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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Cameron, Deborah

Position: Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication; Fellow of Worcester College
College: Worcester
Period/Subject: Language


Email address:


Research Interests

Language, gender and sexuality; language attitudes/ideologies and 'verbal hygiene'; discourse analysis; language and globalization.


Teaching Areas

I contribute to the undergraduate English degree, but I mainly teach and supervise graduate students in English Language, Linguistics and Women’s Studies. I teach both core courses and options (in sociolinguistics and language and gender) on the M.St in English Language. You can download a podcast relating to the M.St course here, and check out the details by going to the Prospective Graduates/Masters Programmes section of the English website.

I welcome inquiries from graduates wishing to undertake research in any of the areas I am interested in (see above). Among the research topics I have supervised (at doctoral, Masters or advanced undergraduate level) are: the linguistic behaviour of women MPs in debates in the House of Commons, gender and culture as influences on call centre agents’ speech styles, sexism in pedagogical dictionaries, the spellings used in Black Country dialect poetry, the treatment of male and female interviewees in broadcast political interviews,  and the media representation of sexual violence in conflict situations. I am currently supervising doctoral projects on young adults' speech in Vilnius, Lithuania, and on recent changes in the language of the 'quality' press in the US, UK and France.


Academic biography

I joined the English Faculty at Oxford as Professor of Language and Communication in January 2004. Before that I spent 20 years working in other universities in the UK and elsewhere: Roehampton University in London, Strathclyde University in Glasgow, the Institute of Education in London and the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA. I have held visiting professorships and fellowships at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, New York University and the University of Technology Sydney.


Outreach and 'impact'

Since coming to Oxford I have become increasingly involved in communicating with a wider audience about language and linguistic research. In 2007 I published The Myth of Mars and Venus, a general-interest book about language and gender differences, parts of which were serialized in The Guardian newspaper. I have contributed to numerous BBC radio programmes, including Woman’s Hour, Word of Mouth, Thinking Allowed and Fry’s English Delight (you can download Stephen Fry's interview with me here). In November 2010 I took part in a public debate about science and gendered behaviour, which you can download as an audio file here. The non-academic groups I have been invited to talk to or write for on language-related subjects include school teachers and A level students, architects, experts in health and social care, market researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and the cast of an RSC production of The Taming of the Shrew. I've blogged about linguistic issues for Berfrois and Language On The Move. Occasionally I perform as a linguistic stand up comedian.

In May 2013 I took part in a debate at the Philosophy Festival How The Light Gets In in Hay-on-Wye, about whether language and thought are 'inherently male'. In October 2013 I spoke on science and sexism at the Royal Institution in London,  in the same room where Darwin and Faraday delivered public lectures on evolution and electricity in the 19th century. In November 2013 I gave the William Douglass Lecture at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Chicago, at the invitation of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, and in March 2014 I gave the Richard Hoggart Lecture at Goldsmiths, London.

For many years I was involved in producing and writing the feminist magazine Trouble & Strife, and in 2009 I co-edited (with Joan Scanlon) The Trouble & Strife Reader, a selection of classic articles from the magazine’s 20-year output. I continue to contribute to the Trouble & Strife website and blog, and to give talks about feminism to student and community groups.

Forthcoming events

In May 2014 I'll be taking part in a workshop on sexism at Goldsmiths, London, and in July I'll be a panellist at the British Library's English Grammar Day.


Selected Publications

Just published (April 2014)

Cameron, D and I Panović, Working with Written Discourse. London: Sage.


Books about language, gender and sexuality

Cameron, D (2007) The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do Men and Women Really Speak Different Languages? Oxford: OUP.

Cameron, D (2006) On Language and Sexual Politics. London : Routledge.

Cameron, D and D Kulick (eds.) (2006) The Language and Sexuality Reader.  London : Routledge.

Cameron, D. and D. Kulick (2003) Language and Sexuality. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press (also translated into Japanese)


Other language/linguistics books

Cameron, D. (2000) Good To Talk: Living and Working in a Communication Culture. London: Sage

Cameron, D. (2001) Working with Spoken Discourse. London: Sage (also translated into Japanese)

Cameron, D. (1995) Verbal Hygiene. Milton Park: Routledge (new 'Classics in Linguistics' edition published 2012)

Block, D. and D. Cameron (eds.) (2002) Globalization and Language Teaching. London : Routledge (also translated into Arabic)

Cameron, D., E. Frazer, P. Harvey, B. Rampton and K. Richardson (1992) Researching Language: Issues of Power and Method. London: Routledge.

Markus, T. and D. Cameron (2002) The Words Between the Spaces: Buildings and Language. London : Routledge.


Feminist books

Cameron, D and J Scanlon (eds.) (2010) The Trouble & Strife Reader. London: Bloomsbury Academic. [This title can be downloaded FREE: click on the link for details]

Cameron, D and E Frazer (1987) The Lust To Kill: A Feminist Perspective on Sexual Murder. Cambridge: Polity.


Some recent shorter publications

Cameron, D (2013) 'The one, the many and the Other: representing mono- and multilingualism in post-9/11 verbal hygiene', Critical Multilingualism Studies 2.

Cameron, D (2012) "More heat than light: sex difference science and the study of language". The 2012 Sedgewick Memorial Lecture. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press.

Cameron, D (2011) "Evolution, Science and the Study of Literature: A Critical Response". Language and Literature 20.1 106-114

Cameron, D (2010) "Sex/gender, language and the new biologism". Applied Linguistics 31.2: 173-92

Cameron, D. (2009) "The virtues of good prose: verbal hygiene and the Movement", in The Movement Reconsidered, ed. Zachary Leader. Oxford: OUP


Coming soon

Holoshitz, T. and D. Cameron., 'The linguistic representation of sexual violence in conflict situations', Gender and Language, special issue on gender, language and the media. (My co-author Tamar Holoshitz is a former women's studies M.St student, now at Yale Law School.)


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