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Mapping Discourses

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    Using the notion of ‘cultuurtekst’ also gives us the advantage of seeing culture in more pluriform terms: not a formulation of features specific to a national culture, but as a mapping and critiquing of discourses. I derived the term ‘discursive mapping’ from Pennycook (2001), and see it, as he does, as a ‘problematization’ of texts. I conceptualized discursive mapping as part of discussing with students how meanings in the text are created through discourses. This allows us, as Pennycook says, to map out different formations of meaning and to see how these are constructed through intertextual relations: a search for how social reality itself is produced and reproduced in language (ibid: 111). In this, the discursive mapping approach is a critical undertaking. O’Regan (2006) developed a model for reading texts in the classroom, in which he uses the idea of discursive mapping, an approach which he calls TACO, the ‘text as critical object’. His model incorporates a number of stages from looking at the ‘preferred readings’ of texts, ‘how the text seems to want to be read’ (ibid: 24), through to a ‘representative’, a ‘social’, and a ‘deconstructive’ interpretation. I did not use O’Regan’s model for my own ‘cultuurtekst’ approach to reading texts in the classroom, since his study was not available then, but I will come back to the TACO approach again in the next chapter when I discuss my own framework for text analysis.

    Seeing text as ‘cultuurtekst’ then also brings to the fore the multiple discourses, to which Kress refers (1985: 7) and which are currently in any context. Bakhtin calls this ‘polyphony’ (multi-voicedness). Any context, except the most stable one, contains a range of ‘voices’. I take ‘voice’ here to be similar to discourse. Bakhtin refers to different ideologies and discursive forces being inherent in all words and forms: ‘Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life: all words and forms are populated by intentions.’ (1981: 293).

    The idea of ‘cultuurtekst’ then gives us access to the idea of culture as a complex, fluid, and dialogic construct, which whilst containing patterns of meaning and behaviour, also recognizes that these patterns change and merge and submerge in (sometimes unpredictable) ways.

    An added advantage of applying the model of ‘cultuurtekst’ to language teaching, is that it gives language classes more intellectual content, even if discussing trivial texts, i.e. texts with a popular appeal, or everyday topics. It helps learners to think about language at a more theoretical level, as well as touching on the notion of addressivity, and the processes of meaning-making, which is an inherently critical task.

    Finally, the idea of ‘cultuurtekst’ works not only as a mode for interpreting texts, but, when combined with the notion of ‘addressivity’ is also very useful as an awareness tool for writing texts. I have incorporated this into the syllabus of my general language class (see chapter 4 for an overview). My emphasis in the fourth year language class under study was particularly, but not exclusively, on reading and writing, as an intellectual dialogue.

    This page titled Mapping Discourses is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gerdi Quist (Ubiquity Press) .

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