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Student voice and agency in master's thesis writing in a second language context: Beyond the use of pronouns

Nel, Monet (2017-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the multimodal construction of voice and agency in master's theses within the South African context. I argue that voice is not only realized through linguistic features but also other multimodal meaning-making resources. The majority of postgraduate theses produced in South Africa are in English, despite the fact that English is only the fourth most widely spoken first language in the country. This thesis investigates how student voice and agency are discursively constructed in selected master’s theses in this second language writing context. More specifically, I investigate how semiotic resources are used across modalities to construct voice and agency in completed master’s theses and how students themselves reflect on the thesis writing process in semi-structured interviews. Using insights from genre analysis (Bhatia, 2002; Paltridge, 2002), sociocultural theory (Van Lier, 2008) and postmodern sociolinguistics (Pennycook, 2006) the thesis focuses on ways in which students intentionally violate norms of thesis writing to construct themselves as autonomous. The findings suggest that construction of voice and agency relies not only on the use of language but also on the manipulation of other multimodal meaning-making resources such as the use of visuals, layout, font, other languages and chapter order. Finally, I identify six elements, prominent in the data, that are important in assisting students to construct voice and agency in their thesis writing. This thesis ultimately provides theoretical insight into the multimodal construction of agency and voice, a topic which to this point have received very little attention in scholarly research on second language academic writing.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die multimodale konstruksie van stem en agentskap in meesterstesisse in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Ek voer aan dat stem nie net deur talige kenmerke gerealiseer word nie, maar ook deur ander multimodale bronne van betekenis-skepping. Die meerderheid van nagraadse tesisse wat in Suid-Afrika geproduseer word, is in Engels, ten spyte daarvan dat Engels slegs die vierde mees gesproke eerstetaal in die land is. Hierdie tesis ondersoek hoe stem en agentskap van studente diskursief gekonstrueer is in gekose meesterstessise in hierdie tweedetaal-konteks. Meer spesifiek ondersoek ek hoe semiotiese bronne oor modaliteite gebruik word om stem en agentskap te konstrueer in voltooide meesterstessise en hoe studente reflekteer op hul skryfprosesse in semi-struktureerde onderhoude. Insigte van genre-analise (Bhatia, 2002; Paltridge, 2002), die sosiokulturele teorie (Van Lier, 2008) en postmoderne sosiolinguistiek (Pennycook, 2006) word gebruik om te fokus op die wyses waarop studente met opset norms van tesis-skryf oortree, om hulself as onafhanklik te konstrueer. Die bevindinge dui daarop dat die konstruksie van stem en agentskap nie net op taal leun nie, maar ook op die manipulasie van ander multimodale bronne van betekenis-skepping soos die gebruik van visuele materiaal, uitleg, teks, die gebruik van ander tale en die volgorde van hoofstukke. Laastens identifiseer ek ses elemente wat prominent voorkom in die data, wat belangrik is vir die vestiging van studente se pogings om stem en agentskap te konstrueer in die skryf van hul tesisse. Uiteindelik bied hierdie tesis teoretiese insigte in die multimodale konstruksie van stem en agentskap, ’n onderwerp wat tot op hede baie min aandag ontvang het in vakkundige navorsing van akademiese skryfwerk in ’n tweedetaal.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102901
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