Conversation and Identity
Instructor: Hostetler, Margaret
This WBIS course will investigate the following broad questions concerning language and culture: What happens when people engage in conversation? How does it work? Asking these questions leads to lots of others: what's the point of "small talk?" How much of our everyday conversations is focused on saying actual stuff, and how much is focused on the social context of the conversation--like trying not to embarrass ourselves or others; trying to get someone to do something for us; or trying to seem cool, polite, friendly, smart, interested? How do we know when someone wants to end a conversation? How do we get the floor in a conversation, and how do we hold on to it? How do we change topics in a conversation or apologize or criticize? How do we organize our talk so our listeners can follow our thoughts? What do we do when the conversation gets awkward or when someone doesn't understand us or we don't understand that person? This course will allow you to observe, analyze, and write about how conversations of all kinds work in order to better understand this utterly common but surprisingly complex human phenomenon.
(please note: section topics and descriptions are subject to change)