Why we need a sociolinguistics of writing and why sociolinguistics needs to re-think 'writing'

Tuesday 29th October 2013 (16:15-17:30)
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  • English Language research seminar series: The sociolinguistics of writing

Speaker: Theresa Lillis, Open University

Venue: Muirhead Tower, Room 121

Drawing on a recent book The sociolinguistics of writing (Lillis 2013) and a special issue of the Journal of Sociolinguistics, Writing (Lillis and McKinney September, 2013), I will discuss the problematic positioning of ‘writing’ within sociolinguistics. Using examples from a range of scholarly work and empirical data I will argue three key points: 1) writing has largely been ignored as a significant empirical object of study in sociolinguistics: 2) where writing has been visible it has tended to be construed through a monomodal- verbal- lens; 3) because of its marginalized position as an object of study, writing tends to get treated in sociolinguistics in much the same way as it does in the public media or common sense discourse- that is, in terms of standardisation and codification, and, therefore, through a particular emphasis on correctness. I will raise questions – and look forward to discussion - about the consequences of this current positioning for those of us researching ‘writing’ and for the development of a more inclusive sociolinguistics.