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Reading Group Discourse: a Corpus-based Analysis of Argumentation and Collaboration

The research questions for this presentation are: how are evaluations and interpretations constructed, justified, contested, developed between participants?

Abstract: Evidence for literary argumentation has traditionally been mostly monologic and text-based, i.e., analysis of text structure and patterns that affect literary critics lead to them making evaluative arguments about the quality of a text, or them making arguments for a particular kind of interpretation. Even where literary argumentation has had non-traditional aims (e.g. deconstructionist, feminist, neo-Marxist, post-colonialist), this form of critique has been largely monologic and text-based. However, the recent marked growth in reading groups as a contemporary cultural phenomenon provides an opportunity to investigate dialogic literary argumentation at scale, something largely uninvestigated from a linguistic perspective.

This presentation will make a contribution to understanding the discourse of reading groups, shining light on the kind of argumentation used in evaluation and interpretation of books read in a variety of reading groups. I will report on the findings of The Discourse of Reading Groups – a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) one-year, funded project (2008) that aims both to gather evidence about contemporary reading practices, and to contribute to a sensitive understanding of social literary argumentation as a contemporary micro-culture.

The research questions for this presentation are as follows: how are evaluations and interpretations constructed, justified, contested, developed between participants? The presentation will respond to these questions using a quantitative tool of corpus linguistics (WMatrix) in novel synergy with qualitative software analysis (Atlas-ti).


Dr Kieran O'Halloran | talks | www


Date and Time:

6 May 2009 at 2:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



English, Middlesex University
The Burroughs
+44 20 84 11 65 55

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In room M114 on our Trent Park Campus. Free and open to all. Contact Billy Clark for further details:

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