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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

Spring 2009


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36140 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
MEZ 2.118

Course Description

According to the Computer Industry Almanac (2004), more than one billion people -- one sixth of the world's population -- are now online. It is widely accepted that information and communication technology is rapidly transforming our notions of literacy, communication and language learning. As a consequence, there is an acute need to understand how users (including second language learners and multilingual speakers) communicate online. This course will examine computer mediated communication in its various forms and contexts (bulletin boards, course management systems, chats, instant messaging, online gaming) in order to discern the borders between speech and writing, to redefine narrative, to speculate on the consequences of many-to-many communication, and to ponder the ethics of researching online interaction. Furthermore, the course will also explore intercultural notions of identity, voice, and collaboration by investigating the impact of diverse communication technologies in different cultural environments. While the much of the course will focus on the sociolinguistic description of CMC, approximately a quarter of the readings will explore the consequences of CMC for L2 learning and literacy. An exciting feature of the course will be talks by well-known scholars whose current research we will study during the semester (eg., James Gee, Claire Kramsch, Steven Thorne, and Lars Hinrichs). These talks will be open to the public as part of the Texas Language Technology Center's Distinguished Speakers Series: (For more information, go to

In order to examine a wide range of CMC phenomena (innovative writing systems, code-switching, gender and online behavior, linguistic features of CMC, etc.), we will employ the tools of both discourse analysis and corpus linguistics. In particular, we will adopt Gee's integrative approach to "d/Discourse." Gee's approach focuses on both the grammatical and lexical patterns of language-in-use (discourse) as well as the social identities that are being enacted through language (Discourse). In addition to the analytic tools outlined in Gee's book, the course will illustrate a variety of corpus-based methodologies for studying CMC. Students will be shown how to create their own CMC corpus and to use freeware to analyze the following:
- collocations
- concordances
- dispersion and frequency
The class will be taught in English.

Grading Policy

Participation 10%
Discussion leader 10%
Corpus-based analyses 20%
Final presentation 20%
Final Paper (proposal and final draft) 40%


Required Texts:
1) Baker, Paul. 2006. Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum. 2) Gee, James. 2005. An Introduction to Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge. 3) Reading Packet that includes chapters from the following books: Danet, Brenda and Susan Herring (eds.). 2007. The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Magnan, Sally (ed.). 2008. Mediating Discourse Online. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing. Schiffrin, D., Tannen, D. & H. Hamilton. 2003. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.


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