Counterbalance: Gendered Perspectives on Writing and Language

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Carolyn Logan
Broadview Press, Apr 15, 1997 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 382 pages
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Like other composition readers, Counterbalance has as its primary purpose to improve thinking, reading and writing skills, recognizing throughout the degree to which these are inextricably interlinked. Where Counterbalance differs from almost all other composition readers is in the prominence it gives to writing by women. More and more of the writers in modern Western society are women and women now comprise a substantial majority of the students in many undergraduate courses. Yet most texts are eighty per cent or more comprised of writing by men. As its title suggests, this book acts as a counterbalance; over three-quarters of the essays are by women.

The feminist stance of Counterbalance is unequivocal; an important aim of this text is to encourage students to question assumptions about gender. But for those to whom the word ‘feminist’ engenders immediate unease, it should be emphasised that the stance of the text is provocative and open-minded rather than strident or exclusionary; Audre Lorde and bell hooks are here, but so is George Orwell.

The text is also designed as a counterbalance in other respects; many of the essays here explore issues of race, culture and class. Notions of correctness and issues of free speech and responsibility are also treated. As a whole the book is thus an invigorating and enormously wide-ranging spur to thought and discussion. Yet it avoids the scatter-gun approach so common to first-year collections; Counterbalance retains throughout a focus on language—perhaps the one area that all students, no matter what their backgrounds and interests, can connect to out of their everyday experience. The book’s thesis is that we can all think more clearly and use language more effectively if we know not only something about the traditional areas of composition and grammar but also something about how language influences us. The essays selected demonstrate a variety of expository styles, organizations and methods of development. They are organized into seven chapters so as to present a coherent progression, moving from simpler essays on more familiar topics to more difficult concepts and writing assignments.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
A White Mans Word by Debra Swallow
12
Men and Women Talking by Gloria Steinem
22
Introduction
37
Habit is Useful and Dangerous by Arlene Larson
45
The Passive Voice or The Secret Agent by Rita Mae Brown
53
Speaking Out by Julia Penelope
68
Introduction
79
Introduction
231
The Language of Indian Derision by Haig A Bosmajian
238
Heard Any Good Jews Lately? by Thomas Friedmann
258
La Guera by Cherrie Moraga
269
The F Word by Catharine Stimpson
278
Introduction
285
Black Children Black Speech by Dorothy Seymour
291
The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
298

Politics and the English Language by George Orwell
86
Pronoun Envy by Alette Olin Hill
98
The Role of American Indian Women in Cultural Continuity
116
Nuclear Language and How We Learned to Pat the Bomb
124
Patriarchy Scientists and Nuclear Warriors by Brian Easlea
136
How Science has Constructed
157
Introduction
179
Dictionaries by Howard R Webber
193
Can We Decontaminate Sexist Language?
212
The Linguistic Battlefield by Michael Callen
308
Sex Class and Race IntersectionsVisions of Women
314
When the Words Open into Some Not Yet Open Space
322
Introduction
335
Revisioning Courses
342
Poetry as Play
359
Mother Calls Herself a Housewife But She Buys Bulls
373
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Carolyn Logan is the Director of Women’s Studies and teaches English at Casper College, Wyoming.

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