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Discourse construction of teacher's multiple identities in a M.A. thesis defense Xia Fang China Jiliang University 夏芳 中国计量学院

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Presentation on theme: "Discourse construction of teacher's multiple identities in a M.A. thesis defense Xia Fang China Jiliang University 夏芳 中国计量学院"— Presentation transcript:

1 Discourse construction of teacher's multiple identities in a M.A. thesis defense Xia Fang China Jiliang University 夏芳 中国计量学院

2 Outline 1 Introduction 2 Discourse and identity 3 Literature review on the defense 4 Data collection and methodology 5 Identity analysis 6 Discussion 7 Conclusion 8 Acknowledgement

3 1 Introduction From the perspective of constructionism, identity is a multi-layered phenomenon, constructed within social and individual processes and regarded in terms of a multitude of identities and/or movements between different positions (Pietikäinen and Dufva,2006). We assume that teachers present multiple identities. We took a M.A.defence discourse as the research site to explore what identities of teachers are present and try to find out why it is the case.

4 2 Discourse and identity According to Gee, discourse is language plus “other stuff”: values, belief, symbols, objects, and places, etc.. (Gee 1999: 17) Fairclough thinks that discourse is a practice representing, signifying, constituting and constructing the world in meaning including identity. (Fairclough 1992: 64).

5 In the domain of discourse, that is talk-in- interaction, Zimmerman proposed "that participants' orientations to this or that identity - their own and others'- is a crucial link between interaction on concrete occasions and encompassing social orders" (Zimmerman 1998:88).

6 He clarified Discourse identities and Situated identities. "Discourse identities are integral to the moment-by-moment organization of the interaction"(Zimmerman 1998:90) Discourse identity can be current speaker, listener, questioner, answerer.

7 Situated identities "play within the precincts of particular types of situation" "brought into being and sustained by participants engaging in activities and respective agendas that display an orientation to, and an alignment of particular identity sets. (Zimmerman 1998: 90) Situated identities remain constant as teacher and student in pedagogical activities that is "within schools, colleges and universities, educational and pedagogical discourses and their associated practices construct certain people as teachers and others as students."(Clarke 2008:18-19)

8 3 Literature review on the defence The key figures in defence research: Allen. D. Grimshaw : He with David Jenness conducted a project (the Multiple Analysis Project, MAP) in the early 1970s. He first tried a transcript-based analysis methodology.

9 J. M. Swales: He anaysed the defence as a genre, He proposed “Situated genre analysis”, “by which they (people) mean not merely analysing the text, but certainly involving the authors, or sometimes the readers of the texts."(Pérez-Llantada 2004:140)

10 Michael Halliday: He analysed modality and grammatical thematization in the data aiming to show "the language at work in the creation of meaning". He claimed that the relationship between text and its context is co-creating and co-created.

11 From the above review, we can see that meaning exists in text, and is also related to situation, participants in interaction, even reader. So when we analyse the defence, we will conduct text-based analysis and consider other aspects closely relevant to this language interaction.

12 4 Data Collection & methodology The linguistic data for the analysis is a M.A. defense on linguistics in the English Department collected by the author during November and December, 2007 in a key comprehensive university in China. Besides, during the analyzing the text, the author interviewed two of the committee members for 30 minutes or so for each, Ms. Hao and Ms. Liu. The interview questions cover the intention of some of the questions raised by them in the defense and some other aspects related to the defence.

13 5 Identity analysis 5.1 Situated identity According to Zimmerman's category, the situated identity of teachers in the defence discourse is examiner.

14 5.2 Discourse identity The dominant discourse identity of each teacher Modality usage shows the interpersonal relationships between the teachers and student.

15 Table 1 Turns, sentences and modality by the committee members No. of sentences (No. of turns) No. of clauses with modalization No. of clauses with modulation Pecentage of No.of modality to No. of sentence Ms. Hao158(47) % Ms. Yang69(30) % Ms. Liu19(7)1321% Mr. Han92(34)91122%

16 The pecentage of No.of modality to No. of sentences presents the main characteristics of the relationship of the teachers and the student. Generally speaking, Ms. Hao and Ms. Yang have closer relations with the student compared with Ms.Liu and Mr. Han with the student.

17 Ms.Hao----a mild and objective examiner In her utterances, there are 38 clauses with modalization and 36 of these modalizations are almost median value. The form "seems" and " It seems“ appear frequently. For example, "It seems that the, were you talking about the expansion of the frame model when you’re referring to the scenario model?" "Seems that there is a jump between your theories." These forms of median value first sound not much serious and leave some space for the student to defend her thesis. Second she avoids too much personal involvement by choosing "It" or absence of subject "it" as theme. By this way, Ms. Hao presented herself as a mild and meanwhile an objective examiner.

18 Ms. Yang----a friend advisor There are 27 clauses including 19 with modulation with the theme "I": I don't know, I think, I feel. For example, “I think this is a little strange to me, the whole format of your thesis.” “ Not redundant, I don’t know if this is a right way to present your thesis here for short summary.” “But, sorry. I just mentioned this is a very good work and I think on whole, I can tell you have done some study and research by studying the other authorities in this area, and you give us a lot of examples, and I really feel very impressed …” Obviously, Ms. Yang gave the evaluation orientating herself, resulting greatly lowering her own position as examiner to a friend advisor, trying hard not to sound offensive.

19 Ms. Liu ----an examiner She raised one question in a direct and simple form saying "I have a question for you. You have reviewed several fields concerning this phenomenon you are studying. Could you clarify the difference between frame and scenario?" She showed as a cool examiner with a very clear purpose. There is a clear line between her and the student. One is an examiner, the other is an examinee.

20 Mr. Han ---- an expert, a scholar He talked more, but almost with no personal involvement. He only discussed with the student about the topic of the thesis. For example: Han: We have a pro-expression, or indexical expression as anaphor in, actually in grammar, it is more strict definition, that is the kind of expression that is referred by the, such as, yourself, myself, the anaphor, and there is a distinction drawn between the anaphor and pronoun, PRO-expression, and R-expression, right? So what you are talking about here, actually, is not simply what anaphor in that way, but well, referential relation between the R-expressions. So the concept, actually, “anaphor” is not very clearly defined, you know, you are not talking about anaphor in the strict sense, you are dealing with “R-expression”..... This example shows clearly that his talk contains a lot of linguistic terms, which indicates his academic background as expert or scholar of this field. The conversation between the student sounds impersonal and demonstrates the expert's power in this academic talk.

21 5.2.2 Shifting discourse identities in the process of the defence The teachers' discourse identities are changing in accordance with who is spoken to and what personal relationship exists. Every speaking means to establish or represent a personal relationship using language. So we can examine the shifting discourse identities in the process of the defence. Let us take Ms. Hao's talk as example.

22 Chair, colleague in the opening section: She as chair introduced the procedure and the committee members. The person "we" often appear as topic theme, e.g., "Should we start", "We can..." identifying her identity as a committee member as well as chair of the defense. She named the committee member with their titles, for example, Professor Liu. But sometimes, she simply named them without their family names as they do in other casual situations showing the intimacy as colleagues.

23 a moderate examiner, a specialist, advisor, educator in the phase of "defense section" : She acted as a moderate examiner using "It seems" or "seems" as mentioned before. Sometimes when it comes to her speciality, she spoke in a tone of authority using either "I"-theme-clauses or "you"-theme clauses: Ms. Yang: that is the special area of Professor (Hua: Yeah. ) Hao as a criterion Ms. Hao: No, you don’t have to. (Hua: ((smile)), you don’t have to. She shows her adequate self-confidence as an expert giving suggestions, so also as an advisor.

24 She especially stressed the future development of the student: Ms. Hao:...show your very good potentials that will be useful in the future. Ms. Hao:...but when you are doing research in future always show people there that you’re aware that there are multiple perspectives. Actually on many other occasions and in the subsequential interview, she expressed her opinion about the pedagogical implication of the defense, she said, "The defense is only the nomalcy of education. It is a chain of learning program." "You can get the feedback for your learning and decide your future development from the defense and you should feel glad that so many experts can exchange ideas with you, which may inspire you." These words clearly speak out her view about the defence that the defence is nothing but a chain of education just similar to a seminar. In this case, she was identified as a educator who understands that all the programmers including defences are means or form to meet the requirement of education.

25 6 Discussion From the above analysis, we can see that the teachers present multiple identities. Although we can label these various identities, they are not separated from each other. They are overlapping. They are simultaneously embodied in a single person. The participants choose different language form either constructing or representing the interpersonal relationships. And on the other hand, language choice presents complex relationships between the participants. The previous relations affect language choice and meanwhile the defence discourse also creates and modifies relations between the participants. That is how and why the teachers represent multiple identities in the defence.

26 7 Conclusion Firstly, the thesis defence as an institutional organization puts some limitations on the language choice presenting situated identity and meanwhile the participants also have their own agency on language choice resulting in discourse identities. Secondly, the language choice is greatly affected by the previous relationships. Thirdly, the discourse identities: examiner, expert, advisor, educator, represented by the teachers,reflect the teachers' interpretation of the defence. At the end of the paper, we have to say this paper is still at the starting point, so there surely exist some limitations.In the later study, we will conduct more careful study and improve them.

27 8 Acknowledgement First, I am very grateful to the participants in this defence for their allowing me to use the data and accepted my interviews. Secondly, I should thank the student in the defence who is so helpful to make checking on the recording transcript. Last, I should thank Professor Li Shujing of Peking University who helped me a lot. Then I will give many thanks to my supervisor Professor Gao Yihong of Peking University, who has guided me, supported me from the very beginning of this study and has given me a lot of precious suggestions. If there is some mistake, it is in my charge.


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