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DISCOURSE. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. More Fact than Fiction. A Novel Perspective. Reading and Writing. What time is it?. Capital D Discourse.

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discourse

DISCOURSE

by Don L. F. Nilsen

and Alleen Pace Nilsen

14

capital d discourse
Capital D Discourse
  • “Discourse with a big “D” is always more than just language. Discourses are ways of being in the world, or forms of life which integrate words, acts, values, beliefs, attitudes, social identities, as well as gestures, glances, body position, and clothes.”

(Gee 19)

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slide7
“In the end a Discourse is a `dance’ that exists in the abstract as a coordinated pattern of words, deeds, values, beliefs, symbols, tools, objects, times, and places in the here and now as a performance that is recognizable as just such a coordination.”

(Gee 19)

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diagolic and intertextuality
DIAGOLIC AND INTERTEXTUALITY
  • “[A novel] is made in the head, and has to be remade in the head by whoever reads it, who will always remake it differently.”

(Byatt 214)

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the great chain of being
THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING
  • God (of monotheism)
  • gods (of polytheism)
  • Human
  • Animal
  • Plant
  • Manmade Objects
  • Simple Objects (Natural)

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the nature of things attributes and behaviors
THE NATURE OF THINGS:ATTRIBUTES AND BEHAVIORS
  • God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and immortal…
  • god is an archetype (messenger, ruler…)
  • Humans think, laugh, have language…
  • Animals breathe, move, play, attack, eat, die…
  • Plants are alive, face the sun…
  • Concrete Objects are tangible
  • Abstract Objects are intangible

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slide11
In this hierarchy, each level encorporates all of the features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

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moving up and down the great chain of being
MOVING UP AND DOWN THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING
  • God = Deification
  • god = deification (small d)
  • Human = Personification or Anthropomorphism
  • Animal = Disney Animation or Religious Animism
  • Plant = Vivication
  • Concrete Objects = Reification
  • Abstract Objects

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indeterminacy of the great chain of being
INDETERMINACY OF THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING
  • Depending on your belief system, you will structure the Great Chain of Being differently in terms of the following:
  • God
  • Society
  • Computers
  • Money

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scripts
SCRIPTS
  • In all Western countries, the restaurant script is very much the same. It involves the following:
  • Seating, Menu, Waiter, Meal, Payment, Tipping, Departure

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suspension of disbelief
SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
  • Addie Bundren, the main character in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is dead during most of the novel. She nevertheless dominates the plot and the characters, as she had made Anse promise to bury her in her birthplace, Jefferson, Mississippi.
  • So when she dies, they have to carry her coffin sixty miles over swollen rivers and submerged bridges. The journey includes an unwanted pregnancy, the drowning of mules, and Addie’s slowly decaying corpse.

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slide16
Chapter 40 of As I Lay Dying is entitled “Addie,” and contains a monologue telling about Addie’s bitter life and joyless marriage.
  • It tells about “Addie’s alienation, her feelilng of having been a stranger to her family all her life, and her wish to punish her husband Anse for being an unintelligent, devious, inflated self-centered, loveless man”
  • It ends, “Anse. Why Anse. Why are you Anse.”

(Faulkner 165; Mey 245-246)

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slide17
But some critics are not able to suspend disbelief:
  • “Addie’s confessional, crucial as it is to an understanding of the book, is quite unwarranted from the point of view of verisimilitude, since, when she starts to speak, Addie has been dead for five days.”

(Bleikasten 54)

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tendency
!TENDENCY
  • Probably the most important aspect of any discourse is its “tendency.” Discourse tendency relates to the purpose of a discourse.
  • Is the discourse designed to teach, to impress, to entertain, or what. Any aspect of the discourse which supports this tendency is good, and anything which distracts from the tendency (or purpose) of the discourse is bad.

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social discourse
!!SOCIAL DISCOURSE
  • This is what happened at a meeting of a tenure and promotion committee some time ago.
  • The committee was trying to decide whether several articles written by an engineer on the subject of prestressed concrete were original contributions or “borrowed” from existing information. It was late in the day, and the group needed some entertainment.

14

hot potato discourse
!!!HOT-POTATO DISCOURSE
  • One committee member commented, “Well, at least he’s steady.” From across the table came, “Definitely one of the hard sciences,” followed by comments from other committee members: “Yes, very solid,” “A weighty topic?” and “Lots of concrete data.”
  • This discourse was generated by the entire group, and showed in-group bonding. But there were also witty judgments communicated in the flippant comments. But most importantly, they demonstrated that a discourse can be generated by a group as well as by an individual.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 294)

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slide21
POINT OF VIEW:

THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK:

ETHOS PATHOS LOGOS

TOUGH SWEET STUFFY

1ST PERSON 2ND PERSON 3RD PERSON

SUBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE

INFORMAL INTIMATE FORMAL

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slide23
It is the language of intimacy, the language of no pretentions. The words are simple and the grammar is simple.

The writing is not planned, but just happens, in a stream of consciousness kind of way—you are there.

The sentences are short and choppy. If there is conjunction it is coordination, not subordination.

It is the language of the loosened tie and the rolled up shirt sleeves, with no pretentious multi-syllable or low-frequency words.

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slide24
Being egocentric, it is subjective, and whether it is written from the author participant or the author omniscient point of view, it is concerned with communicating people’s innermost feelings.

Tough language is the language of fiction, and therefore the process of “in medias res” is totally appropriate to this style—”In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountain.

14

sweet language
SWEET LANGUAGE

Sweet language is the language of advertisers. Walker Gibson calls this language AROMA (Advertising Rhetoric of Madison Avenue).

Sweet language is listener-oriented in an attempt to seduce listeners into buying products they don’t want or need.

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slide26
It is language full of innovative spellings, creative grammar, and wild punctuation.

Sweet writing contains many sentence fragments, and would rather flaunt a grammatical rule than conform to it: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. What do you want, good grammar, or good taste?”

14

slide27
Sweet language is the language of sensationalism, the language of superlatives and hyperbole.
  • It is the language of diversion; it plays tricks on the reader with its puns, its word coinages, its humor, its packaging, its sex, and other aspects which have nothing to do with the product itself.
  • It is informal, or sometimes even intimate or cutesy in tone.
  • Contractions, clippings, blendings, and deletions abound, making it all the more cryptic and intimate.

14

stuffy language
STUFFY LANGUAGE

Where tough language is I-oriented, and sweet language is you-oriented, stuffy language is it-oriented.

It is the language of laboratory experiments , of research papers and theses and dissertations and scholarly books, and academia in general.

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slide29
Stuffy language is highly grammatical and highly formal.

The syntax contains a great deal of subordination, and the sentences are frequently long and complex.

Infinitives, gerunds, present and past participial constructions, nominative absolutes, perfect, progressive, and passive constructions are almost totally confined to this style of writing.

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slide30
It is an impersonal style to the extent that first-person pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.

Stuffy language is also the language of limitations, restrictions and qualifications because the writer doesn’t want to make claims beyond the evidence.

Limiting (as opposed to descriptive) adjectives are frequent, as are prepositional phrases and relative clauses.

14

the birmingham riots reported in three different styles
!THE BIRMINGHAM RIOTS:REPORTED IN THREE DIFFERENT STYLES

STUFFY:

“The police and firemen drove hundreds of rioting Negroes off the streets today with high pressure hoses and an armored car.”

(New York Times May 8, 1963)

14

slide32
MORE INTERESTING:

“Three times during the day, waves of shouting, rock-throwing Negroes had poured into the downtown business district, to be scattered and driven back by battering streams of water from high-pressure hoses and swinging clubs of policement and highway patrolmen.”

(New York Herald Tribune)

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slide33
POETIC:

“The blaze of bombs, the flash of blades, the eerie glow of fire, the keening cries of hatred, the wild dance of terror at night—all this was Birmingham, Alabama.”

(Time, May 7, 1963)

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slide34
References:

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (trans. Vern W. McGee). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Bleikasten, André. Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1973.

Byatt, A. S. Babel Tower. New York, NY: Random House, 1996.

Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York, NY: Random House, 1980 [1930].

Gee, James Paul. Introduction to Discourse Analysis. New York, NY: Routledge, 1999.

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slide35
Mey, Jacob L. Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Oxford, England: Blackwell, 2001.

Minsky, Marvin. “A Framework for Representing Knowledge.” In The Psychology of Computer Vision. Ed: Patrick H. Winston. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1975, 211-277.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

Raskin, Victor, ed. The Primer of Humor Research. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008.

Schank, Roger C., and Robert P. Abelson. Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977.

Wright, Edmond. Narrative, Perception, Language and Faith. New York, NY: Palgrave/MacMillan, 2005.

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