking as gendered beings, but rather may produce themselves or be produced as gendered in the taken-for-granted, routinized details of interaction (see Garfinkel, 1967; Kessler & McKenna, 1978: 136; West & Zimmerman, 1987: 13–14).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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