ENGL 562 A: Discourse Analysis

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
LOW 116
Sandra Silberstein
Sandra Silberstein

Syllabus Description:

ENGLISH 562: DISCOURSE ANALYSIS.  This course is an introduction to some of the major approaches to studying oral and written texts. We will examine and practice various analytic perspectives, including conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, narrative, pragmatics/speech act theory, sociocultural theory, and interactional sociolinguistics. We will apply these approaches to a variety of (con)texts; possibilities include the mass media and popular culture, "naturally occurring" conversation, institutional settings, classroom interaction, legal and policy documents, and other texts of special interest to seminar members. We expect students from a range of disciplinary perspectives. What unites us will not be the questions we ask (although we will systematically engage issues of power) so much as where and how we look to answer them: in discourse and its analysis. Our goals are threefold:

  1. to acquaint students with approaches to and research in discourse analysis;
  2. to provide a forum for evaluating this work;
  3. to provide students opportunities to engage discourse analytic methods in relation to
    those texts/sites/questions of consequence to them.

Each of us will bring different strengths and backgrounds to this introductory seminar; your participation will be crucial to its success.



 Discourse as Theory and Practice: A Reader, Wetherell et al., Sage, 2001.

  • Critical Discourse Analysis, Locke, Continuum, 2004
  • Additional Readings available electronically, as library ebooks or as readings on Canvas.



 In this course you will be surveying discourse analytic techniques as well as collecting and analyzing discourse samples.  The course assignments focus on reacting to the readings and working with data.  Early on in the quarter you will choose at least one sample of data to collect and analyze.  This may range from classroom interactive discourse, to news reports, to popcorn-making instructions. 

 On the next page are the course assignments.  You are free to work individually, or you may work with a partner on the data analysis projects.  For some people, in some contexts, collaboration can provide a deeper and more varied perspective.

 All assignments will be turned in electronically.

  1. Weekly Responses
  2. Written Response (ONE PAGE ONLY): Due each Tuesday before class (except during weeks when other assignments are due), a one-page response to the readings that addresses the following:

            1) What seem to be the fundamental tenets, concerns, and/or goals of this perspective? 

            2) What are your positive and negative reactions?

  1. Canvas Response: At least five Thursdays before class, you will post a reaction to the readings due on Thursday that week.


  1. SHORT Oral Presentation (15-20 minutes, including discussion). The oral presentation will use the data that you will be writing about for either your short analysis paper or the final project. You will demonstrate the use of some discourse analytic approach(es) to text.  This does not have to be a completely polished presentation.  Feel free to use this as a workshop session, gaining help from your peers.  In any event, your presentation will require thoughtful planning.  At a minimum: motivate your choice of data, begin with two questions that you’re asking, and end with three observations.  For all of us to get the most from this session, you will need to consider how best to use a limited amount of time.  For example, do you want us to look at a bit of data for homework?  Even if you are asking for help, at either the beginning or end of your presentation, we will expect a clear summary from you of your analysis thus far. 


  1. Two Short Papers (5 pages, excluding data):

    a) Data Analysis. Due Thursday February 1 or Thursday February 22. Like the oral presentation, this project is designed to provide you an opportunity to use the approaches covered in this course to analyze text. You will use one or more discourse analytic techniques to analyze the data you have chosen.  Your report should include more than a microanalysis of the text.  It should begin to answer the question "so what?"  Are there any interesting generalizations or observations that begin to emerge from your data?

       b) Critical Analysis. Due Thursday February 1 or Thursday February 22.You will write a brief critical essay on an approach to discourse analysis based on course readings and some limited outside reading (see me about this). 

            Your task is to provide a summary and critique.  The summary should respond to such issues as:

  • What seem to be the basic tenets and/or concerns of this approach? What are its basic definitions and methodological concerns?
  • Do you discern an historical context that is important to this perspective? Against whom/what does this perspective react?
  • To what extent does this approach accommodate identity/difference? Does the sex/sexuality, race, class, or politics of the speaker/listener/reader make a difference in the production of meaning?


Beyond summary, the paper must provide analysis and critique of the approach.  It is appropriate to include a personal response to the readings in the context of your critique, but the critique must go well beyond that.



  1. Final Paper (10-12 pages) Due electronically, Tuesday March 13.


There are several options:


a)Data Analysis. You may use another (but potentially related) data set from your short discourse analytic project to perform a more detailed discourse analysis than was possible in the shorter assignment.  Research in discourse analysis tends to address the following kinds of issues:

  • Characterizations of particular kinds of genres.
  • Maintenance of power relations among participants.
  • Surprising findings that suggest further research.
  • Examinations of what different analytic approaches "get" you.


It asks questions such as:

  • What work does this text do, and how?
  • How are text and context mutually constituted?
  • How is meaning produced and understood?
  • Why is this and not something else? Why this here, now?


  1. b) Critical Essay. You may write a detailed critical essay, comparing and contrasting several of the approaches covered this quarter, focusing on which (aspects) seem more promising and why. If you elect this option, you will need to do some additional reading.


  1. c) Unique Final Project. You may also combine any of these or come up with your own final project for the course. If you choose the latter option, this must be approved by the instructor. 



            Class presentation                                                       10%

            Short projects (each)                                                   25%

            Final Paper                                                                  40%

            Weekly responses/class participation can affect the grade.




Key:   DTP, Discourse Theory and Practice

          Locke , Critical Discourse Analysis


          CONT, Continuum Companion to Discourse Analysis, ebook

          ROUT, Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis, ebook

          CNV, Article on Canvas course website

Dates and readings are subject to change


               Tuesday                                   Thursday                                       Student Presentations

  1.  Introduction (January 4)


  1. Introduction Pragmatics (January 9/12)

             DTP, Chapter 1                       CNV, Paltridge, Chap 3

            CNV, Paltridge, Chap 2            CNV, Cameron, Chap 6

            CNV, Eggins; Fairclough          CNV, Grice


  1. 3. Conversational Analysis (January 16/18)

            DTP, Chapter 4                       DTP, Chapter 9           _____________   __Mary Little_________

            CNV, Paltridge, Chap 5         CNV Wooffiit

            CNV, Schegloff & Sacks       DTP, Chapter 13       


  1. Classroom Interaction (January 23/25)

            CONT, Chap 19                      CNV, Ohta                 __Coleen______     __E.J._____________

            CNV, Sinclair & Coulthard      CNV, Michael-Luna                          

            CNV, Walsh                           CNV, rowe                                                                                            




  1. Intercultural Comm./Constructions (Jan 30/February 1) Mary Ann_____Liang__________

            DTP, Chapter 11                     CNV, Saed                     

            CNV, Scollon                         CNV, Pennycook                                    

            Optional: CNV, Tannen

                             CONT, Chap 20


  1. Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race (February 6/8)

            DTP, Chapter 12                     CNV, Nelson             Margaret____      _______Anna________

            CNV, Cameron                       CNV, Barrett

            CNV, Hill pp.5-9, chap 2        Optional: CNV, Kiesling                        

            Optional: DTP, Chap. 20                    

                          CONT, Chap 13


  1. Narrative (February 13/15)

            CONT, Chap 5                       optional: CNV, Ochs  _____Sue_______   _____Ahmed______

           Bamberg & Georgakopoulou                   CNV Polanyi

        Text & Talk 28-3 (2008) pp. 377-396

            DTP, Chapter 18                    
            CNV, Labov



  1. Theories of Language (February 20/22)

Foucault:DTP, Chapter 7;                                                                   ______Rie______   ____Ruiming______

            CNV, Carabine                       Bakhtin/Volosinov:

            Optional:                                    DTP, Chapter 6           

            CNV, Pennycook (AL)


9.  Critical Discourse Analysis (Feb 27 - Mar 1)                                ____Katie_____


10. Critical Discourse Analysis (Mar 6 - Mar 8)    

              CNV Fairclough

              CNV Paltridge, Chap 9 (Parts 1 & 2)

Optional: DTP, Chapter 22
                CNV, Huckin (for ESOL Ts)



Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 10:20pm