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Questions for Thought and Discussion

Across the body of interviews, it is clear that the founders and exemplary practitioners of critical discourse analysis (discourse studies) collectively and strongly resist any attempt to codify, stabilize, normalize, and institutionalize the field as a single “discipline.” Instead, as Lillie Chouliaraki suggests, they call up a vision of multiple, variable, personally motivated and instantiated efforts to address social experiences and practices through the doing/making of analyses. For teachers of Critical Discourse Studies working in university-based contexts, among students who may be seeking a more stable body of “how-to” expertise, how might such open-ended approaches to inquiry be taught? What kinds of theoretical and epistemological groundwork might be laid for students as a course gets underway?

The interviews affirm that whether an analytical approach is ethnographic, multimodal, socio-cognitive, systemic-functional, historical, Marxist, semiotic, sociological, or any other, Critical Discourse Analysis begins with questions and/or problems. In educational settings, these questions have to do with schooling, teaching, and learning. From your own experience, generate three or four questions you have about what you perceive to be going on around you in an educational domain. How might this be framed in a way that can be answered through an analysis of discourse practices?

Tuen van Leeuwen and Tuen van Dijk both stress the non-restrictive, non-prescriptive nature of CDA as “a method.” James Paul Gee offers the “seven building tasks” and “tools of inquiry” as sets of questions that might be asked of a body of data. Norman Fairclough uses his ideas about genres, discourses, and styles to address questions. Select a small piece of text or discourse that interests you and try out both ways of exploring what it seems to be up to as a social practice. Which way led to more interesting and meaningful interpretations?

Discourse analysts are what Gunther Kress might call “motivated signmakers,” too. If, as James Paul Gee suggests, social goods are at stake in all human expression, what is at stake for the analyst? How does this relate to what Luisa MartĂ­n Rojo says in the “Approaches” section about preferring the term “problematizing” to “revealing” with respect to what CDA should be attempting to do?

James Paul Gee suggests that practitioners of discourse analysis often fail in their reckoning with context. In the first place, context is “everything that’s there.” Figuring out how much of “everything” to include and describe—how far out to extend the contextual boundaries in a given analysis—is the first question. Second, in every local and particular social situation, context “exists prior to speaking and is created by speaking.” Gee asks: how can we capture a moment in which some things are fixed and some things are being created in and through interacting in situ? Pick one of your research questions and experiment with the effect of variously construed and described contexts. What effect do different contextual boundaries have on your thinking about your question?

James Collins, Luisa MartĂ­n Rojo and Carmen Caldas-Coulthard encourage us to think reflexively about our own cultural contexts as well how our work as researchers may privilege some kinds of people and exclude other kinds of people. In what ways is your work as a critical discourse analyst privileging some voices and excluding others? In what ways does your own cultural background limit your interpretations?

If we take up Gunther Kress’s call to think about curricular design in service to the needs of students for future social practices, how might critical discourse analysis contribute to courses of study in this or that context? What kinds of questions can teachers and scholars pose that will help all students feel empowered to have their hand on the rudder?

James Collins calls for future work in Critical Discourse Studies to move beyond the dominant framing of Europe and North America and to seek to understand the relationships between the global south and global north. Viewers of this video may notice that the majority of participants are, indeed, from the North Atlantic. Practically speaking, in what ways can the people who constitute the loosely bound group of people who refer to themselves as critical discourse analysts seek out and connect with scholars and teachers from places not represented here in order to address more transglobal questions?


Companion Material for Video

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Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Arizona State University
United States

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

Gee, J.P. (1996). Sociolinguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses (2nd ed.). London: Taylor & Francis.

Gee, J.P. (1999). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. London:  Routledge.

Gee, J.P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New
York: Palgrave/Macmillan.

Gee, J.P. (2009). “Multiliteracies”: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies, 4(2), 196–204.

Gee, J.P., & Hayes, E. (2010). Women as gamers: The Sims and 21st century learning. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan.

Gee, J.P., Hull, G., & Lankshear, C. (1996). The new work order: Behind the language of the new capitalism. Boulder: Westview/Harper Collins.



Professor of Semiotics and Education
Department of Learning, Curriculum and Communication
Institute of Education University of London
United Kingdom

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

Kress, G.R. (1993). Against arbitrariness: The social production of the sign as a foundational issue in Critical Discourse Analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 169–191.

Kress, G.R. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Kress, G.R. (2004). Reading images: Multimodality, representation, and new media. Presentation at IIID Expert Forum For Knowledge Presentation: Preparing For the  Future of Knowledge Presentation. Retrieved September 16, 2010, from
Kress, G.R., & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of graphic design. London: Routledge.

 Kress, G.R., & van Leeuwen, T. (2002). Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. London: Edward Arnold.
Kress, G. R., Jewitt, C., Ogborn, T., & Charalampos, T. (2001). Multimodal teaching and learning: The rhetorics of the science classroom. New York: Continuum.



Professor of Linguistics
Universidad AutĂłnoma, Madrid

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

Martin Rojo, L. (2001). New developments in discourse analysis: Discourse as social  Practice. Folia Linguistica, 35(1–2), 41–78.

 Martin, Rojo, L. (2007). Speeches at war: Chronicles and political humor around the Iraq occupation. Discourse & Society, 1(4), 575–603.

Martin Rojo, L. (2010). Constructing inequality in multilingual classrooms. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Martin Rojo, L., & van Dijk, T.R. (1997). “There was a problem, and it was solved!”:  Legitimating the expulsion of “illegal” migrants in Spanish parliamentary  discourse. Discourse & Society, 8(4), 523–566.



Professor of Anthropology
State University of New York, Albany
United States

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

Collins, J. (2001). Selling the market: Educational standards, discourse, and social inequality. Critique of Anthropology, 21(2), 143–163.

Collins, J. (2003b). Language, identity, and learning in the era of ‘expert-guided systems. In S. Wortham & B. Rymes (Eds.), Linguistic Anthropology of Education (pp. 31–60). Westport: Praeger.

Collins, J., & Blot, R. (2003a). Literacy and literacies: Texts, power, and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Collins, J., & Slembrouch, S. (2006). “You don’t know what they translate”: Language contact, institutional procedure, and literacy practices in neighborhood health  centers in urban Flanders. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 16(2), 249–268.



Visiting Professor
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

van Dijk, T. (Ed.). (1985). Handbook of discourse analysis (Vols. 1–4). London: Academic Press.

van Dijk, T. (1988). News Analysis. Case studies of international and national news in the press. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

van Dijk, T. (1993a). Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 249–283.

van Dijk, T. (1993b). Elite discourse and racism. Newbury Park: Sage.

van Dijk, T. (2005). War rhetoric of a little ally: Political implicatures of Aznar’s  legitimization of the war in Iraq. Journal of Language and Politics, 4(1), 65–92.

van Dijk, T. (2008). Discourse and power.Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.


Professor, Department of Media and Communications
London School of Economics and Political Science
United Kingdom

Home Page:

Selected Readings:
Chouliaraki, L. (1995). The constitution of ethnographic texts in social scientific  discourse: “Realist” and “polyphonic” representations. Interface: Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10(1), 27–46.
Chouliaraki, L. (1998). Regulation in “progressivist” discourse: Individualized teacher- pupil talk. Discourse and Society, 8(1), 5–32.
Chouliaraki, L. (2007). Mediation, text and action. In V. Bhatia, J. Flowerdew, & R.  Jones (Eds.), Advances in discourse studies (pp. 211–227). London: Routledge.
Chouliaraki, L., & Fairclough, N. (1999). Discourse in late modernity: Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.



Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
University of Technology Sydney

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

Machin, D., & van Leeuwen, T.J. (2003). Global schemas and local discourses in  Cosmopolitan. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7(4), 493–512.

van Leeuwen, T.J. (2008). Discourse and practice: New tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press.

van Leeuwen, T.J. (2009). The world according to Playmobil. Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, 173, 299–315.

van Leeuwen, T.J., & Jaworski, A. (2003). The discourses of war photography: Photojournalistic representations of the Palestinian-Israeli war. Journal of Language and Politics, 1(2), 255–275.

Wodak, R., & van Leeuwen, T.J. (2002). Discourses of un/employment in Europe: The Austrian Case. Text & Talk,22(3), 345–367.



Professor, Centre for English Language Studies
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom

Home Page:

Selected Readings:

Caldas Coulthard, C.R. (1993). From discourse analysis to Critical Discourse Analysis:
The differential re-representation of women and men speaking in written news. In J. Sinclair, M. Hoey, & G. Fox (Eds.), Techniques of description: Spoken and written discourse (pp. 196–208). London: Routledge.

Caldas Coulthard, C.R. (1996). Women who pay for sex and enjoy it: Transgression  versus morality in women’s magazines. In C.R. Caldas Coulthard & M. Coulthard (Eds.), Texts and practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 250–270). London: Routledge.

Caldas Coulthard, C., & Coulthard, M. (Eds.). (1996). Texts and practices: Readings in  Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.

Caldas Coulthard, C.R., & Ledema, R. (Eds.). (2007). Identity trouble: Critical discourse and contested identities. London: Palgrave.

Caldas Coulthard, C.R., & Moon, R. (2010). “Curvy, hunky, kinky”: Using corpora as tools for critical analysis. Discourse & Society, 21(2), 99–133.



Emeritus Professor, Emeritus Research Fellow
Linguistics and English Language, Institute of Advanced Study
Lancaster University
United Kingdom

Home Page:

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Longman.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Political correctness: the politics of culture and language. Discourse & Society, 14(1), 17–28.

Fairclough, N. (2004). Critical Discourse Analysis in researching language in the new capitalism: Overdetermination, transdisciplinarity and textual analysis. In L.  Young & C. Harrison (Eds.), Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 103–122). New York: Continuum.

Fairclough, N. (2005). Critical discourse analysis in trans-disciplinary research on social change: Transition, re-scaling, poverty and social inclusion. Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 1, 37–58.

Fairclough, N. (2006). Language and globalization. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, N., Cortese, P., & Ardizzone, P. (Eds.). (2007). Discourse in contemporary social change. New York: Peter Lang.


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