Jenny Cook-Gumperz was a Professor in the Department of Education from 1991-2018. She taught courses in sociological theories and cultural studies of education, sociolinguistics and literacy, discourse and narrative analysis as well as other methods of qualitative analysis. Professor Cook-Gumperz’s research from 2008-2018 concentrated on two main areas: linguistic ideology and its role in cultural practices, and socialization in different contexts and across the life span. Methodologically she focused on detailed sociolinguistic analysis within a broader framework of sociological explanation. Her work looked at discourse both as speaking practices, and as cultural texts that reveal the workings of social organizational life. Both areas have in common a concern with education in its broadest sense, sometimes through looking at discourse in classrooms and in schooling, and other times at discourse as it reveals socialization processes in other institutional settings.
Professor Cook-Gumperz received her Ph.D. from the University of London, where she was a full time researcher at the Institute of Education, Sociological Research Unit working on the relationship of language, social class and school success. She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship by the Ford Foundation to come to the U.S. to explore new American theories of language and everyday social cognition. After the publication of the book Socialization and Social Control: the language of mothers and children [Routledge 1974], she received a second post-doctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Child Health and Development for further research at UC Berkeley where she continued working on young children’s language and social development at the Institute of Human Learning and later the Institute of Cognitive Studies. Her interest in children’s socialization processes are reflected in the edited volume Children’s Worlds and Children’s Language (J. Cook-Gumperz, W. Corsaro and J. Streeck) Mouton de Gruyter 1986.
As Professor Cook-Gumperz became more involved in classroom research, her interest shifted to looking at literacy. One outcome of this work was the National Institute of Education funded Home-School Ethnography project. Findings from this project formed the basis of the book The Social Construction of Literacy. In summer 2006, 20 years after its original publication, Cambridge University Press published an expanded and extensively revised edition of this volume that has now been translated into three languages: Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek.