"I'm a Second-Language English Speaker": Negotiating Writer Identity and Authority in Sociology One

Published on Apr 2, 2002in Journal of Language Identity and Education0.74
· DOI :10.1207/S15327701JLIE0102_02
Sue Starfield12
Estimated H-index: 12
Student writing needs to be viewed in its insertion into a context defined by the existence of sociohistorically shaped, asymmetrical power relations. How novice student writers negotiate these complex political relationships and develop a sense of authority and identity in their academic essay writing has been underexplored in academic literacy research. In this article I examine the discursive production of success and failure through a discussion of 2 first-year sociology essays at a South African university. The successful student's ability to construct a powerful, authoritative textual and discoursal identity for himself, and his highly developed "textual" capital, are seen as factors in his success. Systemic functional grammar is used to demonstrate how he has recourse to the linguistic features of authority as he discursively negotiates success with his marker. The student who fails struggles to negotiate an authoritative self as author and, relying heavily on the words of recognized authorities in...
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