Date of Award

3-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition

Department

English

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Jacqueline Rhodes

Abstract

The notion of a “feminine” style has been staunchly resisted by third-wave feminists who argue that to posit a “feminine” style is essentialist. Yet, linguists such as Norma Mendoza-Denton and Elinor Ochs discuss indexicality and shifting through salient variables, a process called entextualization. Further, French feminists such as Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva use the linguistic concept of intertextuality to explain certain poetic uses of language that might cause what Luce Irigaray calls “irruption of the semiotic chora”—moments within language where boundaries in the semiotic chain of signification are “blurred.” Thus, while current feminism has moved strictly away from the idea that there is an exigent “feminine” to which all women must aspire, there exists a tenuous, but salient connection between the linguistic concepts of indexicality and intertextuality on one hand, and jouissance and “irruption of the chora” on the other that can inform those styles we might term “feminine” and allow for a more productive and responsive perception of “femininity.”

Amos’ lyrics illustrate these theories working together; Amos’ lyrics represent such a “feminine” style as indexed through use of salient variables; thus, Amos’ lyrics represent a sociolinguistic phenomenon wherein gender-based salient variables reform what “feminine” is and means, challenging social attitudes and the specular feminine persona within both the personal and public spheres. The implications of these theories could eventually influence perceptions of women in any particular profession or sphere, as gendered linguistic markers influence gender roles and implications, which, in turn, inform social change.