Archive for ‘random’

2 July 2011

Assange and Zizek live

Live today on Democracy Now! A podium discussion between Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek, chaired by Amy Goodman. With Berlin based discoursologists in the audience.

Tags: ,
30 April 2011

Translocal Underground: Anglophone Poetry and Globalization

Alistair Noon’s inspiring essay, drawing on postcolonial theory, anthropology and globalisation theories, Translocal Underground: Anglophone Poetry and Globalization by Alistair Noon, is now available online.

The last few years have seen an increased number of Anglophone poets living, writing and publishing outside of English-speaking countries. Bordercrossing Berlin’s poetry editor Alistair Noon argues that the categories of national literature fail in many ways to apply to them, and that a new word is needed to describe the poetry they write: translocal.

29 April 2011

Contests over meaning in a CLA classroom

A beautifully reflective article on an action research project on literacy practices conducted in South Africa in 1993/94. The author shows her own conflicts with a course as she had designed it, explores her dissatisfactions with the way she had reproduced dominant power relations, and outlines her design for a more collaborative project the following year.

The article illustrates the shift in academic interest from encouraging oppositional readings towards a focus on understanding the (socio-historical) development of how particular readings came to be the way they are.

Granville, Stella (2003). Contests over meaning in a South African classroom: Introducing critical language awareness in a climate of social change and cultural diversity. Language and Education 17(1): 1: 20. (pdf)

26 March 2011

Kim Jong-il clean, says textbook

Gossip: Žižek says (around minute 1:32, counting down of “TALK”) that a friend told him about a North Korean primary school textbook which explains to the kids that Kim Jong-il is so clean that “he doesn’t need to shit and urinate”.

22 March 2011

New design

Inspired by research on textbooks. Indeed. One of the core scholarly insights I was often told when hanging out at the educational publishers in Germany was that research had shown the optimal length of a line of print. So that school children can comfortably read the text, take in the information, and reflect/critically appraise or whatever their particular task is.

Now I have finally found an article which argues this. It’s all about the “three-second-rule”.

Apparently, the brain has a three-second window which typography should make the most of. The eye should be able to take in the whole line in under 3 seconds. Textbooks in particular, writes the author, don’t adhere to this three-second-rule. Nor did this blog until I changed the design today.

Thanks to Robert Maier for the reference: Ernst Pöppel: Was geschieht beim Lesen? In: APuZ (Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte) 42-43/2009, S. 45

(Check Ernst Pöppel’s very amusing, informative and entirely subversive Personal Publication Platform.)

14 December 2010


How’s this for a perfect example of entextualization – the decontextualization of discourse from one location and its decontextualization in another; sure to remind many of the practices of media production! (Refs for entextualization including Bauman, Briggs and Silverstein here).

In the beginning was the Plan, and then the Program; And the Plan was without form, and the Program was void;

And Darkness was upon the faces of the professors; And they spake unto the Associate Dean, saying “It is a Crock of Shit, and it stinks”;

And the Associate Dean went unto the Dean, and he spake unto him saying, “It is a Crock of Faeces, and non may abide the Odour thereof;

And the Dean went unto the Vice President, and he spake unto him saying, “It is a Container of Excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide before it;

And the Vice President went unto the President, and he spake unto him saying, “It is a Vessel of Fertiliser, and none may abide its strength;

And the President went unto the Vice Chancellor, and he spake unto him saying, “It containeth that which aids Plant Growth, and it is very strong;

And the Vice Chancellor went unto the Chancellor, and he spake unto him saying, “It promoteth growth, and it is very powerful;

And the Chancellor went unto the Board of Regents, and he spake unto them saying, “This potent and vigorous Plan will promote the Growth of the University;

And the Board looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good, and ordered its Implementation forthwith.

…via the sysfunc email list…

4 October 2010

Underground City 21

A Discourse Programme at the Theater Nestroyhof Hamakom in Vienna. From 5 to 9 October.

[E] The Fragmented City and the Disappearance of Public Space

Along the course of the simulated Underground City 21 in Vienna we will be meeting guests with special knowledge in talks, at-table-situations and lecture performances. This is part of a discourse programme that takes place over the course of the period. More extensive talks and lectures are taking place at the larger meeting points, Theater Nestroy Hof and Lab Factory.

The Forum Discours-Dramaturgy had its first public appearance at Volksbühne Berlin and is being hosted in Vienna for the first time, moderated by Natalie Driemeyer and Jan Deck.

29 September 2010

the discourse of spam

In The Sociolinguistics of Globalization, Jan Blommaert offers an interesting analysis of those emails we have all received from lawyers offering to transfer the funds of our long-lost uncles to us. “Globalized genres of fraud” he calls them.

He outlines how these hoax emails comply with a range of linguistic and discursive features, from a technical, businesslike subject containing number references, an announcement of the problem and the procedure to be complied with, requests for confidentiality, and appropriate terms of address, closing formulae, etc.

The problem with most of the emails he analysed is that although they perfectly adhere to broad genre patterns, they struggle with basic literacy.

Today I received a top-notch email. My favourite hoax to date.

P.O BOX 55, NEW YORK NY, 10116-0555

This is to notify you that we have intercepted your parcel from DHL/UPS courier service from delivering the parcel to you for security reasons as stated below.

1. Our scanning system detected your parcel containing a confirmable
Before the parcel could be delivered, you are obliged to obtain A Duly Sworn Affidavit from the Spanish High Court in Spain to back up the the origin of the Parcel, this is in line with the Anti Terrorist Campaign due to the Law Implemented by government of United States of America to protect and reduce the terrorist activities.

We kindly advice you to contact the agent in Madrid, Spain to get the Sworn Affidavit for you. Please note that the cost of the Sworn Affidavit costs only $158 which must paid by the receiver of the parcel. Below is the contact details of the agent in charge. He will advice you on how the payment should be made so please contact him immediately you receive this notification.

Name: Mr Aaron Winston
Tel:0034 639 032 542

We shall forward the card to you as soon as we receive the Duly Sworn Affidavit, we are doing this to secure your interest considering the credit card frauds and stolen cheque which brings problem to American citizens all around the world.

Your prompt response is most higly desired to terminate the delivering of your parcel.

Mr William R Gillian
Chief Postal Inspection Service.

The only hint of literacy difficulty here is some capitalizations and perhaps there should be a “the” in front of “government” (due to the Law Implemented by government of United States of America). Apart from that, spot on.

It was even sent from “”. Unfortunately, is the site of the United States Power Squadrons.

5 August 2010


WordPress has a new function: “Report as mature”. Appears just below “Report as spam”.

If you come across a blog which you believe to be primarily adult-related or too mature for a general audience, please let us know…

Nothing at all against the function, but am pondering the label. “Mature” therefore becomes a negative characteristic. Interesting shifting of semantic prosody; wonder if it will spread into wider use.

16 July 2010

Black history month

So when is white history month, asks Morgan Freeman.

Tags: ,