LING-703 Seminar: Discourse, Community and Place
Fall for 2010-2011
Although everything that we do is in some place, we do not often pay explicit attention to that space, how we react concretely to our space and how our interactions are woven together with our physical environment. Even less attention has been paid to how we talk and write about place. Of course there are some registers that focus exactly on space. Examples include registers used by architects, community planners, realtors, travel agents, authors of travel books and of course, more. Likewise, there are texts and speech events that depend on spatial language, for example, giving physical directions (to get someplace or build something).
Linguists, psychologists and anthropologists have incorporated space and place into their theories and practices in somewhat different ways. Although we will spend some time on these theories and practices, the main focus of the class is how people talk and write about place, especially communities in the DC area.
Discourse to be examined includes (a) texts that appear in communities along with (b) other geosemiotic displays, (c) media about communities (d) residents talking about a place (including but not limited to narratives) and (d) cognitive maps.
Of additional interest is the discourse of community change urban/suburban planning, media attention to place, the discursive development of safety and danger, and how oral histories (and key community events) construct different types of place (and people) identities over time.
Because of the texts and contexts that we will be examining, the course will also bring together different ways of analyzing discourse, including variationist-like analyses of grammatical and textual ways of speaking. The course thus requires at least one class on Discourse Analysis. Sociolinguistic Fieldwork course is helpful, but not necessary. Finally, there may be some fieldwork. The course should enhance prior fieldwork, but this is not an in-depth fieldwork course.
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