The selection chosen for this exercise is the penultimate paragraph of the famous speech by Patrick Henry, entitled “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!” It was delivered on March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and is generally cited as the reason…
These render it interesting to submit to a Discourse analysis.
The analysis of the text shall be in accordance with the theory by James Paul Gee that “interaction with text is necessarily a socially mediated process” (St. Clair & Phipps, 2008:91). Actually, social context circumscribes not only words but other elements of communication, such as readings (Knoester, 2009, p. 677) and actions (Gee, 2005, p. 590). What we say, are interpreted by society based not only on the practice (what is actually said and done), but also on social or historical attributes (such as race or religion) and belief or ideology (Gee, 2005:590).
It is generally agreed that An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (Gee, 1999) is one of James Paul Gee’s truly significant treatise on the nature of Discourse, as acknowledged by Rodina (2007), Stibbe (2006), Jarvis (2006), Collins (2000), and Holmes (2000). On the other hand, Davies (2000), while lauding the simplicity and ease of approach of Gee in this book, stated that the latter’s informal writing style and simplicity of discussion tends to dilute the power of his message.
The fundamental theory developed in this book is Gee’s seven building tasks for discourse analysis. The challenge of the exercise lies in not only relating the form and function of the text, but in finding specific “form-function correlations” that are in themselves juxtaposed with specific social practices indicative of social relationships (Gee, 2004:19). This paper shall attempt to apply this theory to the selection chosen for the purpose.
The selection, Patrick Henry’s speech on Liberty, hereto attached as Appendix A, is unmistakably intended to highlight the significance of Virginia’s participation in the war against the British colonizers, during the American Revolution. In fact, it is a particularly good example of “making a mountain out of a molehill”. Coming into the convention, it is easy to ...
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