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Critical Discourse Analysis

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Victoria Zander

on 4 October 2013

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Transcript of Critical Discourse Analysis

An overview
Critical Discourse Analysis
-Norman Fairclough's landmark publication of "
language and Power" (1989)
- Group of European scholars (Fairclough, Wodak, van Dijk, and others) form a CDA network. (1991)
- Goals of CDA group: critically embed texts in their social and political contexts, demystifying texts, denaturalizing the natural, putting texts (and processes involved in creating and reading them) into crisis.
- CDA vs CDS: Approach vs framework
Theoretical Roots
-Critical Theory (Frankfurt school, Habermas)
- Critical Linguistics, language can mystify (Kress, among others)
- Marxist or neo-marxist tradition, power, inequality, hegemony
- Foucault: The godfather of CDA
- also: anthropology, philosophy, rhetoric, text linguistics, socio-psychology, cognitive sciences, literary study, gender studies, sociolinguistics, and critical applied linguistics.
- Dell Hymes
- Focus: seek out social problems and to analyze them in a productive way, to problematize, denaturalize and to question the status quo.
- Important: Positioning of analyst. Analyst is never neutral in CDA, but takes a stance, is politically committed and is always part of discourse. It is not enough to uncover social inequalities, they also have to be evaluated morally and politically.
- In CDA, discourse is always a social constitutive practice that shapes social situations, realities,
practices, while at the same time being
shaped by them
Approaches and Key Scholars
Norman Fairclough: 3 dimensional framework:
(1) Discourse as text, (2)discourse as discursive practice, (3) discourse as social practice
- His work focuses on language, ideology, power, hegemony, politics and media discourse.
- examples:analysis of institutional, political and
capitalist discourses.

Ruth Wodak: Discourse-Historical approach (empahsizes context and background knowledge necessary for critical analysis)
- works on right wing populism
Approaches and Key Scholars
Teun van Dijk: Socio-cognitive approach (focuses on mental representations, and shared knowledge, beliefs and ideologies of language users; context as a subjective mental representation of a situation).
- works on politics and ideologies, denial of racism.

Gunther Kress; Theo van Leeuwen: Multimodal approach (language just another way of signifying, along with images, music, gestures, etc).

Other authors worth reading:
- Hill, J. H. (2008). The everyday language of white racism.
- Ramakrishnan, S. (2009). "Modernization of tradition": Contested discourses and negotiated ideologies of fairness, gender, and morality in the south indian media.
Strengths and Weaknesses of CDA
- Interdisciplinary
- accessible, flexible,
- allows for a convergence of fields of study
- takes a stance, analyst positions herself

-can be daunting, difficult to define
- difference between analysis, description, and interpretation? Bias?
- too linguistic? Not linguistic enough?

Toolkit with an attitude
Let's practice
Idea inspired by Dr. Srilakshmi Ramakrishnan's 2009 dissertation titled:
Cosmopolitan picture
Woman charged with killing boyfriend with stiletto heel

Ana Trujillo, 44, is charged with fatally stabbing her 59-year-old boyfriend following an argument at a bar.

HOUSTON — It started out as a normal night where Ana Trujillo and her boyfriend went out to a local Houston bar they often frequented. They enjoyed a couple bottles of wine and tossed back a few shots of tequila.

But the evening soured, she told police, after another man approached her at the bar. He offered to buy her a drink, angering her boyfriend, Alf Stefan Andersson, a respected professor and researcher at the University of Houston. The two argued and left the bar in a huff.

Yet how she became so incensed, or scared, that she wielded her stiletto shoe as a deadly weapon — repeatedly bashing Andersson with the heel, leaving him dead in a bloody crime scene — remains unclear. Trujillo maintains she acted in self-defense after Andersson became violent.
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