Notes: Thomas Huckin, Jennifer Andrus, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon, “Critical Discourse Analysis and Rhetoric and Composition”

Huckin, Thomas, Jennifer Andrus, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon. “Critical Discourse Analysis and Rhetoric and Composition.”College Composition and Communication, vol. 64, National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, 2012..


Huckin, Andrus, and Clary-Lemon provide a survey of critical discourse analysis’s groundings and uptake into the field of rhetoric and composition.

Keywords: Method, Methodology, Critical Discourse Analysis


“Critical discourse analysis is based on a number of distinctive principles, including these cited by Fairclough and Wodak:
• CDA addresses social problems.
• Power relations are discursive.
• Discourse constitutes society and culture.
• Discourse does ideological work.
• Discourse is historical.
• The link between text and society is mediated.
• Discourse analysis is interpretative and explanatory.
• Discourse is a form of social action. (271-80)” (108).

“Rhetoric and composition has always been concerned with the power of spoken and written discourse, in particular the ways in which language can be used to persuade audiences about important public issues. If anything, such interest has increased in recent times, constituting what Mike Rose has called a “public turn” (291). CDA aligns itself with this tradition in attending to purpose, situation, genre, diction, style, and other rhetorical variables, but also supplements it in a number of ways:
1. CDA systematically grounds its analyses in both quantitative and qualitative attention to linguistic details.
2. CDA routinely engages texts that reflect inequality or other abuses of power.
3. As a consequence of point 2, CDA is always critical and explanatory.
4. CDA draws on a wide repertoire of textlinguistic tools.
5. CDA is eclectic, drawing on a wide variety of scholarly disciplines, concepts, and research methods.
6. CDA typically makes use of multiple texts and even large corpora of texts.
7. CDA takes into account textual silences, implicatures, ambiguities, and other covert but powerful aspects of discourse.
8. In the interest of reaching a broad lay audience, CDA tries to minimize the use of academic jargon” (109).

“Moreover, CDA matches writing studies’ scholarly goal to understand the impacts of writing as a cultural practice and to examine the contexts of such practices historically, materially, and politically” (110).


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