Denise Troutman
(517) 355-2400 282

Bessey Hall
434 Farm Ln
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyLinguistics, Languages, and CulturesWriting, Rhetoric, and CulturesRhetoric and Writing

Associate Professor


Dr. Denise Troutman is an Associate Professor in the department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures and the department of Linguistics, as well as a faculty-affiliate with the African American and African Studies (AAAS) Program. She is the winner of a 2001-2002 Fulbright Award and a 2003-2004 Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation and a 2009-2010 Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) Award.  From 2004-2007, Dr. Troutman served as Diversity Coordinator for the College of Arts and Letters.

Troutman teaches writing to first-year students and linguistics and sociolinguistics to undergraduate and graduate students.  Currently she is working on interrogations of politeness/impoliteness within the African American speech community, which she has presented in special lectures and conferences and which is the focus for a  current book manuscript.

Research Areas

Sociolinguistics; Women and language; Ebonics; African American Women and Linguistic Practices; Impoliteness


Ph.D., Michigan State University

M.A., Colorado State University

B.A., Bethune-Cookman University

Research or Academic Affiliations

International Gender & Language Association (IGALA)

Language Policy Committee, Conference on College Composition and Communication. (CCCC)

New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV)


Attitude and Its Situatedness in Linguistic Politeness

Attitude and Its Situatedness in Linguistic Politeness. Poznań Studies in Contemporary Linguistics. 46(1), 2010, pp. 85–109.

’They Say It’s a Man’s World, but You Can’t Prove that by Me’: African American Comediennes’ Construction of Voice in Public Space

“’They Say It’s a Man’s World, but You Can’t Prove that by Me’: African American Comediennes’ Construction of Voice in Public Space.” In Judith Baxter, ed., Speaking Out: The Female Voice in Public Contexts. Hampshire, Great Britain: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006: 217-239. 

Whose Voice Is It Anyway? Marked Features in the Writing of Black English Speakers

“Whose Voice Is It Anyway? Marked Features in the Writing of Black English Speakers.” In Carol Severino, Juan C. Guerra, and Johnnella E. Butler, eds., Writing in Multicultural Settings. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1997.

Discourse, Ethnicity, Culture and Racism

“Discourse, Ethnicity, Culture and Racism.” In Teun A. van Dijk, ed., Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction Volume 2. London: Sage Publications, 1997. 

Tongue and Sword: Which is to be Master?

“Tongue and Sword: Which is to be Master?” In Geneva Smitherman, ed., African American Women Speak Out on Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas. Wayne State University Press, 1995, 208-223.


African American Language

Women and Language

Black Women and Language


University News

University Mourns Passing of Longtime Professor and Wife of Former MSU President 
Published January 25, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
The Michigan State University community is mourning the passing of Pauline Adams, who dedicated much of her life to education and taught at MSU for nearly 60 years. She also was a longtime supporter…Read now »
Faculty Receive Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards
Published February 8, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
Four faculty members from the College of Arts & Letters are being honored by the University as recipients of 2022-2023 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards. These awards,…Read now »
Ph.D. Student Honored with Community Engagement Scholarship Award
Published March 18, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Committed to raising awareness about critical issues and the academic or community-based work being done to solve them, Sharieka Shontae Botex, a third-year Ph.D. student in MSU’s Writing and…Read now »
Reaching Out to Young African-American Women
Published October 6, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
group of students posing for a picture together outside
“Lifting as we climb” is the motto of the Daughters of the Collective, a student organization where undergraduate and graduate students work with middle school African-American women in grades…Read now »