Cultural Difference or Male Dominance?: (Re)adjusting the Lens on the Maternal Image in Language Socialization Practices

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Donna DelPrete


It is not uncommon for doctoral students to experience some sort of intellectual turning point in the course of our studies. At this juncture a light bulb may go off, allowing us to experience an “Aha” moment (Tannen, 1984) with regard to a particular issue. This leads us to re-examine some of our most deeply ingrained beliefs about a particular research area. We stroll down new paths, explore new territories, and find new spaces to ponder our questions. One such exploration began for me in the spring of 2005, while I was enrolled in Interactional Sociolinguistics with Dr. Leslie M. Beebe. This course not only exposed me to a discourse analytic approach that would be foundational to my future dissertation work, but it also provided me with a new and expanded perspective on discourse and gender. The course was indeed an intellectual turning point in my life that began when I examined the debate surrounding crossgender (mis)communication, and then came full circle when I discovered an interest in family discourse and the maternal figure—an outgrowth of a Linguistic Anthropology course also taught by Dr. Beebe the following term.

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