Course Description

In the classic musical, "My Fair Lady", phonetician Henry Higgins takes in a poor Cockney flower girl and gives her speech lessons to help her to pass as a "proper lady". Central to the premise of the musical is that speech is a core part of our identity, significantly influences how other perceive us, and determines our ability to achieve social mobility. In this course, we will explore what our speech patterns reveal about our identity and how we make judgments of others - rightly or wrongly - based on their speech. We will learn about what speech can (and cannot) reveal about us including language background, sex and gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, home region, age, peer-group affiliation, and more.

To explore these questions, we will read research articles that have used a variety of methodologies to investigate questions relating to speech patterns and identity. Since reading primary source material, specifically scientific journal articles, may be new to you, we will spend time learning how to find, read, and evaluate journal articles. Through in-class activities and assignments, you will learn how to present and interpret research findings both orally and in writing. Further, you will become an active participant in the research process by collecting and analyzing data including dialect surveys, digital recordings (including those of your own voice!), and perceptual judgments. In addition to the central activities of the course, there will be a number of additional out-of-class activities including films and a visit to the Kinsey Institute.

GenEd Information: Currently approved for the IU Bloomington GenEd NS requirement. See the GenEd Website for more information.

Catalog Information: COLL-S 105 FRESHMAN SEMINAR IN N & M

IFS course instructor photo

Course Instructor: Tessa Bent

Dr. Tessa Bent is an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Her training is in Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology and her research focuses on how children and adults understand speech, particularly in situations where one or both of the speakers are communicating in a second language. Dr. Bent currently teaches courses in phonetics, language development, and speech perception. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Netflix, cooking delicious meals, dressing up in costumes, and dancing.

My Fair Language: The Perception and Projection of Identity through Speech

My Fair Language: The Perception and Projection of Identity through Speech: Courses: Intensive Freshman Seminars: Indiana University Bloomington