Chapter 7 in
Discourse Studies in Composition
, ed. E. Barton and G. Stygall. Hampton, 2002.
Critical Discourse Analysis and the Discourse of Condescension
Thomas HuckinUniversity of UtahIntroduction. During the past 15 years or so, as the gap between rich and poor in our country has reached alarming proportions, many of us in the business of teachingcomposition have become increasingly concerned with the larger sociopolitical context inwhich our students, and we, live. One of the pleasures of teaching composition is that wecan justifiably address these sorts of concerns in our classrooms. Indeed, in keeping with theoriginal spirit of classical rhetoric, it is common practice in composition classrooms acrossthe country to have students engage in critical thinking and writing about current issues.In this light, the need for context-sensitive forms of discourse analysis has becomeincreasingly acute. Teachers, students, scholars, and others engaged in composition studiesall stand to benefit from being able to analyze written texts and discursive practices in waysthat encourage students to address and, ideally,
important social problems. In recentyears, several closely-related forms of discourse analysis have emerged which promise tosatisfy this need: critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1992, 1995; Van Dijk, 1993; Caldas-Coulthard and Coulthard, 1996; Fairclough and Wodak, 1997), social linguistics (Gee, 1996,1999), and social semiotics (Hodge & Kress, 1988; Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996; Lemke,1995). These three approaches embody the generic features that any critical rhetoric,