The Discourse of Social and Personal Identity (Q3151)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

The module presents the concept of identity as socially constructed, as communicatively produced and constantly negotiated and reinvented. The focus is on situated talk and especially narrative, although not exclusively, as social practice. The module is divided into two sections that aim to presents two facets of the identity issue. The first part revolves around the negotiation of personal identity in a number of different contexts, from courtroom testimony to negotiations in committee meetings (along the line of work by Gumperz and Goffman). It considers the issue of positioning of self and others especially through the use of deixis, time and space. This first section includes the consideration of some of the sociolinguistic literature on self-narratives in interaction and oral history in a number of social settings, from immigrant discourse to traumatic recollections. Discussion of some TV programmes revolving around personal stories will be included as an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the medium and the function of 'infotainment' on identity.

The second part of the module focuses on the representation by others. It discusses the media representation of given communities and highlights the ideology that such representation construes in the readers' mind. Examples from case studies are the Islamic community in the UK press (Poole, 2002), the representation of countries at war, eg the Iraqis during the 2003 conflict (Haarman and Lombardo eds. 2008), the identity that some political parties offer to their constituency in TV interviews etc.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Report)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 24 hours of contact time and 126 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.