Discourse analysis has to do with language use in social contexts. The discourse analyst is concerned with how language does things in the world.
Language is constitutive. That means that language can construct things. For example, language constructs the law. Even though the law is ?just something made out of words,? it is powerful. It is real. It makes a difference in our lives.
Language also constructs categories, profiles, stereotypes. The social scientist would call these categories social objects or social constructs. (e.g. witch, terrorist, BFF). A social object is a category that people create by talking and writing, by social discourse. The social object is not ready made, not a part of nature, not biological or scientific, and it is not value neutral. It is a cultural construct, an invention of the culture.
Often conflict is involved in the construction of a social object. For example, look at the conflict between skeptics and believers in the construction of the witch. Not everyone in a society buys into the same construction of reality.
The discourse constructs the social object by choosing words to describe it that have specific connotations, associations, and implications. The choice of one description over another, and the association of one description with another is significant. So, analyze carefully the words used in your document to describe the social object and the associations and connotations of those words. Use the Oxford English Dictionary to examine the shades of meaning a word had in the 16th century. Look at how the authors pair certain words together.
Language also promotes someone?s or some group?s or some ideology?s interests. For example, when discourse associates women with witchcraft, the interests of men and particularly men who are rulers are served.
Different discourse practices are specific to certain historical moments and contexts. So establishing the historical context is important for any discourse analysis.
For your discourse analysis paper you may choose ONE of the following topics:
1. discourses of hospitality (which creates the household and family as social object)
2. discourses of Friendship (which construct male friendship as social object)
3. discourses of witchcraft (which constructs the witch as social object)
4. discourses of the feminine (which constructs the female body as social object)
5. discourses of treason and resistance (which constructs the traitor as social object)
6. discourses of colonialism(which constructs indigenous peoples as social objects)
Choose one primary document from our assigned readings related to your discourse.
1. Discourses of Hospitality
Ben Jonson ?To Penshurst? pg. 292-296
Puritan household management
I.T. ?From the Haven of Pleasure? pp. 300-303
2. Discourses of Friendship
Michel de Montaigne ?From Essays? pg. 218-225
3. Discourses of Witchcraft
Believers in Witchcraft:
James 1 ?From Daemonology, In Form of a Dialogue? 325
Anonymous ?News From Scotland? pg. 313
Skeptics of Witchcraft
Reginald Scot ?From The Discovery of Witchcraft? pg. 307
4. Discourses of the Feminine
Negative View of the female body
Philip Barrough ?From the Method of Physic? 353
Edward Jorden ?A Brief Discourse of a Disease Called the Suffocation of the Mother?354
John Sadler ?From the Sick Woman?s Private Looking Glass? 357
Helkiah Crooke ?From Microcosmographia: A Description of the Body of Man? 361
Positive View of the Maternal Body
Elizabeth Clinton ?From the Countess of Lincoln?s Nursery? 364
5. Discourses of Treason and Resistance
The Government?s Discourse on Treason
King James 1 ?From a Speech to Parliament? 261
Sir Edward Coke ?From Speech at the Trial of Father Henry Garnet? 265
The Catholic Defense of Resistance
Henry Garnet ?A Treatise of Equivocation? 266
Robert Parsons ?A Treatise Tending to Mitigation towards Catholic Subjects in England 268
6. Discourses of Colonialism
Colonialism is Good
Richard Hakluyt ?Reasons for Colonization? pg. 125
Colonialism is Bad
Bartolome de las Casas ?From letter to Philip? pg. 134
1. You will want to have a brief introductory paragraph that introduces your topic, and the one primary document you will discuss. The paragraph should end with a limited qualified thesis. You need to have the title of the document, the name of the author and the date it was written in this introductory paragraph. Explain your topic and introduce your document so that this introduction makes sense to someone who is not in the class.
2. For the limited qualified thesis think about making a claim about how this discourse arose, or when and why it arose, or how it is naturalized or legitimized and/or who benefited from it and why.
3. After the introduction, you may want a paragraph about the historical context of this discourse. In this paragraph you will want specific dates and a discussion of other important events going on at the same time and a discussion of why this discourse arose when it did and where it did. You should do secondary research for this part. Use articles from Academic Search Elite or JSTOR. Use books from the library. Do not use wikipedia or google.
4. Next, you should have two or more paragraphs about the construction of the social object. What choices does the writer make in his description of the social object? What are the connotations of specific words that he uses? What do the words imply or suggest? With what or whom does the author associate the social object? How does he demonize or idealize the social object? How does he dehumanize or glorify the social object? Support with quotes from the document.
5. You should then have a paragraph about how the author legitimates his discourse. How does he lend his discourse authority? How does he support his argument? How does he make it sound like he is speaking the truth? By appeals to religion? To custom? To natural law? To the authority of the ancients? To scientific empiricism? To personal experience? Support with quotes from the documents.
6. Another paragraph should focus on who benefits from this discourse. Which person?s or group?s or ideology?s interests does this discourse promote? What kind of hierarchy or power structure does this discourse create or affirm? Support with quotes from the documents.
7. Conclusion: What is the historical significance of this discourse? What is the result of the conflict? Which side in the conflict predominates? Why should we study and analyze it? What larger questions and issues for further study does it raise?
8. Your paper must have either footnotes or endnotes that use the Chicago Manual of Style.