English | Special Studies in English & American Literature
L780 | 22076 | Adams

L780  22076  ADAMS (#6)
Special Studies in English & American Literature

11:15a – 2:15p R


This course is a junction of many disciplines, centered on the
nature of conversation in all manifestations and the relations among
those manifestations. Representatives of any or all of those
disciplines are welcome. Linguists and some rhetoricians will be
interested in the logical and functional structures of conversation
for their own sake. Philologists and other literary scholars will
benefit from viewing dialogue through the lens of conversation,
understood linguistically. Reciprocally, the linguists will benefit
from observing the ways in which convention and style in dialogue
question and confirm linguistic understanding of conversation.
Creative writers will gain from studying and applying linguistic and
stylistic approaches to conversational structure and affect. Those
interested in rhetoric and media and will find it useful to consider
conversation as it changes from medium to medium, from face-to-face
interaction, to the printed page, to the stage, to the big screen,
smaller screens, and finally tiny, tiny screens. The confluence of
these several orientations should lead each member to unexpected,
ambitious research on conversation and dialogue. (Note: Though I am
sometimes open to creative work from creative writers, the structure
of the course does not lend itself to such in this case.)

Topics considered during the term will include: conversational
principles and maxims, markers and turns, implicature and
entailment; speech acts; relevance and information; face (positive,
negative, in your, what you save); politeness; politics of
conversation; sounds, words, syntax in linguistic structure,
discourse, and style; literary appropriation of conversation and
(because every appropriation is an opportunity) the literary
opportunities thus engendered; “reading” conversation; dialogue in
television and film (similar to fiction and drama or verisimilar?);
and chat v. conversation in new media. We will read broadly among
philosophical, linguistic, sociological, and literary theoretical
and critical texts; and we will compile a “sample book” of
conversations cooperatively over the term, which will serve as a
common collection of conversational problems. An increasingly
complete (though still provisional) syllabus is available from the
instructor on request.