Final Project: A Collegiate Utopia

The feminists studied in class have each created science fiction stories that are carefully constructed with language chosen with specific intent. I believe that through their writing and correspondence with one another, the authors created a theory for ideal language.

I would like to examine and compile this theory and then analyze it in comparison to how language is used today at the University of Oregon. I would like to look at specific questions such as: What would the university look like if sexist and gender specific language was eliminated from our vocabularies? How would the environment created by the language theory shape the college experience and what would relationships between students, faculty, and community members look like?

In order to explore this utopia, I would first like to summarize the theory found throughout the written works and correspondence between the feminist authors discussed in class, including but not limited to Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Suzette Haden Elgin, Ursula Le Guin, Casey Miller and Kate Swift, using a traditional essay format. Then, in an attempt to thoroughly explore my questions and the scope of this class, I would like to take the knowledge gained and apply it to our own university in a science fiction short story.

While the traditional essay provides the opportunity to address and specify the forward thinking thoughts and language choice used by the authors, the short story would allow me to demonstrate where our campus is today and what would need to change before their ideas from the past have been truly accepted by the public and university community. This short story would begin in today’s time and then transition into the future in order to compare and contrast the appearance, experiences, people, and problems faced in both time frames at the University of Oregon.

I hope to not only draw from the primary sources in the special collections, but also reach out to students across campus to hear their experiences and better understand the problems and barriers they face due to language. This additional source will also allow me to picture the changes that would need to take place at the University of Oregon to be able to construct the ideal college community.

In addition, I plan to explore the works of Suzette Haden Elgin to learn more about how language is used in many different aspects of life. At this point, I have been unable to find correspondence between her and other authors to see if they communicated any of the ideas that appeared in her published works. However, I hope to find some letters to see if her ideas were inspired by the previous works by other feminist authors prior to the publication of Native Tongue. The books by Elgin I plan to use include Native Tongue, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense, Gender Speak, and her various books dealing with language in professional environments. Other sources I will utilize include Miller and Swift’s The handbook of nonsexist writing and Paula Treichler and Ann Russo’ ‘Ceris Kramarae’s A Feminist Dictionary.

Bibliography

[Correspondence from Marge Piercy], Joanna Russ Papers, [Coll 261, Box 8, Folders 42-47], Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Elgin, Suzette H. Genderspeak : men, women, and the gentle art of verbal self-defense. New York: J. Wiley, 1993. Print.

Elgin, Suzette H. Native tongue. New York: DAW Books, 1984. Print.

Elgin, Suzette H. The gentle art of verbal self-defense at work. Paramus, N.J: Prentice Hall Press, 2000. Print.

Joanna Russ Papers, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Or.

Kramarae, Cheris, and Paula A. Treichler. A feminist dictionary. London Boston: Pandora Press, 1985. Print.

Miller, Casey, and Kate Swift. The handbook of nonsexist writing. Lincoln, NE: IUniverse.com, Inc, 2001. Print.

Ursula Le Guin Papers, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Or.

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One response to “Final Project: A Collegiate Utopia

  • cstabile

    I love this project! My only concern at this point is that it still seems on the huge side, so you’ll want to make sure that you can focus it enough. And while I like the short story as a vehicle for this content, let’s try to talk through what that would look like over the next few weeks.

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