Selected Reads

Books on Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis is an analytic framework to the study of language. And since you are here, you definitely are interested in knowing more about it or probably are planning to use it in your own research. I used critical discourse analysis (CDA) in my doctoral dissertation as well as in some of my published academic papers. So yes, I can provide you  with resources to help you out!

Books on discourse analysis

CDA is an approach to discourse analysis, one  that problematizes meaning making processes and takes language to be deeply implicated in asymmetrical relations of power. Other approaches to discourse analysis include conversational analysis, pragmatic analysis, sociolinguistic analysis, speech act theory, interactional sociolinguistics, and many more. Regardless of the approach you want to use, discourse analysis, for obvious reasons, involves  dealing with discourse or language and depending on your research purpose linguistic analysis may or may not be of central importance to your analysis. 

For instance, those who want to use text analysis a la Fairclough will find themselves entangled in the intricacies of linguistic analysis exploring how syntactic and grammatical structures shape and are shaped by language use. On the other hand, those who want to use the discourse historical  approach (a la Wodak) or the sociocognitive approach (a la Van Dijk) will find themselves working on different analytical units such as cognition, processes of understanding, situated meanings, context, etc.  

One misconception I keep hearing from fellow researchers and graduate students is that to use discourse analysis or critical discourse analysis for that matter you need to have a linguistic background  and be versed in linguistic analysis.

That’s not true!

Cognitive psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists all use discourse analysis to enhance research in their own disciplines but they are not  linguists themselves. Unless you want to engage in an extensive linguistic analysis, a functional knowledge of how language is structurally built and communicated is all you need to get started using (critical) discourse analysis in your research. If you want to learn more about discourse analysis and its different approaches, I recommend reading my article entitled What Is Discourse Analysis: A Short Introduction.

In this post, I want to share with you this collection of books on discourse analysis, books that I believe  will help you get a feel of the discourse analysis terrain. Whether you are a complete beginner in the field or an established insider, the collection spans a wide variety of interesting works that will definitely help you in various stages in your work as a discourse analyst. These are all works I read throughout my graduate and postgraduate studies. For CDA, check out this collection of critical discourse analysis books.

1. How to do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit, by James Paul Gee

I am a big fan of James Paul Gee’s works. How to Do Discourse Analysis and Introduction to Discourse Analysis are two of Gee’s books I read early on in my graduate studies. The books introduced me to the field of discourse analysis, and  to this day I still return to them for guidance. In How to Do Discourse Analysis, Gee offers a step by step guide on how to work on your discourse analytic project from start to finish. There are tasks and practical exercises scattered through the book to help you consolidate your learned insights.

2. An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method, by James Paul Gee 

An introduction to discourse analysis

An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method is another excellent book I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning about discourse analysis. In it, Gee focuses on the theoretical underpinnings underlying the field, explaining what discourse analysis is all about and discussing some of the building tools to use for conducting discourse analytic studies. He also covered topics related to social languages, conversations, situated meanings, form-function correlations, figured worlds, context, and concluded with various samples of discourse analyses.

3. Discourse Analysis: An Introduction, by Brian Paltridge (Author), Ken Hyland (Series Editor)

Discourse Analysis: An Introduction

Discourse Analysis: An Introduction  “presents the essential approaches that you need to know when you start doing discourse analysis for the first time. Over 11 chapters, Discourse Analysis: An Introduction outlines the core methodological and theoretical premises, tracing their development and discussing the most recent trends. Providing you with an essential discourse analytic toolkit, each chapter explores a different approach from a wide variety of global perspectives, looking at discourse and society, discourse and pragmatics, discourse and genre, discourse and conversation, discourse grammar, corpus approaches, multimodal discourse and critical discourse analysis.”

4. Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method, by Marianne W Jorgensen, Louise Phillips

Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method

Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method “is a systematic introduction to discourse analysis as a body of theories and methods for social research. It brings together three central approaches, Laclau and Mouffe′s discourse theory, critical discourse analysis and discursive psychology, in order to establish a dialogue between different forms of discourse analysis often kept apart by disciplinary boundaries. The book introduces the three approaches in a clear and easily comprehensible manner, explaining the distinctive philosophical premises and theoretical perspectives of each approach as well as the methodological guidelines and tools they provide for empirical discourse analysis.”

5. Undertaking Discourse Analysis for Social Research, by Kevin C. Dunn, Iver B. Neumann

Undertaking Discourse Analysis for Social Research

Kevin C. Dunn and Iver B. Neumann “offer a concise, accessible introduction to discourse analysis in the social sciences. A vital resource for students and scholars alike, Undertaking Discourse Analysis for Social Research combines a theoretical and conceptual review with a “how-to” guide for using the method. In the first part of the book, the authors discuss the development of discourse analysis as a research method and identify the main theoretical elements and epistemological assumptions that have led to its emergence as one of the primary qualitative methods of analysis in contemporary scholarship.”

6. Discourse Analysis, by Gillian Brown, George Yule 

Discourse Analysis

In Discourse Analysis, “the authors provide an extensive overview of the many and diverse approaches to the study of discourse, but base their own approach centrally on the discipline which, to varying degrees, is common to them all – linguistics. Using a methodology which has much in common with descriptive linguistics, they offer a lucid and wide-ranging account of how forms of language are used in communication. Their principal concern is to examine how any language produced by man, whether spoken or written, is used to communicate for a purpose in a context.”

7. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, by Heidi E. Hamilton Deborah Tannen, Deborah Schiffrin

The Handbook of Discourse Analysis

In this edited volume, Hamilton, Tannen, and Schiffrin gather this amazing group of scholars who contributed with well researched  papers covering a wide variety of topics related to discourse analysis including : intonation and discourse (Elizabeth Couper-Kuheln), cohesion and texture (J.R. Martin), discourse markers (Deborah Schiffrin), discourse and semantics (Neal Norrick), discourse an relevance theory (Diane Blakemore), historical discourse analysis (Laurel Brinton), Typology and discourse analysis (John Myhill), interactional sociolinguistics (John Gumperz), and many more.

8. Discourse Analysis, by Barbara Johnstone  (Author)

In Discourse Analysis, author Barbara Johnstone “encourages students to think about discourse analysis as an open-ended set of techniques. Exploring a variety of approaches, including critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis, interactional and variationist sociolinguistics, ethnography, corpus linguistics, social semiotics, and other qualitative and quantitative methods, the book balances its comprehensive coverage with extensive practical examples, making it the ideal introductory text for students new to the subject.”

9. Approaches to Discourse, by Deborah Schiffrin  (Author)

Approaches to Discourse

Approaches to Discourse Analysis offers “a guide to the various frameworks, concepts, and methods available for the analysis of discourse within linguistics. It compares six dominant approaches to discourse analysis: speech act theory, pragmatics, ethnomethodology, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication, and variation theory.

The author not only considers each approach from several standpoints but she also illustrates them through extensive applications to a variety of concrete social and linguistic problems facing discourse analysts.”

10. The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis, by Michael Handford, James Paul Gee

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis is an edited volume that “covers the major approaches to Discourse Analysis from Critical Discourse Analysis to Multimodal Discourse Analysis and their applications in key educational and institutional settings. The handbook is divided into six sections: Approaches to Discourse Analysis, Register and Genre, Developments in Spoken Discourse, Educational Applications, Institutional Applications and Identity, Culture and Discourse.”

11.Methods of Text and Discourse Analysis: In Search of Meaning, by by Stefan Titscher, Michael Meyer, Ruth Wodak, Eva Vetter

Methods of Text and Discourse Analysis: In Search of Meaning

Methods of Text and Discourse Analysis provides an extensive coverage of the different textual and discursive methods used in the study of social phenomena. These include content analysis, grounded analysis, ethnographic methods, ethnomethodological methods to text analysis, narrative semiotics, critical discourse analysis, functional linguistics, distinction theory text analysis, and objective hermeneutics.