Who is the inauthentic woman?: Fractal Recursivity in Charisma’s “King”

The song I’m looking at for my first media response is King by Charisma. I chose this song as it nods to and constructs femininity in a specific way, wherein there is an authentic woman via constructing an inauthentic woman by comparison. This construction isn’t new by any means, and is an aspect of fractal recursivity, wherein “the fact that the differences which are made to be iconic are used in the creation of an ‘other'” (2004, Andronis). That said: this construction is important to consider as a reflection of not only Charisma’s lyrical considerations of women (within the scope of this project), but also how said constructions have come to be (a bit beyond the scope of this project).

For the remainder of this essay I will be using the term ‘authentic woman’ as it is contrasted by the ‘inauthentic woman.’ That said: I cannot agree with the message sent through the lyrics, and actively wish to push back against the idea that there is an inherently authentic womanhood which is contrasted by an inherently inauthentic womanhood.

Image Source

I will proceed with a short analysis of the specific language used in the song by examining the chorus and several verse sections (although I have included the lyrics in their entirety, with exception of chorus repetitions due to brevity). Disclaimer: I do not wish to express negativity toward either the song or Charisma with my analysis, as I know absolutely nothing of Charisma proper and enjoy the fuck out of the song. I also appreciate any and all constructive criticisms and comments made either here or via Twitter.


Oh I
Can’t wait until I become king
say goodbye to the bullshit and shallow things
No more of their plastic and empty dreams
When I become king

Although Charisma sings that one day they will become “king” this is not to say that Charisma is rejecting femininity, but rather that she is associating her own feminine identity with respect to the power and authority attributed to the entextualized title of “king.” Whereas the authentic woman is able to gain power and authority through “say[ing] goodbye to the bullshit and shallow things” the inauthentic woman is trapped by her inability to move away from “plastic and empty dreams.”

Verse, Part 1:

Can you hear me now
Loud and clearly now
I got shit to say
So just hear me out
Look what’s winning now
Are we for real right now?
Building plastic dolls just to make daddy proud

Here Charisma positions herself as the authentic woman, who is subsequently assertive (“I got shit to say”), while calling to attention the contrast between herself and what I have deemed to be classed lyrically as the inauthentic woman. Whereas the authentic woman is assertive in her speech, construction of identity, and concerns over others (“are we for real right now?”) the inauthentic woman is constructed only for the male gaze (“building plastic dolls just to make daddy proud”).

Verse, Part 2:

Turn that bullshit off
Play my music loud
Just be who you are
Don’t let them tear you down
I’ve some self esteem
that’s what’s up right now

Verse, Part 3:

I’m on Skype with my friends like wassup right now
Bless my brother Cal
Cuz he helped me up
Peace to my hometown I’m in
LA now
No injected butts
No injected lips
Beauty lies within
That’s what always wins out

Here again we see that the authentic woman has “beauty [which] lies within” and rejects “injected butts” and “injected lips.” Additionally the authentic woman “always wins out” by virtue of standard deletion (ie. the inauthentic woman who has been modified in some way is the default, and the authentic woman is constructed through a process of trait deletion).

Verse, Part 4:

So if you is tired of fakeness as I am
Then give me the freedom to sing
I can’t wait I can’t wait to be king

I’d like to call attention here to the fact that I have chosen not to include chorus repititions as an aspect of my analysis, but I’d like to note that I do find it very interesting that the bridge (“I can’t wait I can’t wait to be king”) is repeated in addition to the chorus proper (2017, Vox). If I had chosen to analyze this piece on the basis of literary analysis as opposed to a constructive analysis this is absolutely something I would have focused on more.

Verse, Part 5:

Let me clear the air
This is not a diss
This is opposite of all that gossiping
This is common sense
Mixed with consciousness
This is ‘ I love myself ‘ that’s why I’m the shit

Verse, Part 6:

So why would I care?
If it’s not a hit
When was truth ever based on acknowledgement
I’ve got self esteem
Plus my squad is lit
That’s why we’re taking off like a rocket ship

As part of this analysis I cannot discount the effects of the music proper. The song itself is poppy, and uses a popular triplet meter. In using this as an example of the ways in which the musicality turns to other music for genre convention constructive practices it is thus possible to conclude that although Charisma sings that they do not require validation they are influenced by popular genre conventions and are simultaneously willing to influence said conventions. This is another example of fractal recursivity whereby Charisma is “tapping into this great collective artistic movement” (2017, Vox).

Verse, Part 7:

So don’t try to tell me what’s cool right now
I could care less of what’s in right now
The only thing I wanna be right now
Is me

Verse, Part 8:

So we don’t need you for [unintelligible]
We know that we can do anything
I can’t wait, I can’t wait to be king

As has been shown above this song and the language used therein are directly related to the topic of language and gender. Where the authentic woman has access to power, authority, and subsequently prestige the inauthentic woman exists as a “plastic” thing for the male gaze. Repetition is used to great effect in this construction, with specific associations of “king” (obviously) and “plastic […] fakeness.

In completing this analysis I am left wondering whether or this song could function without the foundational premise of authentic versus inauthentic womanhood? I would be interested to look more into the ways in which gender is produced through music (and specifically how music videos amplify this, something which is well beyond the scope of this analysis). Moving forward I would love to see other songs that people think follow similar lines of gender construction in addition to those which fight against gender/ed language in music. In reviewing the course objectives this song allows for a “discuss[ion regarding] the role of language in the construction of gender […] identities” in addition to facilitating my own “critical respons[e] to [an] original source readin[g]” and thus would be appropriate for further consideration beyond the short essay I have written here. I think that there is still consideration to be made here regarding the trajectory of the way/s in which music influences thought as it stands in opposition to the way in which specific people express their own ideologies. While this type of analysis cannot be undertaken on a single source, “King” would absolutely be a necessary aspect of a larger project due to its explicit engendering.

[A few] questions I’m left with:

  • How does racialization impact not only an analysis of the lyrics as they construct womanhood, but also influence further understandings of womanhood therein?
  • How do aspects of racialization of genre convention with respect to specific musical tropes or mores influence an understanding of the music overall?
  • How are trans women excluded from the category of “authentic woman” here? Would it be possible for the lyrics to continue to express their base message of us vs. them without excluding trans women? How?

Investing in a #SelfcareSunday 

We are our own best investments. Time for some self care!

On Thursday I was a panelist speaking on Linguistic Violence at Macewan University, and it got me thinking about self care. Too often I don’t take care of myself. With the hustle and bustle of school, freelancing, and Just Being sometimes I need a reminder to slow down!

So with all that in mind I made a short list of things I do/can do to practice self care for myself:

  • talking about it
  • reconnecting with community 
  • reaching out to people
  • doodling
  • painting
  • doing readings on-time
  • taking meds on-time
  • petting Sushi 
  • journaling 
  • meditating 
  • putting on pants
  • playing a videogame
  • having a bath
  • getting out of bed
  • listening to music
  • playing with putty
  • listening to audiodrama 
  • looking at family pics
  • writing
  • hugs
  • doing my hair
  • high fives 
  • looking at pictures of cute animals
  • smiling 
  • brushing my teeth
  • doing my brows
  • reading about cool shit
  • listening to podcasts 

What are some strategies you have to practice self care?

Archaeogaming as Definition and Method: Review of the Archaeogaming Blog

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 320: Archaeology of Gender requirements in October 2016, and may or may not reflect my current assessment of the archaeogaming blog. That said I’d love to do an archaeogaming blog review in the future, which is why I’m posting my previous thoughts here today! 🙂

The blog I am choosing to review is Archaeogaming, which has been written by Andrew Reinhard since June of 2013 (Reinhard, 2016). Archaeogaming is a blog which I have been regularly reading since November of 2015 after having been introduced to the concept of archaeogaming via the Twitter account of the same name (@Archaeogaming). I have found it influential not only as a student of the social sciences and humanities, but also as a person who really just enjoys playing video games. The most prominent reason for my choosing of Archaeogaming for review beyond familiarity, however, is that I believe the blog has the opportunity to directly influence my final research paper in ANTH 320: Archaeology of Gender via focused reading into the construction of a definition of archaeogaming as practice, as well as exposure to methodology within the sub-field of archaeogaming.

The first post I decided to focus on is the “Archaeogaming Map (Revised)” (Reinhard, 2015). This post was originally published on December 18th, 2015. I chose this post as, in my opinion, it provides the clearest definition of what archaeogaming actually is as a field of practice. The intent of the post is clearly to provide a vehicle for the map itself to be presented. Reinhard explains in the blog post that the intent for the map is to perhaps act as an inspiration for those already in the field of archaeogaming, or as definition for those curious about the field. The tone of this post is very short and to the point compared to subsequent posts considered for this review. This being said this works in the favour of the content as the blog post acts only as a vehicle for the map to be presented, and allows for Reinhard to keep reader focus on the image of the map itself which is a clear description of several archaeogaming topics arranged as heading > subheading > topic (Reinhard, 2015). Additionally, the map uses an appropriate image from a secondary source (the webcomic xkcd), and the secondary source is linked to with licensing information in-post. The word, grammar, and spelling choices of the map are additionally appropriate, and in at least one instance clever (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Close-up, highlighted section of spelling error (perhaps a “grammatical glitch”?) in the archaeogaming map (Reinhard, 2015).

The use of a spelling error in this situation not only forces the reader to pause to reconsider the thought, or re-read the line, but it is also mimetic to the “glitch as artifact” described in the line immediately above. The idea of creating a visual representation of a field of practice is not unheard of, and having the map be so detailed is ideal for an emergent field where many theories, ideas, and methodologies have either yet to be defined or yet to become standard practice. The information within the map presented appears to be accurate based on my own understanding of archaeogaming, however no explicit sources are given. This being said Reinhard makes clear in the blog post that the map is based on lived-experience, and an assumption can thus be made that the Archaeogaming blog itself is the source.

The second post which I decided to look at is “Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges,” which was originally posted on January 25th, 2016. The introduction establishes a clear purpose, and provides tonal reference for the “Achievement Hunter”-esque (Rooster Teeth) body of the post. The purpose of the post—to define “Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges”—is explicitly outlined in the title, and in the prompt Reinhard attributes for the post. Tonal reference is found in the use of the Xbox 360-style achievement image at the outset of the post, and subsequent explanation: “Because archaeogaming is so new (at least in the formal, academic sense), we have a number of mountains to climb, or, to keep this on-topic with video games, we have a lot of achievements to unlock” (Reinhard, 2016). The introduction additionally provides background information on the history of archaeogaming as a field of practice, and provides links to other blogs and websites on the subject. While the introduction fulfills the purpose of what the post is about, and some history on the subject, the tone isn’t consistent with the rest of the post. While Reinhard explicitly demarcates where the achievements are to begin the demarcation seems oddly placed at approximately one third of the post in, as having the image at the outset of the post makes it seem as though the entire post will have the achievement-hunting tone. Having the demarcation so late also causes pacing issues as the body of the post thus seems comparatively short to the introduction. In my opinion the post could have been improved—and had more impact—if the tone were to remain consistent, and the introduction be edited for length. This being said even the seemingly brief use of a writing tone which is mimetic to video game play is fun and appropriate considering the topic of the post being “challenges to [your] archaeology,” (Reinhard, 2016) and it works to bring the reader into a state of mind which connects both archaeology as practice and video games as subject.

The third post which I decided to look at is “Archaeology in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.” This post was originally published on October 25th, 2015. I chose this post as I played 2013’s Tomb Raider, and is one of only two posts which comes when using the on-site search function with the term “gender” as of October 10th, 2016. The post is a summation and analysis of the 2014 Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which is itself an update of 2013’s Tomb Raider. The practice of reviewing games is by no means anything new, but what sets this post apart from other summaries and reviews lies in the focus of the post on archaeology. Reinhard clearly identifies archaeologists as characters, artifacts as in-game items, and archaeological methodology as game-play. In the process of identifying archaeologists as characters Reinhard also makes note of gender representation, and gender disparity within the game-space through the characters of Lara Croft and James Whitman. In focusing on characterization Reinhard notes that the gender dynamic between Croft and Whitman mirrors real-life gender dynamics in archaeological field-sites, and makes reference to the Every Dig Sexism project which “[catalogues] every day sexism in Archaeology and Heritage” (@everyDIGsexism, 2015). With reference to the in-game world and items word choices are appropriate, and work to bridge the virtual archaeological space with real-life terminology and practice. An example of this is defining the game’s use of the term “relic” as “a generic term for an artifact of interest” (Reinhard, 2015).

Figure 2. Image of James Wright (r) is not sourced (Reinhard, 2015).
Figure 3. Image is sourced generically to “IGN.com” but no specific web address is given (Reinhard, 2015).

Images are used to positive effect, and at various points in the post. While a “note” appears at the end of the post attributing screen-captures to Reinhard there are two images which are a) not screen-captures, and b) not otherwise annotated to their original source. These images include a comparison of James Whitman, and James Wright (Figure 3) and later on a comparison of graphical output between Sony Playstation console generations (PS3 to PS4) (Figure 4).

Table 1. Archaeogaming 2016 Post Frequency














# of posts













In seeing the consistency with which Archaeogaming has maintained posting updates in 2016, with the exception of June 2016-present day (Table 1), my initial expectation in conducting a close reading was that there would be more posts which would be directly relevant to discussions on gendered archaeology and the archaeology of gender. While many of the posts may be forced to fit into a discussion on gender, few explicitly address gender as either an aspect of gaming or of archaeology. This being said in my general survey of the blog I found that the blog periodically links out to other blog posts on the subject of video games, archaeology, and archaeogaming respectively which are written by women. Of the three posts summarized here, this only occurs in “Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges,” however. Gender is also incorporated via open comment sections. As of October 12th, 2016 the three posts summarized in this review contain open comment sections, and based on my own Euro-Western analyses of the names of the commenters all comments are made by women. Despite the concerns which I have outlined above I believe that Archaeogaming is an invaluable resource of theoretical and methodological archaeological data, albeit more generally within the field of archaeology than specifically within the scope of gendered archaeology or the archaeology of gender.


@Archaeogaming. (n.d.). Twitter. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://twitter.com/Archaeogaming

@everyDIGsexism. (2015). EveryDIGsexism. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://everydigsexism.wordpress.com/

Reinhard, A. (2015). Archaeogaming Map (Revised). Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/2015/12/18/archaeogaming-map-revised/

Reinhard, A. (2015). Archaeology in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/2015/10/25/archaeology-in-tomb-raider-definitive-edition/

Reinhard, A. (2016). About. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/about/

Reinhard, A. (2016). Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/2016/01/25/archaeogamings-grand-challenges/

Reinhard, A. (2016). Home. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from https://archaeogaming.com/

Rooster Teeth. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://achievementhunter.roosterteeth.com/show/achievement-hunter

#ANTH421 w/ @sarahshulist: Considering the situated production of identity construction in individual Albertan injured workers

The following is a project summary for my final research project for #ANTH421: Language and Power at Macewan University with Dr. Sarah Shulist (@sarahshulist) during the Fall 2017 term.


What were my methods?

In short: interview and cry.

In less-short: Knowing both of the people I would be interviewing (Anthony Hughes–herein “my dad,”–and Ralph Teed) I knew to only prepare 1 question per person (“Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”) as both my dad and Ralph tend to be very talkative. I also made sure to include both interviewees in the writing of the consent form, and it was decided that all parts of the interview and interview process would be made available for public access, save the consent form proper which would only be provided to my class professor/project supervisor Dr. Sarah Shulist.

In addition, as I knew going into the interview process that one of the primary concerns for both interviewees was lack of access to information I decided to print off all of the sources I used for this analysis (less the two bell hooks books, which I will be purchasing for them in January 2018) and provided a copy to my dad with the understanding that said sources would be made available to both Ralph Teed and Peter Samardzija at request. This is in following with individual fair-use laws, and I appreciate the contributions each author has provided to both my knowledge and the knowledges of my dad, Ralph, and Peter. I did not include citations in-text as I wanted to practice a reflexive close-reading method on the interview (shout-out to my English lit minor), and have instead provided a list of sources which have influenced my methods or understandings of the interview and project overall at the end of this post.

How did I come up with this project?

He let me know that he actually prefers the term contentious injured worker, which I found shocking because it wasn’t a term I recalled him using before.

I originally came up with the idea for this project while in the van with my dad on the way to school one day in October 2017. I remembered talking about identity formation in ANTH 421, and was telling him about how I usually identify him as an activist or lobbyist depending on the situation. He let me know that he actually prefers the term contentious injured worker, which I found shocking because it wasn’t a term I recalled him using before. As the child of an injured worker I am intimately aware of the effects of the labour my dad has put into his dealings with the Alberta Worker’s Compensation Board (herein “WCB”), and while the title of contentious injured worker is not something I was shocked by in itself I did find it shocking that it wasn’t something I had considered in the past. To me this term makes perfect sense considering the relationship between my dad and the WCB. Thus in designing my project I didn’t want to focus on the how my father had come into the title for himself, but rather why he has continued to use it for the past 20-odd years.

In designing the project I didn’t want to focus solely on my dad’s experiences, as I know his history in inextricably wrapped with the histories and narratives of so many others (currently named “The Crew”–a group of people sharing similar histories of trauma related to their dealings with the WCB). With that in mind I decided to also approach Ralph through my dad to also be interviewed. Ralph is someone who has been a presence in my life on a regular basis for a significant portion of my life, and I am a intimately aware of his history with my dad if not with the WCB.

I did not ask to speak to Peter Samardzija, as I knew I would not have the time nor opportunity to speak to him at the same time as my dad and Ralph, and due to the radical openness of the interview I felt that interviewing Peter separately would hinder my understanding of the information provided. That said I knew that my dad was intimately aware of Peter’s history and that both my dad and Ralph were close friends with Peter and would speak to their understandings of his experiences. Given the opportunity to continue work on this project I would dedicate the time and space to interview Peter in tandem with my dad and Ralph.

Although Peter was not present in-person his presence was felt in spirit, and I’d like to take this opportunity to again thank my dad, Ralph, and Peter for their contributions to my schooling and understanding of their intertwining life narratives.

Interview Summary:

As the interview proper happened over a period of several hours I have decided to provide a short summary in lieu of analysis (“Beyond The Scope” and all that). Instead, I recommend readers of this blog post either listen to the entire interview or pick a random time code and pay specific attention to the intonation of the speakers. Moreso than any other factor I found that the intonation of both my dad and Ralph were the greatest indicators of both the choice of contentious and former as identificatory prefixes.

“Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”

In asking the question I did (reminder: “Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”) my dad responded that he calls himself a contentious injured worker due to his long and complex history of medical malpractice and quasi-judicial injustices. He also provided a short recounting of both his medical narrative and judicial narrative with respect to the WCB as justification of this title choice. The specifier of contentious in front of the title of injured worker speaks to these narratives, as even just the interview time can attest to. In taking the time he did to answer my question he showed that the anthropological maxim of “It’s More Complicated Than That” is alive and well in the world of personal identification. At a base level he feels that there is nowhere else to go, but in the words of Ralph “there’s a reason we’re here” which has led my dad to also begin using the term advocate to describe himself.

Prior to the interview it was my understanding that Ralph used the term activist to describe himself, and I was legitimately shocked to learn that he now refers to himself as a former activist. My memories of Ralph include (but are certainly not limited to) tent villages, chaining himself to doors, and going to the Alberta Legislator Building with protest signs. Ralph considers himself to be an action-oriented idealist (something I feel a kinship to), yet he feels that his current positionality within The Crew as more of a supporter than a doer has resulted in the loss of his activist status. This is reflected much as it was with my dad in that Ralph provided personal, medical, and judicial narratives in order to justify his title choice.

Overall there was a sense that there is something larger than themselves which is deciding the language they have access to (as in a structured structure–not necessarily a deity), and influencing their language choices. This is something I obviously agree with, and given the opportunity I would delve deeper into this specific aspect of the interview. Unfortunately due to course time constraints this type of analysis is beyond the scope of this blog post.

How has this project affected me and my knowledges?

I think the thing I appreciated most about having this opportunity was being able to learn more about the history of The Crew’s history both in relation to and independently of one another. The intertwining and interrelational aspects of not only their medical narratives, but also their interpersonal narratives was something I had some idea of prior to the interview however it was [literally I’m lost for words as I’m writing this, but] very powerful to consider in such a short amount of time. It’s one thing to experience something over a period of years, and entirely another to experience it over a period of hours. I found this especially poignant in considering the current legal landscape of The Crew’s lives with respect to the military police. As a child I witnessed a fair amount of legal work being done around the house but having had a break as an adult the uptick over the past year or so with respect to the involvement of the military police has been jarring, and even moreso with respect to the interview time.

The labour that’s involved in “””just”” printing is quite high, especially considering the embodiment of movement which is involved.”

Oddly enough in printing the articles I gained a greater respect for the labour that my dad does. Using an Epson home printer is not something I’m used to doing, as I do the majority of my printing at the Macewan University library where there are quick-printing industrial printers. The labour that’s involved in “””just”” printing is quite high, especially considering the embodiment of movement which is involved. As someone with chronic pain the act of standing next to the printer and flipping pages flared up my pain, and I found myself needing to do regular stretches in even the half-hour or so I spent printing. Considering this in comparison to the type of printing my dad does (sometimes for days at a time, using multiple printers at a time) I can only begin to imagine the effect of that movement on his body, and it adds to my understanding of his use of the “contentious” prefix.

Working with people who I’ve either known my entire life (my dad), and people I’ve known for the majority or near-majority of my life (Ralph and Peter) has been an experience that even a month away from the interview I’m still struggling to put into words. While there was so much I was capable of expecting, there was even more that I wasn’t able to expect. I didn’t know, for example, that my dad had set a date for medically assisted dying and it forced me to confront that information in a way I wasn’t entirely prepared for (though I have since taken the time to talk to my dad about his wishes, and support him fully in his future decisions). In my previous experience with interviewing this seems to be a running theme, however, and moving forward I believe my pre-interview statement to myself will have to include “Expect The Unexpected.”


Bezo, Brent, and Stefania Maggi. 2017. “Intergenerational perceptions of mass trauma’s impact on physical health and well-Being.” Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, Advance Online Publication (June 5).

Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. “On Symbolic Power”. From Language & Symbolic Power.

Bucholtz, Mary, and Kira Hall. 2005. “Identity and interaction: sociocultural linguistic approach.” Discourse Studies, 4-5, 7: 585–614.

Caretta, Martina Angela. 2015. “Situated knowledge in cross-Cultural, cross-Language research: a collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities.” Qualitative Research, 4, 15: 489–505.

hooks, bell, Feminism Is for Everybody (Taylor and Francis, 2014), <http://www.myilibrary.com.ezproxy.macewan.ca?ID=650569> (15 December 2017)

hooks, bell, Writing Beyond Race (Routledge, 2012), <http://www.myilibrary.com.ezproxy.macewan.ca?ID=415870> (15 December 2017)

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret M. Lock. “The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New Series, 1, no. 1 (1987): 6-41. http://www.jstor.org/stable/648769.

Sherwood, Juanita. “Intergenerational trauma isn’t just another determinant of indigenous peoples’ health.” Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 9, (2014): 1-7.

Zhao, Yan. 2016. “Exploring the interactive space of the ‘outsider within’: Practicing feminist situated knowledge in studying transnational adoption.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2, 23: 140–54.

#ANTH421 w/ @sarahshulist Exam!

While the exam instructions asked for 3 separate essays due to the fact that this course has been formatted in the way it has (wherein each reading overlaps in some way with the readings both before and after it) I found it difficult to keep my thought separated. With that in mind I’ve written a single essay to express my ideas, and have provided my drafting notes in lieu of citation (though in-text citations are provided using Chicago Author-Date) so that each reading and topic may be clearly associated with one another despite the formatting. In deciding to take risks with my writing in producing reflective responses to each of the questions I figured taking a risk with the formatting would also be appropriate. This semester has been a gift, and I feel so lucky that the exam was created as an overview.

None of these have introductions or conclusions because that’s really just how I roll.


How can we see metalinguistic power in this course (either in readings or in class discussions/assignments)?

(Week 3) Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language. In Language and Symbolic Power. Chapter 1.

(Week 7) Mufwene Salikoko S. 2015. “Colonization, indigenization, and the differential evolution of English: Some ecological perspectives”. World Englishes 34(1):6-21.

(Week 10) Paja Faudree. Singing for the Dead

  • Legitimacy
  • Standardization
  • Research methods and writing practice

Within academia there are certain forms of language and communicative practices which are seen to be more legitimate than others: publishing via peer review is more legitimate than keeping a blog, speaking at an academic conference is more legitimate than speaking at an industry conference, and writing an essay is more legitimate than Tweeting (amongst so many other examples).

I’ve never been an especially great essayist. Other people seem to like my work, but it’s difficult for me to find pleasure in either the act of writing or in the act of rereading my own work (ie. I have great skills for if/when I decide to do research). The essay form is confining, and exerts structure upon thoughts and ideas which may or may not themselves be structure. While this is useful in a number of contexts, it inherently results in a loss-of-context for the materials. To that end I’ve spent a significant amount of time this semester trying to find ways in which I can transmit the absolute clusterfuck of my thoughts into something others can understand.

This has resulted in a number of Twitter essays (Twessays?), which although still not the idealized form for how I believe I can best portray my thoughts definitely come closer than a traditional essay. By allowing me to present information in this way the production of what is legitimate in the academy becomes skewed: no longer am I an undergraduate student slogging out another essay to be read by no one but myself and my professor, but I am a person speaking in public on a topic I am passionate about who also happens to be getting graded for their efforts. Mufwene uses Kachru’s circles of English to describe economic language practices, but the idea of “circles” as a method by which context-specific language may be recognized. Within the inner circle there is typical expressions of academic language such as essays, within the outer circle things such as academic poster presentations, and within the expanding circle things such as blog posts. While all of these represent academic language use, the economic legitimacy of only the inner circle is recognized.

Bourdieu explains that the above described “inner circle” is a “state language” in “The Production and Reproduction of Legitimate Language”: “[t]his state language becomes the theoretical norm against which all linguistic practices are subjectively measured” (Bourdieu 1980, 45). This subversion of standardized methods comes with specific boons (ex. reaching a wider audience, showcasing use for course knowledge outside of course confines, etc) but also some specific drawbacks. By subverting academic convention in this way the legitimacy of the research may come under question not only on behalf of the student conducting research and sharing their findings, but also on behalf of the professor who is teaching said student their research and writing skills.

While criticisms of public engagement are often easily dealt with, there does come a question of ethical practice. At what point is not sharing resources the more ethical decision? This is something which Paja Faudree struggles with regard to precarious housing due to assumed economic sharing, for example (Faudree 2013, 186-187). When it comes to physical items in the field it is well understood that physical resources such as cell phone or laptop access can be seen as preferential and should be avoided. So why then is communication of ideas different? The “open-access” is an ideology that is obviously not shared by all, and moving forward in my studies this is something I know I will have to ask myself repeatedly as someone who appreciates sharing so much of themself online. In this increasingly connected information landscape it is always important to consider the ways in which information affects others.

Describe the difference between micro & macro level enactments of power in/on language.

(Week 3) Alim, H. Samy 2011. Global Ill-literacies: Hip hop cultures, youth identities, and the politics of literacy. Review of Research in Education 35 “Youth Cultures, Language, and Literacy 120-146.

(Week 3) Chun, Elaine W. 2013 Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States. Language and Communication 33:500-514.

(Week 5) Mertz, Elizabeth (2007). Law, Language and the Law School Classroom. Chapter 2 of The Language of Law School.

  • Micro/macro
  • State Power
  • Colonization

As with my previous two short essays I’m going to be drawing on some personal experiences here. While not everyone is a fan of reflexivity, I know that I’m a very reflexive person and playing to my strong suits just honestly makes sense.

Summer before last I worked as the Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI) Office Administrative Assistant. As part of this position within the University of Alberta I worked closely on a macro-level with the departments of Linguistics, Native Studies, and Early Childhood Education in addition to students on a micro-level. Full-disclosure: I loved this job, and would absolutely work in this position again given the chance. That said: as a language revitalization effort CILLDI showcases many of the problems and concerns facing language revitalization practices today.

There is a specific language involved in working with or within a university system. As part of the CILLDI process students must be registered within the University of Alberta Open Studies program before they can be registered in CILLDI classes. As CILLDI is intended for community members who wish to initiate or work within language revitalization projects not all of the students who are appropriate candidates for the Community Linguist Certificate (CLC) there are a number of CILLDI students who do not fulfill the standard expectations of what “an undergraduate student in Edmonton” means. While many students do have degrees in various areas, most CILLDI students are first-time university applicants who rarely enter large cities and as such do not have the same academic-language (ie. the language of academia; explored further within a specifically law-school example in Mertz 2007, and within a hip-hop culture example in Alim 2011) skills as someone who, for example, has parents who are academics and who has lived in a city for their entire life. This barrier to CILLDI access is a major one, as it exists on the front line of the program. While many people do and are able to do language revitalization work without academic recognition this recognition provides support elsewise inaccessible and (ideally) eases the process of language revitalization by providing people with the skills they need in order to undertake revitalization work.

There are barriers to access on the micro-level as well. If the act of being in a classroom is traumatic on a micro-level, where can we look to find the cause? Macro-level forces are too often ignored in the construction of traumatization and re-traumatization, and within language revitalization situations this leads to fewer supports available to those affected. In situations where people have experienced language-related trauma due to residential schooling, for example, the macro space of the university can exert micro-level retraumatization for students (to return to The Mindful Body this can be thought of as the body politic exerting stress upon the self). This results in student difficulties with regard to even “simply” being on-campus, but also more specifically in difficulties with executing and handing in assignments, speaking to professors, and generally reaching out for help. Are efforts to mitigate these concerns merely “performative,” as is the case with Chun in “ Styles of pledging allegiance: Practicing youth citizenship in the United States” wherein regardless of how someone states the pledge it is still regarded as valid? Are we merely repeating the same aphorisms of reconciliation in order to remain regarded as valid?

So… Identity?

(Week 2) Johnstone, Barbara 2014. ‘100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity. In Indexing Authenticity: Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Véronique Lacoste (ed). Berlin: DeGruyer.

(Week 4) Mehan, Hugh (1996) The Construction of an LD Student: A Case Study in the Politics of Representation. In Natural Histories of Discourse (ed. Michael Silverstein and Greg Urban). pp. 253-276.

(Week 4) Sif Karreback, Martha 2013. ‘Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism. Journal of Sociolinguistcs 17(3):355-375

  • Authenticity
  • Entextualization
  • Stigmatization

As someone who hits a fairly large constellation of aspects to my identity the ways in which I use language to describe my experiences can become complex. To that effect I tend to view myself (and others, honestly) as existing through multiple bodies: the self, the social body, and the body politic. This type of analysis is something which has been explored by a number of people, but for the purposes of this essay I’m basing my analysis on The Mindful Body. Using this contextual frame allows to better showcase the types of stigmatization of identity occur, and when.

Mehan denotes four specific aspects of identity I’ll be focusing on: “intelligence, deviance, health, illness” (Mehan 1996, 255). One aspect of my own identity which is easily viewable through my expression of self within the social body and body politic and which also touches on each of the aspects outlined above is my transness. What are the obvious “multiple and competing” (Mehan 1996,254) interpretations? Who decides the titles people use regarding my transness? When are these titles contextually bound? Sif Karreback explores this concept of language and spoiled language in “’Don’t Speak Like That to Her!’: Linguistic Minority Children’s Socialization into an Ideology of Monolingualism” with regard to the enforcing of language use. “Who watches the Watchmen”?

While technically everything about language and expression of self through language is highly contextual the thing about my personal expression of transness though language which tends to require the most context for understanding is the fact that as a assigned female at birth person who expresses themself as a queer non-binary person why I would choose to continue to have my family continue to call me “Auntie.” While not really confusing for most people who have had the opportunity to glimpse aspects of my self within the social body, those who exist closer to the body politic (doctors, aquaintences from volunteering, etc) tend to express the most confusion. To return to Mehan’s language my use of “Auntie” is deviant in the everyday now that I have begun to take testosterone and express myself more masculinely, and retains even further potential for deviancy if/when I become more commonly marked as male, however in considering the fact that this is a term which my nieces have grown up using and which only utter with respect to their love for me it is the most intelligent choice to allow them to continue to express their love in the way in which they feel most comfortable (there is something to be said for family members expressing “love” versus love here, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay).

The value of my identity as an authentic article is also questioned when the term “Auntie” is used while I am being read as a masculine person. This happens both within contexts of queer conversation and within contexts of non-queer conversation. To compare to Johnstone’s “’100% Authentic Pittsburgh’: Sociolinguistic authenticity and the linguistics of particularity” I am perpetually read as the non-authentic “Pittsburgh” as I deviate from the norms prescribed to queerness by both the in-group and the out-group by prescribing to both queer and cisheteronormative use of terms of endearment.