Discourse Analysis

Course description

Discourse analysis is an important area within language study that typically includes exploration of a variety of linguistic features as a means of elucidating meaning making in interactions or texts.  Aspects of language use examined can include semantics, grammar, lexical choices, conversation skills, narrative structure and situational features.  Analyses typically involve systematic descriptions of speech samples, with a focus on understanding how language is used in context.  Analyses of discourse may also highlight how language use functions to construct and maintain social understanding of the world.  The goal of this course is to develop skills in performing a discourse analysis and evaluating discourse analyses of other researchers.  These two skills are seen to be interconnected.  The focus of the course will be on evaluating recent research papers in discourse analysis, with an emphasis on linguistic discourse analysis.  Topics addressed in the readings include transcription, information structure, conversation analysis, cohesion, hesitation phenomena, forms of talk, narrative analysis and indirectness. A key part of learning discourse analysis is doing it.  Students will therefore need to collect and transcribe some data at the beginning of the term, and to analyze it using several approaches we study.  Students will also present 2-3 articles (depending on class size) from the required readings. 


Based on data collection and transcription (10%), text analysis (15%), literature presentations (25% average), final presentation and paper (40%) and class participation (10%). 

Required reading:

Package of articles including papers by Clark, Fairclough, Goffman, Labov, Schegloff, Schiffrin, Sherzer, and others.