A Linguist Outside of Linguistics: Professor Anne Curzan


By Andries W. Coetzee
Sep 08, 2012 Bookmark and Share

Anne Curzan

At the University of Michigan, there are many faculty outside of the Linguistics Department with strong research commitments to linguistic issues. We are fortunate to have several of these faculty formally affiliated with our Department through courtesy appointments. These faculty contribute much to our Department through their interaction with Linguistics faculty and students. We will use the blog to introduce some of these Linguists outside of Linguistics here at Michigan. We start out with Professor Anne Curzan.

Professor Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English. In addition to her courtesy appointment in Linguistics, she also holds a courtesy appointment in the School of Education. Professor Curzan is the consummate academic, excelling in research, teaching and service. Her research includes topics such as the history of English, language and gender, corpus linguistics, historical sociolinguistics, pedagogy, and lexicography. Her book Gender Shifts in the History of English (Cambridge University Press, 2003) brings together many of her research strands. It traces the historical development and eventual loss of the gender system in English nouns, relying heavily on corpus data. But Professor Curzan goes beyond a mere historical description and also considers the meaning of grammatical gender in a social context.

Professor Curzan is also a first rate and dedicated teacher, as evidenced by the fact that she holds the coveted Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship, an honor bestowed by the College on a select few faculty to recognize their outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. Her dedication to teaching goes beyond the undergraduate classroom. Professor Curzan is co-author of the widely used handbook for graduate student instructors, First Day to Final Grade (University of Michigan Press, 2011), currently already in its third edition. All the graduate students in the Linguistics Department should be familiar with this book! It has been used for many years as part of the Department’s GSI training program.

Professor Curzan also performs valuable service to the University, serving in several administrative capacities, including as the Faculty Athletics Representative for the University, where she is the voice of reason in the often sports obsessed college world. More than probably most academics, Professor Curzan also has a public voice. She writes a regular segment about language for Michigan Today, and can also be heard weekly on Michigan Radio’s Weekend Edition in a segment on language called That’s What They Say.

Professor Curzan regularly serves as dissertation committee member for graduate students in Linguistics, and also advises Linguistic undergraduate students on honors theses. She and Professor Robin Queen also regularly co-teach a popular undergraduate course Ling 394: Language and Gender.

Professor Curzan on her involvement with our Department:

The Linguistics Department is an integral part of my intellectual home here at Michigan, given the interdisciplinarity of my work. My conversations and collaborations with colleagues in Linguistics have enriched my thinking and writing about a range of issues related to language variation and change as well as about the relationship of language to gender/sexuality and cognition. It has been a real pleasure to advise undergraduate and graduate students in Linguistics and to learn from some truly outstanding honors theses and dissertations. Robin Queen and I have worked very closely together for years, as co-editors of a journal and as co-teachers, which has been a remarkable opportunity in every way. And the events that Linguistics sponsors mean that we have a lively, thought-provoking, public conversation about language happening on campus pretty much every week. I love being part of this vibrant intellectual community.