Maybe I should learn about

Once I was staying in a youth hostel in Florence, Italy, and I met a group of tourists from Brittany. They told me all about the Celtic music festival that they had in their hometown, and invited me to come stay with them and experience it myself — the kind of well-intentioned invitation that you make to someone you meet in a youth hostel, and you mean it when you say it. I told them how excited I would be to see this festival, and I remarked, “You know, the more places I go, the more places I want to go.”

One way I’ve confirmed that I’m meant to be a researcher is that I have the same feeling in the library.

99% of all archaeology is done in the library.

Each article I read points me to a book, each book points me to five more books, names start coming up repeatedly. This is problematic. Part of it is the idea — I think Socrates or Donald Rumsfeld said it first — that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. And there’s also always the chance that any one of these things you come across tangentially could lead you to new breakthroughs down the road.

Here are a few things that have been on and off my mental to-read list:

  • Mohan, Language and Content. I’ve written previously about the difficulties I’ve had teasing apart the concepts of learning academic language and learning academic content. Mohan, I’ve heard, makes the case that it’s not possible. I actually borrowed this from the library, but never took the time to pick it up.
  • Becker, Beyond Translation. Another different take on the intersection of language and culture.
  • Some of Bernstein’s work on education. He’s wildly influential in other countries but I believe he hasn’t caught on as much in the US. I think I’ve read that he was controversial because his idea that education cannot compensate for society — that social class makes a difference in educational outcomes — has been taken by some people to mean poor kids are deficient, which is not the same thing.
  • Finish the NLTK book.
  • Somehow I’ve never read anything by John Gumperz. I know, right?
  • If I want to look at genre, I should know more about narrative, and at least take a look at Labov and Waletzky 1967.
  • Currently in a pile in my house, this, this, and I just picked up this. Lots of SFL, and I probably won’t get through it all (though I’m about 70% of the way into Eggins & Slade).

I bring all of this up because tonight I decided that I need to learn more about rhetorical structure theory. It’s another model of textual cohesion to go with the ones I’m already using, just in case they weren’t enough. But I think it could be useful if I ever get to codifying exactly how classroom discussions and lectures unfold, move by move. I just need to find time to do the reading.

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Posted in Institutional discourse, Philosophy, SFL

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