Interacting voices structure a text
A quantitative investigation of dialogic elements across structural units in the introductory chapters of history theses
This paper quantitatively measures the distribution of dialogic elements across structural units in the introductory chapters of history theses with the aim of uncovering the roles of dialogic elements in constructing texts. The research was designed to test Bakhtin’s perspective on genre, which holds that viewpoints introduced into a discourse dialogise the text in such a way as to fulfil the text’s goals and structure the text. Results showed significant differences in the densities of dialogic elements across structural units; units that review previous research are highly dialogic, whereas units that present the author’s new research are seldom dialogised. Specifically, previous viewpoints tended to be dialogically endorsed in units that assert the importance of the research topic and dialogically disclaimed in units that indicated problems with previous research. The paper concludes that genre research and pedagogy need to emphasise the strategic deployment of dialogic elements that enable the successful structuring of texts. This study is intended to be one of the first methodological attempts to test the text structuring function of dialogic elements from a corpus-based investigation.
Published online: 16 June 2020
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