Discourse Analysis for Rhetorical Studies University of New Mexico

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					Discourse Analysis for Rhetorical Studies
University of New Mexico, November 11, 2005




Barbara Johnstone, bj4@andrew.cmu.edu
Rhetoric Program, Department of English
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15217 USA
What is discourse analysis?


“Discourse”

“Analysis”




 I approach discourse analysis as a set of methods of inquiry (not a
 subfield of linguistics or literary/cultural studies)
Discourse analysis is used in many fields, including

Sociolinguistics
Anthropology
Cultural studies
Psychology
Communications
Sociology
Geography
Human-computer interaction
Law
Medicine
Public policy
Business
Tourism studies
Why do rhetoricians need discourse analysis?



traditional objects of inquiry: planned,    traditional modes of analysis: analytic
often institutional genres                  vocabulary of classical rhetoric (topoi,
                                            figures, etc.), intuition-based
                                            reasoning; explication de texte; a
                                            variety of critical-theoretical lenses




new objects of inquiry: private             new techniques for analyzing the
spheres, vernacular rhetoric,               language of text and talk (eg.
multimedia discourse; spontaneous           discourse analysis); new ways of
discourse in fleeting everyday              describing the sociocultural and
rhetorical situations. Rhetoric of          material contexts of discourse (eg.
history, popular culture; rhetoric on the   ethnography)
street, in the beauty shop, online; the
rhetoricity of personal identity
Some uses of discourse analysis in rhetorical studies



Academic and workplace writing and the composition classroom (eg. Nystrand,
   Fuller & Lutz on classroom discourse; Barton, Peck MacDonald on
   academic discourse; Swales on ESL writing; Kaufer et al. on representation
   and design)

Scientific and technical discourse (eg. Bazerman, Atkinson; Berkenkotter,
   Geisler on medical discourse; Stygall on legal discourse)

Argumentation (eg. Jakobs & Jackson, Tracy)

Literacy studies (eg. Gee)

[Handout: Annotated bibliography of discourse analysis in rhetorical studies]
Among the rhetorical questions our students have addressed through
discourse analysis are these:

1. What ideas about language and gender underlie the design of
   “communicatively competent” software agents? (turn-taking and politeness
   in the Loebner competition)
2. How has Waco come to be a “rhetorical icon” via accounts of what
   happened there in 1993?
3. How does scientific discourse serve as a rhetorical resource in public
   debate about sexuality, and how does public discourse shape scientific
   discourse? (intertextual chains linking research study, press release, media
   accounts about “reparative therapy” for homosexuality)
4. How does the rhetorical situation of participants in the South African Truth
   and Reconciliation hearings affect the “truth” that is constructed and the
   kinds of reconciliation that can result? (how perpetrators and victims are
   named and described; transitivity and agency)
5. How does a new organization develop conventions for projecting
   institutional identity and carrying out procedure?
6. What can we learn about rhetorical ethos by looking at online chat? (the
   significance of narrative in the projection of professional identity)
7. How do news articles represent and create “controversy”?
 Carrying out a rhetorical research project using DA might involve several
 steps:


1.   Start with a a body of texts and a general question about them.

2.   Using a list of factors that shape discourse as a heuristic, interrogate one
     of your texts from a variety of perspectives to develop hypotheses about
     how rhetorical effects and properties of the texts are related.

3.   Then create and apply a systematic coding scheme to test one of your
     hypotheses on a set of texts.

4.   If an appropriate system for automating your analysis is available, or if an
     existing system suggests a different coding scheme that looks promising,
     consider using it.

5.   At every stage, keep going back to your texts to explore reasons for the
     patterns you find and to get ideas about what else is going on.
What is an inventional heuristic?



“Invention”

“Heuristic”
Sources of constraint on discourse


Discourse is shaped by the world and shapes the world.

Discourse is shaped by language and shapes language.

Discourse is shaped by participants and shapes
participants.

Discourse is shaped by prior discourse and shapes future
discourse.

Discourse is shaped by medium and shapes medium.

Discourse is shaped by purpose and shapes purposes.


[Handout: some areas of choice]
heuristic question                one or two textual features you might examine                   in AIDS article:
How is this text shaped by        wording: How are the “characters” represented via nominals?     first 5 references to people with AIDS: 53%, those (who need them
the world thought to be                                                                           most), patients (3x)
external to it, and how does
it shape this world?
How is this text shaped by        sentence structure: What is the syntactic role of nominals      object of verb: AIDS drug cocktails fail 53%, AIDS medicines are
(and how does it shape) the       referring to people with AIDS? What semantic roles do these     failing those who need them most
possibilities of English          nominals play?                                                  object of proposition: [trial] on “real-world” patients
sentence structure and                                                                            subject/instrument: patients… developed evidence
vocabulary?                                                                                       subject/experiencer: patients … saw their AIDS virus levels rise
How is this text shaped by        forms of address and reference, pronouns: How are author        author: Lisa M. Krieger, EXAMINER MEDICAL WRITER
participants and how does it      and audience represented? What participant roles are elided?    principal: San Francisco Examiner, sfgate.com
shape participants?                                                                               audience: “disappointing”

                                                                                                  absence of I, you, we
How is this text shaped by        topical schemata                                                news writing schema? departures from it?
generic expectations, other
kinds of intertextual links
with prior discourse, and
how does it shape the
possibilities for future
discourse?
How is this text shaped by        syntactic complexity, visual and verbal chunking                What are the longest and shortest paragraphs in the article, in
medium, and how does it                                                                           numbers of words? In numbers of clauses?
shape the possibilities for the
medium?
How is this text shaped by        epistemic stance, argument, and the language of “objectivity”   How is evidence alluded to or adduced? “study” as source of
purposes, and how does it                                                                         evidence; patients as source of evidence; researcher as source of
shape possible purposes?                                                                          evidence
 [handout: Pumpernickel text and chart]


heuristic question                 one or two textual features you might examine        in Pumpernickel:


How is this text shaped by the     wording: what are there a lot of words for? where    evocation of Jewish, E. European life: rye, onion, challah, pumpernickel,
world thought to be external to    do these words come from?                            caraway; apple-cheeked peasant bride.
it, and how does it shape this                                                          compare the words in the beginning like rose… make … break with words in
world?                                                                                  the end like stubborn complexity .. glistening truth .. mystery … absurd
                                                                                        spelndor.
How is this text shaped by         sentence structure: What is the syntactic role of    Agent: Grandma rose, broke her hands, cursed in five languages
(and how does it shape) the        nominals referring to Grandma, to pumpernickel?      Agent: pumpernickel demanded (personification? generic language of
possibilities of English           how are grammatical expectations met or violated?    recipes?)
sentence structure and                                                                  Experiencer/patient: (Grandma broke her hands, cursed) for pumpernickel
vocabulary?
How is this text shaped by         representations of speech: what voices/stances are   Grandma: “cursed” and told “Old Testament stories” but not represented via
participants and how does it       represented? how?                                    direct speech.
shape participants?                                                                     Whose voice(s) are represented in “Why bother? I’ll tell you why.”?
                                                                                        Shift to a more authoritative stance/footing in lines 8-9 ff. How is this
                                                                                        accomplished?
How is this text shaped by         genreric structural and semantic schemes             Petrarchian sonnet; Problem-Solution structure
generic expectations, other
kinds of intertextual links with
prior discourse, and how does
it shape the possibilities for
future discourse?
How is this text shaped by         syntactic complexity, visual and verbal chunking     Is a poem like this meant to be read aloud? Memorized? What features lend
medium, and how does it                                                                 themselves to oral production, to memorization, to silent reading?
shape the possibilities for the
medium?
How is this text shaped by         verbal art and performance                           alliteration and verbal art. Other keys to performance?
purposes, and how does it
shape possible purposes?
What are your questions? What texts are you working with?