Pronoun Envy

By Anna Livia,

Book cover of Pronoun Envy: Literary Uses of Linguistic Gender

Book description

In this interdisciplinary book, Livia examines a broad corpus of written texts in English and French, concentrating on those texts which problematize the traditional functioning of the linguistic gender system. They range from novels and prose poems to film scripts and personal testimonies, and in time from the nineteenth century…

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1 author picked Pronoun Envy as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

In 1971, in response to a protest by women students at the Harvard Divinity School against the masculine universal, the chair of Harvard’s linguistics department, Calvert Watkins, wrote a letter to Crimson, cosigned by other colleagues. Explaining the concept of ‘markedness,’ he contended there was “really no cause for anxiety or pronoun-envy on the part of those seeking such changes.” Anna Livia’s book─originally her PhD thesis at Berkeley, uses the controversial phrase as the departure point for an enlightening analysis of a wide range of English and French texts problematizing the traditional linguistic gender system. The study reveals that…

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