Gippius, Gender, and Textual Work in the L2 Classroom

These comments make a case for the value of careful philological work with literary texts in the language classroom. I propose that grammatically sensitive close reading of literature is a valuable way to introduce students to the generative relationship between rules and originality in language use, the way that each utterance draws on the available resources of a language to intervene into a concrete situation. In support of this claim, I offer an example from my own Russian teaching, in which the alternating grammatical gender in Zinaida Gippius’ 1905 poem “Ты” (“You”) opens up linguistic strategies used by present-day non-binary and gender non-conforming Russian speakers.