Autoethnography and the presentation of belief in scholarly work Event as iCalendar

(Applied Language Studies and Linguistics, School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics)

20 September 2017

12 - 1pm

Venue: Pat Hanan Room, CLL Building (207-501)

Professor Albert Weideman | University of the Free State, South Africa

The contestation of paradigms within the discipline of applied linguistics may broadly be categorised as a conflict of modernist versus postmodernist approaches. While postmodernism has been in the ascendancy in applied linguistics since the last decade of the previous century, it is both divided and currently being challenged by paradigms that hark back to modernism. This paper will discuss a variant of one still influential applied linguistic paradigm, ethnography, as a potential growth point for postmodernist views, and one that may well serve to resist the modernist challenge presented by dynamic systems theory. In acknowledging subjectivity and human agency, this variant, autoethnography, recognises that science is not neutral, and shows how scholars working within the mainstream may be able to present their beliefs and commitments in a way that opens these up for consideration and discussion. In doing that, autoethnography may have wider application than in its initial target domains, the social sciences and the humanities. The contestation that it presents within applied linguistics, however, is as unlikely to be conclusive as in any other paradigm conflict. For the present, the greater contribution of autoethnography lies in making it possible to articulate and open for discussion the ways in which belief and commitment are presented in scholarly work.

Albert Weideman is Professor of Applied Language Studies and Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Free State in South Africa. His work focuses on how language assessment relates to a theory of applied linguistics. He has extensive experience of developing tests of academic literacy for students entering South African universities, based on a construct that grows out of his theoretical work. His latest book is Responsible design in applied linguistics: Theory and practice (Springer 2017). A recent encyclopedia article (Weideman, 2013) provides useful background reading for the topic of the talk. Professor Weideman is visiting the School from 18 September to 6 October.


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