Spring 2021 Course Description

I’m excited to announce that Dr. Justin Mando will be teaching ENGL 671 Special Topics: Discourse Analysis, Mondays 6-9pm, online course.

Spring 2021 runs 1/25/2021 through 5/08/2021 (CRN 17754).

Full description:

“Discourse” is language: people talking or signing or writing.  Discourse analysts ask and answer many kinds of questions about how and why people do the things they do with language.  We study the structure of written texts — the semi-conscious rules people use to organize paragraphs, for example — as well as the unconscious rules that organize oral discourse such as spontaneous stories and arguments.  We study how people show each other how to interpret what they say as foreground or background information, casual remark or solemn promise, more of the same or change of topic.  We look at how grammar is influenced by what people need to do with language, and how discourse affects grammar over time.  We ask how children and other language learners learn how to make things happen with talk and writing.  We ask how people learn what language is for, from exchanging information to writing poetry to perpetuating systems of belief.  We analyze the choices speakers and writers make that show how they see themselves and how they relate to others.  (Choices about how to address other people, for example, both create and reflect relationships of power and solidarity.)  We study how people define social processes like disease, aging, and disability as they talk about them, and how language is used to mirror and establish social relations in institutional settings like law courts and schools as well as in families and among friends.  This course touches on a selection of these topics and gives students practice in paying close attention to the details of language.  The course is meant for anyone whose life work is likely to involve critical and/or productive work with language: writers and other communication designers, critics who work with written or spoken texts, historians, actors, sociologists, and so on.