Engl 506: Discourse Analysis

UIUC, Spring Semester 2007

time and place: Thursdays, 4:00-5:50 / EB 135
instructor: Spencer Schaffner, Assistant Professor
office hours: English Building 300, Tuesday & Thursday, 1-2:00
email and IM handles: spencers@uiuc.edu / metaspencer
quick link to this page: metaspencer.com

Description of the Class

To develop an understanding of discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis, we will focus on work about gender. Questions motivating our inquiry will be twofold: What are the methods and theories grounding discourse analysis? How is gender constituted, challenged, and at times disassembled through discourse?

Books to Buy

Hall & Bucholtz (1995)
Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self

Tannen (2005)
Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends

Cameron & Kulick (2003)
Language and Sexuality

Your Work

Daily Class Discussion: Discussing the readings will be the single most important aspect of this course. Our discussions will be opportunities for us—as a group of thoughtful, engaged, respectful participants—to make knowledge through talk and interaction. Please do not underestimate the importance of oral communication in this course.

Due Daily—Reading Response Papers: Each class meeting, please bring with you a printed, single-spaced, single-page reading response paper. In these responses to the readings, your purpose should be to describe the main arguments in the readings, cite important examples, and articulate problems you encountered. There is no set form you need to follow as long as your response papers indicate that you have read carefully. As these response papers are meant to prepare you for discussion, no late papers will be accepted.

Due March 15 and 29—Group Presentation on a Critical Theorist: Group Presentation on a Critical Theorist: Critical theory has become integral to making successful arguments in discourse analysis. As a group of three or four, you will be responsible for giving a presentation on one critical theorist who does work relating to language and gender. Each group member is responsible for reading one book-length work by the theorist, turning in a short book review of that book, and contributing to a general overview on the theorist. Provisional list of theorists to choose from: Judith Butler, Michelle Foucault, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

Due April 12—Annotated Bibliography and Survey of Scholarship: This project will become one foundation (along with, possibly, your work on a critical theorist) for your final paper. Because this project is integral to your final project, you will need to look ahead quite early in the semester, deciding on a topic of inquiry. Begin by selecting a bounded and focused body of work in discourse analysis and read between ten and fifteen articles published recently on the topic in academic journals. Annotate those articles with short (between five and ten lines long, single spaced) descriptions. Additionally, write a summary essay (2-3 pages, single spaced) making connections between what you have read. In this short essay, focus on trends, common questions, and gaps in the scholarship.

The annotated bibliography should be formatted meticulously to conform to MLA or APA style. A sample annotation for an academic article might read something like this (taken from this site):


McIvor, S. D. (1995). Aboriginal women's rights as "existing rights." Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme 2/3, 34-38.

This article seeks to define the extent of the civil and political rights returned to aboriginal women in the Constitution Act (1982), in its amendment in 1983, and in amendments to the Indian Act (1985). This legislation reverses prior laws that denied Indian status to aboriginal women who married non-aboriginal men. On the basis of the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of the Constitution Act in R. v. Sparrow (1991), McIvor argues that the Act recognizes fundamental human rights and existing aboriginal rights, granting to aboriginal women full participation in the aboriginal right to self-government. (from utoronto.ca/writing/annotatebib.html)

May 11—Final Paper: This project builds directly from your annotated bibliography and survey of the field, adding to that work a critical academic argument relating to your field of study. Make an argument focused on a primary text or transcript; structure this in relation to discussion of relevant aspects taken from your survey of the field; (where possible) create an exchange with your critical theorist. Do not simply import your survey of the field into your paper; instead, weave your argument with the relevant parts of that survey, mentioning only what is significant to making your claims. Another thing to avoid is merely applying a theorist to your text or problem; instead, work toward dialogue with your theorist. Your argument should be multiple, intertextual, and intellectually satisfying in the context of our ongoing discussions. Your discourse analysis should be keen.

Drafts read any time up through last day of class
Presentations and Workshopping of Final Projects: April 26 & May 1
Estimated length: 12-15 pages (1" margins, double spacing, 12 pt typeface)
Final Due Date: May 11th, 5:00 pm (electronic submission)
Last day to ask for an incomplete: April 26

Course Calendar

week 1: Jan 18

introductions to the class; transcription exercise; readings for next week distributed

week 2: Jan 25

Austin, John. 1962. from How to do things with words. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reprinted with elisions in The Discourse Reader.

H. Paul Grice. 1968. from "Logic and Conversation," in Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan (eds) Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3: Speech Acts, New York: Academic Press, 41-58. Reprinted with elisions in The Discourse Reader.

Schegloff, Emanuel, and Harvey Sacks. 1973. from "Opening Up Closings." Semiotica 8: 289-327. Reprinted with elisions in The Discourse Reader.

Labov, William. 1972. from "Ch. 9: The transformation of experience in narrative," Language in the Inner City: Studies in Black English Vernacular, Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania Press and Oxford: Blackwell. Reprinted with elisions in The Discourse Reader.

week 3: Feb 1

chapters 1, 2, 3, 4: Hall & Bucholtz. 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. New York and London: Routledge.

week 4: Feb 8 (Spencer possibly out of town; alternative activity to be announced)

to p. 67: Tannen, Deborah (1984/2005) Conversation Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends. Oxford: Oxford UP.

week 5: Feb 15

complete: Tannen, Deborah (1984/2005) Conversation Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends. Oxford: Oxford UP. form groups for theorist presentations

note: on Feb 22 we went to see Cheryl Glenn speak

week 6: Feb 22 March 1

chapters 5, 6, 7, 8: Hall & Bucholtz. 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. New York and London: Routledge.

portion of class devoted to group work: planning theorist presentations

week 7: March 1 March 8

chapters 9, 10, 11: Hall & Bucholtz. 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. New York and London: Routledge.

week 8: March 8 March 15

chapters 12, 13, 14, 15: Hall & Bucholtz. 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. New York and London: Routledge.

spring break spring break spring break spring break spring break spring break spring break

week 9: March 15 March 29


week 10: March 29 April 5

chapters 16, 17, 18, 19: Hall & Bucholtz. 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self. New York and London: Routledge.

week 12: April 12 April 19

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY and SURVEY OF SCHOLARSHIP DUE (workshop on bibs and surveys geared toward final projects: bring two copies of your work)

week 13: April 19 April 26

Cameron & Kulick. (2003) Language and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge, UP.

week 14: April 26 Time and Place To Be Announced

(Note: May 3rd is the last day to request an incomplete)

Discourse Analysis Workshop: Bring Text for Final Project

May 11: Final Paper Due (by 5:00 pm; electronic submission)



Julia Davies. 2003. Expressions of gender: an analysis of pupils√Ę‚,¨‚"Ę gendered discourse styles in small group classroom discussions. Discourse & Society, 14, 2, 115-132.

Katy Day et al. 2003. Women who drink and fight: A discourse analysis of working-class women√Ę‚,¨‚"Ęs talk. Feminism and Psychology, 13, 2, 141-158.

Penelope Eckert. 1996. The whole woman: Sex and gender differences in variation. In D. Brenneis and R. K. S. Macaulay (Eds.) The Matrix of Language. Westview Press.

Alessandro Duranti. 1992. Language and bodies in social space: Samoan ceremonial greetings. American Anthropologist, 94, 3, 657-691.

Nancy J. Smith-Hefner. 1988. Women and politeness: The Javanese example. Language and Society, 17, 535-554.

last tweak 12.24.2006

spencer's homepage