Discourse Analysis & the Study of Classroom Language & Literacy Events: A Microethnographic Perspective

By David Bloome; Stephanie Power Carter et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
A Microethnographic Approach
to the Discourse Analysis
of Classroom Language
and Literacy Events

We take it as given that any definition of discourse and any approach to discourse analysis are historically located (and similarly so with other concepts and approaches to research). By this we do not mean that there is an authorized history that provides the definition of discourse analysis. Similarly, there is no given set of traditions that define the boundaries of what counts as discourse and discourse analysis. This is not to suggest that the prior experiences, endeavors, and arguments of researchers are not useful to people seeking to define discourse analysis but rather that a history or a set of traditions must be claimed, argued, and labored for by the present;1 that is, the task of locating discourse analysis (or any approach to research) historically is one not predetermined by the past but is acted on by the present as it looks to the future.2

As we noted in the Introduction, the particular approach we take to discourse analysis builds on sociolinguistic ethnography (also called the

____________________
1
West (2000), citing T. S. Eliot (1919), wrote that “tradition is not something you inherit. If you want it, you must obtain it with great labor. I [West] would add toil and engagement and service” (pp. 39–40).
2
We are not advocating revisionist or fanciful histories. The task of historically locating an approach to discourse analysis depends, in part, on the influences claimed (both by those engaged in conducting the discourse analysis and those attributed to them by others); by the actions taken by researchers in the past to provide opportunities for others to claim historical connections; by the actions of researchers in the present taking up those opportunities as well as creating new warrants; and, in part, on the intellectual and social, cultural, and political agendas to which the efforts contribute.

-1-

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