ENGL489T - Special Topics in Language and Rhetoric; Analyzing Conversation
Syllabus:
Section(s):

What’s really going on when people are “just talking”?

Why and how do misunderstandings happen?

Who controls a conversation?

How does story-telling work?

 

English 489T provides an opportunity to look at how people use language in real-life interactions, particularly in spontaneous casual conversations and story-telling.

We’ll look at

  • the structure of social interaction
  • conversation as a cooperative endeavor
  • how participants manage turn-taking and floor-sharing
  • how we understand—and misunderstand—each other
  • the different kinds of humor and how each operates in interaction
  • how stories are structured, and how and why we tell them
  • how cultural patterns affect how we communicate

We will examine several different approaches to the analysis of conversation and the tools and methods associated with each.

What you’ll do:  Students will record, transcribe, and analyze a conversation and an interactive event (an interview or a conversation) in which someone tells a story, i.e., produces a narrative. These recordings will be the data that we will work on during the semester.

Coursework:  Two or three short papers, some short exercises, and a final paper. Throughout, students will share their findings with the class.

Questions?  Contact Professor Linda Coleman, LKC@umd.edu

The course will meet TuTh 9:30 – 10:45 a.m.

ENGL489T counts towards the Rhetoric Minor.

This course provides an opportunity to look at how people use language in real-life interactions, focusing on spontaneous conversations and story-telling. Topics to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the structure of social interaction, ways in which participants manage turn-taking, the place of culture in communication, the use of humor, and the structures and uses of stories. Students will record, transcribe, and analyze a conversation and an interactive event (an interview or a conversation) in which someone tells a story. These recordings will be the data that we will work on during the semester, using a variety of analytic approaches and their respective tools and methods. Requirements include two or three short papers, short exercises, and a longer final paper.
 
Repeatable to: 9 credits if content differs.