Santoi Wagner, University of Pennsylvania

  • What one piece of writing was most inspirational to you as an LSI researcher?

I think I’m going to be greedy here and claim two entire books. The first is Paul Drew and John Heritage’s (1992) masterpiece collection Talk at work. As a graduate student venturing into the field of discourse, Talk at work was a revelation to me. My copy still has all the post-its I attached, complete with giddy scribblings: “Read this again”, “procedural consequentiality – IMPORTANT”, and most eloquently, “YES! I totally agree!” (with what, it’s rather difficult to tell now – presumably the entire page). In particular, Paul Drew’s chapter on the contrasting versions of events put forward by the defense attorney and the alleged victim in a rape trial resonated strongly with my growing interest in conflict talk. The examination of how participants manage competing versions of the same events was a central concern of my dissertation. In a single case analysis of a harassment complaint, I examined how two male disputants and the mediator constituted, negotiated, and brought the dispute to resolution within the institutional constraints of a community mediation session. The second book is Janet Cotterill’s (2003)Language and power in court: A linguistic analysis of the OJ Simpson trial. I found this work striking not only for Cotterill’s wonderfully clear and accessible writing, but also for her judicious methodological eclecticism, and her ability to employ a range of tools to construct a fascinating and insightful analysis.

  • What question you are currently trying to explore? How?

I’m working a project that explores the interface between what are considered “good” teaching practices for international teaching assistants (ITAs) and the concepts of interactional and pragmatic competence. The question that I’m currently attempting to address is “What are the interactional practices that distinguish “successful” ITAs from “unsuccessful” ones within the context of a classroom orientated performance assessment”? The project is an interdisciplinary endeavor, bridging assessment, discourse analysis, and teacher education. Working with researchers from outside our field is an exciting and challenging experience, and a pleasant change from the rather more lonely work of a dissertation study!