Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Dylan B. Dryer

Second Committee Member

Kathryn Swacha

Third Committee Member

Ryan Dippre


While research in Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies has focused on collocation and its role in representing gender, little study has been given to how these representations change across registers. Collocations are responsive to register variation and studying their change across registers reveals how gender norms are perpetuated uniquely by different registers. This study investigates whether collocates comprised of historically-gendered occupations represent gendered dimensions of labor and addresses how those representations change across different registers of the Corpus of Contemporary American English (CoCA). This thesis begins with a brief discussion of corpus linguistics before detailing the role of corpus analysis in the study of textual representations of gender. Additionally, this thesis provides a broad overview of the sociological study of professions, specifically Witz’s (1992) and Macdonald’s (1995) application of social closure theory to the professionalization efforts of occupations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Collocational analysis of CoCA revealed an abstract character to the labor of superordinate occupations, insofar as the labor was mental and concerned with problems abstracted from individuals and material objects. The labor of subordinate occupations, conversely, appeared mundane, bodily, and relational. These findings substantiate the historical discussion provided earlier in the thesis.