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CCHU9032 - Language, Institution and Power
Instructor(s)
Semester
2019-2020 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
2
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Wednesday , 2:30 pm - 4:20 pm , CPD-LG.08

In this course we will examine the issues of power and how it relates to language use in various institutions such as law, medicine, and business among others. Language presents one of the most important (but not exclusive) power resources. We will learn that language can be both powerful and empowering. We will discuss how people in power can influence the ways in which language is used, and exercise control over access to language by others. We will also examine examples of how these others, in their turn, can contest and negotiate power. In language power can be expressed in a more or less overt ways. To minimize opposition, for example, power is increasingly exercised covertly or indirectly in different institutions. A particular attractive feature of the course is that we will examine real-life language data collected in a number of Hong Kong institutions. We will also discuss similarities and the differences in institutional language practices across different sociocultural contexts, including Hong Kong and other countries and Asia and beyond.

Topics

In this course we will examine the issues of power and how it relates to language use in various institutions such as law, medicine, and business among others. Language presents one of the most important (but not exclusive) power resources. We will learn that language can be both powerful and empowering. We will discuss how people in power can influence the ways in which language is used, and exercise control over access to language by others. We will also examine examples of how these others, in their turn, can contest and negotiate power. In language power can be expressed in a more or less overt ways. To minimize opposition, for example, power is increasingly exercised covertly or indirectly in different institutions. A particular attractive feature of the course is that we will examine real-life language data collected in a number of Hong Kong institutions. We will also discuss similarities and the differences in institutional language practices across different sociocultural contexts, including Hong Kong and other countries and Asia and beyond.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Develop a critical awareness of how language can be employed to enact, negotiate and contest power.
  2. Engage in the critical analysis of social issues, such as sexism, racism, oppression through examining the language and power interrelation in authentic institutional discourses.
  3. Apply the knowledge of how language can be both powerful and empowering to novel institutional settings.
  4. Develop a critical understanding of how language and power interact in various sociocultural contexts.
  5. Engage in group interaction and communicate their viewpoint by engaging in group discussions.
Study Load
Activities   Number of hours
Lectures   22
Tutorials   10
Reading / Self-study   30
Assessment: Engagement online   35
Assessment: Group project and its components   50
Total   127
Assessment

100% coursework

Assessment Method   Details of Assignment Weighting
Final project   The project will involve close engagement with authentic data, identifying and defining problems, locating relevant literature and communicating the results in a comprehensive and logical manner. 50%
    50%

There will be no textbook for the course. All additional materials, including recommended readings, will be provided by the lectures in class.

Required Reading

Selected Recommended Readings

  • Cameron, D., Frazer, E., Harvey, P., Rampton, B., Richardson, K. (1992). Researching Language. Issues of Power and Method. London: Routledge.
  • Craddol, D., Boyd-Barrett, O. (eds.) (1994) Media Texts: Authors and Readers. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Fairclough, N. (1995). Media Discourse. London: Arnold.
  • Holmes J. (2006). Gendered talk at work: Constructing gender identity through workplace discourse. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Mullany, L (2007). Gendered discourse in professional communication. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sarangi, S. and M. Coulthard. (2000). Discourse and social life. Harlow, England: Longman.
  • Simpson, P. (1993). Language, Ideology and Point of View. London: Routledge.
  • Simpson, P. and A. Mayr (2010). Language and power: A resource book for students. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Scollon, R., Scollon Wong, S. (2003). Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Thornborrow, J. (1999). Language and the media. In L. Thomas and S. Wareing (eds.) Language, Society and Power. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 49-64.
  • Thornborrow, J. (2002). Power talk: language and interaction in institutional discourse. Harlow, England: Longman.
     

You will also be introduced to a number of journals where research on language and power is published (e.g. Discourse and Society, Text and Talk) and on-line resources where you can obtain some additional information on the topics discussed in class.


Instructor(s)
Semester
2019-2020 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
2
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Wednesday , 2:30 pm - 4:20 pm , CPD-LG.08