January 8, 2016

Cusack on the "F Word" in Pedagogy and Higher Learning

Carmen M. Cusack, Nova Southeastern University, is publishing Use of the Word 'Fuck' in Pedagogy and Higher Learning in volume 8 of the Journal of Law & Social Deviance (2014). Here is the abstract.
George Carlin famously stated that “fuck” is “perhaps one of the most interesting words in the English language today. In English, ‘fuck’ falls into many grammatical categories. With all these multipurpose applications, how can anyone be offended when you use the word?” Discussing “fuck” as a fascinating component of grammar certainly makes the word “fuck” seem like it belongs in academia. This Article endeavors to analyze students’ complex opinions about use of the word “fuck” in American pedagogy and higher learning. Section II analyzes First Amendment case law and use of the word in educational and societal contexts. Section III discusses some Sociology students’ opinions about the use of the word “fuck” in pedagogy and higher learning. Their perspectives about the use of the word include positive, negative, and neutral feelings and perceptions. Ultimately, students felt positively about the use of the word, in general, and felt that free speech protected its use at their public university. However, many students cautioned that context was important to maintaining a safe learning environment, avoiding offense, and appropriately expressing ideas. They also suggested several contexts in which use of the word “fuck” would be inappropriate. Section IV discusses how students’ opinions may be relevant to educators’ decision to include the word “fuck” in pedagogy, and also considers legal and social standards that limit such speech. Students’ opinions about propriety may be important for understanding Constitutional jurisprudence and speech limits in pedagogy because limits on speech are often defined by the words’ offensiveness.
Download the text of the article from SSRN at the link.

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