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CAL BASE Plus Research


The relationship between Academic Identity and Argument

Keith Richards

In a conference paper presented at the University of Bergamo Keith Richards focused on two distinct but related encounters drawn from the BASE Plus collection, one involving a panel of academics at a conference and the other based on a student seminar. The paper challenged conventional views of the ways in which arguments are structured, showing that although classical models of argumentation are assumed to inform academic debate, in practice identity construction and strategies of alignment seem to be at least as salient, if not more so. The paper also compared the use of identity as a resource in debate by students and academics, showing how the established academics were able to deploy aspects of their stable academic identity to strategic effect, while the students’ less successful efforts were attributable at least in part to their unstable identity.

Associated reference:

Richards, K. 2008. Identity and positioning in academic argument. CELRLIS conference: ‘Trading Identities: Commonality and Individuality in English Academic Discourse’. Bergamo, 19-21 June. [Invited plenary]


The uses of metaphor in academic talk

Steve Mann

In particular, Steve Mann is interested in the use of metaphor where a speaker is trying to articulate an emergent understanding or where something complex is being explained. As part of his paper given in April 2008 at TESOL New York, he drew on examples from the BASE Plus collection to develop a description of metaphor use which highlights dialogic features of exploratory talk. In his related paper (Mann, 2008) he differentiates between metaphor use in individual understanding and metaphor use in developing group understanding.

Associated references:

Steve Mann. 2008. ‘Using Metaphor to Make Sense’ [Invited Symposium Member with Martha Pennington, Jack Richards, Thomas Farrell, Stephen Moore] April at TESOL New York 2008.

Steve Mann. 2008. ‘Metaphors keep cropping up’: dialogic features of metaphor in exploratory research talk’ In Garton, S & Richards, K. Professional Encounters in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave.