Prof. Helga Kotthoff: Speaking like a mother

Prof. Dr. Helga Kotthoff (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau)

Speaking like a mother

Indexing gender in mothers’ stories in the context of parent-teacher-conferences


I am going to analyze mothers’ ways of talking about their children in parent-teacher-conferences in German schools as a case of indirectly indexing gender. I’ll focus on the staging of motherhood in “narrative fragments” (Birkner, 2013) or “small stories”  that parents and teachers –especially mothers – employ to assess and characterize their children – and of course to present themselves as moral agents of the two institutions: school and home. In the sequential unfolding of the conference talks – parenting is made “a work process articulated to the work process of schooling” (Baker & Keogh, 1997, 264); both sides display an achievement-oriented habitus (Kotthoff 2012, 2015). In Germany so far schools often end in the early afternoon and mothers are mostly in charge for children’s homework. Interestingly, during the conferences mothers very often stage dialogues with their child at home. They quote themselves as urging the child to study or to behave better or as suggesting competent ways to do homework tasks. The child is quoted with a voice of resistance, sometimes also of late insight. I will present extracts in which we see how the specific cultural identity as a good mother is staged and I will discuss this narrative practice as involving indirect indexing of gender.


Birkner, K. (2013). Erzählfragmente. Narrative Funktionalisierungen zur Lösung der schweren Beschreibbarkeit von Schmerzempfindungen. In: Deppermann, Arnulf/Hartung, Martin (Eds.), Gesprochenes und Geschriebenes im Wandel der Zeit (pp. 82-99). Mannheim: Verlag für Gesprächsforsch.

Kotthoff, H. (2012): „Indexing gender“ unter weiblichen Jugendlichen in privaten Telefongesprächen. In Susanne Günthner et al. (Hrsg.): Genderlinguistik. De Gruyter, 251-287

Kotthoff, H. (2002): Was heißt eigentlich „doing gender?“ Wiener linguistischer Almanach. Sonderband 55, 1-29.

Podrobnosti události

Začátek události
28. 11. 2016 18:00
Místo konání
nám. Jana Palacha 2, Praha 1 (FF UK, m. č. 317)
Ústav germánských studií FF UK
Typ události
Konference a přednášky