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The discourse about the English textbook: the construction of truth in the society of control

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Maria Dolores Wirts Braga
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Marisa Grigoletto; Ernesto Sérgio Bertoldo; Anna Maria Grammatico Carmagnani; Maralice de Souza Neves; Deusa Maria de Souza Pinheiro Passos
Advisor: Marisa Grigoletto

Our aim to investigate the discourse about the English textbook inevitably touches on the issue of the textbook as a discourse of truth. Driven by the hypothesis that the power of discourse of truth, often attributed to the textbook, is built by the discourse which speaks about the textbook, our research aims to study the functioning mode and the effects of that discourse which we name discourse about the English textbook. Although English textbooks have been adopted in some courses by some public school teachers here and there, this is the first time that the Brazilian federal government has proposed the nation-wide adoption of foreign language textbooks (English and/or Spanish) through the National Textbook Program for the year of 2011 (PNLD 2011) by selecting titles for teachers to choose from and by bearing all the expenses involved in the process. Our research follows the conceptualization of Discourse Analysis as established by Michel Pêcheux. Those concepts guide the analysis of the excerpts in our research corpus, which is composed of three segments. The official discourse segment contains excerpts from the most relevant documents issued by the government on the PNLD 2011. The media discourse segment comprises online news and articles issued by governmental as well as non-governmental news agencies and by schools and associations sites. The professional discourse segment holds the answers provided by public school teachers of English (6th to 9th grades) to two questionnaires on the adoption of the English textbook. Their answers were collected in two distinct moments. The first questionnaire was answered by the teachers before textbook collections were pre-selected to integrate the PNLD 2011. The second questionnaire was answered by teachers who already used the PNLD 2011 textbooks. The analysis of the discourse about the English textbook led us to the perception of effects which confirm the functioning of the English textbook as a discourse of truth since it is represented as such by the discourse about it. Through discourse analysis, we have also observed effects which are typical of the functioning mode of societies of control, as briefly defined by Michel Foucault ([1979] 2004) and further contended by Gilles Deleuze ([1990] 1992). In the interdiscourse axis, modulating principles were observed in enouncements, as they ensure limitless postponements, demand continuous updating, motivate the individual and ensure control. In the intradiscourse axis, the linguistic materiality often presented excerpts marked by modalization, which softens the remarks and gives rise to multiple possibilities. The effects observed seem to work as modulating principles, as formulated by Deleuze ([1990] 1992), which confirms that the relationship between power and knowledge is already functioning in the modes of societies of control (AU)

FAPESP's process: 12/13902-0 - The discourse about the English coursebook: the construction of the truth in the society of control
Grantee:Maria Dolores Wirts Braga
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate