Publication details [#53946]

Cloran, Carmel. 2010. Rhetorical unit analysis and Bakhtin's chronotype. Functions of Language 17 (1) : 29–70.
Publication type
Article in journal
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Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
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Bakhtin introduced the concept of chronotope (chronos = time; topos = space) to facilitate his exploration of the ways in which space-time intersections occur in literary texts. However, he also suggests that chronotopes characterise nonliterary texts — indeed, that "every entry into the sphere of meaning is accomplished only through the gates of the chronotope" (1981: 258) — this historical, biographical and social time-space configuration. This formulation immediately suggests that these categories should be accessible via the categories of language and indeed, in English, they are most generally expressed via the Mood categories Subject and Finite. These same Mood categories of English are crucially involved in the identification of a unit of discourse — the rhetorical unit (Cloran 1994). Thus, this discourse unit provides a useful means of concretising, from a linguistic perspective, Bakhtin's concept of chronotope and investigating the presence of such chronotopes in the everyday mundane discourse of motherchild interaction. Selections from such interaction are illustrations of authentic cultural chronotopes, and provide exempla of a (sub)cultural chronotopic motif within the broader culture, i.e. social positioning at a particular historical point in time (the late 20th century Australian culture).