Language and Identity

Grace Fielder
Thursdays 1 PM - 4 PM (AZ Time)
September 29, October 6, 13, 20, and 27, 2022

Language and Identity

Fall 2022
1 PM - 4 PM (AZ Time)
September 29, October 6, 13, 20, and 27, 2022


Main Campus



NEW! HSP Deep Dive Seminar

In this course we will explore the relationship between language and identity, that is, how individual and group identities interact with directly observable language use in everyday lives. Language can be used to indicate belonging/not belonging to a particular community, and this “self vs. other” distinction is both produced by speakers and interpreted by listeners. One of the major goals of sociolinguistics is to discover how specific “ways of speaking” become associated with particular groups of people, and how“ways of speaking” can be deployed not only to construct the speaker’s own identity but also to project identity on others. Language was a critical part of the process of 19th-century nation-building in which a “people” could be identified and thus assigned to a specific geographic territory, while in the 20th and 21st centuries the disintegration of empires has resulted in new nations and “new” languages. The disintegration of the USSR into a post-colonial landscape is one salient example. 

If language reflects how we perceive and understand the world around us, does changing language then actually change how we perceive and understand the world and others in it? This course recognizes language as a lens through which a variety of phenomena in the social, political, and cultural life of humans around the world can be explored. Because language is so often taken for granted, many of the ways in which it is deployed for identity work are often invisible. Upon closer examination, however, definite patterns emerge and provide insights not only into language but also into human nature itself. Seeking out these patterns between language and identity will be our goal as we read about different language issues and use different theoretical lenses to better understand them. Topics to be investigated include how language intersects with gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, age and class in a variety of contexts including everyday interaction, advertising, political speech, social media and literature.

What Are Deep Dive Seminars?
Deep Dive Seminars bring together a small group of dedicated students who want to immerse themselves in a topic under the close guidance of an eminent professor.

What’s New about Deep Dive Seminars?
Many Humanities Seminars Program courses are lectured-based surveys, while Deep Dive Seminars are discussion-centric and reading-intensive smaller groupings. This allows for broader topic explorations, debates, and conversations, as well as increased interactions with the instructor. Weekly assignments may be extensive: students might be asked to read several book chapters, scholarly articles, poems, or plays.

What Will I Be Expected to Do?
While there are no prerequisites for these seminars, participants should be ready to complete assigned readings, take part in discussions, and attend all weekly three-hour sessions.

How Will I Benefit from a Deep Dive Seminar?
With more preparatory reading and extensive discussions of their own and others’ ideas, seminarians will find abundant intellectual challenges sparked by their fellow students and their teacher.

Do Deep Dive Seminars Cost More?
Yes. Due to its limited size (20 students), a Deep Dive Seminar will cost more than current lecture-based courses.

Will Deep Dive Seminars Be Accessible Online?
No. Deep Dive Seminars are designed for and rely on substantive interpersonal interactions within the classroom. This purpose is best accomplished in person and therefore these courses will not be offered online or in a hybrid format.

Registration will open online on Monday, August 29, 2022 at 8 AM (AZ Time)

Course Registration

Meet Your Professor

Professor Emerita
Department of Russian and Slavic Studies

Grace E. Fielder is a professor emerita in the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies at the University of Arizona. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA in Slavic Linguistics and her current research and teaching interests deal with language, identity, culture, and ideology in the Balkans. She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, and has moonlighted as a lavender harvester on the island of Hvar in Croatia.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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