Volume 8 (1) 2016

THE 45 YEARS’ EVOLUTION OF A GENRE: COMMODIFICATION OF THE UNIVERSITY TEXTBOOK PREFACE IN CHINA   Pages 1-22

Weining Ji and Wei Wang

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  • This paper investigates diachronic changes of the university textbook prefaces in China over the past 45 years (from 1966 to 2010). Applying genre analysis, a discussion of generic structure potential, appraisal theory, as well as multimodal discourse analysis, this paper examines the changes in generic structure, the lexical-grammatical and paralinguistic features of the genre with a detailed analysis of 60 sample texts over three time periods namely 1966-1980, 1981-1995, and 1996-2010. The analysis reveals that the university textbook prefaces feature distinctive changes with the development of the times, pointing to the intertextual mix of academic discourse and promotional discourse, thus undergoing a process of commodification. It argues that the ideological influence of promotional culture, the powerful position of advertising discourse and fierce professional competition are the most conceivable contextual factors contributing to the commodification of the genre in question.

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THE DIVERSE AND DYNAMIC WORLD OF ‘US’ AND ‘THEM’ IN POLITICAL DISCOURSE  Pages 23-37

Victoria Wirth-Koliba

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  • The aim of this paper is to present the diversity and dynamics of interpersonal relationships represented in political discourse. In almost every political activity there is the opposition camp (‘them’), as well as that of the allies (‘us’), as a result of which relations of inclusion and exclusion are invariably present. The present study deals with ‘us’ and ‘them’ constructions from a pragma-cognitive perspective. The means by which these relations are structured depend on the speaker’s intentions in the discourse, which in turn determine the way the ‘us’ and ‘them’ are presented. What is more, relationships of inclusion and exclusion within a single discursive event are dynamic and prone to alternations, since motives behind and implications of particular fragments which constitute the discursive event as a whole, may vary. All this will be exemplified on the basis of selected fragments of a speech delivered by Nick Griffin (available at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b9e_1272829239).

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CROWDSOURCING CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSING: USING AMAZON’S MECHANICAL TURK TO EXPLORE READERS’ UPTAKE OF COMMENTS ABOUT LANGUAGE ON RateMyProfessors.com  Pages 38-57

Nicholas Close Subtirelu and Shakthidhar Reddy Gopavaram

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  • Critical discourse analysis (CDA) studies how social dominance and power are discursively enacted through, for example, discourse’s influence on attitudes, beliefs, and ideologies. Yet, various critics have charged that CDA’s generalizations, drawn from textual analysis, conflate analysts’ own interpretations with those of ‘typical’ readers. We examine one example of this: Subtirelu’s (2015) study of comments about instructors’ language and ethnicity on RateMyProfessors.com. We use Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk to test Subtirelu’s claim that ostensibly neutral or positive comments about language are taken up negatively by readers. Our experiments find that comments in which instructors’ accents are mentioned but not disparaged (e.g., ‘She has an accent, but…’) lead readers to be slightly less willing to take a course from the instructor than when information about the instructor’s accent is withheld. We also present a post hoc analysis designed to examine whether other textual features might explain the differing reactions to this information about accent which we observed. We hope the study will serve as an example of the type of work that can be done in CDA not only to address methodological criticisms but also to lead to more nuanced theory about the effects of discourse on audiences.

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PERSUASIVE STRATEGIES IN A CHAUVINISTIC RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE: THE CASE OF WOMEN’S ORDINATION  Pages 58-83

Eun-Young Julia Kim

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  • Currently one of the most divisive issues in some Christian communities centers on women’s ordination. This study critically analyzes a religious discourse which defends and justifies the Southern Baptist Convention’s opposition to women’s ordination by using a sociocognitive approach as an underlying theoretical framework. The analysis aims to illustrate how a religious text both assumes and tries to formulate unified mental models to control the beliefs of the audience and promulgate dominance by assigning sovereign values to certain interpretations so that readers will understand certain texts as they see them. In doing so, the current study also hopes to demonstrate usefulness of employing Critical Discourse Analysis in understanding the process of doctrinal formation and reproduction of dominance in religious discourse.

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THE CONSTRUCTION OF TRANSNATIONAL IDENTITIES IN THE NARRATIVES OF A EUROPEAN CIVIC ORGANISATION  Pages 84-107

Franco Zappettini

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  • Drawing on a study conducted with an association of citizens operating in the European public sphere and applying the Discourse Historical Approach, this paper investigates how the organisation’s members construct their transnational citizenship and how they negotiate it vis-à-vis European, national, and local identities. The analysis reveals that informants often claim their transnational identities as membership of an expanded community of relevance, through the transportability of their civic engagement and through meta-narratives of spatiality and progress whereby cosmopolitan scenarios are often reterritorialised within the European space. These arguments are frequently realised through the metaphorical scenario of ‘spatial dynamics’ which makes sense of identities as emergent from unbounded social interaction, and through the indexicality of transnational narratives as specific discourses of socio-historical transformation of nationhood.

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