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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jessica S. Robles
COM 470
Seattle Campus

Discourse: Analyzing Talk and Texts

A critical and practical introduction to contemporary theories/methods in discourse analysis: how verbal communication (together with visual communication) is used in conversational talk and mediatized texts to construct identities and relationships; and how power and ideology are reproduced through these everyday social interactions. Offered: jointly with LING 470.

Class description

This class is about how everyday discourse and cultural discourses shape our lives. Details of communication—a wink or an awkward pause, an unfamiliar custom, a controversy, an advertisement—are the cloth out of which we make friendships, families, societies. How do we gain insight into the ways talk and texts produce and reproduce social realities? In this class we will explore methods of analyzing discourse from conversational, cultural, and critical perspectives.

Student learning goals

To appreciate the details of everyday discourse in human life

To articulate how different approaches to discourse explain the relationship between discourse and society

To engage in original research involving data collection, preparation, and analysis

To write an analytical research paper applying discourse analysis methods to real communication data

General method of instruction

The course is divided into three units. The first unit introduces definitions and theories of discourse and discourse analysis. The second unit reviews examples of discourse analysis research in communication. The third unit focuses on applying what you have learned to data you gathered in the previous unit. Class time will focus on working with examples, completing activities, and discussing these in relation to readings. These will be interspersed with small lectures and the occasional in-class assignment or quiz. Out of class, you will be expected to read, write, think, and submit homework related to course concepts.

Recommended preparation

You should have an interest in conversational and mediated discourse, and how verbal and nonverbal talk and text shape and are shaped by social context. You should prepare yourself to do a lot of reading and writing, as well as learning some technical skills.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments will involve readings, activities, and writing related to analyzing discourse. The course especially focuses on learning to collect, prepare, and analyze real communication data. Quizzes are few, and there are no exams: the focus of assessment will be on written assignments, and especially the final essay.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jessica S. Robles
Date: 09/06/2013