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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Magda Stroinska


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 501

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27067


Office Hours: Wednesday 1:30-2:30

Course Objectives:

This course introduces students to the field of discourse analysis. We shall investigate a variety of styles and registers from the conversational to the literary and academic. Students will learn about theoretical approaches to textual analysis and will then do their own mini research projects on a variety of language uses in modern society. We shall talk about advertising and persuasion, media discourse, academic writing, political speeches, on-line chat, and conversation across genders, analyzing their form and function in class discussions and written reports.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Mooney, A. et al. Language, Society & Power: An Introduction. Routledge. London & New York. 2011 (3rd edition).

Additional materials will be posted on Avenue to Learn.

Method of Assessment:

Students will work individually or in groups on two research projects on specific linguistic problems. Each student will then submit an individual written report. As some projects will involve working with human subjects (through participant observation, interviews, surveys or focus groups), students will be instructed about principles of ethical research and will need to familiarize themselves with the guidelines prepared by the Ethics Board of the Office of Research Services which are available on-line at:

Mark Breakdown

2 written assignments 

(Feb 7, March 18)                   40%

Mid-term exam (Wed, Feb 12)  25%

Final Exam                             35%

Total                                     100%

Students may earn up to 2% bonus by participating as subjects in linguistics experiments through the on-line participants pool.

Penalty for late assignments will be 5% of the total mark per day. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Conversation Analysis: Principle of Co-operation and Gricean Maxims;

Speech Act Theory (Austin);

Persuasion and advertising;

Propaganda and the language of politics;

The power of metaphors!

Media discourse;

Academic writing;

Registers and slang;

On-line communication and texting;

Communication across genders.