A corpus-based approach to identity construction of L1 and L2 writers in academic discourse: an investigation of writers' self-representation in research articles in two disciplines

Mei-Hung Lin, Purdue University

Abstract

In the complex endeavor of developing academic literacy, learning how to reveal authorial presence with an appropriate amount of force in academic discourse is challenging for both L1 and L2 writers in that it requires writers' thorough consideration of linguistic, rhetorical, social and cultural elements involved in academic writing. Using a corpus-based approach in combination with rhetorical text analysis and interviews, this dissertation explores how various contextual factors, including disciplinary conventions, writers' cultural backgrounds, and different rhetorical functions may influence writers' self-representation in the genre of research articles (RAs). Through compiling a corpus of RAs written by L1 and L2 writers from two fields - Applied Linguistics and Electrical Engineering, this study reveals that writers from different disciplines and of various socio-cultural backgrounds demonstrate different degrees of authorship with different choices of stance markers given disciplinary conventions of knowledge construction and various rhetorical functions of RAs. Specifically, frequently occurring stance markers preferred by writers of particular backgrounds were identified and examined in context. Interviews were also conducted to further unveil motivations underlying these choices of stance markers. Findings of the study show not only in a broader sense how self-representation can be influenced by contextual factors, particularly disciplinary conventions, but specifically which stance markers enable writers to represent themselves in ways that they feel comfortable with and are acceptable for members of discourse communities. Pedagogically, results of the study inform us about the importance of raising students' awareness about developing convincing and appropriate authorial presence through training students to read rhetorically and learn to weigh contextual factors involved in self-representation. More specific classroom activities that are able to enhance writers' appropriate projection of authorship are offered at the end of the dissertation.^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Tony Silva, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, English as a Second Language

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