INTRODUCTION TO THE TDA MODULE
Intentions and content
This module presents a range of approaches to discourse analysis and attempts to enable you to develop techniques for analysing and commenting on texts. The intended pedagogic pay-off from this activity is that you will raise your own understanding and awareness of the nature of English language in use; you will feel more confident about approaching difficult or unfamiliar samples of English; although it is not the role of this module to spell out the links with pedagogic practice, you will be better equipped to make decisions on such pedagogic issues as materials selection and production, syllabus design, and method.
There is some variation in the length of the Units, but the amount of paper they use does not necessarily correspond to the work they demand from you. Also, the Units do not all have the same status with regard to their centrality in this field of study. In some ways, the most central issues are raised in Units 1 and 2, where the importance of language as text, the role of context in language use, background knowledge and text variation (register and genre) are introduced. The other Units all have a bearing on these issues and so Units 1 and 2 are in a sense followed up throughout the module, most directly in Unit 8.
Where there are any discrepancies between the Study Companion (SC) and this module, it is because the SC was written first and the module some time later. Rather than being bound rigidly by the SC scheme, it seemed preferable, and in your interests, to go for what was seemed the best choice of content at the time the module was being written. (See similar comments in the Foundation Module and elsewhere.)
The Module contains 11 Units, all related in varying degrees. The first Unit introduces the field of study and demonstrates the importance of context in language. It also explains the notion of schemata, which is to do with the background knowledge which readers/hearers bring to text. Unit 2 develops the contextual point by introducing two central concepts in discourse analysis: register and genre. These concepts permeate much of the subsequent material in the Module, and are most explicitly returned to in Unit 8. Units 3 deals with some basic grammatical ideas necessary for the informed discussion of language as text, taking up and developing further some of the material outlined in Unit 6 of the Foundation module (FND 6): word classes, lexical density, the grammatical structure of the clause (this last largely new material). Unit 4 deals with an aspect of clause grammar that interfaces with textual organisation: this is the concept of Theme and Rheme, closely tied up in English with what comes first in the clause and the way that topics are followed through in text. Unit 5 is related to this subject in that it deals with the way that texts are woven together as a unity rather than being just a string of unrelated sentences: the cohesion model of Halliday and Hasan attempts to disitinguish and classify the many ways in which items in a text form ties with each other. Units 6 and 7 follow the same line of thinking, explaining some of the relations that exist between parts of a text and the ways in which writers signal them. I have already mentioned Unit 8, with its direct connection to Unit 2. Units 9 and 10 are on broadly a single topic: pragmatics: the philosophy-based study of the meaning of utterances in context: Unit 9 presents the basic theory and Unit 10 takes up more practical considerations such as politeness in social spoken interaction and in academic writing. There is a strong link between Unit 9 and the discussion of schema in Unit 1 since it is concerned with, among other things, inference ('reading between the lines'). Unit 11 is a sort of bonus Unit, which covers a wide array of applications of discourse analysis to various aspects of social life, such as the Law. It also deals with some less usual aspects of academic and academic-related writing, such as the exploitation of humour. There are many other inter-connecting threads throughout the Module, and it would be impossible to spell them all out briefly, but I have mentioned the most overt links.
As far as other Modules are concerned, this one potentially provides support for Course and Syllabus Design, Methodology and Materials. It is complementary to and overlaps to some extent with the half-module Grammar of Modern English (GE), and in a different way with the Investigating Interaction in Context (IIC) ▀module. More specifically, it follows on directly from Units 2 and 6 of the Foundation Module.
This MSc course is by definition a post-graduate course, and, as well as presenting information and learning tasks, you are asked to carry out your own research, developing your own ideas. A major part of this self-developing research takes place through self-directed reading. Our own bibliographical references should be seen as advisory, and you should expect to read beyond them. No bibliography can hope to be complete, and rarely is a reference uniquely essential. Furthermore, our assessment of the relative value of a reference may not always match up with what is important and useful for you as an individual as opposed to participants in general.
Even so, I try to indicate in the list of references at the end of the Units a scale of centrality:
o Recommended Reading: items which I see as probably most immediately relevant and (in most cases) accessible.
o Further reading: items which are useful if you want to know more. If you choose to do an assignment related to the Unit in question, then you would certainly want to pursue the Further reading references. The numbers of readings listed under Further Reading vary enormously. This may be because some units deal with very limited material (e.g. Units 6 and 7) and others with much larger topics (e.g. Units 2 and 8). Unit 11 is exceptional in that much of it is a literature review of a range of topics.
o Also mentioned: items which I have included because I have mentioned them somewhere in the Unit and are not necessarily recommended reading. This does not reflect a low valuation of the items.
Of course, a mention of an academic reference should not be seen as an endorsement
of the views of the authors. Even the fact that views are quoted or paraphrased
does not necessarily signify my agreement with them.
Some Units require you to have key references to hand as you may be given Tasks relating to them during the course of the Unit, and some Units require reference to the Foundation Module. Where this is so, I have tried to indicate the fact at the top of the first page of the Unit.
Absolute minimum requirements for the course are:
o Bloor T & Bloor M 1995 The Functional Analysis of English: a Hallidayan Approach London, New York, etc.: Arnold.
o Coulthard M (ed.) 1994 Advances in Written Text Analysis London: Routledge
You should have these two books generally available, and so it would be a good
idea to have your own copy. Other titles are indicated in the References section
for each unit, and ideally you should read as widely as you can, and especially
the titles that are headed Recommended Reading.
Other strongly recommended books I might mention are:
Bhatia V K 1993 Analyzing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings London & New York: Longman (for Units 2 and 8) OR
Swales J 1990 Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (for Units 2 and 8)
Swales J M & Feak C B 1994 Academic Writing for Graduate Students : a Course for Nonnative Speakers of English Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (This is an EAP student's textbook with samples of teaching applications of many ideas in this module)
For an overview of the subject, you might read one of the following:
Bex T 1996 Variety in Written English - Texts in Society: Society in Texts London & New York: Routledge (advanced and contentious; best read late or at the end of the module. First three chapters less central to us.)
McCarthy M 1990 Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Best read early. Covers many of our topics, some in less depth but with lots of textual examples.)
McCarthy M & Carter R 1994 Language as Discourse: Perspectives for Language Teaching London & New York: Longman (se my comments on McCarthy 1990)
If you elect to be assessed by assignment rather than by examination, you will probably wish to focus on specific areas of the course and read more widely in those areas. I hope that, in such a case, you will attempt to pay some attention to all the units before you commit yourself to a few. Some Units may take a while to work through. If you are having difficulty with some concepts, you might want to press on and come back to the sticky bits later.
Tasks and reading requirements are between bold vertical lines and labelled Task (or more rarely) READ or READ NOW; in the last instance, you are recommended to read the reference at this point rather than postponing it until later.
Tasks are numbered as Task 1.1, etc. The first number indicates the Unit and the second number is the number of the task within the unit; thus Task 5.4 means that this is the fourth task in Unit 5.
Where it seems to me appropriate, I have given a Key to a Task. Keys are generally in the Resources section, but instead my answers or comments may occur in the body of the text following the Task. Often the Key is simply a suggestion for possible responses rather than a prescribed answer; many questions do not have right or wrong answers, and the same text may be analysed differently with equal plausibility. Some Tasks are completely open-ended and have no key at all.
Quotations (from discourse analysts and other scholars) and other items in focus (lists, summaries, etc.) are in boxes.
Texts and examples
Texts and text fragments are inset from the main margin and printed in a smaller font (Times font) with single line spacing. Some texts are headed TEXT 1 (or 2, 3. etc.). Very short ones (mostly single sentences) may be referred to as example 1, 2, 3, etc. and are not labelled as TEXT but are simply numbered. The decision is largely based on length (though not entirely consistently), and the number systems for texts and examples are independent of each other. All numbering of tasks, texts and examples starts afresh for each Unit.
This is a sample of text of the kind that you might find in any of the Units in this module, except that this one is specially constructed for illustrative purposes and is not authentic. It is printed in Times font, which is slightly smaller than Palatino, the usual font in the Module; also the lines are closer together.
Items in boxes like this one are quotations from published work on the topic or other focused items
Occasionally a short stretch of exposition in the Unit will be printed in a distinctive font, in-set slightly and ruled off above and below with a dotted line (as in this stretch). This is vaguely akin to hypertext on a computer. This format indicates that this bit is not crucial to the development of the main argument and, so that you do not lose the thread, you can omit it for the time being and come back to it later. Sometimes this is because the information is a slight digression and sometimes because it is a little more arcane than the rest. It does not occur often.
When I indicate that I have said something 'above' or 'below', it does not necessarily refer to its position on the same page. It is a conventional way of indicating 'some time earlier in the same text' or 'some time later in the same text'
This subject is not all self-evident or easy. If it were , it probably would not be worth your commitment. Be prepared to read and think and give the ideas time to crystallise. As you go about your daily life and work, try to be on the look-out for interesting examples of the textual characteristics described in the Module, and look out for possible applications to your teaching.
I hope that you will find the effort rewarding.